Advanced chip packaging has enabled Nvidia Corp. to create top-tier AI accelerators. However, the shortage of suppliers is now posing a challenge for the US firm.
Anirudh Devgan, the CEO of Cadence Design Systems Inc., believes the US should increase its investments in state-of-the-art semiconductor packaging to maintain a leading position in upcoming technologies like artificial intelligence.
Nvidia Corp.’s advancements in AI accelerators are credited to their innovative chip packaging. However, they are currently facing challenges due to a shortage of suppliers. As the creation of advanced chips becomes costlier with the shrinking size of transistors, finding ways to assemble silicon in three-dimensional formations and overcoming physical constraints is becoming vital.
Devgan shared his insights during an interview in Taipei, emphasizing the significance of manufacturing and the future shift towards 3D-IC. Cadence Design Systems, based in San Jose, California, ranks among the top three semiconductor design software providers globally and includes Nvidia and other AI hardware developers as its clients.
One technique for advancing silicon design capabilities, as transistors continually miniaturize and approach physical limits, is stacking chiplets to form multifunctional 3D chips. These chips, such as generative AI, are powerful and cost-effective for computing tasks. As per Devgan, ensuring leadership in this area should be a priority for the US.
He also highlighted that owning a manufacturing facility isn’t necessary for packaging, as chips from various manufacturers can be assembled. For the US government, acquiring such technology would be advantageous.
Nvidia serves as a case in point. While they have a technological advantage over other industry players, they are constrained by the limited production capacity of their chosen chipmaker, Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. (TSMC). Mark Liu, TSMC’s Chairman, confirmed at Semicon Taiwan that they anticipate the shortage to continue for another 18 months. This came after Nvidia’s announcement in late August expressing satisfaction with its progress in securing more components.
Cadence’s software plays a pivotal role for various semiconductor companies, evident from the US Department of Commerce’s decision to impose export controls on the software last year, restricting China’s access to cutting-edge technologies.
Lastly, Cadence is exploring the possibility of procuring funds from the USD 52 billion Chips and Science Act, enacted the previous year to consolidate more of the global semiconductor supply chain within the US, according to Devgan.