China looks to AI-generated chip design as US tightens EDA chokehold
Scientists from the Institute of Computing Technology under Chinese Academy of Sciences have recently published a research paper showcasing capability to use AI in automating chip design. Titled “Pushing the Limits of Machine Design: Automated CPU Design with AI”, the research claims that a 32-bit RISC-V CPU design was automatically generated within 5 hours, and that the CPU, with a clock rate up to 300MHz, already entered tape-out in December 2021 on 65nm process. In addition, the research claimed that the CPU was tested successfully on the Linux operating system and performed “comparably against the human-designed Intel 80486SX CPU.”
Though modern commercial electronic design automation (EDA) tools such as logic synthesis or high-level synthesis tools are available to accelerate the CPU design, all these tools require hand-crafted formal program code as the input,” the research paper explained.” In other words, engineers must use formal programming languages to implement the circuit logic of a CPU based on design specification, before various EDA tools can be used to facilitate functional validation and performance/power optimization of the circuit logic.