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New Optimization Chip Tackles Machine Learning, 5G Routing

A 49-core chip by Georgia Tech uses a 1980s-era algorithm to solve some of today’s toughest optimization problems faster than a GPU

3 min read
Illustration of a chip with light shining out of it
Illustration: iStockphoto

Engineers at Georgia Tech say they’ve come up with a programmable prototype chip that efficiently solves a huge class of optimization problems, including those needed for neural network training, 5G network routing, and MRI image reconstruction. The chip’s architecture embodies a particular algorithm that breaks up one huge problem into many small problems, works on the subproblems, and shares the results. It does this over and over until it comes up with the best answer. Compared to a GPU running the algorithm, the prototype chip—called OPTIMO—is 4.77 times as power efficient and 4.18 times as fast.

OPTIMO's 7 x 7 array of cores are interlinked to facilitate the gather and scatter steps of an optimization algorithm called ADMM.OPTIMO's 7 x 7 array of cores are interlinked to facilitate the gather and scatter steps of an optimization algorithm called ADMM.Image: Georgia Tech

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The Transistor at 75

The past, present, and future of the modern world’s most important invention

1 min read
A photo of a birthday cake with 75 written on it.
Lisa Sheehan
LightGreen

Seventy-five years is a long time. It’s so long that most of us don’t remember a time before the transistor, and long enough for many engineers to have devoted entire careers to its use and development. In honor of this most important of technological achievements, this issue’s package of articles explores the transistor’s historical journey and potential future.

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