Semiconductor chips are crucial in our digital lives. Fitted with billions of electronic transistors that constitute elaborate integrated circuits, these chips power everything from smartphones and laptops, to more industrial and automotive applications. The latest development in the semiconductor industry are chips that support artificial intelligence (AI) technologies. These “AI chips” are forecast to generate global revenues of 15.7 billion U.S. dollars in 2022. The overall semiconductor industry is also expected to grow in 2022, fueled by the demand from a growing range of applications.
AI chip use cases and applications
AI technologies and tasks require specialized AI chips that are more powerful, more efficient, and optimized for advanced machine learning (ML) algorithms. Image recognition, recommendation engines, natural language processing (NLP), and autonomous vehicles are just some of the use cases that these chips support. Experts also suggest AI chips will find their way into an increasing number of consumer devices, such as smartphones, tablets, smart speakers, and wearables. In addition to this, they will also be used in multiple enterprise markets, such as robotics, sensors, and other IoT (internet of things) devices, with further growth expected as smart city initiatives take hold.
Some of the biggest names are involved in the development of AI chips, including traditional players like Intel, Samsung, Broadcom, and Qualcomm, with major investments going into the development of this technology. Graphics processing units (GPUs) have been favored for AI applications due to their ability to perform millions of mathematical operations in parallel, with AMD and Nvidia being notable players. In recent years, AI chip startups have emerged as they look to disrupt the market, all of whom have received major funding to support their activities.
In addition to these startups, larger tech firms like Apple and Google are also looking to innovate in the AI chips space, with the latter producing the Tensor Processing Unit (TPU) – an application-specific integrated circuit (ASIC) developed specifically for AI activities. Startups are also having to compete against the developments being made by potential customers such as Amazon, Facebook, and Tencent.
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Research expert covering the global hardware industry