Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Intel Foundry sets ambitious agenda for the AI era

Three years after returning to Intel as its CEO, Pat Gelsinger launched Intel Foundry as a “systems foundry business for the AI era.”

In a press event in San Jose, Gelsinger set a target to become the No.2 foundry globally by the end of the decade.   The idea of a “systems foundry” versus a traditional foundry is that a systems foundry approach offers full-stack optimization from the factory network to software. 

Gelsinger also unveiled an expanded process roadmap for Intel Foundry. He highlighted an expanding ecosystem of partners, and confirmed that Microsoft will be a lead  customer on the Intel 18A process. As a measure of progress,  Intel Foundry’s expected lifetime deal value is now greater than $15 billion. It will have to reach the $100 billion by the end of the decade for a chance to displace the industry’s current No.2 fab - Samsung.

Speaking via an online video link, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo called for long-term investments to rebuild America’s manufacturing. Chips Act grants for Intel Foundry’s expansions in Arizona, New Mexico and Ohio are expected, but still pending.

“AI is profoundly transforming the world and how we think about technology and the silicon that powers it,” said Intel CEO Pat Gelsinger. “This is creating an unprecedented opportunity for the world’s most innovative chip designers and for Intel Foundry, the world’s first systems foundry for the AI era. Together, we can create new markets and revolutionize how the world uses technology to improve people’s lives.”

Some highlights from the event:

  •  Intel 14A is the newest and smallest node on the company's updated process roadmap  
  • Gelsinger affirmed that the five-nodes-in-four-years (5N4Y) process roadmap remains on track and that Intel will regain process leadership with Intel 18A in 2025.
  • The new roadmap includes evolutions for Intel 3, Intel 18A and Intel 14A process technologies. It includes Intel 3-T, which is optimized with through-silicon vias for 3D advanced packaging designs and will soon reach manufacturing readiness. 
  • Intel Foundry is collaborating with Taiwan-based UMC on new 12 nanometer nodes.
  • Intel also announced the addition of Intel Foundry FCBGA 2D+ to its suite of ASAT offerings, which already include FCBGA 2D, EMIB, Foveros and Foveros Direct.
  • Intellectual property and electronic design automation (EDA) partners Synopsys, Cadence, Siemens, Ansys, Lorentz and Keysight disclosed tool qualification and IP readiness to enable foundry customers to accelerate advanced chip designs on Intel 18A, which offers the foundry industry’s first backside power solution. 
  • Several vendors announced plans to collaborate on assembly technology and design flows for Intel’s embedded multi-die interconnect bridge (EMIB) 2.5D packaging technology. These EDA solutions will ensure faster development and delivery of advanced packaging solutions for foundry customers.
  • Intel also unveiled an "Emerging Business Initiative" that showcases a collaboration with Arm to provide cutting-edge foundry services for Arm-based system-on-chips (SoCs). 

Stuart Pann, senior vice president of Intel Foundry at Intel said, “We are offering a world-class foundry, delivered from a resilient, more sustainable and secure source of supply, and complemented by unparalleled systems of chips capabilities. Bringing these strengths together gives customers everything they need to engineer and deliver solutions for the most demanding applications.”


NVIDIA's data center revenue hits $18.4 billion, up 409% YoY

NVIDIA reported record quarterly revenue of $22.1 billion, up 22% from Q3, up 265% from year ago. Of this, data center revenue amounted to a record $18.4 billion, up 27% from Q3, up 409% from year ago. Non-GAAP earnings per diluted share was $5.16, up 28% from the previous quarter and up 486% from a year ago.

“Accelerated computing and generative AI have hit the tipping point. Demand is surging worldwide across companies, industries and nations,” said Jensen Huang, founder and CEO of NVIDIA.

“Our Data Center platform is powered by increasingly diverse drivers — demand for data processing, training and inference from large cloud-service providers and GPU-specialized ones, as well as from enterprise software and consumer internet companies. Vertical industries — led by auto, financial services and healthcare — are now at a multibillion-dollar level.

“NVIDIA RTX, introduced less than six years ago, is now a massive PC platform for generative AI, enjoyed by 100 million gamers and creators. The year ahead will bring major new product cycles with exceptional innovations to help propel our industry forward. Come join us at next month’s GTC, where we and our rich ecosystem will reveal the exciting future ahead,” he said.

Some Data Center highlights for the quarter

  • Launched, in collaboration with Google, optimizations across NVIDIA’s data center and PC AI platforms for Gemma, Google’s groundbreaking open language models.
  • Expanded its strategic collaboration with Amazon Web Services to host NVIDIA DGX Cloud on AWS.
  • Announced that Amgen will use the NVIDIA DGX SuperPOD™ to power insights into drug discovery, diagnostics and precision medicine.
  • Announced NVIDIA NeMo Retriever, a generative AI microservice that lets enterprises connect custom large language models with enterprise data to deliver highly accurate responses for AI applications. 
  • Introduced NVIDIA MONAI cloud APIs to help developers and platform providers integrate AI into their medical-imaging offerings. 
  • Announced that Singtel will bring generative AI services to Singapore through energy-efficient data centers that the telco is building with NVIDIA Hopper architecture GPUs.
  • Introduced plans with Cisco to help enterprises quickly and easily deploy and manage secure AI infrastructure.
  • Supported the National Artificial Intelligence Research Resource pilot program, a major step by the U.S. government toward a shared national research infrastructure.


