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The Circuit

Author: Ben Bajarin and Jay Goldberg

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A podcast about the business and market of semiconductors
76 Episodes
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The conversation explores the question of how to monetize the massive investment in AI infrastructure and hardware. There is a mix of pessimism and optimism regarding the potential returns on this investment. The thesis is that AI is currently being used as a feature to improve existing processes, but there is a lack of consumer use cases that can justify the investment. The conversation also touches on the challenges of increasing power consumption and the need for additional power generation. The potential for new and innovative AI applications is discussed, but there is uncertainty about whether these will be able to generate significant revenue.
In this episode of The Circuit, Ben Bajarin and Jay Goldberg are joined by Scott Best to discuss cryptography. They explore the origins of cryptography, including Scott's personal journey and early experiences with decoding secret messages. They also delve into the practical applications of cryptography in everyday life, such as secure web browsing and firmware updates. Scott explains the concept of key size and how it determines the strength of encryption. The conversation concludes with a discussion on the future of cryptography and the potential impact of quantum computers.
Nvidia briefly became the most valuable company in the world by market cap, surpassing Apple. This milestone highlights Nvidia's dominance in the semiconductor industry and its position as a leading company in AI computing. However, there are concerns about the sustainability of Nvidia's growth and the disconnect between its stock performance and the dynamics of the company itself. The platformization of GPUs is a key strategy for Nvidia, but it may not align with the preferences of hyperscalers who are looking for more diverse solutions. The future of the data center market and the demand for AI capabilities remain uncertain.
Apple announced Apple intelligence, integrating AI in a very Apple way. They are focusing on on-device AI to align with their privacy philosophy. The features are only available on the most recent Apple Silicon iPhone pro and newer models. The implementation of AI is focused on useful feature-centric applications rather than general AI. Apple's infrastructure play with their own data centers and Apple Silicon has strategic implications and could potentially lead to them becoming a cloud service provider for developers. The closed-loop environment of security and privacy is a key advantage for Apple. The integration of client to cloud with a common software layer is a powerful trend. Other companies like Arm are also exploring this approach.
Computex has evolved into an important tech trade show, with a focus on gaming, GPUs, and components for gaming and PCs. The show has seen a shift towards data center components and AI servers, which have become a significant category. AMD and Intel are both making chips for AI PCs, with AMD leading in NPU tops. Qualcomm's Snapdragon is ahead in performance, spooking other vendors. The PC landscape has permanently changed, with more competition for Intel. The evaluation of product truth is crucial, as performance and battery life are key factors. In the data center space, AI servers are gaining attention and have higher content per dollar than general-purpose servers. However, market sizing for AI servers is challenging due to varying estimates and counting methods. The conversation explores the market potential for silicon sales to hyperscalers and tier two/tier three cloud service providers. It discusses the growth of the hyperscaler market and the potential for the tier two/tier three market to also grow. The conversation also touches on the challenges faced by new entrants in the market and the dominance of Nvidia in the AI server market. It explores the role of networking components in AI data centers and the margin opportunities for companies in the AI server market. The conversation concludes with a discussion on Arm's CSS service and its expansion into mobile and client markets.
With Special guests, Austin Lyons and Paul Karazuba! The conversation covers the topic of NPUs (Neural Processing Units) and delves into their architecture, performance, and relevance in the semiconductor industry. The discussion also addresses the use of tops per watt as a metric for NPU performance and the design origins of NPUs, including the use of licensed IP and the evolution from DSPs to NPUs. The conversation delves into the topic of NPUs (Neural Processing Units) and their integration into various devices. The speakers discuss the origins of NPUs, their design philosophy, and the potential impact on consumer devices. They also explore the role of NPUs in edge devices, AI PCs, and the future of consumer use cases for AI. The conversation concludes with predictions about the widespread adoption of NPUs and their potential impact on the market.
In this episode, Ben Bajarin and Jay Goldberg discuss the recent Google I/O event and the introduction of new TPUs and CPUs. They also explore the ARM architecture in the data center and the potential for switching between different ARM CPUs. Additionally, they touch on Qualcomm's launch of Windows on ARM and the significant adoption of Qualcomm SKUs by major OEMs. The conversation covers various topics including the dynamics in the PC space, Nvidia's earnings, and the 10-to-1 stock split. The main takeaways include the strong position of Windows in the PC ecosystem, the growth of Nvidia's data center networking business, and the potential impact of a dedicated inference chip. The conversation also discusses the competition in different parts of Nvidia's stack and the volatility that may come with the stock split.
In this episode of The Circuit, Ben Bajarin interviews Esam Elashmawi, Chief Strategy and Marketing Officer of Lattice, about the world of Field-Programmable Gate Arrays (FPGAs). They discuss the basics of FPGAs, their unique capabilities, and their pervasiveness across various applications. They also explore the advantages of FPGAs over Application-Specific Integrated Circuits (ASICs) and the flexibility they offer in terms of customization and reprogramming. Esam highlights the role of FPGAs in different markets, such as communications, computing, industrial, and automotive, and how Lattice differentiates itself in the FPGA market. They also touch on the challenges of building an FPGA company and the potential of FPGAs in AI applications, both in data centers and at the edge.
