The first 7nm Chinese GPU is approaching: here is Big Island

The first 7nm Chinese GPU is approaching: here is Big Island

The first 7nm Chinese GPU is approaching

Some time ago we told you about the possibility that Chinese companies are turning to the second-hand market in order to strengthen their production lines and their stocks, waiting to start producing proprietary hardware. It seems that, in some time, our guide to the best GPUs will welcome new manufacturers in addition to AMD and Nvidia. Tianshu Zhixin announced Wednesday March 31 that it is about to begin "mass production" and "commercial delivery" of the Big Island, China's first 7nm "general purpose" GPU.

Tianshu Zhixin , whose official name is Shanghai Tianshu Intellectual Semiconductor Co. Ltd, was born from the joint venture between the municipal government of Shanghai and VIA Technologies of Taiwan, the world's largest independent manufacturer of integrated circuits and second only to the US Intel. As early as January, it reported that the first Big Island GPUs would be built with an unspecified 7nm process node and 2.5D chip-on-wafer-on-substrate (CoWoS) packaging. Wednesday's announcements confirm that the cards were made using TSMC's 7nm FinFET manufacturing process. From this we assume that Big Island GPUs may have relatively low power consumption levels.

Regarding claimed performance, Tianshu Zhixin revealed that Big Island offers 147 TFLOPS of FP16 computing power. The proprietary chipset also supports several other floating-point formats, including BF16, FP32, INT8, INT16 and INT32. Based on these specs, the Chinese GPU is comparable to the Nvidia RTX 3080 and 3090, while the processor's computing capacity surpasses the A100 (which can run 77.97 TFLPOS at FP16) and nearly matches AMD's Instinct M100 (184, 6 TFlOPS to FP16).

Tianshu Zhixin said his progress "in product development and commercial application" would be "1-2 years ahead" of Chinese domestic competitors' products. The company then reported that it had begun the design of the Big Island in 2018. It was initially planned to put the GPU on the market by May 2020, but a series of contributing causes led to a postponement of the launch. It was also pointed out that the Big Island chipset has undergone over 100 independent tests to verify its quality: the company's website reports as trading partners Oracle, Dell, Inspur and the Asian telecommunications operator China Unicom.

The company is also unbalanced on the delivery of the first models, estimated by summer 2021. A hypothesis that seems daring to us, also given the lack of information regarding shipping costs and retail prices, and which leads us to assume that Tianshu Zhixin has considered the risk of some delay due to the shortage of microconductors. But the arrival of the Big Island (and the independence of the People's Republic from US manufacturers) is approaching.

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Chinese company launches the country's first homegrown 7nm GPGPU chip

China has made a major breakthrough in leading-edge 7nm computing chips that could rival products from global industry leaders like U.S. companies Nvidia and AMD.

Shanghai Tianshu Zhixin Semiconductor Co., a domestic chipmaker, announced on Wednesday that it had launched the country's first homegrown 7nm GPGPU chip named 'Big Island' or 'BI.'

GPGPU is short for General-Purpose Graphics Processing Unit, which refers to a graphics processing unit (GPU) that can perform non-specialized computations in addition to its traditional purpose of computation for computer graphics, such as computations typically handled by a Central Processing Unit (CPU). It's an overall faster, high-performance processor that combines CPU and GPU processing power.

GPGPU chips not only feature parallel processing capabilities, but can also have high memory bandwidth. Therefore, they are used to power everything from databases to high-performance computing (HPC) and artificial intelligence (AI).

However, the area has long been dominated by international giants such as Nvidia and AMD.

The launch of BI marks a big step forward for China's design and development of GPU chips, which is expected to break the dominance of the technology by foreign companies, said Zhang Ying, deputy director of Shanghai Municipal Commission of Economy and Information Technology.

Tianshu Zhixin is the first actual Chinese supplier of GPGPU chips and HPC system, Xinhua reported. The company said its BI chip 'can complete the artificial intelligence processing of hundreds of camera video channels per second, and the performance is twice that of mainstream products in the market.'

Development of the 7nm GPGPU chip began in 2018. The company said it would soon start mass production and commercial delivery of the product, one to two years ahead of its domestic competitors.

Tianshu Zhixin was set up in 2013 as a joint venture between the Shanghai municipal government and Taiwan's VIA Technologies.

So far, Chinese companies still lag behind quite a lot in the area of AI chips represented by GPGPU chips. But it's a core technology Shanghai is ramping up efforts to catch up, Xinhua reported. 

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