08 Jun 2018

PowerVR Series2NX neural network accelerator cores unveiled

Imagination Technologies announces two neural network cores, the AX2185 and AX2145, designed to enable high-performance computation of neural networks at very low power consumption in minimal silicon area.

The cores are based on Imagination’s neural network accelerator (NNA) architecture, PowerVR Series2NX, which enables ‘smartness’ to move from the cloud into edge devices, enabling greater efficiency and real-time responsiveness.

The Series2NX AX2185 targets the high-end smartphone, smart surveillance, and automotive markets, where neural network acceleration has a significant impact in areas such as image categorization and driver assistance systems. Featuring eight full-width compute engines the AX2185 provides 2,048 MACs/clock (4.1 Tera Operations Per Second), representing the highest performance per mm2 in the market.

Optimised for cost-sensitive devices, the AX2145 targets mid-range smartphone, DTV/set-top box, smart camera and consumer security markets, which are increasingly adopting neural network acceleration for various tasks such as image management and vision-based applications. The PowerVR AX2145 streamlined architecture delivers performance-efficient neural network inferencing for ultra-low bandwidth systems, making it a cost-effective solution for OEMs and ODMs working with limited silicon area budgets.

Both cores fully support the Android Neural Networks API (NNAPI), used by developers to bring neural network capabilities to Android-based mobile devices.

Jeff Bier, founder of Embedded Vision Alliance, says: "Visual intelligence brings compelling capabilities to a variety of applications, but its computation demands are challenging. Imagination's two new PowerVR Series2NX neural network accelerator cores, optimized for performance and memory bandwidth, are welcome options for chip designers deploying demanding deep learning-based computer vision algorithms on embedded and mobile devices."

The PowerVR Series2NX architecture was designed from the ground-up to provide hardware acceleration for efficient neural network inference in mobile and embedded platforms. Its flexible bit-depth support on a per-layer basis for weights and data means PowerVR Series2NX can maintain high inference accuracy while reducing bandwidth/power requirements. It is the only solution supporting bit-depths from 16-bit to 4-bit, resulting in higher performance at lower bandwidth and power.

To accompany the PowerVR Series2NX cores, Imagination provides a comprehensive set of tools to streamline AI application development and deployment and, debugging and analysis. Machine learning frameworks are supported using our Network Developer Kit (NDK).

Russell James, vice president, Vision and AI, PowerVR, Imagination Technologies, says: “AI is transforming industries and neural networks are at the center of this, creating exciting new use cases that are changing lives. The processing for this has predominantly taken place in the cloud, but with latency issues, privacy concerns and increasing demands on scalability, edge AI processing is becoming a necessity. Here at Imagination, we’re developing highly-efficient hardware IP that can be cost-effectively deployed into a multitude of edge devices, helping our customers create products that deliver on the promise of AI. This was emphasized by our recent success at the National Technology Awards for the PowerVR Series2NX and the team that created it.”

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Machine vision - the ability for computers to see and recognise the world around us - is becoming more important for a variety of fields, from IoT and manufacturing through to augmented reality.

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