Fraunhofer ships its RISC-V edge AI core with TensorFlow Lite

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By Nick Flaherty

The Fraunhofer Institute for Photonic Microsystems (IPMS) has ported Tensorflow lite to its RISC-V core for edge AI and machine learning.

The model can run on the EMSA5 core that has been optimised for edge AI applications such as sensor data evaluation, gesture control or vibration analysis and is now available, having been launched last year.

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“Edge AI means that AI algorithms are executed either directly on the device or on a server close to the device. This is done using the data collected directly from the device – without the need to connect to the Internet or a cloud service. Only the results of the processing are then fed into the cloud. In this way, the devices can make autonomous decisions within milliseconds using AI,” said Dr. Andreas Weder, group manager Module Integration at Fraunhofer IPMS.

“Applications with low-latency requirements can benefit from this type of processing, as there are no delays caused by transmitting data to the cloud,” he said.

The system is able to work even with unstable internet connections and does not rely on processing data in the cloud, helping with the scaling of IoT networks.

This also helps with data security, minimising the attack surface that comes with wireless connectivity.

The EMSA5 processor core has a 32bit, 5-stage pipeline and includes the E, C and M extensions with a reduced embedded instruction set, compressed instructions and integer multiplier instructions respectively. The core also includes privileged instructions with Machine (M) and User / Application (U) modes as well as physical memory protection (PMP) and hardware trigger module, all to support embedded designs that need deterministic responses.

The core can be made available for any FPGA platform and also integrated into customer-specific ASICs for any foundry technologies.

Developers using the EMSA5 processor core can use open-source RISC-V development environments (IDE), test tools, and libraries, including the GNU toolchain and the comprehensive Eclipse IDE with OpenOCD debug support. Fraunhofer IPMS also works with commercial third-party compilers and software tools such as IAR Embedded Workbench to enable software development in the Functional Safety context.

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