AAIC: Applied Artificial Intelligence in Semiconductors Conference – A Review

On June 17,2021 our fourth AAIC in 2021 took place, this time it was all about Applied AI in the semiconductor industry. The conference was co-organized by AI Austria, Advantage Austria and Silicon Alps.

The AAIC, in a number of highlight events, seeks to raise the awareness for AI and its importance for business by showing practical AI applications across business verticals and functions by inviting leading AI experts, companies and researchers from around the world. Business professionals and AI experts have the chance to bounce ideas and discuss concrete steps at the events.

Artificial intelligence, machine learning, deep learning and neural networks are the logical continuation of automation provided by higher computing power. Artificial intelligence has already made its entry into everyday life through enormous increases in efficiency, also for the semiconductor industry. These were the topics:

  • AI in chip design
  • AI in chip production and quality control
  • AI-specific designs ASICS or FPGAs
  • AI tooling to enable edge deployment

 

Recently the semiconductor industry has gained much attention from AI startups, investors and incumbents alike. On an abstract level these development can be broken down into 2 areas: AI chips and improved chip manufacturing through AI.

Within just a few years the compute requirements to train state of the art machine learning models has increased by a factor of 300.000. This fast rise is unlikely to slow down any time soon as very large models such as open AI‘s DALL-E or GPT-3 set new records for spent compute and parameters. Custom architectures to speed up the process of training and later on increase the efficiency of deployment (inference) is therefore a logical consequence. At the same time the „traditional“ semi-conductor industry is facing increasingly hard challenges when moving to the next production node while maintaining profit margins and output. Like in many other industry verticals AI is playing a key role when it comes to improving the efficiency across the entire value chain – from design to manufacturing and logistics.

The AAIC Semiconductors give these exciting developments a stage, while also discussing the rekindled interest in EU-based chip manufacturing with leading European clusters and industry players.

note: all keynotes and discussions are available for re-watching on the Linkedin channel of the conference. morning session & afternoon session

Keynote #1: Applied AI at Infineon: Novel AI approaches and solutions in Infineon production

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The morning session kicked off with a keynote by Dr.Thomas Altenmüller, Dr. Yao Yang and Natalie Gentner from Infineon Technologies.

With 1200 steps per wafer and 1000 involved tools using AI is not an option but a necessity in semiconductor manufacturing

The team provided insights on where across the value chain Infineon is already applying AI, as well as a deep-dive on the application of advanced methods like auto-encoders, transfer learning and reinforcement learning.

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Keynote #2: Low power in-sensor-ai applications in charge domain

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For our second talk, we had a very special guest: Andreas Sibrai, the global VP of Design at AI Storm. Silicon Valley-based AI Storm is at the forefront of edge AI and just recently has secured a funding round at a valuation of USD 250 Million. Unknown to many, their design team is located in Graz, Styria and led by Mr. Sibrai, Silicon Alps cooperation partner.

By including the AI logic directly in the sensor, AI Storm is pushing the concepts of edge AI and AI silicon to the limits. Especially when it comes to power consumption such in-sensor-AI approaches reduce power consumption by several orders of magnitude, without sacrificing speed or scalability.

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One often cited challenge for AI Chip startups is the lack of available development tools. By offering compatibility with existing frameworks such as TensorFlow AI Storm is tackling this entry barrier right at launch.

Keynote #3: Industrial Edge AI

For the last keynote in the morning session we invited Nico Teringl, the CEO of edge-AI startup Danube Dynamics.

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In his talk, Nico elaborated on the reasons behind edge AI such as low latency and data ownership and gave an overview of industrial applications.

Afternoon Session

The afternoon session started with a high-level panel with:

 

The discussion followed the impulses given by the panelists touched upon the questions of:

  • Europe as a location for chip design and production
    • Potential to manufacture AI chips in Europe
    • AI & ML chips as a possible catalyst for a new wave of fab-less companies
    • RiscV and open-source – how realistic is the OS model for the semiconductor industry
    • Talent situation
  • AI in production & chip design
    • From an I4.0 perspective: what are the biggest differences in applying AI/ML
    • Google using RL for chip design – what expect down the road, which EU companies are experimenting with this/similar approaches
    • Digitalization Levels – how to get to an autonomous, self-optimizing system
  • Future approaches
    • the future of silicon architectures e.g. Neuromorphic architecture?
    • the expected impact of neuromorphic architectures
    •  other directions, such as photonic chips, …

Key Message: Europe has to stand together as a whole industry in order to stay competitive and relevant.

 

Keynote #4: How Edge Computing enables predictive maintenance of valves, Hans Klingstedt, Smart Systems Hub

Keynote #5: It’s time for a new paradigm in AI and ML Chip Architecture, Johannes Traxler, EYYES

Conclusion & Outlook

We hope that with AAIC Semiconductors we were able to demonstrate that AI in the semiconductor industry is not a still far-away concept but for many companies the new normal. We were especially happy to discover during the conference preparations that European companies and research institutions are very active in that field and hopefully the AAIC can contribute to more visibility and mindshare in the public discourse. Furthermore we hope that when it comes to the implementation of the EU‘s digital agenda, AI silicon will get the attention it deserves, as Europe has a very strong base to build upon.

 

REVIEW BOTH SESSIONS ON YOUTUBE

Morning Session

 

Afternoon Session

 

See you next year!