As part of Nvidia’s GPU Technology Conference (GTC), the company announced a new software library that will enable 2 nm and smaller transistors. The library is called Qulitho, and Nvidia has partnered with the world’s largest semiconductor companies to use the technology, including TSMC and Synopsis.
The software stack is built for computational lithography, the process of etching a processor’s components onto a silicon wafer. Lithography has become more complex as the demand for smaller manufacturing processes has increased, but current technology has reached an inflection point.
Nvidia says the Qulitho goes beyond these limits, allowing semiconductor brands to make 2nm transistors and even smaller. Intel announced its Extreme Ultraviolet (EUV) lithography in 2021 to push these limits even further, and the company says its upcoming Intel 4 node will be the first node to take advantage of EUV lithography.
The difference with Qlitheo is that it runs on the GPU. Nvidia says this approach is up to 40 times faster than existing lithography technology, which the company claims takes tens of billions of CPU hours each year. With the GPU, Nvidia says the Qulitho can reduce power consumption by up to nine times compared to existing technologies. In practice, according to Nvidia, it has been running 40,000 CPU systems up to 500 Nvidia DGX H100s with similar results.
It looks like the industry is on board with the progress as well. Taiwan-based TSMC is the world’s largest semiconductor maker, supplying chips for Nvidia and AMD GPUs, Apple products and most chips from Qualcomm, MediaTek and Broadcom. TSMC CEO CC Wei said the introduction of Qulitho is “making a significant contribution to the continuation of semiconductor scaling.”
This is in stark contrast to Nvidia’s stance from just a few months ago, when Nvidia CEO Jensen Huang boldly declared Moore’s Law dead in justification for higher GPU prices. According to Nvidia, CuLitho not only removes these hurdles, it also does so in less time. Art De Geus, CEO of Synopsis, says that tasks that used to take weeks can now be completed in days with Qulitho.
Nvidia’s announcement could accelerate deadlines for some of the world’s biggest semiconductor brands. According to recent reports, Apple is considering 3nm chips to power the next generation of MacBooks after scrapping plans to move to a smaller node in 2022.