Always Be Curious #188: Apple's M3 triplets, Samsung's 1.4 nanometer node, and a medieval homicide map
This week in ABC: Apple launches its M3 series with up to 92 billion transistors on a single chip, first details about Samsung's 1.4 nanometer node, and visualizing data in medieval research.
Sup curious clan! ✨ This week, Apple announced a new generation of M-series Apple Silicon chips to go with a new line-up of MacBook Pros. 📸
Built on TSMC’s “N3B” 3-nanometer process, the new Apple silicon is looking to once again raise the bar on both CPU and GPU performance, as well as setting a new record for the number of transistors used in a single laptop SoC (92 billion!). But while the buzz has been about the chip specs and the leaps in performance, there's a juicy slice of the story that's been quietly sitting in the corner: the price tag of ambition. 🏷️💸 Because the M3 launch wasn't just the glitzy unveiling of one, but three distinct chips. These silicon triplets are each a masterpiece in their own right, crafted for different purposes, with the variety as clear as day when you eyeball those die photos above. And according to the estimates of tech blog Digits to Dollars, that means we have to assume that the “tape out” (the final result of the chip design process) costs alone has to be close to $1 billion. 🤯💰 This is the often untold story of the staggering risk and cost of making cutting-edge technology – a narrative just as compelling as the devices these chips will power.
Have a good week, stay safe and sound,
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👨💻The round-up in sci-tech💡
In 2015, the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory, or LIGO, made history when it made the first direct detection of gravitational waves, or ripples in space and time, produced by a pair of colliding black holes. Since then, the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF)-funded LIGO and its sister detector in Europe, Virgo, have detected gravitational waves from dozens of mergers between black holes as well as from collisions between a related class of stellar remnants called neutron stars. At the heart of LIGO's success is its ability to measure the stretching and squeezing of the fabric of spacetime on scales 10 thousand trillion times smaller than a human hair.
“Image alchemist” Alexei Efros has spent his career learning how machines see differently from humans. He combines massive online data sets with machine learning algorithms to understand, model and re-create the visual world.
🛰️ NASA can't open its OSIRIS-REx asteroid capsule yet, but the outside alone holds more than enough samples (Space.com)
The team had hoped for 60 grams, and without even accessing the bulk sample, they're already at 70.3.
The prime minister and the tech billionaire sat down together to talk tech, education - and killer robots.
New work attacks a long-standing barrier to understanding how prime numbers are distributed.
🇳🇱 De Amsterdamse knutselbroers Scheek deden wat Silicon Valley niet voor mogelijk hield / Amsterdam tinker brothers Scheek did what Silicon Valley thought impossible (Financieele Dagblad)
Mattias and Timothy Scheek signed off on a remarkable tech success. The brothers from Amsterdam developed revolutionary speaker technology and sold it for $100 million to audio giant Sonos. The introduction of their invention will follow 'quickly'. “During a presentation in the U.S., people thought there was an extra speaker hidden under the trash can.”
Around 66 million years ago, an asteroid bigger than Mount Everest smashed into Earth, killing off three quarters of all life on the planet—including the dinosaurs.
A map pinpointing hundreds of homicides in 14th-century England could help teach medieval history.
🤓This week in chips⚠
During an unexpected impromptu event, Apple officially announced its latest PC processor chip series, the M3. Paired with the previously launched A17 Pro processor, this marks Apple's official entry into the 3nm generation.
Apple today announced a new MacBook Pro lineup featuring the all-new family of M3 chips: M3, M3 Pro, and M3 Max.
“Perhaps the most significant facet of the M3 launch was the fact that they are launching three chips at once. Our initial assumption was that these were the same chip, ‘binned’ in production, but that was wrong. These are three different chips, with the differences manifest in their very different sizes of each and visible to the naked eye in the die photos above. This is somewhat staggering, as we have to assume that tape out costs alone for the three has to be close to $1 billion. Very few companies can afford this large an undertaking.”
On track for 2027!
ChipNeMo summarizes bug reports, gives advice, and writes design-tool scripts
Arm and RISC-V are locked in a struggle for market share that will also impact Intel and its x86 architecture.
Europa ist zu abhängig von Asien? Mag sein – aber ohne die niederländische Firma ASML kann niemand moderne Halbleiter produzieren. Zu Besuch bei einem der wertvollsten Unternehmen des Kontinents.
Western Digital said on Monday it would spin off its flash memory business that has been grappling with a supply glut after talks of merging the unit with Japan's Kioxia stalled, and also announced a fresh capital raise to refinance some of its debt.
📈By the numbers📉
“In 2024, while macroeconomic uncertainties are likely to persist, memory market conditions are expected to recover. The DS Division will seek to expand sales of advanced node products and plans to meet demand for high-performance, high-bandwidth products by increasing sales of HBM3 and HBM3E with the industry-leading HBM production capacity in the industry. For the Foundry Business, the second generation 3-nanometer (nm) Gate-All-Around (GAA) process will start mass production and operations will begin at its new factory in Taylor, Texas. Furthermore, in the Advanced Package business, production will begin, based on the multiple orders it has received from domestic and overseas HPC customers, including orders for the Company’s turnkey service that combines logic, HBM and 2.5D advanced packaging technologies.”
“We delivered strong revenue and earnings growth driven by demand for our Ryzen 7000 series PC processors and record server processor sales,” said AMD Chair and CEO Dr. Lisa Su. “Our data center business is on a significant growth trajectory based on the strength of our EPYC CPU portfolio and the ramp of Instinct MI300 accelerator shipments to support multiple deployments with hyperscale, enterprise and AI customers.”
Shares of Advanced Micro Devices jumped 8% on Wednesday, after an upbeat AI chip sales forecast signaled the company was making progress in its bid to catch up with market leader Nvidia.
“As we enter fiscal 2024, we are pleased with our roadmap and product execution, which position us well across our businesses,” said Cristiano Amon, President and CEO of Qualcomm Incorporated. “Our recent Snapdragon Summit announcements underscore our technology leadership, establishing Qualcomm as a leader in on-device generative AI and mobile computing performance.”
At the midpoint of Qualcomm's guidance, revenue will grow slightly during the current quarter compared to last year.
❤️For the love of tech❤️
NVIDIAN Christof Henkel recently clinched the top spot in an American Sign Language recognition challenge on Kaggle with an AI model that detects fingerspelled characters and translates them into text.
👨⚕️ Andrew Huberman AI
An artificial intelligence trained on every episode of Huberman Lab. Wow, what a wealth of solid information. It can help you answer questions, search for topics, and more.
Always Be Curious is the personal newsletter of Sander Hofman, Senior Creative Content Strategist at ASML. Opinions expressed in this curated newsletter are my own and do not necessarily reflect those of my employer.