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wafer scale integration

The evolution in semiconductor technology that builds a gigantic circuit on an entire wafer. Just as the integrated circuit eliminated cutting apart thousands of transistors from the wafer only to wire them back again on circuit boards, wafer scale integration eliminates cutting apart the chips. All the circuits for an entire computer are designed onto one super-sized chip.

Thus far, wafer scale integration has not come to fruition (see Trilogy); however, chip packaging such as the multichip module (MCM) and multichip package (MCP), in which several chips are connected closely together in a single housing, has become widely used.



Trilogy

A company founded in 1979 by Gene Amdahl to commercialize wafer scale integration and build supercomputers. It raised a quarter of a billion dollars, the largest startup funding in history, but could not create its 2.5" superchip. In 1984, it abandoned supercomputer development and later the superchip project. In 1985, Trilogy acquired Elxsi Corporation, a manufacturer of VAX-compatible systems, and eventually merged itself into Elxsi.




The Trilogy Superchip
The 2.5" square superchip was never completed, because it was far ahead of its time. Although chips from several semiconductor manufacturers have subsequently increased in size, there is no single chip as large as the Trilogy Superchip. (Image courtesy of Elxsi Corporation.)






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