In this episode of The Circuit, Ben Bajarin and Jay Goldberg interview Aart de Geus, the executive chair and co-founder of Synopsys, about the semiconductor industry and the evolution of electronic design automation (EDA). They discuss the concept of EDA and how it allows designers to simulate and optimize circuits without physically building them. Aart de Geus highlights the shift from analog to digital design as a major inflection point in the industry. He also explains the role of EDA tools in automating the design process and the importance of functional correctness in chip design. The conversation then delves into the future of chip design, including the use of AI in EDA tools, the rise of chiplets and vertical stacking, and the increasing complexity of system-level design.
In this episode of The Circuit, Ben Bajarin and Jay Goldberg discuss the latest developments in the semiconductor industry, focusing on the sectors of data centers, PCs, mobile, automotive, and industrial semiconductors. They analyze the performance of companies like Intel, AMD, Nvidia, Apple, Qualcomm, and NXP, and explore the factors influencing their success or challenges. The conversation highlights the impact of AI on the industry, the dynamics of the Chinese market, the potential for a super cycle in PCs, and the outlook for the automotive and industrial semiconductor sectors.
SummaryIn this episode, Ben Bajarin and Jay Goldberg discuss the skyrocketing capex by cloud hyper scalers and its implications. They explore the significant growth in capex spending by companies like Google, Microsoft, and Amazon, and the connection between capex and revenue growth. They also discuss the challenges of monetizing AI investments and the need for clear consumer use cases. The conversation touches on the potential for new innovations in AI wearables, AR glasses, autonomous cars, and robotics. They also consider the deflationary effects on costs and the timeline for the development of AI applications.
Episode SummaryThe recent downturn in semiconductor and AI-related stocks has sparked concerns about a bubble. The volatility in these stocks can be attributed to the unpredictability of retail investors and traders. The market is experiencing a correction, but it does not indicate a slowdown in AI. The hype around AI has been tempered by the realization that progress is slower than expected. The energy constraint is a topic of discussion, but improvements in hardware and software will continue to address this issue. The future of AI depends on the balance between compute power and energy efficiency.
This episode of The Circuit discusses the recent trend of companies developing their own custom CPUs and accelerators for AI workloads. Google, Amazon, and Microsoft have all announced their own custom chips, while Facebook and Marvell are also entering the custom chip market. The conversation also touches on the challenges and trade-offs of custom silicon, the impact on NVIDIA, and the difficulty of accurately sizing the AI market. The hosts highlight the uncertainty surrounding the future of AI outsourcing and the potential shift in the fortunes of the semiconductor and cloud industries.
SummaryIn this conversation, Ben Bajarin and Jay Goldberg discuss the recent Intel webinar on the foundry business and the financial breakout for Intel Foundry Services (IFS). They analyze the financial details, including the higher costs and lower margins than expected, and the potential for improvement in the future. They also discuss the impact of the CHIPS Act and the subsidies received by TSMC for their Arizona foundries. The conversation concludes with a discussion on Intel's progress under CEO Pat Gelsinger and the opportunities and challenges they face in the data center and AI markets.
In this episode, Ben Bajarin and Jay Goldberg discuss the competition faced by Nvidia in the semiconductor industry. They explore various competitors, including AMD, Intel, and startups like Grok, Etched, and Cerebras. They also delve into the threat posed by custom silicon and the strategies of hyperscalers like Google, Microsoft, Facebook, and Amazon. Overall, the conversation highlights the challenges and opportunities for Nvidia in maintaining its position as a leader in the market. In this conversation, Jay Goldberg and Ben Bajarin discuss various themes related to Nvidia and the AI market. They explore the growing moat of Nvidia and the dominance of CUDA as a software platform. They also discuss the ease of use and stickiness of CUDA, as well as the uncertainty of Nvidia's software adoption. The conversation delves into the market potential and consumer applications of AI, as well as the slow progression of the AI market. They also touch on the risks of AI factories and inventory cycles, the potential slowdown of performance gains, and the regulatory concerns for Nvidia. The conversation concludes with a discussion on the impact of China's market and US sanctions.
Nvidia's recent keynote highlighted their dominance in the data center and their position as a platform company. They offer a full stack solution and are recognized for their sum of the parts story. While some customers may be concerned about getting locked into Nvidia's ecosystem, many appreciate the simplicity and turnkey nature of their offerings. The importance of inference and the transition to generative AI was also discussed, highlighting the complexity of scaling and the need for compute power. However, there may be room for competition in the inference market, particularly in relation to Nvidia's NVLink technology. The conversation covers various topics related to NVIDIA's keynote, including the need for more compute power, the potential of robotics and 6G, the challenges of implementing 6G, the future of software at NVIDIA, and the uncertainty of NVIDIA's software revenue. The conversation also touches on the future of AI software, the computing S-curve, and the longevity of performance gains. Overall, the conversation highlights the excitement and optimism surrounding NVIDIA's advancements in AI and computing.
