Deep learning processor for always-on audio, sensor apps

January 07, 2021 // By Rich Pell
Deep learning processor for always-on audio, sensor apps
AI semiconductor company Syntiant has announced the availability of its latest generation of special-purpose chips for audio and sensor processing for always-on applications in battery-powered devices, including mobile phones, earbuds, wearables, smart speakers, laptops, smart home applications, and security devices.

The NDP120 Neural Decision Processor (NDP) applies neural processing to run multiple applications simultaneously with minimal battery power consumption, including echo cancellation, beamforming, noise suppression, speech enhancement, speaker identification, keyword spotting, multiple wake words, event detection, and local commands recognition.

"The NDP120 is the first of a family of semiconductors using our next generation Syntiant Core 2 tensor processor platform that brings performance levels previously found in plugged-in devices to a power level suitable to run on batteries," says Kurt Busch, CEO of Syntiant. "We took years of real world, low-power edge deep learning experience to develop this architecture into a scalable design optimized to bring neural processing to power constrained deployments."

Offered as ideal for use cases where audio filtering and echo cancelation are required for far-field speech processing, the NDP120 packages the Syntiant Core 2 flexible, ultra-low-power deep neural network inference engine with a highly configurable audio front-end interface. The device also supports multi-modal sensor fusion, including sensors for infrared detection, multi-axis acceleration, tilt, magnetic field, and pressure.

The Syntiant Core 2 moves larger neural networks into always-on domains with capacity to generate shared embeddings, run ensembles, and other neural architectures concurrently or in cascades. It is a tensor processing core built from the ground up to support energy efficient inference without compromising ease of programming. This second generation architecture, says the company, delivers 25x the tensor throughput of the Syntiant Core 1 found in the company's NDP100 and NDP101 devices that are currently shipping in high volumes.

The NDP120 is equipped with an Arm Cortex M0 Processor and a HiFi-3 DSP. Its embedded Syntiant Core 2 supports more than 7 million parameters and can process multiple concurrent heterogeneous networks. Key features of the NDP120 include:

  • Syntiant Core 2 neural processor
  • Support for up to 7 audio streams
  • I2S/TDM output audio interface for streaming audio output, including post-processed audio
  • Embedded user programmable HiFi-3 DSP
  • Deeply embedded Arm Cortex

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