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AMD’s AI chips could match Nvidia’s offerings, says software firm

CNA – Artificial intelligence (AI) chips from Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) are about 80 per cent as fast as those from Nvidia Corp, with a future path to matching their performance, according to a report by an AI software firm.

Nvidia dominates the market for the powerful chips used to create ChatGPT and other AI services that have swept through the technology industry in recent months. The popularity of those services has pushed Nvidia’s value past USD1 trillion and led to a shortage of its chips that Nvidia says it is working to resolve.

But in the meantime, tech companies are looking for alternatives, with hopes that AMD will be a strong challenger. That prompted MosaicML, an AI startup acquired for USD1.3 billion earlier this week, to conduct a test comparing AI chips from AMD and Nvidia.

MosaicML evaluated the AMD MI250 and the Nvidia A100, both of which are one generation behind each company’s flagship chips but are still in high demand.

MosaicML found AMD’s chip could get 80 per cent of the performance of Nvidia’s chip, thanks mainly to a new version of AMD software released late last year and a new version of open-source software backed by Meta Platforms called PyTorch that was released in March.

Chief Technology Officer of MosaicML Hanlin Tang said that the company believes that further software updates from AMD that are in the works should help its MI250 chip match the performance of Nvidia’s A100.

“For most (machine learning) chip companies out there, the software is the Achilles heel of it,” Tang said, adding that AMD had not paid MosaicML to conduct its research. “Where AMD has done really well is on the software side.”

Tang said that MosaicML used its tools, the PyTorch and AMD software, to train a large language model without changing its code base, if developers can find AMD’s chips at the right price.

People at the AMD booth during the Mobile World Congress in Shanghai, China. PHOTO: CNA