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AI Semiconductors: Why the Future Is Coming Faster than You Think
Posted By: SiTime Editorial Staff
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Hand pointing at glowing brain hologram on dark circuit background. Artificial intelligence and machine learning concept

They are in supercomputers, crunching large data sets to understand mega patterns, probabilities and outcomes. They help us understand the origins of the universe, combat climate change, and aid in the development of new medicines. They are behind the alert on your car, letting you know you’ve departed your lane and warning you about dangers on the road. AI semiconductors are likely a player in many micro moments, where putting split-second decisions into actions matter. While semiconductors are already the proverbial nuts and bolts of our electronic lives, driven by AI, they can give us superhero-like capabilities. 

From computing in the cloud all the way to the edge, the future of electronic systems is coming faster than you might think. Gartner estimates that the $53 billion 2023 AI chip market will double by 2027. In fact, AI semiconductors are proliferating in compute, networking, storage and memory applications, and much more. They interconnect us and are an essential tool to overcome challenges and seek out opportunities ahead. 

Three Industry Tech Leaders Weigh in on the State of the Semiconductor Market

At a recent panel discussion on NASDAQ’s Trade Talks with Jill Malandrino, Rajesh Vashist, CEO, SiTime, Olivier Banchard, research director, The Futurum Group and Benjamin Lee, professor of electrical and systems engineering and computer and information science at the University of Pennsylvania weighed in on the future of the chip market. The discussion spanned the diverse semiconductor technologies that are incorporating AI, including CPUs, GPUs, FPGAs and ASICs, as well as AI’s influence on cloud and edge computing. According to Vashist, we are in the second golden era of semiconductor design. Some key takeaways of the panel discussion included: 

  • Semiconductor demand is increasing: The market is moving to electric vehicles (EVs) and an EV vehicle can contain roughly 3,000 chips while an internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicle may contain roughly 600. Not only are semiconductor devices proliferating into more things, but those things are continually increasing the number of devices within them.
  • AI compute is integral from the data center to the edge: AI compute enables better power and thermal management in the datacenter. In addition, AI-enabled compute on the edge will ramp as AI semiconductors are being built into PCs and other devices. 
  • De-risking the supply chain is top of mind: The effects of COVID on procurement and the supply chain has punctuated the need to reduce supply chain risk through continued building of new semiconductor manufacturing sites across the globe. 
  • Combatting the engineering talent shortage is key to success: Strategies to combat the talent shortage include nurturing early careers, expanding the geographic field of hire, and hiring beyond engineering in fields such as materials science, physics and math.

 

The Importance of Precision Timing in the Age of the AI Semiconductor 

So how do precision timing devices fit into the AI semiconductor outlook? Without precision timing chips, high-speed, time-sensitive networks—especially in demanding contexts like 5G networks, data center interconnects and edge computing—would not be as efficient in managing and synchronizing the flow of data. MEMS-based precision timing can offer nanosecond-level accuracy in a more compact form than legacy quartz timing solutions. Specifically, precision timing chips supplant one-hundred-year-old quartz technology that is still ubiquitous today, and they address the performance and reliability needs that are unique to AI-driven applications. As the AI semiconductor market continues to ramp, the precision timing market is positioned to ramp with it. Data in this new era is rapidly expanding and must travel across diverse technologies. Precision timing synchronizes the data through electronic systems more efficiently, reliably and accurately, enabling AI computing. And that’s important because our next superpower just might come from an AI semiconductor.

For more insights on the future of the semiconductor market, check out the entire in-depth conversation at NASDAQ Trade Talks with Jill Malandrino: “The State of the Semiconductor Chips Market.”

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Apr 17, 2024

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