NXP i.Mx processor features dedicated neural processing unit for edge AI

January 07, 2020 //By Julien Happich
The i.MX 8M Plus heterogeneous application processor from NXP expands the company’s industry-leading EdgeVerse portfolio, integrating a dedicated Neural Processing Unit (NPU) for advanced machine learning inference at the industrial and IoT (Internet-of-Things) edge.

The i.MX 8M Plus combines a high-performance NPU delivering 2.3 TOPS (Tera Operations Per Second) with a Quad-core Arm Cortex-A53 sub-system running at up to 2GHz, an independent real-time sub-system with an 800MHz Cortex-M7, a high-performance 800 MHz audio DSP for voice and natural language processing, dual camera Image Signal Processors (ISP), and a 3D GPU for rich graphics rendering. With the combination of high-performance Cortex-A53 cores and NPU, edge devices will be able to make intelligent decisions locally by learning and inferring inputs with little or no human intervention.

The range of applications made possible with the cost-effective i.MX 8M Plus spans people and object recognition for public safety, industrial machine vision, robotics, hand gesture, and emotion detection with natural language processing for seamless human-to-device interaction with ultra-fast response time and high accuracy.

Built in advanced 14nm LPC FinFET process technology, the NXP i.MX 8M Plus can execute multiple, highly-complex neural networks simultaneously, such as multi-object identification, speech recognition of 40,000+ English words, and medical imaging. The powerful NPU is capable of processing Mobilenet, a popular image classification network at over 500 images per second.

Developers can off-load machine learning inference functions to the NPU, allowing the high-performance Cortex-A and Cortex-M cores, DSP, and GPUs to execute other system-level or user applications tasks. The vision pipeline is anchored by dual integrated ISPs that support two high-definition cameras for real-time stereo vision or a single 12 MPixel resolution camera and includes High Dynamic Range (HDR) and fisheye lens correction. These features enable real-time image processing applications such as surveillance, smart retail applications, robot vision, and home health monitors.

To enable voice applications, the i.MX 8M Plus integrates a high-performance HiFi 4 DSP that enhances natural language processing with pre- and post-processing of voice streams. The powerful Cortex-M7 domain can be used to run real-time response systems while the applications processor domain executes complex non-real-time applications to reduce the overall system-level

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