(Thanks to the Taiwan’s BNext for the Coverage)

The 61st Global Design Automation Conference (DAC 2024) is being held at the San Francisco Convention Center in the United States, featuring IC chip expert Jim Keller discussing the role of RISC-V in the AI chip development competition. Many EDA and IC design giants, including Synopsys, SIEMENS, and Taiwan’s MicroIP, are participating in the event. MicroIP’s chairman, James Yang, believes that in the era of AI, EDA development will undergo a reshuffling, and in IC design, the big players will get bigger, with Taiwanese companies playing an increasingly significant role.

According to third-party data, the semiconductor industry had sales of $527 billion last year and is expected to reach $1 trillion by 2030. However, with the emergence of ChatGPT in 2022, the global AI wave surged, leading to the “2-nanometer technology battle” in the semiconductor industry. AI chip demand continues to rise, with market valuations for companies like TSMC and NVIDIA soaring. OpenAI CEO Sam Altman plans to raise $500-700 billion to build a complete wafer fab network to meet AI chip demand. Similarly, CPU development expert Jim Keller believes it would take only $1 trillion if he were to undertake the task. NVIDIA CEO Jensen Huang has publicly stated that innovation in AI processor architecture is more important than the quantity of chips produced.

“We need a completely new architecture to re-examine and redesign chips for AI,” said James Yang of MicroIP.

Indeed, global AI chip demand is increasing. James Yang pointed out that AI chips have reached a peak. Improving them based on current architectures means adding more CPUs, but coordinating their operation presents significant risks and challenges. Expanding CPUs not only increases operational complexity but also leads to larger chips with higher power consumption and heat generation, which is not the best solution and contradicts global ESG goals.

MicroIP, with a foundation in 5-nanometer chip development, continues to gain favor from international giants, assisting in advanced packaging processes. Like TSMC, MicroIP focuses on chip design and IC integration to solve problems at the design level, maximizing chip performance while reducing power consumption. This approach has earned them AI chip outsourcing orders from major chip companies worldwide.

**New Generation iPROfiler™’s AI Features**

At DAC 2024, MicroIP unveiled the AI capabilities of the new generation iPROfiler™. Its main feature is the ability to inspect and debug AI performance during chip design, using graphical representations to identify operational issues, thus enhancing coordination between IC design and firmware development.

The new generation iPROfiler™ utilizes AI for architectural verification and performance evaluation, allowing engineers to quickly determine the best-performing architecture that meets customer needs. It also performs IP performance detection, performance analysis, and transaction tracking, identifying latency points, bandwidth performance, and memory access status during the development phase, all visually. This enables re-examination and debugging.

James Yang emphasized that the best place to develop EDA tools is in Taiwan, with Arculus System’s EDA Tools significantly reducing chip production time and optimizing chip performance for customers, leading to “Green EDA” and “Green IC Design.” With billions of transistors in modern chips, Taiwan’s semiconductor industry chain leads globally in logic advanced processes, advanced packaging, and 3D IC technology. AI design today faces complexities unseen in past decades, and Taiwan’s advanced processes and EDA tools are poised to address these challenges.

**Industry Ranking Shake-Up**

Given this, will there be a reshuffling of rankings among IC design companies and EDA firms valued in the Western market?

James Yang firmly believes so. He stated that in this AI competition, all companies, regardless of size, start from the same point and face the same challenges. The outcome depends on the depth of their roots in the semiconductor industry, vision, and technical strength.

For instance, NVIDIA has a strong start in the AI competition due to its excellent integration of software and hardware platforms, offering engineers a collaborative design experience. TSMC’s extensive scale and deep technical foundation enable it to exceed customer designs. Competing against such giants, like Japan’s “Rapidus Project,” can shake the foundations of nations.

James Yang believes there won’t be a second “TSMC” in this AI competition. MicroIP, having always assisted in IC design and PPA performance, sees great opportunities for reshuffling in the EDA tool market.

The AI era advances not by years but by 3-6 month cycles. If the industry continues relying solely on human expertise and experienced engineers, problems will arise. Excellent EDA tools and design platforms are essential. Recognizing this, James Yang focuses MicroIP on IC design in Taiwan, integrating overseas EDA resources to provide engineers with a better environment for architecture design. The iPROfiler™ aids in performance analysis and debugging, addressing AI challenges from the IC design end.

“If you don’t change your mindset to embrace external AI tools and platforms for IC development, you’ll quickly exit the market, as the West readily adopts new platforms and software to swiftly bring high-quality products to market,” said James Yang.

In the past, identifying performance issues after IC development required 7-8 analysts and 1-2 months. Now, iPROfiler™ allows a single engineer to find problems in 1-2 hours and quickly generate charts. Previously, another engineer might spend 1-2 weeks analyzing data and drawing charts, with a high error risk. MicroIP’s iPROfiler™ has garnered industry acclaim over the past two years, and its AI detection capabilities were further showcased at DAC 2024. MicroIP is preparing for an IPO, aiming to expand its reach from existing collaborations with international giants to the entire semiconductor industry, becoming a global leader in IC design and continually advancing and developing.