Cadence unveils AI IP tools for on-device, edge AI processing - The EE

Cadence unveils AI IP tools for on-device, edge AI processing

Cadence Design Systems, Inc., unveiled its future AI (artificial intelligence) IP (internet protocol) and software tools to address rising demand for on-device and edge AI processing. The highly scalable Cadence Neo neural processing units (NPUs) deliver AI performance in a low-energy footprint, bringing productivity to AI SoCs (system-on-a-chip).

Delivering up to 80 TOPS (trillions or tera operations per second) performance in a single core, the Neo NPUs support both classic and recent generative AI models and can offload AI/ML (machine language) execution from any host processor including application processors, general-purpose microcontrollers and DSPs with a simple and scalable AMBA (advanced microcontroller bus architecture specification) AXI (advanced eXtensible interface) interconnect. Complementing AI hardware, the recent NeuroWeave software development kit (SDK) provides developers with a “one-tool” AI software solution across Cadence AI and Tensilica IP products for no-code AI development.

“While most of the recent attention on AI has been cloud-focused, there are an incredible range of new possibilities that both classic and generative AI can enable on the edge and within devices. From consumer to mobile and automotive to enterprise, we’re embarking on a new era of naturally intuitive intelligent devices.” says Bob O’Donnell, president and chief analyst at TECHnalysis Research.

“For these to come to fruition, both chip designers and device makers need a flexible, scalable combination of hardware and software solutions that allow them to bring the magic of AI to a wide range of power requirements and compute performance, all while leveraging familiar tools. New chip architectures that are optimized to accelerate ML models and software tools with seamless links to popular AI development frameworks are going to be incredibly important parts of this process.” adds O’Donnell.

The flexible Neo NPUs are well suited for ultra-power-sensitive devices as well as high-performance systems with a configurable architecture, enabling SoC architects to integrate an optimal AI inferencing solution in a broad range of products. This includes intelligent sensors, IoT (internet of things) and mobile devices, cameras, hearables/wearables, PCs (personal computers), AR (augmented reality) / VR (virtual reality) headsets and advanced driver-assistance systems (ADAS). Recent hardware and performance enhancements include:

  • Scalability: Single-core solution is scalable from 8 GOPS (giga [billion] operations per second) to 80 TOPS, with further extension to hundreds of TOPS with multicore.
  • Broad configuration range: supports 256 to 32K MACs per cycle, allowing SoC architects to optimise their embedded AI solution to meet power, performance and area (PPA) tradeoffs.
  • Integrated support for a multiple of network topologies and operators: enables productive offloading of inferencing tasks from any host processor including DSPs, general-purpose microcontrollers or application processors thereby improving system performance and power.
  • Ease of deployment: shortens time to market to meet future vision, audio, radar, natural language processing (NLP) and generative AI pipelines.
  • Flexibility: Support for Int4, Int8, Int16, and FP16 data types across a set of operations that forms basis of CNN (convolutional neural networks), RNN (recurrent neural networks) and transformer-based networks allows flexibility in neural network performance and accuracy tradeoffs.
  • High performance and productivity: Up to 20X higher performance than the earlier generation Cadence AI IP, with 2-5X the inferences per second per area (IPS/mm2) and 5-10X the inferences per second per Watt (IPS/W).

Since software is a critical part of any AI solution, Cadence also upgraded its common software toolchain with introduction of NeuroWeave SDK. Providing customers with a uniform, scalable and configurable software stack across Tensilica DSPs, controllers and Neo NPUs to address all target applications, the NeuroWeave SDK streamlines product development and enables an easy migration as design requirements evolve. It supports many industry-standard domain related ML frameworks, including TensorFlow, ONNX, PyTorch, Caffe2, TensorFlow Lite, MXNet, JAX and others for automated end-to-end code generation; Android Neural Network Compiler; TF Lite Delegates for real-time execution; and TensorFlow Lite Micro for microcontroller-class devices.

“For two decades and with more than 60 billion processors shipped, industry-leading SoC customers have relied on Cadence processor IP for their edge and on-device SoCs. Our Neo NPUs capitalise on this expertise, delivering a leap forward in AI processing and performance,” says David Glasco, vice president of research and development for Tensilica IP at Cadence.

“In today’s rapidly evolving landscape, it’s critical that our customers are able to design and deliver AI solutions based on their unique requirements and KPIs without concern about whether future neural networks are supported. Toward this end, we’ve made significant investments in our new AI hardware platform and software toolchain to enable AI at every performance, power and cost point and to drive the rapid deployment of AI-enabled systems.” adds Glasco.

“At Labforge, we use a cluster of Cadence Tensilica DSPs in our Bottlenose smart camera product line to enable best-in-class AI processing for power-sensitive edge applications. Cadence’s AI software is an integral part of our embedded low power AI solution, and we’re looking forward to leveraging the new capabilities and higher performance offered by Cadence’s new NeuroWeave SDK. With an end-to-end compiler toolchain flow, we can better solve challenging AI problems in automation and robotics accelerating our time to market to capitalise on generative AI-based application demand and opening new market streams that may not have been possible otherwise.” says Yassir Rizwan, CEO of Labforge, Inc.

The Neo NPUs and NeuroWeave SDK support Cadence’s Intelligent System Design strategy by enabling pervasive intelligence through SoC design excellence. For more information, please visit here.

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