CCX Size

Moving down in node size brings up a number of challenges in the core and beyond. Even disregarding power and frequency, the ability to put structures into silicon and then integrate that silicon into the package, as well as providing power to the right parts of the silicon through the right connections becomes an exercise in itself. AMD gave us some insight into how 7nm changed some of its designs, as well as the packaging challenges therein.

A key metric given up by AMD relates to the core complex: four cores, the associated core structures, and then L2 and L3 caches. With 12nm and the Zen+ core, AMD stated that a single core complex was ~60 square millimeters, which separates into 44mm2 for the cores and 16mm2 for the 8MB of L3 per CCX. Add two of these 60mm2 complexes with a memory controller, PCIe lanes, four IF links, and other IO, and a Zen+ zeppelin die was 213 mm2 in total.

For Zen 2, a single chiplet is 74mm2, of which 31.3 mm2 is a core complex with 16 MB of L3. AMD did not breakdown this 31.3 number into cores and L3, but one might imagine that the L3 might be approaching 50% of that number. The reason the chiplet is so much smaller is that it doesn’t need memory controllers, it only has one IF link, and has no IO, because all of the platform requirements are on the IO die. This allows AMD to make the chiplets extremely compact. However if AMD intends to keep increasing the L3 cache, we might end up with most of the chip as L3.

Overall however, AMD has stated that the CCX (cores plus L3) has decreased in size by 47%. That is showing great scaling, especially if the +15% raw instruction throughput and increased frequency comes into play. Performance per mm2 is going to be a very exciting metric.

Packaging

With Matisse staying in the AM4 socket, and Rome in the EPYC socket, AMD stated that they had to make some bets on its packaging technology in order to maintain compatibility. Invariably some of these bets end up being tradeoffs for continual support, however AMD believes that the extra effort has been worth the continued compatibility.

One of the key points AMD spoke about with relation to packaging is how each of the silicon dies are attached to the package. In order to enable a pin-grid array desktop processor, the silicon has to be affixed to the processor in a BGA fashion. AMD stated that due to the 7nm process, the bump pitch (the distance between the solder balls on the silicon die and package) reduced from 150 microns on 12nm to 130 microns on 7nm. This doesn’t sound like much, however AMD stated that there are only two vendors in the world with technology sufficient to do this. The only alternative would be to have a bigger bit of silicon to support a larger bump pitch, ultimately leading to a lot of empty silicon (or a different design paradigm).

One of the ways in order to enable the tighter bump pitch is to adjust how the bumps are processed on the underside of the die. Normally a solder bump on a package is a blob/ball of lead-free solder, relying on the physics of surface tension and reflow to ensure it is consistent and regular. In order to enable the tighter bump pitches however, AMD had to move to a copper pillar solder bump topology.

In order to enable this feature, copper is epitaxially deposited within a mask in order to create a ‘stand’ on which the reflow solder sits. Due to the diameter of the pillar, less solder mask is needed and it creates a smaller solder radius. AMD also came across another issue, due to its dual die design inside Matisse: if the IO die uses standard solder bump masks, and the chiplets use copper pillars, there needs to be a level of height consistency for integrated heat spreaders. For the smaller copper pillars, this means managing the level of copper pillar growth.

AMD explained that it was actually easier to manage this connection implementation than it would be to build different height heatspreaders, as the stamping process used for heatspreaders would not enable such a low tolerance. AMD expects all of its 7nm designs in the future to use the copper pillar implementation.

Routing

Beyond just putting the silicon onto the organic substrate, that substrate has to manage connections between the die and externally to the die. AMD had to increase the number of substrate layers in the package to 12 for Matisse in order to handle the extra routing (no word on how many layers are required in Rome, perhaps 14). This also becomes somewhat complicated for single core chiplet and dual core chiplet processors, especially when testing the silicon before placing it onto the package.

From the diagram we can clearly see the IF links from the two chiplets going to the IO die, with the IO die also handling the memory controllers and what looks like power plane duties as well. There are no in-package links between the chiplets, in case anyone was still wondering: the chiplets have no way of direct communication – all communication between chiplets is handled through the IO die.

AMD stated that with this layout they also had to be mindful of how the processor was placed in the system, as well as cooling and memory layout. Also, when it comes to faster memory support, or the tighter tolerances of PCIe 4.0, all of this also needs to be taken into consideration as provide the optimal path for signaling without interference from other traces and other routing.

