Now you understand the trouble with simply shrinking processors, but the advantages in 3D processors may not be transparent. In the new design methodology, the idea is to layer processing components and use vertical silicon interconnects, instead of using one planar layout.
In the 2D model, transistors are sometimes connected to each other on the opposite ends of the chip. The delay is obviously longer when two distant transistors are contacting each other. If those transistors were closer, some of the chip processes would accelerate. As you guessed by now, the ability to design processors in layer allows developers to place these kinds of transistors one on top of the other for a very short interconnect.
Another thing 3D design with help flourish is integrating memory onboard CPUs. Chipmakers have already seen the potential for adding very fast memory to the processor for far faster response than using system RAM. Currently, that memory takes up a large portion of the chip, close to half of it. All plans to layer processors involve putting the CPU memory on its own layer apart from the processor. This not only shrinks the overall size of the CPU, but it also allows all parts of the chip to communicate with the memory faster via vertical silicon interconnects.
There are a number of different avenues of research going slightly different direction with the idea. Another approach to constructing the layers is to include a separate processing core on each stacked layer. That way, several layers will process several threads of data. Developers also have a few methods to bond the layers together. Research in these areas is ongoing.
Developers are finding that layering the processor wafers shows great promise in cutting down power consumption and sizes of chips. It will also reduce some of the problems with rocketing heat problems, since there is less power needed. These chips could issue in a whole new wave of efficiency and speed. By creating vertical interconnects, the number of transistors and pins in a processor could skyrocket. This translates to potentially huge speed leaps.
Other excited techies include those trying to create SoC (System on Chip) processors. Their idea is to hold more than just memory on a processor. Developers want to internalize many computer components inside the CPU for speed gains. There is a lot of controversy over how effective this method of design is. Especially concerning to some is how it leaves little room for upgrading a system without buying a whole new one.
Earlier this year, one chipmaker has already announced plans to take advantage of 3D processors, perhaps ever including some SoC technologies.
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