Google Unveils New AI Chip and Arm-Based Data Center Processor

Google artificial intelligence AI
Google announced on Tuesday the release of a new version of its artificial intelligence (AI) chips for data centers, along with the introduction of an Arm-based central processing unit (CPU).

The tensor processing units (TPUs) developed by Google are seen as a viable alternative to Nvidia’s advanced AI chips. However, access to these TPUs is currently limited to Google Cloud Platform users, as they are not available for direct purchase.

Google intends to offer the Arm-based CPU, dubbed Axion, through its Google Cloud services. According to the company, Axion demonstrates superior performance compared to both x86 chips and general-purpose Arm chips available in cloud computing.

Mark Lohmeyer, Vice President and General Manager of Compute and Machine Learning Infrastructure at Google Cloud, emphasized the company’s commitment to facilitating the transition of existing workloads to Arm architecture. He stated, “We’re making it easy for customers to bring their existing workloads to Arm. Axion is built on open foundations, enabling seamless adoption without requiring customers to re-architect or rewrite their applications.” and Microsoft are among the rival cloud operators who have developed their own Arm-based CPUs to differentiate their computing services. While Google has previously created custom chips for various purposes, including YouTube and AI, this marks its first venture into CPU development.

While Google has partnered with Broadcom on previous iterations of the TPU chips, it has not disclosed whether similar collaboration occurred for the Axion chip. Google also refrained from commenting on Broadcom’s involvement in the latest TPU version, TPU v5p.

The new TPU v5p chip, designed to operate in clusters of 8,960 chips known as pods, boasts double the raw performance of its predecessor. Google employs liquid cooling to maintain optimal performance levels within these pods.

In terms of performance, the Axion chip offers a 30% improvement over general-purpose Arm chips and a 50% enhancement compared to current-generation x86 chips manufactured by Intel and Advanced Micro Devices (AMD).

Axion is already being utilized in various Google services, such as YouTube Ads on Google Cloud, with plans for further integration and eventual public availability later this year. The TPU v5p chip is now generally accessible through Google Cloud as of Tuesday’s announcement.

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