Why are tech giants racing to design their own chips?

Tram Ho

Syed Alam, global head of Semiconductor at IT services company Accenture, said more and more businesses want custom chips that are tailored to specific requirements, rather than mass-market chips. player. This gives them greater control over the integration of hardware and software, while making a difference in the market.

According to Russ Shaw, former director of semiconductor company Dialog Semiconductor, custom chips are better performing and cheaper to use because they help reduce power consumption on a device or product, whether it’s a smartphone or a cloud service. cloud.

The current global chip crisis is another reason big tech firms are rethinking chip purchases, according to Glenn O’Donnell, director of research at analytics firm Forrester. The epidemic added to the burden on the supply chain, increasing efforts to develop chips themselves. Many companies feel their ability to innovate is limited when dependent on chipmakers’ schedules.

Vì sao các đại gia công nghệ đua nhau tự thiết kế chip? - Ảnh 1.

Google CEO Sundar Pichai talks about its third-generation artificial intelligence chip. (YouTube screenshot)

According to CNBC, currently, almost not a month goes by without an announcement about Big Tech’s new chip project. The most prominent example was in November 2020, when Apple announced that it would no longer use Intel x86 architecture but make its own M1 processor. M1 is available on new iMacs and iPads.

Most recently, Tesla announced it would develop a Dojo chip to train artificial intelligence (AI) networks in data centers. The electric car company has been producing cars using custom AI chips since 2019. Last month, Baidu launched an AI chip that helps the device process large amounts of data and boost computing power. The Kunlun 2 chip can be used in areas such as self-driving cars and is already in mass production.

Some other “big” technology choose to keep their semiconductor projects secret. For example, Google is said to be preparing to launch a CPU for Chromebook laptops. The new CPU will be available in laptops and tablets running Chrome operating system from 2023, according to Nikkei.

Amazon is developing its own mesh network chip for hardware switches. If successful, the e-commerce giant could reduce its reliance on Broadcom. In 2019, a computer scientist at Facebook revealed to Bloomberg that the social network is working on a new type of semiconductor that works very differently from almost any existing design.

At this time, no company intends to make chips from A to Z by themselves. According to Mr. Shaw, they only take care of the design and performance of the chip, not counting on production because this is very expensive. Opening a modern chip factory like TSMC costs about 10 billion USD and takes several years to build. Even giants like Google or Apple are extremely cautious and will hire TSMC or Intel for production.

According to Mr. O’Donnell, Silicon Valley is lacking in human resources skilled enough to design high-end processors. They have been too focused on software for decades, leading to hardware engineering that seems outdated. “Working with hardware is not ‘cool anymore’. Despite its name, Silicon Valley now employs relatively few semiconductor engineers,” the expert shared.

According to CNBC

Share the news now

Source : Genk