Apple’s M1 Ultra Uses TSMC’s ‘InFO_LI’ Packaging Method, Enabling Lower Cost in Mass Producing the Custom SoC

Apple’s M1 Ultra Uses TSMC’s ‘InFO_LI’ Packaging Method, Enabling Lower Cost in Mass Producing the Custom SoC

During the official M1 Ultra announcement, Apple detailed how its most powerful custom silicon for the Mac Studio is capable of achieving a bandwidth of 2.5TB/s using its UltraFusion chip-to-chip interconnect, which involves the communication of two M1 Max SoCs working in unison. TSMC has now confirmed that Apple’s most powerful chipset to date was not mass produced on the Taiwanese giant’s CoWoS-S (chip-on-wafer-on-substrate with silicon interposer) 2.5D interposer-based packaging, but its Integrated Fan-Out (InFO) with local silicon interconnect (LSI) instead.

There Were Several Ways to Use a Bridge to Allow Two M1 Max Chipsets to Communicate With One Another, but TSMC’s InFO_LI Enables Cost Reduction

TSMC’s CoWoS-S packaging method is used by many of the chip maker’s partners, including Apple, so it was assumed that the M1 Ultra would also be mass produced using it. However, Tom’s Hardware reported that Tom Wassick, a semiconductor packaging engineering professional, republished a slide clarifying the packaging method, showing that Apple employed the use of InFO_LI on this occasion.

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Even though CoWoS-S is a proven method, it is more expensive to use than InFO_LI. Aside from the cost, it would have been unnecessary for Apple to opt for CoWoS-S since the M1 Ultra only uses two M1 Max dies to communicate with one another. All the other components, ranging from unified RAM, GPU, and others, are part of the silicon die, so unless a multi-chiplet design paired with faster memory like HBM was used for the M1 Ultra, InFO_LI is a better choice for Apple.

Rumors claimed that the M1 Ultra would be mass produced specifically for the Apple Silicon Mac Pro, but since it is already being used in the Mac Studio, an even more powerful solution is reportedly in the works. According to Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman, a Mac Pro is being readied and will be powered by a silicon that will serve as a ‘successor’ to the M1 Ultra. The product itself reportedly sports the codename J180, with previous information implying that this successor would be mass produced on TSMC’s next-generation 4nm process, not the current 5nm.

Unfortunately, Gurman did not comment if the M1 Ultra ‘successor’ would use TSMC’s  ‘InFO_LI’ packaging method or stick with CoWoS-S, but we do not believe Apple will revert back to a more costly method. There are rumors claiming that the new Apple Silicon will feature two M1 Ultra combined together using the UltraFusion process. While Gurman has no prediction history of the Mac Pro using a chipset formed through UltraFusion, he did state earlier that the workstation will have a custom silicon with up to a 40-core CPU and 128-core GPU.

We should find out more about this new SoC later in the year, so stay tuned.

News Source: Tom’s Hardware

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