Why Microsoft, Amazon Will Make Their Own AI Chips

Competing in the field of artificial intelligence requires a few key ingredients: huge amounts of data to train the systems, talented engineers and colossal amounts of computing power. That power is currently delivered, in large part, by graphics chips built by Nvidia, but there are signs that might change.

I predict that 2018 will be the year when every big tech company that is truly serious about its AI ambitions, including Microsoft, Facebook and Amazon, will attempt to build its own AI chips in an effort to gain an edge in computing power. The shift would echo steps already taken by Alphabet’s Google to build specialized chips, which have become crucial for servers in tech companies’ data centers that handle such AI tasks as image and speech recognition.

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“It’s an interesting time,” said Jim McGregor, principal analyst and founder of Tirias Research. “If you go back to the 1970s and ‘80s, companies were completely vertically integrated where everybody was doing their own silicon. Over time, the industry was broken up into parts. Now it’s coming full circle to where lots of companies are now looking at doing their own silicon.”

Mars Cyrillo and Maggie Xiao commented on this article.
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