See Why The Fan Filter Unit Market Is Set to Rise
Innovations in technology like fab equipment have helped fuel the growth of the semiconductor industry, but the industry also owes a debt to the development of artificial intelligence (AI). In particular, AI arithmetic engines are helping to drive the semiconductor industry at present. They have been the focus of massive amounts of investment, and that likely will continue in the future.
AI is involved in many different areas. For instance, Sergio Marchese at Semiconductor Digest highlights the development of autonomous vehicles as one field where AI already plays a huge role. Tesla is going so far as to dedicate considerable resources toward developing their own self-driving technology, including advanced chips. AI also plays a role in less visible areas. For instance, as covered on 2Di’s blog, AI can help by automating certain procedures in cleanrooms, which often rely on precisely controlling features like fan filter units.
The Advancement of AI Arithmetic Engines
The advancement of AI arithmetic engines is particularly relevant to the semiconductor industry. As explained by Marchese, AI systems rely on making precise mathematical calculations. For instance, it is essential to verify hardware designs before the hardware goes into production. Even a tiny error can lead to massive problems: Small mistakes can avalanche over the course of additional operations. As an example of how costly errors can be, Marchese points out that a 1994 bug affecting certain Intel processors cost roughly $475 million.
One method for verification is based on simulations, but this is not feasible for testing many types of floating-point (FP) hardware. The other method involves formal verification tools, which can test FP hardware. As a result, formal verification has been a major target for investment for semiconductor companies. The technology has made major advancements over the past 15 years. For instance, at a 2018 conference, the technology company Xilinx relayed information about a very successful project that involved the use of an “automated formal solution” to verify FP hardware.
Large, well-established companies aren’t the only players in the AI game. Marchese reports that demand will only increase for formal verification solutions, given that more and more startup companies are entering the field of AI. As the technology advances, people will only find more uses for AI.