China startup releases AI processors

China startup releases AI processors

Technology News |
By Rich Pell

Horizon is a spin off from the Chinese Academy of Sciences, that is expected to create artificial intelligence products and platforms at the chip, board and system-level aimed at smart driving, smart cities and smart buildings.

The company describes itself as providing a “full-stack solution” including algorithm framework design, compiler and runtime library for the processors, hardware and chip design and deployment together with large-scale training and simulation platform

The first two artificial intelligence processors are the ‘Journey 1.0’ for smart driving and the ‘Sunrise 1.0’ processor for smart cameras. In an automobile application, the two chips work together with one chip processing sensory inputs while the second uses that information to control a vehicle.

The Sunrise 1.0 is based on Horizon’s first generation of brain processing unit (BPU) architecture and can process 1080p@30fps in real time and can detect, track, and identify 200 targets simultaneously in each frame. The typical power consumption is 500mW, and the delay per frame is less than 30ms, Horizon states. It is based on what it calls a Gaussian architecture and implemented in 40nm silicon.  Horizon also shows Bernoulli and Bayesian architecture chips designed for implementation in 28nm and 16nm silicon.

Horizon also claims that ADAS based on the Journey 1.0 has detection accuracy of more than 99 percent for vehicles, pedestrians, lane lines and traffic signs. Although it should be noted that more than 99 percent is not enough if it allows a significant object, such as a bicyclist, to go unseen.

The Sunrise 1.0 can also be used for face recognition and related attribute analysis so could find application in security for schools, businesses and buildings, Horizon states. The Sunrise 1.0 has been demonstrated to identify Horizon chip chip architect Zhou Feng in a crowd of hundreds of people in a complex lighting environment.

Next: Partners list

Horizon lists Audi, ARM, Bosch, Intel, Synopys and TSMC among its partners as well as numerous Chinese automobile companies but said it intends to address smart city and smart business/building infrastructure, as well as automotive applications, with its chips and systems

The company was co-founded by Yu Kai, who serves the company as CEO. Yu Kai has reportedly said that by 2020, the Horizon BPU architecture will have enabled hundreds of millions of Internet of Things nodes, and by 2025, 30 million vehicles will have been manufactured using the Horizon autopilot BPU.

Horizon Robotic’s Series A funding round was led by Intel Capital and was expected to close by the end of 2017 at nearly $100 million. Other participants in the round included: Harvest Investment, China Construction Investment Corporation, Real Estate Assets, Chaos Investment, Winsway Capital, Morning & Morning Capital, Gaochun Capital, Shuanghu Capital, and Linear Capital.

Horizon said it would use the money to accelerate the development of products and its commercial development and to provide labor for system-level embedding of its technology in autonomous driving and smart city applications.

Horizon began cooperation with Intel in 2016.

Kai said in a translated statement “Horizon will use Intel’s experience and resources such as CPU, FPGA, and 5G to accelerate the R&D of embedded artificial intelligence hardware architectures and leverage our advantages in artificial intelligence algorithms and embedded terminal computing, and work with Intel to advance the innovation and development of the automated driving industry.”

Daniel McNamara, Intel’s vice president of global affairs, has also been assigned to join the Horizon board of directors.

According to its Linkedin page Horizon has more than 200 employees and the company has said that core members of its team have been recruited from such companies as Baidu, Google, Facebook, Nokia and Huawei.

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