In this conversation, Ben Bajarin, Jay Goldberg, and Austin Lyons discuss the semiconductor industry and the role of AI accelerators. They cover topics such as the future of Intel, the spectrum of AI accelerators, the dominance of Nvidia in training, the failure of accelerator startups, and the debate between general-purpose and specialized accelerators. They also explore the issue of GPU bloat and the need for alternative solutions in the accelerated computing space. The conversation explores the challenges of porting software to new architectures, the reluctance to switch from Nvidia, the potential for startups to disrupt the AI hardware market, Grok's approach to inference as a service, the need for purpose-built AI architectures, the struggle of custom chip design, and the sustainability of custom chip efforts.
In this episode, Ben Bajarin and Jay Goldberg discuss the thermal problem faced by data centers and other electronic devices. They are joined by Carl Schlachte, the CEO of Ventiva, a company that provides innovative cooling solutions. The conversation covers the origin story of Ventiva, the challenges faced by the company, and the unique technology they offer. They also discuss the traditional cooling technologies in the market and how Ventiva's approach differs. The episode highlights the importance of rethinking design and the potential benefits of Ventiva's solution in various electronic devices. The conversation explores the impact of video communication and the challenges of designing systems for cooling. It delves into the trade-offs between system functionality and thermal management, as well as the market opportunities for thermal management solutions. The discussion highlights the importance of supporting AI in laptops and the thermal challenges faced by laptop manufacturers. It also examines alternative approaches to thermal management and the potential applications in handsets and large format displays. The conversation concludes by emphasizing the advantages of Ventiva's approach and the significance of thermal management in the industry.
SummaryIn this episode of The Circuit, Ben Bajarin and Jay Goldberg discuss the infrastructure side of telecom at Mobile World Congress. They highlight the importance of the show for telecom operators and the focus on networking and telecom infrastructure. The conversation covers the current state of 5G deployment and the upcoming transition to 6G. They also discuss the challenges and concerns in upgrading core networks and the potential costs and timing of 6G. The decline of millimeter wave technology and the use of custom silicon in telecom infrastructure are also explored, along with the advantages and disadvantages of custom chipsets. The conversation covers topics such as AI chip infrastructure in the telecom industry, Qualcomm's underwhelming presence at Mobile World Congress, Qualcomm's AI hub and centralized repository for AI models, Qualcomm's initiative to bring 5G to low-cost handsets, the competition between Qualcomm and MediaTek in the AI space, and Apple's update to the MacBook Air and its positioning as an AI platform.TakeawaysMobile World Congress is an important show for telecom operators and focuses on networking and telecom infrastructure.The transition to 5G is currently underway, with 6G expected to be discussed and developed in the coming years.Upgrading core networks and improving network efficiency are ongoing challenges for telecom operators.The decline of millimeter wave technology and the use of custom silicon in telecom infrastructure are notable trends. AI chip infrastructure is not yet a priority in the telecom industry.Qualcomm's presence at Mobile World Congress was underwhelming.Qualcomm's AI hub provides a centralized repository for AI models.Qualcomm's initiative to bring 5G to low-cost handsets may face challenges in competing with MediaTek.The tension between premium and low-cost devices in the smartphone market continues.Apple is positioning the MacBook Air as an AI platform.
SummaryThis episode of The Circuit discusses the recent Intel Foundry event and Nvidia's earnings. The conversation explores Intel's focus on becoming a leading foundry and its bet on advanced packaging. The hosts also discuss concerns about Intel's culture and execution, as well as the response from TSMC. The episode concludes with predictions about the future of the market and the role of Intel in the industry. In this conversation, Jay Goldberg and Ben Bajarin discuss the future of TSMC and Apple, Intel's commitment to Apple and chiplets, the push towards chiplets in PCs, Intel's relationship with TSMC, NVIDIA's clean quarter, retail interest in NVIDIA stock, the investor relations dilemma for NVIDIA, NVIDIA's product cadence and long-term expectations, and the inference market and competition.TakeawaysIntel is positioning itself as a leading foundry for complex systems of chips in the AI era.The success of Intel's foundry strategy will depend on its ability to deliver on technical innovation and overcome cultural challenges.TSMC remains a strong competitor in the market and has credibility in technical innovation.The customer dynamics and relationships with major wafer scale customers will play a crucial role in Intel's success as a foundry.The future of the market will likely involve a shift towards advanced packaging and chiplet designs. TSMC's future success depends on targeting a big volume platform like IFS in 2027.Intel's commitment to Apple may hinder their adoption and advancement of chiplets.PC CPU makers are under pressure to move towards chiplets, which may influence Apple's architecture decisions.NVIDIA's clean quarter and moderate beat and raise had a fairly moderate reaction in the stock market.NVIDIA's stock is heavily influenced by retail investors, which can lead to unpredictable swings.NVIDIA's product cadence and performance improvements, as well as supply chain constraints, are concerns for meeting revenue expectations.NVIDIA's long-term expectations and communication about the total addressable market may create heightened investor expectations.The inference market is still in early days, and competition is increasing.NVIDIA's software ties and workload advantage may give them an edge in the inference market.
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