New Instructions: Cache and Memory Bandwidth QoS Control AMD Zen 2 Microarchitecture Overview: The Quick Analysis
POST A COMMENT

217 Comments

View All Comments

  • nandnandnand - Tuesday, June 11, 2019 - link

    Shouldn't we be looking at highest transistors per square millimeter plotted over time? The Wikipedia article helpfully includes die area for most of the processors, but the graph near the top just plots number of transistors without regard to die size. If Intel's Xe hype is accurate, they will be putting out massive GPUs (1600 mm^2?) made of multiple connected dies, and AMD already does something similar with CPU chiplets.

    I know that the original Moore's law did not take into account die size, multi chip modules, etc. but to ignore that seems cheaty now. Regardless, performance is what really matters. Hopefully we see tight integration of CPU and L4 DRAM cache boosting performance within the next 2-3 years.
    Reply
  • Wilco1 - Wednesday, June 12, 2019 - link

    Moore's law is about transistors on a single integrated chip. But yes density matters too, especially actual density achieved in real chips (rather than marketing slides). TSMC 7nm does 80-90 million transistors/mm^2 for A12X, Kirin 980, Snapdragon 8cx. Intel is still stuck at ~16 million transistors/mm^2. Reply
  • FunBunny2 - Wednesday, June 12, 2019 - link

    enough about Moore, unless you can get it right. Moore said nothing about transistors. He said that compute capability was doubling about every second year. This is what he actually wrote:

    "The complexity for minimum component costs has increased at a rate of roughly a factor of two per year. Certainly over the short term this rate can be expected to continue, if not to increase. Over the longer term, the rate of increase is a bit more uncertain, although there is no reason to believe it will not remain nearly constant for at least 10 years. "

    [the wiki]

    the main reason the Law has slowed is just physics: Xnm is little more (teehee) than propaganda for some years, at least since the end of agreed dimensions of what a 'transistor' was. couple that with the coalescing of the maths around 'the best' compute algorithms; complexity has run into the limiting factor of the maths. you can see it in these comments: gimme more ST, I don't care about cores. and so on. Mother Nature's Laws are fixed and immutable; we just don't know all of them at any given moment, but we're getting closer. in the old days, we had the saying 'doing the easy 80%'. we're well into the tough 20%.
    Reply
  • extide - Monday, June 17, 2019 - link

    "The complexity for minimum component costs..."

    He was directly referring to transistor count with the word "complexity" in your quote -- so yes he was literally talking about transistor count.
    Reply
  • crazy_crank - Tuesday, June 11, 2019 - link

    Actually the number of cores doesn't matter AFAIK, as Moores Law originally only was about transistor density, so all you need to compare is transistors per square millimeter. Looked at it like this, it actually doesn't even look that bad Reply
  • chada - Wednesday, June 12, 2019 - link

    Moore's law specifically talks about density doubling. If they can fit 6 cores into the same footprint, you can absolutely consider 6 cores for a density comparison. That being said, we have been off this pace for a while. Reply
  • III-V - Wednesday, June 12, 2019 - link

    >Moore's law specifically talks about density doubling.

    No it doesn't.

    Jesus Christ, why is Moore's Law so fucking hard for people to understand?
    Reply
  • LordSojar - Thursday, June 13, 2019 - link

    Why it ever became known as a "law" is totally beyond me. More like Moore's Theory (and that's pushing it, as he made a LOT of suppositions about things he couldn't possibly predict, not being an expert in those areas. ie material sciences, quantum mechanics, etc) Reply
  • sing_electric - Friday, June 14, 2019 - link

    This. He wasn't describing something fundamental about the way nature works - he was looking at technological advancements in one field over a short time frame. I guess 'Moore's Observation" just didn't sound as good.

    And the reason why no one seems to get it right is that Moore wrote and said several different things about it over the years - he'd OBSERVED that the number of transistors you could get on an IC was increasing at a certain rate, and from there, that this lead to performance increases, so both the density AND performance arguments have some amount of accuracy behind them.

    And almost no one points out that it's ultimately just a function of geometry: As process decreases linearly (say, 10 units to 7 units) , you get a geometric increase in the # of transistors because you get to multiply that by two dimensions. Other benefits - like decreased power use per transistor, etc. - ultimately flow largely from that as well (or they did, before we had to start using more and more exotic materials to get shrinks to work.)
    Reply
  • FunBunny2 - Thursday, June 13, 2019 - link

    "Jesus Christ, why is Moore's Law so fucking hard for people to understand?"

    because, in this era of truthiness, simplistic is more fun than reality. Moore made his observation in 1965, at which time IC fabrication had not even reached LSI levels. IOW, the era when node size was dropping like a stone and frequency was rising like a Saturn rocket; performance increases with each new iteration of a device were obvious to even the most casual observer. just like prices in the housing market before the Great Recession, the simpleminded still think that both vectors will continue forevvvvaaahhh.
    Reply

Log in

Don't have an account? Sign up now