The Rise of Custom Silicon in the Generative AI Era: An Interview with Alphawave Semi’s Mohit Gupta

The world of technology is in a constant state of flux, and with the rise of generative AI, the demand for more powerful and efficient processing is skyrocketing. I recently had a chance to chat with Mohit Gupta, Senior Vice President and General Manager of Custom Silicon and IP at Alphawave Semi, about how his company is leveraging their IP and engineering prowess to address customer demand for custom silicon innovation. Our conversation sheds light on why companies are increasingly turning to custom solutions and how Alphawave Semi is leading the charge in this exciting field.

Why the Rise of Custom Silicon?

Gone are the days of one-size-fits-all solutions. The era of generative AI, with its diverse workloads and specialized requirements, demands a more tailored approach. As Mohit explained in our interview, “The need for custom silicon arises because companies are facing a vast array of workload challenges. They need solutions that can address these challenges head-on and extract the maximum efficiency from their systems.” This requires a focus on optimizing for specific parameters where generic, off-the-shelf solutions might not always be able to deliver. Custom silicon allows companies to optimize for the specific parameters that are critical to their specific AI infrastructure requirements. Mohit highlighted some key areas that he’s hearing from customers: “Imagine a scenario where memory bandwidth is the bottleneck in your system. With custom silicon, you can design a chip that prioritizes increased bandwidth, ultimately leading to a significant performance boost. Similarly, network latency or even cost reduction can be targeted for optimization based on your specific needs.”

Alphawave Semi’s Approach to Custom Solutions

Alphawave Semi isn’t just another player in the custom silicon game. They’ve developed a distinct approach that focuses on four key pillars:

1. Connectivity: High-performance interconnects are the backbone of any complex chip design. Alphawave Semi prioritizes building a robust connectivity foundation of IP and chiplets within custom silicon designs, ensuring seamless communication between different processing elements on the chip, and between chiplets in an advanced 2.5D/3D package.

2. Compute: The heart of AI processing lies in the compute engines. Here, Alphawave Semi uses cutting-edge design techniques to deliver the optimal balance between power and performance for specific workload requirements, and their modular design delivers compute scalability. “As a founding member of the Arm Total Design Partnership, Alphawave Semi provides an accelerated path for specialized SoC solutions based on Arm Neoverse Compute Subsystems (CSS).

3. Complex Silicon Building Blocks: Building a custom chip isn’t just about slapping together existing components. Alphawave Semi leverages its expertise

in designing complex silicon building blocks that cater to the unique needs of each project. Their modular design enables speed in delivery of chiplet-enabled custom solutions as well as dialed-in engineering that leverages known silicon building block configs vs. expensive one and done design.

4. Advanced Packaging: As chip designs become more intricate, advanced packaging techniques are crucial for efficient integration. Alphawave Semi offers state-of-the-art packaging solutions that ensure optimal functionality and performance of the chiplet-enable custom silicon designs.

The TechArena Take

Alphawave Semi’s dedication to custom silicon solutions has seen significant market success. Mohit noted that their engineering and IP progress has unlocked customer traction: “We’ve had successful designs on both 5-nanometer and 3-nanometer processes, showcasing our ability to deliver cutting-edge solutions at the forefront of technological advancement.” With the ever-evolving landscape of AI, this progress on leading-edge process node and advanced packaging, bodes well for continued success in market. As companies push boundaries and explore new frontiers in generative AI, the demand for tailored solutions will only increase. With its focus on specific needs, cutting-edge technologies, and successful track record, Alphawave Semi is well-positioned to be a leader in this exciting future. I, for one, will be following their journey closely as the world of chiplet-based custom design takes off.