Syntiant processor ups neural performance 25x

Syntiant processor ups neural performance 25x

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By Peter Clarke

Like the previous generation NDP100/101 the NDP120 is optimised for audio and sensor processing for always-on applications in battery-powered devices.

The NDP120 applies neural processing to run multiple applications simultaneously, including echo-cancellation, beamforming, noise suppression, speech enhancement, speaker identification, keyword spotting, multiple wake words, event detection, and local commands recognition.

The chip includes the Syntiant Core 2, neural network inference engine, with a configurable audio front-end interface. The NDP120 also supports multi-modal sensor fusion, including sensors for infrared detection, multi-axis acceleration, tilt, magnetic field, and pressure.

The Syntiant Core 2 is a tensor processing core designed to support tensor processing and ease of programming. This second-generation architecture delivers 25x the tensor throughput of the Syntiant Core 1 found in the NDP100 and NDP101 devices that are currently shipping in high volumes (see AI audio startup ships one million ICs, raises funds).

However, the company did not discuss any migration between manufacturing process nodes that might have allowed for a scaling-up of the neural networking core. In the past Syntiant has described its technology as being an analog neural network and has been described as performing processing in a flash memory array.

The Syntiant Core 2 training development kit includes tools for running bit-exact simulations directly within high-level modeling languages, such as Tensorflow and Keras. All major frameworks can port to the Syntiant Core 2 runtime, including native support for multiple types of convolutional kernels, kernel striding, kernel dilation, downsampling layers, fully connected layers, pointwise operations, and a variety of activations.

Compression is supported allowing network architectures to mix 1, 2, 4, and 8-bit weights and higher precision bias terms. For the most challenging tasks, the Syntiant Core 2 supports high precision modes, including 16-bit inputs and outputs. With design tools supplied by Syntiant, it is possible to explore the complete power, latency, memory, and parameter requirements on the Syntiant Core 2 interactively.

The NDP120 is equipped with an Arm Cortex M0 processor with 48kbyte SRAM, dual-timers and UART functionality and a HiFi-3 DSP. The NDP120’s embedded Syntiant Core 2 supports more than 7 million parameters and can process multiple concurrent heterogeneous networks.

The NDP120 has been designed into biometric wearables from Braveheart Wireless Inc. “The NDP120 delivers powerful processing at under one milliwatt, which translates to little strain on our battery consumption,” said Stuart MacEachern, vice president of hardware engineering at BraveHeart Wireless, in a statement issued by Syntiant.

The NDP120:

Quad SPI target and controller interface

I2C serial interface for sensor applications and system interface

Up to 26 GPIO pins

Flexible clock generation

Onboard firmware decryption and authentication

3.1mm by 2.5mm 42-ball WLBGA package (0.4mm ball pitch)

The processor is sampling and will be shipping in production volumes in summer 2021 at a price of $6 in quantities of 10,000 units.

Related links and articles:

News articles:

AI audio startup ships one million ICs, raises funds

Syntiant, Sensory deliver multi-language speech recognition

Microsoft, Alexa, Bosch join Intel by investing in Syntiant

Analog NN startup signs up Infineon microphones

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