A new reinforcement-learning algorithm has learned to optimize the placement of components on a computer chip to make it more efficient and less power-hungry.
3D Tetris: Chip placement, also known as chip floor planning, is a complex three-dimensional design problem. It requires the careful configuration of hundreds, sometimes thousands, of components across multiple layers in a constrained area. Traditionally, engineers will manually design configurations that minimize the amount of wire used between components as a proxy for efficiency. They then use electronic design automation software to simulate and verify their performance, which can take up to 30 hours for a single floor plan.
Time lag: Because of the time investment put into each chip design, chips are traditionally supposed to last between two and five years. But as machine-learning algorithms have rapidly advanced, the need for new chip architectures has also accelerated. In recent years, several algorithms for optimizing chip floor planning have sought to speed up the design process, but they’ve been limited in their ability to optimize across multiple goals, including the chip’s power draw, computational performance, and area.