We’ve often seen many instances of smaller players teaming up to compete against bigger rivals. This time however, Ampere, a vendor of Arm CPUs, is aiming to take on Nvidia along with a group of smaller chip startups known as Platform Alliance.
The alliance is bringing together well-known chip startups such as Cerebras Systems, Graphcore, Furiosa, Kalray, Kinara, Luminous, Neuchips, Rebellions, and Sapeon with the primary objective of advocating for an open artificial intelligence ecosystem.
Ampere chief product officer Jeff Wittich told The Register, “The key problem we see today is that incumbent solutions don’t provide these things. It is currently a closed ecosystem on the hardware and software side, it is not efficient due to the large amounts of power being consumed, and it’s costly. This makes it hard for people to scale AI to meet their needs without it being costly and unsustainable.”
Wittich went on to argue that no single chipmaker can solve the issue solely. “We wanted to band together to create full platform solutions that are implementable.” So it’s not unexpected that the alliance places a strong emphasis on developing an ecosystem of AI systems that are more efficient than GPUs.
The clear mention of ‘GPUs’ in the announcement and Wittich’s comments about closed software and hardware ecosystems could be a direct criticism of Nvidia. The Chip maker’s most recent H100 GPUs are designed for 700 watts and when placed in their HGX mainboards, can use more than 10kW at the system level.
Chip makers are exploring various methods to reduce the power demands of AI. These enhancements can be achieved through hardware, software, or standardisation approaches. As for the alliance, their first task is addressing the hardware problems.
“Our initial focus is to create a wide variety of hardware solutions that can utilize existing OEM and ODM platforms, so they can be readily deployed today,” Wittich said. “It’s about creating choice. Today, customers don’t have a lot of choices, and people tend to default to the one solution they know. But, there are better solutions out there that are more efficient and cost-effective, and our goal is to make those solutions available to end customers, so they can adopt them.”
Nonetheless, Cerebras CEO Andrew Feldman also says that the creation and release of open foundation models will play a significant role. Ampere also expects more members to join the Alliance in the upcoming weeks, and any AI company creating hardware is welcome to participate.