Executives at chip startups Tenstorrent and Alphawave anticipate a future where the sales of chiplets and Intellectual Property (IP) from their firms will disrupt the business of established chip vendors like Qualcomm. The shift towards chiplets is driven by the flexibility and choice they offer to System-on-Chip (SoC) customers. With the implementation of chiplets, customers can selectively opt for different components from various vendors, rather than being confined to a monolithic chip solution, as stated by Tenstorrent COO Keith Witek.

Both Alphawave and Tenstorrent envision chiplets becoming commonplace commodities in the marketplace, leading to what Alphawave CTO Tony Chan Carusone refers to as the "democratization" of chiplets. These chiplets, which are expected to be adopted by a wider range of companies, are anticipated to drive innovation and offer solutions tailored to specific markets or applications.

The emerging market for chiplets has also prompted semiconductor foundries to ramp up production to support startup chiplet designers such as Alphawave. This trend is expected to pave the way for new entrants to offer advanced packaging services and contribute to the development of heterogeneous integration, potentially including photonic packaging.

Alphawave focuses on providing chiplets for connectivity, allowing customers to focus on their core technologies while relying on Alphawave for connectivity solutions. Additionally, the Universal Chiplet Interconnect Express (UCIe) open specification is set to play a key role in enabling different vendors to interconnect their chiplets, thereby enhancing chip fab yields through the utilization of smaller dies.

Tenstorrent plans to introduce its Quasar compute chiplet and Aegis RISC-V chiplet this year, while also allowing space for other vendors to incorporate their chiplets for various functionalities. The shift toward chiplets is partly driven by the escalating costs of wafers from advanced fabs, making it economically challenging to produce monolithic chips for mobile phones, IoT consumer electronics, and automobiles.

The semiconductor industry is experiencing a shift towards chiplets due to the rising costs of wafer production, which is making it more viable for small companies to carve out niches in the chip space. As the packaging ecosystem matures, the integration of chiplets into overall designs is expected to become less risky, offering a compelling alternative to monolithic chips.

The advanced packaging ecosystem is taking shape within large chip foundries, such as Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. (TSMC) and Samsung, as they cautiously expand their capacity. There is a growing interest in chiplets from IP companies, which are looking to transition their IP into chiplets to drive higher revenue compared to their current RTL offerings. Additionally, it is anticipated that foundries like TSMC and Samsung will likely expand into advanced packaging at the expense of traditional chip packagers like ASE and Amkor, as they possess the necessary high-end capital expenditure equipment to support this technological shift.