A powerful AI supercomputer comes alive

The Silicon Valley start-up Cerebras has introduced a new supercomputer in response to the increasing demand for chips and computing power caused by the AI (artificial intelligence) boom.

7/21/20232 min read

Last Thursday, a start-up company called Cerebras from Silicon Valley introduced their latest supercomputer. What makes this supercomputer special are the unique chips it uses, specifically designed for artificial intelligence tasks. These chips are remarkable because they are about the size of a dinner plate, which is 56 times larger than the usual AI chips. Even more impressive, each Cerebras chip can do the work of hundreds of regular chips all by itself in terms of computing power.

Cerebras mentioned that they created the supercomputer for G42, an AI company. In turn, G42 stated their intention to use this supercomputer to develop and operate AI products specifically for the Middle East region.

“What we’re showing here is that there is an opportunity to build a very large, dedicated A.I. supercomputer,” said Andrew Feldman, the chief executive of Cerebras. He added that his start-up wanted “to show the world that this work can be done faster, it can be done with less energy, it can be done for lower cost.”

This year, there has been an explosive demand for computing power and AI chips worldwide, driven by a booming interest in artificial intelligence. Major tech companies like Microsoft, Meta (formerly Facebook), and Google, along with numerous startups, have hurried to release AI products following the viral success of the ChatGPT chatbot, which impressed people with its remarkably human-like language generation.

Creating AI products usually requires a significant amount of computing power and specialized chips, leading to a fierce competition to acquire these technologies. In May, Nvidia, a leading maker of chips used to power AI systems, reported that the demand for its products, known as graphics processing units (GPUs), was so high that its quarterly sales were projected to be more than 50 percent higher than Wall Street's expectations. This led to a surge in Nvidia's market value, surpassing $1 trillion.

“For the first time, we’re seeing a huge jump in the computer requirements” because of A.I. technologies, said Ronen Dar, a founder of Run:AI, a start-up in Tel Aviv that helps companies develop A.I. models. That has “created a huge demand” for specialized chips, he added, and companies have “rushed to secure access” to them.

To meet the rising demand for AI chips, some of the major tech companies like Google, Amazon, Advanced Micro Devices (AMD), and Intel have created their own versions of these chips. At the same time, several start-ups like Cerebras, Graphcore, Groq, and SambaNova have also entered the competition, seeking to establish themselves in a market that has been traditionally dominated by Nvidia. They all aim to offer alternatives and solutions to address the increasing need for AI processing power.

Indeed, chips are becoming so crucial in the field of AI that they have the potential to shift the balance of power not only among tech companies but also between nations. The significance of AI chips has become so apparent that it has prompted discussions within the Biden administration about placing restrictions on the sale of AI chips to China. Some American officials have expressed concerns that China's advancements in AI technology could pose a national security threat to the United States, as it may bolster Beijing's military and security capabilities. The role of AI chips in shaping the future of technology and geopolitics is being closely monitored and analyzed by various governments and entities worldwide.