Nvidia works with TSMC, ASML and Synopsis on software to speed up chipmaking

Nvidia announced a cuLitho software library for computational lithography at GTC 2023 that will be deployed by TSMC for its fabrication work starting in June.

In addition to TSMC, Nvidia is working with ASML and Synopsis on cuLitho to help move chips to 2nm while also reducing the carbon footprint at fabs, CEO Jensen Huang said in opening remarks.

CuLitho runs on GPUs and promises a 40x performance leap over current lithography processes. Lithography is used to create circuit patterns on a silicon wafer and forms the basis of producing today’s semiconductors.

Huang said cuLitho will cut down the footprint of production equipment drastically. With 500 Nvidia DGX H100 supercomputers, fabs will be able to replace the work of 40,000 CPU systems by running all the steps in computational lithography processes in parallel to reduce power needs.

He said fabs using cuLitho could quintuple the number of photomasks produced each day while using 9 times less power than current processes. Nvidia said a photomask (a template for a chip design) that required two weeks to produce can now be processed overnight in eight hours.

ASML, which makes machines used in chip fabrication that can cost $250 million apiece, said cuLitho should result in tremendous benefits, allowing far higher scaling in chip output.

Synopsis said it has “massively accelerated” its optical proximity correction software by using cuLitho, thereby reducing the time involved from weeks to days.

“Data center needs are growing faster than Moore’s Law,” said Vivek Singh, the cuLitho architect at Nvidia. In recent years, more transistors in smaller chip nodes have required greater accuracy in chip production.

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