In a blow to Intel, Google revealed a new custom-designed chip that helps run artificial intelligence, reports Wired. The search giant is targeting unprecedented efficiency with its new chip. Intel already had enough problems to worry about like layoffs, its mobile business, etc., and now it has one more.
A threat to Intel and Nvidia
Google has designed all sorts of new hardware devices like networking gear, computer servers and more for the massive data centers that support its many online services. The search giant needs a chip that can do more with less while consuming less power to take artificial intelligence to new heights.
Google’s new chip, the Tensor Processing Unit, or TPU, is tailored to machine learning so that it needs fewer transistors to run each operation, the Internet firm said. The search giant revealed its new chip to promote the cloud services that allow businesses and coders to tap into the AI engines and further build them into their own applications.
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Google’s vision of the future threatens the future of Intel and Nvidia, and this new custom chip is just the first of many chips, says Urs Hölzle, the man most responsible for the global data center network that supports the ad giant’s empire. Since the search giant will not sell its chips to other companies, it will not compete with Intel and Nvidia directly, although they will probably lose most of Google’s business, for obvious reasons.
Also Intel will probably go through some losses as more and more businesses adopt Google’s cloud computing services and buy fewer servers (and thus chips) of their own.
Will Google enter CPUs?
Google’s chips will not replace CPU’s, states Hölzle. The search giant still needs to run tens of thousands of machines in its data centers through these chips, and Intel’s main business is CPUs. Google bought about 1.2 million chips over a recent year-long period, and most of those chips likely came from Intel, says Shane Rau, an analyst with research firm IDC. But could Google enter the CPU chips market also? Hölzle does not think so.
“You want to solve problems that are not solved,” he explains.
Hölzle adds that the search giant wants healthy competition in the chip market, suggesting it wants to buy from many sellers and not just from Intel.
Meanwhile, Microsoft is exploring another breed of chip. The company has tested FPGAs with machine learning. The FPGA or field-programmable gate array is a chip that one can re-program to perform particular tasks. Intel also recently acquired a company that sells FPGAs.