Need to Fit Billions of Transistors on a Chip? Let AI Do It — from by Will Knight


ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE IS now helping to design computer chips—including the very ones needed to run the most powerful AI code.

Sketching out a computer chip is both complex and intricate, requiring designers to arrange billions of components on a surface smaller than a fingernail. Decisions at each step can affect a chip’s eventual performance and reliability, so the best chip designers rely on years of experience and hard-won know-how to lay out circuits that squeeze the best performance and power efficiency from nanoscopic devices. Previous efforts to automate chip design over several decades have come to little.

But recent advances in AI have made it possible for algorithms to learn some of the dark arts involved in chip design. This should help companies draw up more powerful and efficient blueprints in much less time. Importantly, the approach may also help engineers co-design AI software, experimenting with different tweaks to the code along with different circuit layouts to find the optimal configuration of both.