ASICs are hard-coded, highly optimized chips that do one thing really well. They can’t be changed like an FPGA but offer huge performance benefits. He likened the comparison to decoding an H.265 video stream with a CPU versus an ASIC built for that task. A CPU without dedicated circuits would consume far more power than the ASIC at that job.
One issue with ASICs, though, is their cost and their permanent nature, he said. The only way to change the algorithm, if required by a bug or improvement, is to make a new chip. There's no reprogramming. That’s why ASICs have been traditionally been relegated to entities with unlimited budgets, like governments.
Google said it has been secretly using its TPU to make applications like Street View smarter.
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