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Taiwan-designed AI chips turn heads at CES

01/12/2024 07:35 PM
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Newchips CEO Ken Lau. CNA photo Jan. 12, 2024
Newchips CEO Ken Lau. CNA photo Jan. 12, 2024

Las Vegas, Jan. 11 (CNA) Amid intense competition among high-profile tech companies worldwide to develop chips for artificial intelligence (AI), innovations designed by a Taiwanese startup Neuchips Inc. have attracted attention at the ongoing Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas.

IEEE Spectrum, an award-winning technology magazine from the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, published an article dated Jan. 9 to introduce Newchips, which said Nvidia Corp. was "an 800-pound gorilla" in the AI chip arena, adding that this was unlikely to change any time soon.

However, "new AI accelerators like Neuchips' Raptor and the Evo PCIe card look ready to deliver new options for developers who don't care about graphics or have a need for improved power efficiency while running AI inference," the article said.

According to the article, the Evo PCIe accelerator is built around the company's Raptor Gen AI accelerator chip, which delivers "up to 200 tera operations per second."

Neuchips' Evo PCI accelerator is due for full release in the second half of 2024, the report said.

It is the first time that Neuchips, an AI application-specific integrated circuits (ASIC) solutions provider founded four years ago, has exhibited at CES, one of the largest electronics exhibitions in the world.

CNA photo Jan. 12, 2024
CNA photo Jan. 12, 2024

Neuchips' chips use Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co.'s (TSMC) advanced 7-nanometer process to maintain low power consumption and reduce the need for memory chips to enable enterprises to deploy large language models (LLMs) inference, the article said.

Newchips CEO Ken Lau (劉景慈), the former general manager of Intel Taiwan and a 26-year IT industry veteran, who specializes in developing highly efficient AI applications, led the company's delegation to the CES.

Lau demonstrated a PC powered by the company's AI chips for CNA at CES on Thursday, saying the AI chips allowed the PC to have AI generative functions, which differentiates the PC from those without any AI chip to target a niche market.

Referring to the Raptor chip, Lau said in the IEEE Spectrum report that the chip is scalable, "so we start with one chip. And then we have four chips. And then eight chips," with each chip providing up to 200 trillion operations per second (TOPS).

Taiwan-based PC brands, including Acer Inc., Asustek Computer Inc. and Micro-Star International Co., also showcased their new products to support AI applications at CES.

An Asus laptop is displayed at the CES in Las Vegas on Thursday. CNA photo Jan. 12, 2024
An Asus laptop is displayed at the CES in Las Vegas on Thursday. CNA photo Jan. 12, 2024

Acer launched its new Predator Helios gaming notebook computer series, powered by the 14th generation Intel Core processor and Nvidia's GeForce RTX 40 Series graphics processing units (GPUs) for AI-enhanced graphics and features.

A total of 180 companies from Taiwan joined the 2024 CES, making the country the fifth largest exhibitor at the trade show, behind the United States (1,193), China (1,115), South Korea (774) and France (201).

Despite the enthusiasm in the market toward AI PCs, Wang Hsuan-chih (王宣智), an analyst with the government-sponsored Industrial Technology Research Institute, said there is a lack of AI learning software, specially designed for consumers to learn how to use and master generative AI functions effectively.

Speaking with CNA at CES Thursday, Wang said the existing generative AI learning software -- AI fine-tuning -- has a high threshold for average consumers. There is a need to develop learning software particular for consumers to facilitate AI PC use and in turn improve productivity, he said.

Generative AI, such as ChatGPT, refers to AI that can generate new forms of creative content, including audio, code, images, text, simulations and videos, according to market information advisory firm Gartner.

(By Chang Hsin-yu and Frances Huang)

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A man tries an MSI desktop displayed at the CES in Las Vegas on Thursday. CNA photo Jan. 12, 2023
A man tries an MSI desktop displayed at the CES in Las Vegas on Thursday. CNA photo Jan. 12, 2023
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