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Computer Chips: Emerging Technology Drives Demand for Specialized Chips

By Dick Weisinger

The chip market is demonstrating exploding growth as new technologies gain popularity, like Internet of Things, Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, and various new physical devices.

Overall, semiconductors are seeing very strong growth globally, about 15 percent annually, but specialized chips for new technology are seeing the greatest activity.

The AI chip market is expected to grow from $6.8 billion in 2017 to $43.3 billion in 2023.  AI chips are beginning to be used in new smartphones, laptops and in automobiles.  AI chips are used to enable tasks like voice and image/photo processing. Many non-traditional computer hardware-component companies like Tesla, Apple, Google, Baidu, and Amazon are now investing in producing specialized AI chips.

In 2017, VCs invested $1.5 billion in chip startup companies, nearly double the investment from 2015.  There are more than 45 startup companies working in areas like NLP, speech recognition, and self-driving cars.

A report by Accenture found that “in the case of AI, chips need immense computing power for deep learning and, hence, create the need for strong processors. AI chips also need a large amount of non-volatile memory to accumulate the data. That’s driving demand for 3D NAND. The computing complexity of AI chips is also driving manufacturing innovations. Instead of smaller chips required by PCs and smartphones, AI chips are larger in size. AI will boost the value derived from many new technologies when used in combination, which will open new market opportunities for the semiconductor industry. ”


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