U.S. Focuses on Invigorating ‘Chiplets’ to Stay Cutting-Edge in Tech

For more than 50 years, designers of computer chips mainly used one tactic to boost performance: They shrank electronic components to pack more power onto each piece of silicon.

Then more than a decade ago, engineers at the chip maker Advanced Micro Devices began toying with a radical idea. Instead of designing one big microprocessor with vast numbers of tiny transistors, they conceived of creating one from smaller chips that would be packaged tightly together to work like one electronic brain.

The concept, sometimes called chiplets, caught on in a big way, with AMD, Apple, Amazon, Tesla, IBM and Intel introducing such products. Chiplets rapidly gained traction because smaller chips are cheaper to make, while bundles of them can top the performance of any single slice of silicon.

The strategy, based on advanced packaging technology, has since become an essential tool to enabling progress in semiconductors. And it represents one of the biggest shifts in years for an industry that drives innovations in fields like artificial intelligence, self-driving cars and military hardware.

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