Qualcomm-backed startup announces AI processor family

March 07, 2018 // By Peter Clarke
Kneron Inc. (San Diego, Calif.), an artificial intelligence company that has received backing from China's Alibaba and Qualcomm amongst others, has announced three neural processing units (NPUs) for edge devices.

The three NPUs cover ultra-low power and high performance options with a 'goldilocks' standard processor as a standard offering in the middle. These are the KDP 300 ultra-low power version, the KDP 500 standard version, and the KDP 700 high-performance version, supporting various AI applications in smart home, smart surveillance, smartphones, and IoT devices.

Unlike the other AI processors on the market that often consume several watts, Kneron NPU Series consumes under 0.5W, and the KDP 300 designed for facial recognition in smartphones is less than 5mW. To achieve this figure the convolutional neural network (CNN) slice size is 150 by 150 with processing rate of 5 frames per second and a clock frequency of 20MHz.

The KDP 300 supports faster and a more accurate 3D live facial recognition through image analysis from 3D structured light and dual-lens cameras.

The KDP 500 is beefed up to do real-time recognition, analysis, and deep learning for multiple faces, hand and body gestures, which makes it suitable for smart home and smart surveillance applications. Its computing capacity is up to 152 GOPS at 500MHz while consuming 100mW.

The KDP 700 supports more advanced and complex AI computing, as well as deep learning inference for high-end smartphones, robots, drones, and smart surveillance devices. It is in development stage and expected to offer peak throughput up to 4.4 TOPS at 1GHz clock frequency while keeping the power consumption at between 300mW and 500mW.

What remains unclear is whether these will be offered as packaged components or licensable IP, or both. And what datatypes are supported.

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