Chip Letter Links No. 18: NexGen, Nvidia, Die Topology, FastGPT in Fortran and more
Great links, images and reading for 4 June 2023
Hi everyone and thanks for subscribing. This is one of our regular series of posts with links, images and articles of interest, inspired by Adam Tooze’s excellent Chartbook.
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Nvidia Joins the Trillion Dollar Club
It’s been quite a week for Nvidia. They (briefly) joined the small group of tech companies with a market capitalisation of more than one trillion dollars.
To put this into context Nvidia’s market cap is now greater than Intel, AMD and TSMC combined, and greater than any semiconductor company in history.
Nvidia featured in the first half of this week’s Ones and Tooze podcast, featuring Adam Tooze. It’s an interesting discussion of semiconductors in a geopolitical context.
Jensen Huang Commencement Speech
If it’s been a momentous week for Nvidia then it’s probably been a good week for Nvidia’s CEO Jensen Huang. He’s been busy unveiling the Grace Hopper ‘superchip’ but found time to give a commencement speech last week at National Taiwan University.
Transcript courtesy of the excellent Interconnected Substack.
Delayed Branch Substack on Intel CPU Die Topology
It’s always great to find interesting new Substacks, even if they don’t post very often. I’m delighted to addby to my recommendations.
This latest post in Intel CPU die topology (how components connect together on a die) was a really interesting read.
And here is the follow-up on AMD CPU (Rome + Milan) dies.
Intel vs AMD
On the topic of Intel and AMD, regular Chipletter readers will know that all Jon’s posts atare self recommending, but I think this week’s on the rivalry between Intel and AMD is particularly good.
As a bonus it contains a link to an interesting discussion between Jon and the greatof
Why is Rosetta 2 Fast?
Apple’s transition from Intel to ‘Apple Silicon’ has been amazing. When they were introduced, not only were Apple’s Arm based SoC’s remarkable in their performance and power consumption, but Apple seems to have handled the change seamlessly.
A lot of this is down to ‘Rosetta 2’ which enables Apple Silicon Macs to run Intel code. So I really enjoyed this post that explains why Rosetta 2 runs so quickly. From the conclusions:
Engineering is about making the right tradeoffs, and I’d say Rosetta 2 has done exactly that. While other emulators might require inter-instruction optimisations for performance, Rosetta 2 is able to trust a fast CPU, generate code that respects its caches and predictors, and solve the messiest problems in hardware.
The fact that this is possible seems like a serious weakness in Intel / AMD’s x86 moat.
Links: Blog Post
Apple’s Neural Engine
A modern Apple SoC contains not just CPUs and a GPU but a Neural engine for machine learning calculations.
Given the increasing focus on ‘on-device’ machine learning it’s perhaps surprising that we don’t know more about these engines. But thanks to hackers like George Hotz and Matthijs Hollemans we can glimpse at this hardware and what it’s capable of:
The Apple Neural Engine is a fancy DMA Engine that is based around convolutions. We don't have all the details worked out yet, but we can do some things with it.
Expect to see a lot more discussion of accelerators on Apple’s and others hardware - possibly even at Apple’s WWDC this week.
After the paywall : GPT-2 in 300 lines of Fortran, why corporate America still runs on fragile ancient software, a fun online assembly language simulator and semiconductor numbers everyone should know.
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