It has been reported that Samsung has begun the development of chips for Artificial Intelligence (AI) applications on devices. The company has commenced research on the chips and it aims to commercialize them in a few years. In recent times, we have seen voice recognition and machine learning on handheld devices, but the data produced from their usage are stored in a cloud and retrieved when needed.
An industrial source from one of Samsung’s partners told The Korea Herald:
“(Samsung) is in the middle of developing several types of chips that will be capable of processing massive data from AI applications on devices, eliminating the need to communicate with cloud servers,” He added “In the next three years or so, smartphones will have designated chips that will improve the processing of AI features by 50 percent from today. A kind of an accelerator can be applied to empower AI devices.”
Market intelligence firm, TrendForce, forecasted that AI will create new market opportunities and the global revenue from semiconductor chip sales will annually grow by around 3 percent from 2018 through 2022. The smartphone industries first AI phone chip named “Kirin 970” from Huawei will debut next month and it is believed that this will give the host smartphone faster performance, and a longer battery life than those of its competitors.
Yoo Hoi-jun, professor at Korea Advanced Institute of Technology said
“Competition for AI chips is so intense globally that we will be able to see AI chip-equipped smartphones in the second half of next year. Samsung is internally ramping up R&D efforts to develop similar chips, including considering acquisitions of some AI ventures and their techs,” Yoo said. “Samsung has been quite a bit late in the field, due to its heavy reliance on the most lucrative memory chips.”
Kim Ki-nam, president of the semiconductor business of the device solutions division of Samsung Electronics, mentioned,
“The existing central processing unit and graphic processing unit chips make it hard to achieve efficiency in AI computing.” “The NPU will help address the efficiency challenge,” he added. “However, NPUs so far have storage capacities that are equivalent to a thousandth of a human brain.”
According to Kim, Samsung is yet to largely focus on memory-based technologies. However, for now, it is investing in British AI chip startup, Graphcore, and last year, it provided $300 million for Graphcore as a strategic investor.