Synopsys, Microsoft team up for a chip-design assistant

Synopsys, Microsoft team up for a chip-design assistant

November 27, 2023

Synopsys and Microsoft, prominent IT companies, have teamed up to take AI where few have ventured before—the intricate realm of chip design. While Microsoft's "Copilot" has previously aced tasks like tidying up code or decluttering inboxes, this collaboration takes it to a whole new level: sculpting the blueprint for computer chips.

Crafting these minuscule technological marvels is no walk in the park. Imagine fitting billions of tiny on-off switches onto a silicon canvas the size of a postage stamp—this is chip design. It's a Herculean task that costs millions and spans years, even with an army of engineers.

Synopsys, a heavyweight in chip design software, has harnessed the power of Microsoft's Azure OpenAI to birth its own Copilot, tailored specifically for chip design. Picture engineers at the outset of chip creation, describing its intricacies using a language akin to software code. Synopsys trained its Copilot on troves of data amassed over decades, giving it a head start in understanding the complex language of chip design.

Shankar Krishnamoorthy, head of Synopsys' design automation group, emphasises precision as the North Star. When AI ventures into essay writing or poetry, a 10% to 15% error might not be catastrophic. However, in chip design, even a fraction of error—anything less than 99.9% accuracy—could spell disaster, potentially costing hundreds of millions in fixes. Read on: Engineer embeds AI in robotic dog.

Addressing bugs in chip design is akin to navigating a labyrinth; it's time-consuming and incredibly expensive. Microsoft, eager to streamline its chip design endeavours, has been test-driving Synopsys' AI system in its in-house chip design teams. Their goal? Not just to catch bugs early but to slash costs tied to rectifying issues later in the design process.

Erik Berg, a principal engineer at Microsoft, sings praises for this technological marvel. In a recent blog post, he extols the system's ability to nip issues in the bud, curbing expenses down the line. For Microsoft, this AI-powered Copilot isn't just a partner—it's a cost-saving, issue-resolving trailblazer in the world of chip design.

This collaboration between the two custom software development companies, Synopsys and Microsoft, isn't just about making life easier for chip designers; it's a leap toward more efficient, cost-effective chip creation—a testament to the potential of AI in revolutionising the heart of our technological landscape.