back to article Nvidia: Eight bits ought to be enough for anybody ... doing AI

Nvidia has designed a couple of new Tesla processors for AI applications – the P4 and the P40 – and is talking up their 8-bit math performance. The 16nm FinFET GPUs use Nv's Pascal architecture and follow on from the P100 launched in June. The P4 fits on a half-height, half-length PCIe card for scale-out servers, while the …

  1. AceRimmer1980

    My CPU is a neural net processor

    Actually a 6502.

    1. Steve Evans

      Re: My CPU is a neural net processor

      You're in good company.

    2. captain veg Silver badge

      Re: My CPU is a neural net processor

      I was a Z80 man myself, so I might be wrong, but I don't think that the 6502 could do multiplication in hardware. The Zilog part couldn't.


      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: My CPU is a neural net processor

        You're correct, the 6502 could add, subtract and shift only. It could multiply only by powers of 2, and only if the resulting total was guaranteed to be under 255 :)

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: My CPU is a neural net processor

          Powers of 2? I don't think the 6502 could multiply by 4, except by multiplying by 2 twice (using an instruction bizarrely named ASL).

          1. LaeMing

            Re: My CPU is a neural net processor

            ASL = Accumulator Shift Left

            If someone on the internet asks you ASL?, you should reply with their last post, with every ASCII value multiplied by 2!

  2. frank ly

    Deep Learning

    As well as the links in the article, it's worth having a look at:

    This seems to give a good summary as well as a brief history of the development of the technique. It's well written and I nearly understood it.

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

  3. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

    Possibly also not relevant -

    I gather that 8 bits sound quality isn't adequate for computer speech recognition (sub-A.I. of course) That's very roughly AM radio quality compared to FM radio or Compact Disc, and the lesser quality is not good enough.

    Maybe 8 bits A.I. is good enough to be an AM radio presenter, and understanding what other people say isn't a requirement?

    1. Mage

      Re: 8 bit sound

      Actually AM radio is rather better than linear 8bit, and the "goodness" of it depends on the bandwdith and interference. It was MUCH better in the 1930s! Even ordinary AM can be better than ISDN phone quality (8bit u or A law).

      Also u-Law or A-Law 8 bit audio is perfectly good for speech recognition, that's the method used to improve on linear 8 bit for the majority of the worlds digital fixed line phones. GSM codecs are lower quality. 3G can use similar or better than GSM, but it's rarely better than 8bit ISDN. Similarly, VOIP connections can rarely support Fax or Analogue Modems, though 8 bit ISDN can.

      I suspect that if the sound level is ideal, even 8 bit linear audio will work for speech recognition.

      Humans can recognise 5 bit encoded speech, done using 1:32 variable PWM on a PC on/off loudspeaker.

      1. lukewarmdog

        Re: 8 bit sound

        But would you want your AI to sound like that?

        If it doesn't sound like Pierce Brosnan's Ultrahouse 3000, I'm not talking to it.

        1. Steve Knox
          Big Brother

          Re: 8 bit sound

          But would you want your AI to sound like that?


          STAY A WHILE.



      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: 8 bit sound

        "Similarly, VOIP connections can rarely support Fax or Analogue Modems..."

        Our fax server may disagree with that statement.

        1. JulieM

          Re: 8 bit sound

          Fax and modems work fine over VoIP, until someone points out that they should not work. Then they stop working. In some cases, though, they don't work until someone says they aren't supposed to. Then, just to be awkward, they start working.

        2. Mage

          Re: 8 bit sound

          Depends if it's carrier grade QOS managed VOIP or VOIP over random public Internet.

          My own phone service (real geo numbers) is using VOIP on a fixed wireless link, but only as far as my ISP's voice switch. So Fax and analog modems usually work. Your mileage with a 3rd party VOIP supplier over the ordinary public internet will vary with your connection jitter and packet loss. Unlike gaming, or person to person chat, latency isn't an issue.

          @JulieM Brilliant.

        3. Jan 0 Silver badge

          Re: 8 bit sound

          I was wondering why anyone with an Internet Connection would need to use Fax, then I realised it's so that the third world scammers can send you fake invoices and bank payment details from their PSTN 'phone lines.

          Carry on, while I doze again.

        4. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: 8 bit sound

          I guess the reason people struggle with faxes is they (or their carrier) don't support t.38 and just attempt to use some crap codec like g.729

      3. itzman

        Re: 8 bit sound

        AM radio typically had 40-50sBN S/N which is about 100-300:1 which straddles 8 bit (256) pretty well.

        And a bandwidth of around 5kHz absolute tops, on a 9Khz carrier spacing IIRC, with 3Khz being where it started to fall off a cliff.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Possibly also not relevant -

      I assume each neuron need not only be working on it's own.

      Just as a 32bit cpu can do 64bit maths, it just takes twice the time or number of cpus.

      PS, and if Deepdream from Google is anything to go by, you don't even do your first pass on such fine grained data at times, it may be a single bit (active area or not) etc.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Possibly also not relevant -

      You're confusing quantisation levels with sample rate. I can play sounds out of the single pin of an Atmel ATTiny85 with little more than an RC filter and amplifier on the output.

      Stick a CRO probe on the microcontroller pin, and you'd see a 1-bit signal with a 250kHz sample rate, but I'll bet you'll struggle to tell the difference between it and a cassette tape..

      1. Mage

        Re: Possibly also not relevant -

        A serial bit stream could be any desired number of bits. So called 1 bit DACs are really 16 bit at least and the 48kHz or 44.1KHz parallel sample rate is unchanged, but the clock frequency becomes much higher.

        1 bit on/off with 1:32 variation of mark/space ratio isn't one bit. It's five bits quantisation.

        Tape can have a poorer dynamic range than 8 bit quantisation on cheap machines using a magnet to erase rather than AC erasing. Speech recognition was working with cassette tape replay in 1990s.

  4. scrubber


    Is that prolog course I did back in the day, along with the fuzzy logic maths, finally gonna be useful and marketable?

  5. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    "increasing our reliance on stable internet connections and trust in far-away platforms"

    Far-away platforms hosted in NSA land ?

    Nope, no trust there.

  6. IGnatius T Foobar

    8-bit FTW

    The truth is, most of the people reading and commenting aren't all that interested in neural networks, but we'd love to spend some time waxing nostalgic about the days of 8-bit computers.

  7. SeanC4S

    If you start dealing with really massive vectors (say 1 million elements or more) you have a choice. You can step up from 32 bit floats to 64 bit floats, or you can drop back to 1 (2,3..) bit numbers. Otherwise rounding errors make a nonsense of what you are trying to do.

  8. SeanC4S


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