Question How are modern cpus and gpus designed?

Aug 15, 2020
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Hello all, currently doing a digital circuits course in university. CPUs and GPUs in modern times have billions of transistors. How is something on that scale improved or even iterated on? I understand being able to tweak individual adders or multiplexers to increase efficiency, but how is such a thing possible for people to do on a chip that has billions of them? Do they use supercomputers to simulate all the transistors, or is there some level of similarity which is then scaled up to billions?
 

InvalidError

Titan
Moderator
Most non-trivial digital chips these days are designed using some form of hardware description language and then software handles the bulk of lower-level details much like it does for software. Transistor-level details are tucked away in the fab's primitive library and your design tools do their best to express your HDL as a function of those for manufacturing or programming an FPGA.

Performance gains at a more macroscopic level come from studying how the architecture performs when running typical code, identifying the most significant weaknesses and finding ways to fix them.
 

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