Intel aims to chip away at Nvidia lead through AI offering of its own

The Intel logo appears on a screen at the Nasdaq MarketSite, in New York's Times Square, on Oct. 3, 2018.
The Intel logo appears on a screen at the Nasdaq MarketSite, in New York's Times Square, on Oct. 3, 2018. Copyright Richard Drew/Copyright 2018 The AP. All rights reserved
Copyright Richard Drew/Copyright 2018 The AP. All rights reserved
By Indrabati Lahiri
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Intel has become the latest tech company to release its own artificial intelligence chip, in an attempt to weigh in on the AI boom.


The semiconductor race continues to heat up with more players trying to overtake each other, in an effort to harness the full capabilities of artificial intelligence. Intel has recently launched its Gaudi 3 AI chip, in what seems to be the company's answer to Nvidia's H100 graphic processing unit (GPU), as more tech companies aim to manufacture chips which can use big AI technology.

The Gaudi 3 chip is essentially an accelerator chip, and is mainly designed to assist AI systems training, especially by sorting through mounds of data. Another key function of the chip is expected to be helping to operate the finished software. The chip is based on a five nanometer process, which is still considered fairly new technology in the market.

It can also deploy models such as the deep learning programme Stable Diffusion, as well as OpenAI's speech recognition model, Whisper.

With more than twice the power efficiency of Nvidia's H100 GPU, the Gaudi 3 chip also has the capacity to operate AI models at one and a half times the H100's speed. Other features include a number of different set ups, such one motherboard having eight Gaudi 3 chips. Not only that, but Intel's new chip also needs less power than Nvidia's chips to operate.

Intel had previously launched other versions of the Gaudi chip. However, those did not quite see the success that the company was looking for, hence the latest version.

The company has already finished testing the Gaudi 3 chip on a variety of models, such as Falcon, which makes super-powerful language models and generative large language models. The chip has also been tested on Meta's open-source large language model Llama.

The Gaudi 3 chip is expected to be available for sale in the third quarter of this year, although a price range has yet to be announced. 

Can Intel take on Nividia?

Currently, Nvidia is the clear leader of the semiconductor race, controlling approximately 80% of the artificial intelligence chip sector. This is mainly done through its wide range of graphic processing units, which are very high-regarded in the market. Furthermore, Nvidia also has a number of high-end suppliers, such as Samsung and Sk Hynix.

Das Kamhout, Intel's Xeon software's vice president said regarding Nvidia's new chips, as reported by CNBC: "We do expect it to be highly competitive. From our competitive pricing, our distinctive open integrated network on chip, we're using industry-standard Ethernet. We believe it's a strong offering."

Intel is also a strong contender in the budget chip market, with its processors highly regarded especially for single-threaded applications and gaming purposes. Intel also has plans to start building AI chips for other companies. It has been working on a new Ohio factory for exactly this purpose, which is likely to start operating in the next few years, potentially 2027 or 2028.

As the AI boom progresses, several more manufacturers such as AMD have also been looking to expand their respective shares of the chip market. This trend is likely to increase, particularly in the wake of the recent Taiwan earthquake, with concerns expressed about the possibility of the chip supply being disrupted, at least in the short-term.

Shares in Intel were up 0.92% at $38,33 at market close in the US on Tuesday, while Nvidia stock was down 2.04% at $853,54.

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