Intel’s “Gaudi 3” AI accelerator chip could give Nvidia’s H100 a run for its cash

An Intel handout photo of the Gaudi 3 AI accelerator.
Enlarge / An Intel handout picture of the Gaudi 3 AI accelerator.

On Tuesday, Intel revealed a brand new AI accelerator chip referred to as Gaudi 3 at its Vision 2024 occasion in Phoenix. With robust claimed efficiency whereas working massive language fashions (like those who energy ChatGPT), the corporate has positioned Gaudi 3 as a substitute for Nvidia’s H100, a well-liked information heart GPU that has been topic to shortages, although apparently that’s easing considerably.

Compared to Nvidia’s H100 chip, Intel initiatives a 50 % sooner coaching time on Gaudi 3 for each OpenAI’s GPT-3 175B LLM and the 7-billion parameter model of Meta’s Llama 2. In phrases of inference (working the skilled mannequin to get outputs), Intel claims that its new AI chip delivers 50 % sooner efficiency than H100 for Llama 2 and Falcon 180B, that are each comparatively widespread open-weights fashions.

Intel is concentrating on the H100 due to its excessive market share, however the chip is not Nvidia’s strongest AI accelerator chip within the pipeline. Announcements of the H200 and the Blackwell B200 have since surpassed the H100 on paper, however neither of these chips is out but (the H200 is anticipated within the second quarter of 2024—mainly any day now).

Meanwhile, the aforementioned H100 provide points have been a serious headache for tech firms and AI researchers who should struggle for entry to any chips that may prepare AI fashions. This has led a number of tech firms like Microsoft, Meta, and OpenAI (rumor has it) to hunt their very own AI-accelerator chip designs, though that customized silicon is usually manufactured by both Intel or TSMC. Google has its personal line of tensor processing models (TPUs) that it has been utilizing internally since 2015.

Given these points, Intel’s Gaudi 3 could also be a probably engaging various to the H100 if Intel can hit a great value (which Intel has not supplied, however an H100 reportedly prices round $30,000–$40,000) and keep ample manufacturing. AMD additionally manufactures a aggressive vary of AI chips, such because the AMD Instinct MI300 Series, that promote for round $10,000–$15,000.

Gaudi 3 efficiency

An Intel handout featuring specifications of the Gaudi 3 AI accelerator.
Enlarge / An Intel handout that includes specs of the Gaudi 3 AI accelerator.

Intel says the brand new chip builds upon the structure of its predecessor, Gaudi 2, by that includes two an identical silicon dies related by a high-bandwidth connection. Each die accommodates a central cache reminiscence of 48 megabytes, surrounded by 4 matrix multiplication engines and 32 programmable tensor processor cores, bringing the overall cores to 64.

The chipmaking big claims that Gaudi 3 delivers double the AI compute efficiency of Gaudi 2 utilizing 8-bit floating-point infrastructure, which has change into essential for coaching transformer fashions. The chip additionally provides a fourfold enhance for computations utilizing the BFloat 16-number format. Gaudi 3 additionally options 128GB of the inexpensive HBMe2 reminiscence capability (which can contribute to cost competitiveness) and options 3.7TB of reminiscence bandwidth.

Since information facilities are well-known to be energy hungry, Intel emphasizes the ability effectivity of Gaudi 3, claiming 40 % larger inference power-efficiency throughout Llama 7B and 70B parameters, and Falcon 180B parameter fashions in comparison with Nvidia’s H100. Eitan Medina, chief working officer of Intel’s Habana Labs, attributes this benefit to Gaudi’s large-matrix math engines, which he claims require considerably much less reminiscence bandwidth in comparison with different architectures.

Gaudi vs. Blackwell

An Intel handout photo of the Gaudi 3 AI accelerator.
Enlarge / An Intel handout picture of the Gaudi 3 AI accelerator.

Last month, we lined the splashy launch of Nvidia’s Blackwell structure, together with the B200 GPU, which Nvidia claims would be the world’s strongest AI chip. It appears pure, then, to match what we find out about Nvidia’s highest-performing AI chip to the most effective of what Intel can at the moment produce.

For starters, Gaudi 3 is being manufactured utilizing TSMC’s N5 course of expertise, based on IEEE Spectrum, narrowing the hole between Intel and Nvidia when it comes to semiconductor fabrication expertise. The upcoming Nvidia Blackwell chip will use a customized N4P course of, which reportedly provides modest efficiency and effectivity enhancements over N5.

Gaudi 3’s use of HBM2e reminiscence (as we talked about above) is notable in comparison with the dearer HBM3 or HBM3e utilized in competing chips, providing a steadiness of efficiency and cost-efficiency. This selection appears to emphasise Intel’s technique to compete not solely on efficiency but in addition on value.

As far as uncooked efficiency comparisons between Gaudi 3 and the B200, that may’t be identified till the chips have been launched and benchmarked by a 3rd get together.

As the race to energy the tech business’s thirst for AI computation heats up, IEEE Spectrum notes that the subsequent era of Intel’s Gaudi chip, code-named Falcon Shores, stays a focal point. It additionally stays to be seen whether or not Intel will proceed to depend on TSMC’s expertise or leverage its personal foundry enterprise and upcoming nanosheet transistor expertise to realize a aggressive edge within the AI accelerator market.

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