HONDA RESEARCH, the R&D unit of Honda Motors , has built a 3-D chip made from a smorgasboard of three different chips and actually got the thing to work. The chips are stacked on top of each other, in a sort of chip sandwich, which makes them more powerful and energy efficient, apparently.
There’s no technical term yet for this mixture of chips (although I’m sure if there is, reader James Driscoll will write and point out my mistake!) so let’s call this new invention a chip butty.
The chip butty prototype has a microprocessor, a memory chip and an analog-digital signal converter. Everything is stacked vertically and interconnected.
Stacking the three chips –as opposed to placing them side by side – allows the microprocessor to double its speed. Better still it uses 36 per cent less power as the wiring connecting the three chips is shorter.
A stack of chips is typically interconnected using metal bumps of metal put onto both surfaces of each chip. But in Honda's design only the bottom chip needs bumps, which penetrate the entire sandwich, like a wooden skewer through a club sandwich.
Originally desgined as high-performance chips for its Asimo humanoid robot, Honda is now looking to widen the chip butty’s application. Meanwhile all the other semiconductor manufacturers busy working on 3-D chips are stuck at the test chip stage. µ
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