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Chinese researchers created a processor in five hours using AI

A team of researchers from China has used artificial intelligence to create a complete RISC-V processor from scratch. The team tested whether the AI tool could design it on its own without human intervention

While AI design tools already exist, they tend to be limited in use and scope. Traditional auxiliary circuit design tools still require many hours of manual programming and verification to develop a functional circuit. 

The team claims that even for a processor as simple as the one created, it would take humans 1,000 times longer to develop. 

The AI was trained by observing specific inputs and outputs of existing CPU designs, with the paper summarizing the training approach, "This is a novel approach to AI that generates a large-scale logic function with near 100% verification accuracy (e.g., > 99.999999999999999999999%, as Intel has) based only on external input-output examples, not formal programs written by humans. This approach generates a Boolean function represented by a graph structure called a Binary Speculation Diagram (BSD) with a lower bound on theoretical accuracy using a Monte Carlo-based extension, and Boolean function distance is used to overcome intractability." 

The V32IA processor, dubbed "CPU-AI," was fabricated using 65-nanometer lithography and runs at 300 MHz. It is capable of successfully running Linux, SPEC CINT 2000 and Dhrystone, operating similarly to Intel's 1991 i486SX processors.

The researchers hypothesize that the processor's performance could be improved with advanced algorithms. In the paper's conclusion, the team ponders a self-evolving machine that will be able to develop its own iterative updates and improvements. They note. that AI independently discovered the von Neumann architecture by observing input and output data.

Thus, the algorithm could be tuned to focus on optimizing the fine-grained architecture.
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