Artificial Intelligence: An AI Bot Will Design the Next-Gen AI Chips

March 24, 2020 | Artificial Intelligence
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Google’s neural network will drastically reduce the time and effort on the placement process in chip design.

Chips specifically designed for artificial intelligence applications are very time-intensive to design and develop. Unfortunately, by the time these chips are ready for use, machine learning algorithms have moved on, becoming faster and more advanced. Result: the chips are no longer relevant.

By cutting down the time taken during the design cycle, this lagging anomaly could be solved. Then Google (NASDAQ: GOOGL) hit upon the solution. Using AI for the design process. (IEEE SPECTRUM)

Virtuous AI cycle

In other words, AI would help to design an AI chip that would again help design more advanced AI chips – a virtuous AI cycle. Google puts it thus:

“We believe that it is AI itself that will provide the means to shorten the chip design cycle, creating a symbiotic relationship between hardware and AI, with each fueling advances in the other.”

Training neural networks…differently

Google researchers hit upon a key area that is a bottleneck in faster AI design – placement. This involves strategically placing blocks of logic and memory (or clusters of those blocks called macros) on the chip. This has to be done in such a way that the chip’s power and performance are maximized while its area is kept to the minimum.

There is a third trade-off in placement: the density of interconnects.

Could they hand over the onerous placement process to AI?

Reinforcement learning

Azalia Mirhoseini, a senior research scientist and senior software engineer Anna Goldie at Google, decided that the neural network be trained using reinforcement learning. This kind of machine learning is different from typical big data-based deep learning. A reinforced learning system learns by trial and error – by doing something. When it is successful, it receives a reward and understands it did right. It adjusts itself and moves on to one more task. Over time it becomes more and more accurate.

The researchers trained the neural network to optimize the power reduction, performance improvement, and area reduction tradeoff.

Now, after having learned on enough chip designs, the neural network can design a Google Tensor Processing Unit in less than 24 hours.

Related Story:   Venture Capital: AI-Chipmaker Graphcore Soars To Nearly $2B Valuation                                                

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