Nokia taps NVIDIA for AI-ready RAN

Nokia is collaborating with NVIDIA on the future of AI-ready radio access network (RAN) solutions. The collaboration, which further enhances Nokia’s anyRAN approach, aims to position AI as fundamental to transforming the future of the telecommunications network business. 

Nokia will collaborate with NVIDIA on Cloud RAN solutions that leverage the NVIDIA Grace CPU Superchip for Layer 2+ processing, Nokia’s high-performance, energy-efficient In-Line Layer 1 (L1) accelerator technology, and Cloud RAN software. Additionally, Nokia will use NVIDIA GPUs for AI applications and vRAN acceleration, paving the way for AI-RAN.

The NVIDIA Grace CPU is based on the latest Arm Neoverse V2 CPU reference architecture, promising performance, power efficiency, and high-bandwidth connectivity covering all data center requirements. Nokia’s customers will benefit from diversity and choice in selecting CPUs for Cloud RAN networks. 

Nokia says this collaboration is a continuation of its flexible anyRAN approach that supports any purpose-built, hybrid or Cloud RAN environment. It’s designed to help customers get their Cloud RAN services up and running much faster, removing complexity and ensuring openness and flexibility. Nokia’s high-performance, energy-efficient In-Line acceleration architecture  integrates with all leading cloud or server infrastructures. Nokia has successfully performed end-to-end 5G data calls (Layer 3 calls) in multi-vendor setups with several partners. 

Tommi Uitto, President of Mobile Networks at Nokia, said: “This is an important collaboration with NVIDIA that will explore how artificial intelligence can play a transformative role in the future of our industry. It is a further example of our anyRAN approach that is helping to make Cloud RAN a commercial reality. The strength of our industry collaborations means we can drive efficiency, innovation, openness, and scale by delivering competitive advantage to operators and enterprises.”

Ronnie Vasishta, Senior Vice President of Telecom at NVIDIA, said: “Bringing the power of NVIDIA’s advanced computing to Nokia’s platform will deliver more performant and energy-efficient Cloud RAN solutions. Plus, as AI creates unprecedented transformational opportunities across industries, our collaboration with Nokia deepens AI-enabled innovation in radio access networks for improved operational efficiency in telecommunications.”

Nokia adds GenAI to its NetGuard Cybersecurity Dome

Nokia’s XDR security platform, NetGuard Cybersecurity Dome, will be integrated with a telco centric GenAI assistant to give enterprises faster and higher quality detection and resolution capabilities. The new telco-focused GenAI assistant is based on Microsoft Azure OpenAI Service with telecommunications and mission critical security training. The training incorporates a variety of categories of information, including: 3GPP and NIST network architecture specifications; 5G topology spanning RAN, Transport, and Core; and MITRE ATT&CK and FiGHT (5G Hierarchy of Threats) for mapping adversary tactics

Nokia says its AI assistant will be useful in countering cyber criminals who are increasingly using GenAI to launch more sophisticated attacks on critical infrastructure.

Nokia’s newly integrated Telco GenAI assistant tool is:

  • Expected to reduce the time it takes to identify and resolve a threat by up to 50%, depending on the nature of a cyberattack.
  • Based on large language models within Microsoft Azure OpenAI Service, which have been trained on insights from 5G Network architecture, 5G Security practices, and Nokia’s telco domain expertise.
  • Set to begin testing with several Nokia customers in the coming weeks and will be commercially available in the second quarter of the year.

Fran Heeran, Senior Vice President and General Manager, Product and Engineering, Cloud and Network Services at Nokia, said: “The combination of Nokia’s telecoms domain and security expertise with Microsoft’s leading generative AI solutions such as Azure OpenAI Service provides enriched and context aware outcomes. Combining Nokia’s NetGuard Cybersecurity Dome with the telco-centric GenAI assistant gives communication service providers and enterprises significantly more agility in mitigating destructive cybersecurity attacks on their mission-critical operations.”

Silvia Candiani, Vice President Telco and Media at Microsoft, said: “Microsoft’s leading Azure cloud and AI capabilities deliver massive efficiency gains for the most vital security use cases, so we are thrilled to combine forces with Nokia to enable this new and important GenAI assistant for NetGuard Cybersecurity Dome. We believe the joint solution will have a significant impact on the security capabilities of communication service providers and their customers.”


#MWC24 Preview: Telcos Will Operate on AI

AI will be the talk of MWC 2024, but what does this mean in practical terms?  How will telcos use AI to operate their networks? Andrew Coward, GM of Software Networking from IBM, explains:

  • The potential of AI in telecommunications: AI can be used to automatically detect and fix network issues, improve customer service, and even predict and manage network capacity during high-demand events like the Super Bowl.
  • The challenges in implementing AI: To fully leverage AI, the industry needs advanced analytics to understand user experiences, orchestration to manage network resources, and AI itself. Currently, these elements are not fully developed in the telecommunications infrastructure.
  • The importance of education: IBM is working with GSMA to create a training academy to educate industry professionals about AI and the necessary supporting technologies. This initiative is a crucial step towards the widespread adoption of AI in telecommunications.

