CPUs and GPUs, why are they square or rectangular?

To understand this, we have to understand what we have already explained in other articles and other cases, so we will do it superficially: how to make a plate or in the usual way, where do the chips come from?

Wafers, their composition, their manufacture and shape are to blame.

CPUs and GPUs, why are they square or rectangular? 2

Plate 300 mm (left) and 450 mm (right).

Any semiconductor today is made of a very specific material such as silicon dioxide, although it includes other compounds to a lesser extent, it is mostly the basis.

When pressed and rotated at high speeds in tubes, so-called monocrystalline silicon rods are obtained, very thick and long, like a large cylinder, which are then cut into very thin slices, which ultimately are the plates that we use this way. see.

As you would expect, starting from the cylinder, the cut plates turn out to be round, perfect, but they will become even more so after a series of very complex processes, such as ion implantation, electroplating, etc.

And here’s an interesting thing, because this plate will be cut into chips that will finally reach processors and video cards, so at first common sense may play a cruel joke with us and think that cutting the chips into this would be correct, but no, rather vice versa.

More chips per wafer means more profitability and lower costs

Cortada en círculos waffles

A round plate with current manufacturing processes of a few nanometers should be used to its maximum, up to its physical limit. Therefore, the way to get more chips for each wafer is to cut them into rectangular or square shapes, depending on the chip and its structure, the elements it combines, and its architectural design.

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Trimming chips in a circle means that the minimum surface area is wasted between each circle, but in general this is much more than when cutting chips with corners. If we add to that that circular cutting is more expensive than straight cutting, we have all the ingredients needed to keep the industry from developing round or curved chips.

Waffle chips

It is true that direct cutting of chips results in wasted plate edges, either because they stick in the middle of the chip, or because the entire chip cannot be removed. But in general, a straight line still uses more surface area than any other simple geometric shape.

Chips can be made with other geometries, which means more efficient use of each wafer, the problem is the same as in the round case: cost. The designs would be much more complex, the cut would be more complex, and eventually the price of each chip would increase, which we don’t want, since waffles are already skyrocketing, and this is something that directly affects the end customer.

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