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Friday | March 5, 2021
Big Island: the Chinese GPU that rivals Nvidia

Big Island: the Chinese GPU that rivals Nvidia

Big Island is the new 7nm GPU from Shanghai Tianshu Zhixin Semiconductor Co. It seems to be now operational. The new chip would be a beast, containing no less than 24 billion transistors. To give a good idea of the number of transistors, Nvidia’s GA102 GPU, found in the RTX 3080 and 3090 graphics cards, contains 28 billion transistors. GPU Big Island

China forced to march towards technological autonomy

This Big Island GPU can generate up to 147 TFLOPS of FP16 performance. As Tom’s Hardware points out, it is certainly competitive with similar products from Nvidia and AMD. The Nvidia A100 and AMD Instinct MI100 are capable of 77.97 TFLOPS and 184.6 TFLOPS FP16 performance respectively, although the Nvidia A100 also features Tensor cores with an additional 312 TFLOPS of FP16 performance. Obviously, this new GPU from Shanghai Tianshu Zhixin Semiconductor does not represent any threat to the RTX and RX gaming cards from Nvidia and AMD. This chip is mainly intended for the HPC and AI fields for various strategic sectors: medical, educational, military… Chinese GPU Big Island

A GPU that asks questions

So China’s progress in this area is not really a problem. What is a concern is how this GPU could be produced in 7nm. This GPU is a Chip On Wafer On Substrate ( CoWoS ) solution , placing the memory in an encapsulated graphics card. This method allows for a very high memory bandwidth. We can assume that HBM2 has been used here, although there is no confirmation of this. In any case, this methodology seems to carry the DNA of TSMC which could have produced this chip. An astonishing situation given the current restrictions. It is nevertheless known that the Chinese smelter SMIC has been able to produce in 7nm since the end of last year but not to use these technologies.

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Edited by Calliers

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