SAN JOSE, Calif. – Nvidia could develop chip stacks for Apple that would make for some pretty interesting iMacs, Macbooks and iPads. I’m just speculating on industry rumors, but it makes a lot of sense.
Nvidia could lay two to four graphics chips down on a 2.5-D substrate using through silicon vias to create an ultra powerful graphics-card-on-a -chip driving a muscular iMac. It might even add a memory chip to the mix to create a device with fast memory access, good for either an iMac or Macbook.
What’s more, Nvidia could place one of its new Project Denver ARM cores next to a graphics chip and maybe some memory to enable a high performance, low power Macbook running iOS. A low cost iOS laptop could leapfrog anything we have seen to date out of the Windows 8 crowd.
Here’s the kicker: Apple could supply its A-series SoC to Nvidia which could add graphics and memory to a stack for a high-end iPad. It would create a novel premium product injecting fresh life into tablets at the high end, putting more distance between Apple and its growing Android tablet competitors.
The stacking technology is still too expensive, hot and power hungry for smartphones. But come 2015 or so, it may start appearing there, too, in the form of full 3-D stacks.
This isn’t rocket science. Xilinx started the trend of 2.5-D stacks in late 2011 with an ultra dense chip that put two of its top FPGAs on a single substrate. Huawei said it is working on a similar device using an Altera FPGA and a memory chip for a router.
In computers, IBM is working on 2.5-D chips that marry its Power server processors and memory. IBM is already pitching to customers it a ability to make such stacks as is TSMC which helped make the Xilinx part. One market watcher tells me there are as many as a dozen of these designs in the works for 2013.
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Huawei, Altera mix FPGA, memory in 2.5-D device
IBM details 3-D server chip stacks