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Advancements in AI Chips: Addressing the Surge in Computational Demand


23rd May - Valencia.


The advent of generative AI (gen AI) applications like ChatGPT and Sora is dramatically increasing the demand for computational power. This trend is compelling the semiconductor industry to approach a new growth phase.


Current Landscape and Challenges

According to McKinsey & Company (March 2024), the semiconductor industry finds itself on a new S-curve due to gen AI. Executives are facing the challenge of scaling up capabilities to meet this demand, leading to significant capital expenditures to expand data centres and semiconductor fabrication plants (fabs). There is also concurrent exploration in chip design, materials, and architectures to support the gen AI-driven business landscape.


Expanding AI Applications Beyond Data Centres

According to electronics-journal.com, the proliferation of AI applications is now reaching beyond data centres into personal devices. This is primarily due to the increasing need for higher computing power, data processing capabilities, complex language models, and big data analytics. Starting in 2024, it is projected that personal devices such as smartphones, PCs, and wearable devices will incorporate AI functionalities, gradually introducing more innovative applications in these devices.

Innovations in Server Architecture and Semiconductor Demand

The increasing demand for computational power is being met with the employment of high-performance graphics processing units (GPUs) and specialized AI chips like application-specific integrated circuits (ASICs) in servers. These components are essential for efficiently handling gen AI workloads through parallel processing. The architecture for AI training servers is evolving into high-performance cluster architectures, with each server connected to high-bandwidth, low-latency networks.


Gen AI's Impact on Wafer Demand

According to McKinsey & Company, the gen AI applications are driving a corresponding surge in wafer demand for high-performance components such as logic chips (CPUs, GPUs, AI accelerators), memory chips (high-bandwidth memory [HBM] and double data rate memory [DDR]), and data storage chips (NAND chips). There is also an anticipated increase in demand for power semiconductor chips and optical components as these technologies transition to more energy-efficient solutions.


The Road Ahead: Strategic Considerations for Semiconductor Leaders

According to McKinsey & Company, the surge in demand for gen AI applications is propelling a need for computational power, driving both software innovation and substantial investment in data centre infrastructure and semiconductor fabs. The critical question for industry leaders is whether the semiconductor sector will be able to meet this demand. Investment in semiconductor manufacturing capacity and servers is costly and takes time, so careful evaluation of the landscape is essential to navigating the complexities of the gen AI revolution.


The rise of generative AI is significantly impacting the semiconductor industry, demanding strategic responses to meet escalating computational demands. As AI applications expand into various sectors, the ability of the semiconductor industry to adapt and scale will be crucial. These responses will impact various industries, from consumer electronics to automotive and industrial applications. With technology that is growing at such a rate, it will need highly skilled engineers with the industry experience to adapt for the future of gen AI challenges.  It requires experts to find this scarce resource. Experts like CIS have been placing high skilled embedded engineers on a global basis for over 20 years. Make sure your project plans are covered, call CIS on +34 963 943 500 or email on info@cis-ee.com