Differentiating AI Inference Accelerator Chips

I keep track of approximately 50 companies that are building deep neural network (DNN) accelerator chips and I have been criticized for not having a complete list. While there is no doubt that the market for deep learning chips is and will be growing leaps and bounds, it is hard to imagine seeing more than a dozen viable players with staying power. Clearly the segment will go through consolidation and unfortunately many vendors will not survive.

Marketing 101 has taught us that just having a superior performance is not sufficient to win in a competitive environment. Product positioning, differentiation, and promotion are paramount factors that will set winners apart. While superior architecture, tight integration with hierarchical memory, and advanced process nodes are critical in having an edge in the market, there are many other areas that can be exploited by chip vendors to differentiate.