AMD, Nvidia graphics could double in performance with new ‘stacked’ tech

A new technology introduced by Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) could boost the power of graphics cards by Nvidia and AMD without making them physically larger. The technology is called wafer-on-wafer, and mimics 3D NAND memory technology used in modern solid-state drives by stacking layers vertically rather than spreading the hardware horizontally across the printed circuit board, which would require additional physical space. 

So what’s a wafer? Unlike your favorite snack, it’s a thin slice of polished semiconductor material that serves as the foundation for a crisscross of layered copper wires that convey electricity, and the transistors that are the heart of the processor. The wafer and mounted components are cut by a diamond saw into single chips and placed into the physical processor package you see when you break open the desktop. 

Right now, graphics chips produced by Nvidia and AMD rely on a single wafer. But TSMC, the largest dedicated independent semiconductor foundry on the planet, discovered a way to stack two wafers in a single package. The upper wafer is flipped over onto the lower wafer, and then both are bonded together. Moreover, the upper wafer contains the in/out connection piercings (aka thru-silicon vias), thus the duo is packaged using flip-chip technology. 

According to TSMC partner Cadence, the technology could see two sets of wafers connecting to each other in a cube-shaped package using what’s called an interposer, an electrical interface that routes one connection to another. More than two wafers could be stacked vertically as well, with all but one wafer sporting the in/out thru-silicon vias connections. 

While this is a lot of tech talk, it’s basically describing how graphics chips can be scaled vertically, not horizontally, using TSMC’s technique. Not only can you cram more cores into a single graphics chip, the communication between each wafer would be extremely quick.

Thus, instead of tweaking an architecture and rebranding the product as a new family, manufacturers could potentially stack two or more current GPUs on a single card as a product refresh. The operating system would detect it as a single card, and not as a multi-GPU configuration. 

With 3D NAND, memory cells are stacked vertically and connected together via makeshift data elevators. This method enables manufacturers to provide additional storage capacity while staying within the same physical constraints. This design is faster, too, given the data travels up and down the memory tower rather than hunting down its destination using horizontal “city streets.” 

The problem with stacking processor wafers may be in the overall manufacturing yields. One of two wafers could pass, but because the other wafer is bad, both would be discarded. This method could prove to be too costly on low-yield products and would need to be used on production nodes with high manufacturing yields, like TSMC’s 16nm process technology. 

TSMC introduced its wafer-on-wafer technique during its symposium in Santa Clara, California. The company also revealed a partnership with Cadence for 5nm and 7nm+ process technology for high-performance and advanced mobile computing. 

Computing

Is your PC safe? Foreshadow is the security flaw Intel should have predicted

Three new processor vulnerabilities have appeared under the 'Foreshadow' banner. They're similar in nature to Meltdown and Spectre, only they steal data from different memory spaces. Here's everything you need to know.
Movies & TV

'Prime'-time TV: Here are the best shows on Amazon Prime right now

Amazon Prime brings more perks than just free two-day shipping. Subscribers get access to a huge library of TV shows to stream at no extra cost. Here are our favorite TV shows currently available on Amazon Prime.
Computing

Intel teases new dedicated graphics card slated for 2020 release

Intel has confirmed plans to launch a dedicated graphics card in 2020. Although precious few details exist for the card at this time, it was silhouetted in a recent Intel video showcased at Siggraph 2018.
Computing

Nvidia’s Turing chip reinvents computer graphics (but not for gaming)

Nvidia revealed its new graphics chip design called “Turing” during SIGGRAPH 2018. Rumored to be the foundation of Nvidia’s next family of GeForce cards, the company instead showcased Turing in Quadro RTX-branded cards for pros.
Computing

Lenovo’s new mobile workstations pack a punch with Xeon CPUs, Quadro graphics

Lenovo has two new mobile workstations arriving at the end of August based on eighth-gen Intel Core and Xeon processors. The ThinkPad P1 is the thinnest of the two at 0.7 inches while the bigger ThinkPad P72 measures 1 inch.
Web

Google claims censored search in China is ‘not close’ as employees protest

Google CEO, Sundar Pinchai, has promised employees that the company is "not close" to releasing a censored search product in China, despite claims that it was working on such a project.
Computing

Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 850 chip appears in benchmarks with improved performance

A benchmark for Qualcomm’s new Snapdragon 850 processor show a less-than-stellar increase in multi-core performance over the previous 835 chip. Introduced in June, the Snapdragon 850 promises up to 30 percent better performance.
Web

Adobe Spark Page makes web design easy — here’s how to use it

Using artificial intelligence and simple tools, Adobe Spark Page is designed for easy web page design. Here's how to use Adobe Spark Page to create a travel journal, event page or any other one-page website.
Deals

Best Buy drops the price of MacBooks for its anniversary sale

It's not every day you see a MacBook sale like this, so you'll definitely want to consider these savings -- especially if you're a student. Students can save an additional $150 just by signing up for Best Buy student deals.
Deals

Walmart Back to College sale: Save big on computers, TVs, tablets, and more

Walmart's Back to College sale is your chance to score big discounts on name-brand electronics, so whether you're getting ahead of the new school year or just doing some shopping, we've picked out the best deals that can save you hundreds…
Computing

These 30 apps are absolutely essential for Mac lovers

There are literally hundreds of thousands of great software programs compatible with MacOS, but which should you download? Look no further than our list of the best Mac apps you can find for the latest MacOS and how they can help out your…
Computing

Apple’s rumored entry-level MacBook may appear in September starting at $1,200

Apple may reveal new products in September including an entry-level 13-inch MacBook based on Intel’s seventh-generation processors. Apple originally intended these units to rely on Intel’s now-delayed 10nm “Cannon Lake” processors.
Mobile

AirDrop makes sending files to Apple devices easy -- here's how

Want to send files or photos to your friends when you're standing directly beside them? Instead of texting or emailing, why not learn how to use AirDrop? Here's everything you need to know about using AirDrop on both iOS and MacOS.
Deals

Stay safe on the web and save up to $70 with McAfee Total Protection

If you don't have some sort of protection on your phone, tablet, or computer, you're basically leaving the door open for anyone looking to do some cyber burgling. Protect yourself for a year with McAfee Total Protection for just $30.