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South Korean semiconductor maker SK hynix develops new AI chip

By Kim Hae-wook & Kim Tae-gyu, UPI News Korea
SK hynix has developed a memory chip with computing capabilities. Photo courtesy of SK hynix
SK hynix has developed a memory chip with computing capabilities. Photo courtesy of SK hynix

SEOUL, Feb. 17 (UPI) -- South Korean semiconductor maker SK hynix said it has developed a smart memory chip with computing capabilities, dubbed processing in memory, or PIM.

Conventional memory chips store data while allowing the CPU or GPU to process the data. However, PIM chips are designed to do both jobs at the same time.

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SK hynix said Wednesday the combination of the new memory chips' capability with CPU or GPU makes their computation speed up to 16 times faster, an advantage suitable for machine learning and big-data storage.

The company is set to commercialize the technology by collaborating with SAPEON, an AI chip company that recently branched off from SK Telecom.

"The use of artificial neural network data has increased rapidly recently, requiring computing technology optimized for computational characteristics," SAPEON CEO Ryu Soo-jung said in a statement.

"We aim to maximize efficiency in data calculation, costs and energy use by combining technologies from the two companies," Ryu said.

SK hynix senior official Ahn Hyun said that the company plans to build a new memory solution ecosystem using the PIM technology.

"The company will continue to evolve its business model and its direction for developing technologies," Ahn said in a statement.

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SK hynix plans to showcase its PIM chips at the 2022 International Solid-State Circuits Conference, a semiconductor conference in San Francisco later this month.

Experts said that PIM is a part of efforts to deal with the von Neumann bottleneck, which takes place because the processor and memory in computing are separate.

"In our brain, computing occurs within the network of memories. We are trying to achieve a similar system in actual computing, and PIM is one of the solutions," computer engineering Professor Han Tae-hee at Sungkyunkwan University told UPI News Korea.

"PIM is an advanced technology that brings the storage memory closer to processing tasks, but it cannot be commercialized overnight because the world needs totally new sets of software. The price will also be pretty high in the early stages," he said.

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