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Microsoft, Intel, AMD and other Tech Giants Develop New AI Accelerator Chip Standard

The formation of the UALink Promoter Group is seen as a strategic move to reduce reliance on Nvidia.


, , , and Meta have joined forces with AMD, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, Broadcom, and Cisco to form the Ultra Accelerator Link (UALink) Promoter Group. This new consortium aims to establish new standards for AI accelerator chip components in data centers, focusing on enhancing connectivity and performance.

Proposed Standard and Objectives

The UALink Promoter Group has introduced UALink 1.0, a proposed standard designed to interconnect up to 1,024 AI accelerators, particularly GPUs, within a single computing pod. This pod encompasses one or several server racks. The new standard, leveraging AMD's Infinity Fabric, aims to facilitate direct memory loads and stores between AI accelerators, thereby improving speed and reducing data transfer latency compared to current interconnect specifications.

The formation of the UALink Promoter Group is seen as a strategic move by companies like Microsoft, Meta, and Google to reduce their reliance on Nvidia. These companies have invested heavily in GPUs to power their cloud services and train AI models. By supporting an open standard, they aim to create a more competitive and innovative AI hardware ecosystem.

Forrest Norrod, AMD's General Manager of Data Center Solutions, highlighted the necessity of an open standard to spur rapid innovation without being constrained by any single company. The group plans to establish the UALink Consortium in the third quarter to oversee the ongoing development of the UALink specification.

Industry Impact and Absences

The initial version of the UALink standard will be accessible to consortium members around the same time, with a higher-bandwidth version, UALink 1.1, anticipated in the fourth quarter of 2024. The first UALink products are expected to hit the market within the next couple of years.

Nvidia, currently the dominant player in the AI accelerator market with an estimated 80% to 95% market share, is notably absent from the group. Nvidia's proprietary interconnect technology and strong market position likely contribute to its reluctance to join the consortium. Nvidia has not commented on this development.

Amazon Web Services (AWS) is also not part of the consortium. AWS may be taking a cautious approach as it continues to develop its in-house AI accelerator hardware. AWS, which also heavily relies on Nvidia GPUs for its cloud services, has not provided a statement regarding its absence from the group.

Technical Advancements and Future Prospects

The UALink 1.0 standard is expected to significantly enhance the communication between AI accelerators in data centers, boosting overall performance. By enabling direct memory loads and stores between AI accelerators, the standard aims to reduce latency and increase data transfer speeds, thereby improving the efficiency of AI workloads.

The consortium's efforts to establish an open standard are expected to drive innovation and competition in the AI hardware market. As the UALink standard evolves, it may pave the way for new advancements in AI accelerator technology, benefiting data centers and cloud service providers.

While the UALink Promoter Group aims to create a unified standard for AI accelerator connectivity, the absence of key players like Nvidia and AWS presents challenges. The consortium will need to address these gaps and work towards broader industry adoption to achieve its goals. The success of the UALink standard will depend on the collaboration and support of various stakeholders in the AI hardware ecosystem.

Markus Kasanmascheff
Markus Kasanmascheff
Markus is the founder of WinBuzzer and has been playing with Windows and technology for more than 25 years. He is holding a MasterĀ“s degree in International Economics and previously worked as Lead Windows Expert for Softonic.com.

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