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#MWC24 Preview: AI's Role in 5G & Spectrum Innovation

 How will AI impact 5G network operations? 

Chris Pearson, President, and Viet Nguyen, VP of Public Relations & Technology from 5G Americas explain:

  • The integration of artificial intelligence into the fabric of communication, enhancing network performance through automated networks and improved security.
  • The impact of AI on customers and enterprise applications, with a focus on network optimization and security.
  • The dawn of 5G Advanced and its technological advances, including 5G Red Cap, which will significantly impact the cellular IoT conversation and the private 5G marketplace.
  • The role of non-terrestrial networks in the 5G conversation, with a focus on satellite operators and direct-to-cell conversations.
  • The importance of monetization in the context of 5G advancements, emphasizing the need for continued investment in network capabilities and features.

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Dust Photonics raises US$24 million in Series B

DustPhotonics, a start-up based in Modi'in, Israel, raised US$24 million in Series B funding for its silicon photonics technology for data center and AI applications, 

The oversubscribed funding round was funded by a combination of prominent investors, including new and existing investors such as Sienna Venture Capital, Greenfield Partners, Atreides Management, and Exor Ventures.

DustPhotonics said it plans to use the funding to scale production of its Carmel-4 and Carmel-8 products, used for 400Gb/s and 800Gb/s applications and to accelerate development of its next generation products which will enable 1.6Tb/s applications.

"We looked at innovative technologies supporting the fast-growing AI compute market, and DustPhotonics stood out as a leader in this market due to their technology and customer traction," said Isabelle Amiel-Azoulai, Founding Partner at Sienna Venture Capital. "We are excited by the customer agreements and backlog that the DustPhotonics team has generated with its Carmel-4 and Carmel-8 products, and look forward to working with the DustPhotonics team to help the company in this next growth phase."


Keysight and InterDigital demo AI channel emulation for 6G

At the upcoming #MWC24 in Barcelona, Keysight Technologies and InterDigital plan to demonstrate how AI channel estimators can be trained, integrated into a physical layer, and evaluated.

The companies expect that AI will be a foundational technology for 6G, where it will be used for channel estimation. When the channel estimation block is replaced with a neural network (NN), site-specific training data used for the NN can optimize its performance and robustness to new use cases.

The demonstration uses Keysight’s communications system-specific Electronic Design Automation (EDA) software to model a 3GPP physical layer and wireless channels. Instead of using the traditional channel estimation signal processing, this block has been replaced with various neural networks for channel estimation. The first NN was fully developed and trained by InterDigital and delivered to Keysight. The second NN was developed by Keysight and trained in two different ways. First using a combination of data generated by Keysight’s Electronic Design Automation System (SystemVue) software and then again using real-world measurement data. The demonstration compares performance and complexity of InterDigital and Keysight’s Machine Learning approaches to that of traditional channel estimation, and uses an EDA software environment and a real-world 144 GHz over-the-air environment.

Milind Kulkarni, Vice President and Head of Wireless Labs at InterDigital, said: “Through partnership with Keysight, we are able to extend our ability to validate AI solutions for wireless networks. These types of collaborations and their outcomes provide valuable insight and build industry alignment as we work to shape how AI will be used in both 5G and 6G.”

Giampaolo Tardioli, Vice President, 6G and Next Generation Technology at Keysight, said: “The world is embarking on a transformative journey to revolutionize the future of connectivity with the use of AI in wireless communications. Our collaboration with strategic partners like InterDigital enables us to hone our solutions and capabilities to meet the needs of our customers as they continue pushing the boundaries of what is possible when AI and wireless are combined.”

Lumos partners with STL on mid-Atlantic fiber rollout

Lumos, which provides fiber access to more than 275,000 homes and businesses across North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia, has named STL as a strategic partner in its ambition to build transformative 100% fiber optic internet in the mid-Atlantic region.

Lumos was an important part of STL's recently inaugurated fiber optic plant in Lugoff, South Carolina. More recently, senior executives from Lumos visited STL's R&D, glass preform, fiber and cable facilities in India.

STL will support Lumos in a significant part of this critical rollout. In this long-term engagement, STL will offer advanced, purpose-engineered optical fiber cable designs to meet Lumos' network requirements. STL has end-to-end optical capabilities and will also supply its signature Opto-bolt product, a pre-connectorized drop cable designed to significantly reduce installation time by de-skilling field installation while bringing modularity into the network design.

"In building out our large scale 100% fiber optic network, reliable partners with the latest fiber technology, local presence, and fast delivery are paramount," said David Smith, Chief Network Officer at Lumos. "I believe STL will be a great partner to help us deliver world-class, seamless fiber connectivity to our customers."