Categories
Electronic Components Future

Using AI to design microchips

Artificial intelligence (AI) is on everyone’s mind right now. With the rise of ChatGPT  and other AI software expanding our potential, every industry is wondering how AI can help them. The electronics industry will not miss out.

The market

One company providing industry insights, Deloitte Global, predicted this year semiconductor companies will spend around $300 million on AI tools.

Granted, in the grand scheme of things $300 million is not a huge amount compared to the entire market, worth $660 billion. However, the return on investment is huge and can’t be ignored.

But staff should not fear, these tools are used to help, not replace, engineers. Chip design tools have been created by companies specialising in Electronic Design Automation (EDA). The tools are usually to help engineers design and simulate chips, without the need to physically manufacture them.

The price of the future?

These AI tools aren’t for everyone – a single license could be very pricey, and well above what smaller companies could afford. This would be a small price to pay for those who can afford it though, since the resulting designs could be worth billions.

It is also possible for companies to create their own AI tools in-house instead of buying from an EDA company. This, however, would need the company to have AI expertise already.

The great thing about working alongside AI is it greatly improves efficiency and size of semiconductors. AI tools can design chips under the 10nm process node to make them even smaller and more efficient.

Staff shortages

Another advantage of using AI currently is to bridge the employment and skill gap. Because of legislation like the US and EU Chips Act, there’s a need for many more highly-qualified and skilled people within the semiconductor industry. But filling those new jobs does not happen instantly, in fact it could take years to fully train people to fill those roles. In this case, using AI in the meantime makes perfect sense, giving current engineers room to breathe.

AI already has some sway in the industry. Approximately 30% of semiconductor device makers surveyed by McKinsey said they were already generating value through AI or ML. The other 70% are still only in the starting stages of implementing the technology.

A learning curve

Within the umbrella term of AI, there are technologies that are used including graph neural networks (GNNs) and reinforcement learning (RL). RL is the repetitive running of simulations and finding a positive result through trial and error. AI can run these simulations at such a high speed, and without the use of a physical version of the electronic components.

GNNs, on the other hand, are advanced in other ways. This machine learning algorithm analyses graphs made up of nodes and edges, extracting information and making predictions. Because the structure of a chip share a similar structure to these graphs, GNNs can be used to analyse and optimise chip structure.

I Robot

One thing you don’t need artificial intelligence for is knowing that Cyclops is your best choice. When you’re looking for electronic components, whether obsolete or everyday, call Cyclops for the best prices and delivery time for your components. Get in touch today at sales@cyclops-electronics.com, or call us on +44 (0) 1904 415 415.

Categories
Electronic Components

EU Chips Act developed further

Following a vote on Tuesday 24th of January, the latest drafts of the EU Chips Act and the Chips Joint undertaking were adopted by The Industry and Energy Committee.

Proposals for the EU Chips Act were first published in February of 2022, and has since developed through committee discussions. The European Commission said the Act was developed in response to the industry chaos catalysed by the pandemic in 2020.

Now, after so long, the final vote is just around the corner.

There are three main elements to the Act:

The Chips for Europe Initiative is aimed at supporting capacity building and large-scale innovation. This is hoped to strengthen the EU as a player in the semiconductor manufacturing industry. It will increase funding for R&D, training and tech start-ups, among other things.

The Act also plans to secure the supply of semiconductors to the EU by way of investment. They also plan on increasing capacity in manufacturing, packaging and advanced testing. Alongside that, it hopes to enable the opening of integrated production facilities and open EU foundries.

Another purpose of the Act is to coordinate a crisis response between EU member states and monitor supply of semiconductors. If supply is watched, shortages and demand can be anticipated and trigger countermeasures.

Funding

The EU claims that the initiatives and funding within the Chips Act will aid it in its goal of doubling its global market share by 2030. Going from 10% market share to 20% is quite a leap, and the Act in total only mobilises €43 billion.

The European Commission said they hoped the Act’s funding would be boosted, or even ‘matched’  by private investment. This would immensely boost what the Act could be capable of, well beyond 2030.

Provisions

Article 11 of the Act details the concept of the new Open EU Foundries. These new ‘first-of-a-kind’ facilities will design and produce electronic components for other industry players. There will also be Integrated Production Facilities, which design and produce components for their own market. For these facilities to qualify for funding they have to fit certain criteria, including committing to innovation.

Something else the Act addresses is the training of industry staff. It has been a continuous challenge for the sector in Europe to attract highly-skilled persons to work in semiconductors. The Chips for Europe Initiative will support education, training and skilling, while also providing placements and apprenticeships.

The vote in plenary is due to take place in February. From there it would be the last step before European Commission, Parliament, and Council negotiations.

Why not act now?

Despite the electronics industry changing every day, Cyclops Electronics is a safe, reliable choice to source all your electronic components. We have a dedicated sales team and an extensive stocklist to make sure you get everything you want. Contact Cyclops today at sales@cyclops-electronics.com, or call us on +44 (0) 1904 415415.