Last Updated on October 22, 2023 by Kevin Chen
Image source freepik
Artificial intelligence has established its special place in this digital era. It is used for building systems that mimic the human intelligence. This is happening in both the hardware and software aspects.
The technology is getting embraced every other day and more AI-powered products are released.
On the other hand machine learning is the driving technology for the AI. This is because the AI systems need to be trained on what to do and how to do things.
Large datasets are used in machine learning for training the AI models. This is in addition to other tenets of AI such as natural language processing, and computer vision.
So, where does semiconductor components come in?
AI systems are designed to run on electronic devices. This is where the essence and relevance of the semiconductor chips come in.
The chips run every aspect of the electronic devices; whether it is processing, data storage, power management or any other function.
These semiconductor chips comprise of different electronic components that are designed to perform different functions.
All these parts work together in a coordinated way to deliver the specific functionality of the chips.
Keep reading as we explore the role and functions of the semiconductor parts in artificial intelligence and machine learning.
Evolution AI semiconductors
To understand the role s of semiconductor parts in AI, it will be smart to know that there are special semiconductor chips that are designed for AI functions.
These chips are embedded with features and components that enable them to execute AI applications in a fast and efficient way.
Probably you are thinking of the powerful GPUs and CPUs. Well, in as much as these two processing units are known for their power, their technical specifications may not be suitable for the AI functionalities.
Artificial intelligence processing units (APU) come with numerous functionalities specifically designed for this field.
These processing units are well-optimized for executing certain algorithms.
For instance, other than having parallel processing, APU have nodes that are similar to those in human beings and animals. This gives these processors brain-like functionalities.
The nodes in the AI processors end up forming neural networks expand the capability of these processors.
AI semiconductors also ride on the Moore’s Law which state that the number of transistors in integrated circuits is likely to double after every two years.
On the other hand, the speed at which AI is growing is likely to outpace Moore’s Law.
The semiconductor factor in AI technology
Even as the AI technology is striving to reveal its full potential, there is a strong factor behind it: the semiconductor.
There are powerful semiconductor chips that are considered the driving fores for the AI technology.
These chips include ASICs, GPUs, and FPA.
With the rapid development of the AI and machine learning, more advancements have been made on the AI chips.
There are two main ways in which AI has impacted on the semiconductor development. First, it has pushed chip manufacturers to build semiconductor chips that are oriented towards the the AI applications. Secondly, AI has also improved the process of building and fabricating semiconductor chips.
The first reason is attributed to the emerging specialized chips such as tensor Processing Units that are used by Google for the AI applications. This chip is used for the natural language processing and computer vision.
Components of the AI Semiconductors
Image source Freepik
We have just stated that AI semiconductor chips are somehow special. This is mainly because of the components that are embedded in these chips. Here are some of the basic components that you should know:
- Integrated circuits
- Transistors and there are different types of transistors
- Light-emitting diodes
Among other specialized components.
Each of this components has a specific role to execute in the overall functioning of the AI semiconductor.
Specific functions of semiconductor components in AI
At this point, you have an idea of the electronic components in semiconductor chips.Now let’s look at the specific roles that they play.
Boost the procssing power of the chips
Components of the semiconductor play a vital function of boosting the processing capabilities of the AI devices.
From the Moore’s law, it was clear that the number of transistors in chips will double each year. As this number doubles, so is the processing capacity of the chips.This is mainly due to the improved component density of the semiconductor.
Other than the increased chip density due to more components, chip design also enhances the processing power.
The most common design is the parallel processing. This architecture allows processors to execute multiple tasks simultaneously, a key feature in the AI and machine learning.
Parallel processing allows fast and efficient execution of the machine learning algorithms. It also improves the overall performance of the AI systems.
The components also eliminate the latency of the AI processors as they tend to support real-time data processing. This enhances the speed at which the AI models can make decisions based on their inference data.
Fast processing is quite a major feature in the real-world AI applications. Let’s take an example of the autonomous vehicles, their AI models need to make quick decisions for safety reasons.
Improve energy efficiency of the AI systems
Energy consumption will always be hot topic when it comes to the AI and machine learning applications.
These two fields are always assumed to be heavy energy consumers give the tasks that they are required to execute.
The good news is semiconductor designers and manufacturers have come up with effective ways of dealing with this problem.
One of the ways is using energy-efficient electronic components.
These are parts of AI chips that are designed to use minimal energy when running but still be able to deliver the desired results.
For example, some components such as diodes and transistors use eco-friendly materials that minimize their consumption rate.
Other than materials, these components have special circuit designs and architectures that are meant to optimize their energy use.
When these components are embedded onto the chips, they tend to reduce the power requirements that are used for running the semiconductors.
Data is a key component in the world of AI and machine learning. Large datasets are used for training the AI models. Othetr than data processing, there should also be a proper support system to facilitate the storage of data. This is where memory integrated circuits come in.
Memory chips take care of everything that entails data storage and management in the AI systems.
Most of these memory chips are the reason why the AI and machine learning systems can handle large volumes of data without crashing.
Nework and interfacing
Networking is also an essential component in the AI and machine learning. It facilitates exchange of data between different components and devices. There are specialized networking chips that are used for this networking role in AI.
As expected, these semiconductor chips also have components that are responsible for the transfer and reception of signals in networks.
Interface is also about connecting with different components of a device. Again, there are components that facilitate such connections.
Security of AI systems
Once there exists a network, the next issue that should get full attention is the security of the devices. This is where the security chips are important.
The semiconductor chips prevent unauthorized access into the system and as well as protecting data from hackers. These chips are also tasked with guaranteeing data integrity of the systems.
As expected, security chips have their own components that are well-optimized for such tasks.
Challenges facing the semiconductor components for AI and machine learning
We have just discussed the key roles of semiconductor parts in the AI and machine learning. However, this does not mean that all the aspects of this components are smooth. There are some hurdles that semiconductor makers have to go thorough in order to come out with functional AI chips.
One of the key challenges is in finding a balance between the energy and performance of the chips.
Semiconductor parts also help to find a perfect balance for the performance and and energy efficiency. In as much as you would like to get the best results from the specialized AI device, you should not spend too much on energy. Or the systems should not focus on saving the energy at the expense of the best performance.
Another major challenge is in terms of the heat management on the semiconductors for AI. Since these chips are designed to perform to the optimum levels, they are prone to overheating due to dissipation of heat. The good news is chip designers, together with the manufacturers of electronic components are working on heat-efficient designs.
So much has been achieved with regards to the semiconductor parts for AI applications. With more research and advancement of technology, we should be able to expect perfect chips.
I hope now you know the importance of semiconductor parts in the AI and machine learning. In case you are working on such a project, you only need to buy the right electronic components that will be used on the semiconductor.
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