Engineering 101

Bringing Machine Learning Processors to Mainstream Markets

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SiFive and CEVA have announced a new partnership to enable the design and creation of ultra-low-power domain-specific Edge AI processors for a range of high-volume end markets.

The partnership, as part of SiFive’s DesignShare program, is centered around RISC-V CPUs, CEVA’s DSP cores, AI processors and software, which will be designed into SoCs targeting an array of end markets where on-device neural networks inferencing supporting imaging, computer vision, speech recognition and sensor fusion applications is required. Initial end markets include smart home, automotive, robotics, security and surveillance, augmented reality, industrial and IoT.

Machine Learning Processing at the Edge

Domain-specific SoCs which can handle machine learning processing on-device are set to become mainstream, as the processing workloads of devices increasingly includes a mix of traditional software and efficient deep neural networks to maximize performance, battery life and to add new intelligent features.

Cloud-based AI inference is not suitable for many of these devices due to security, privacy and latency concerns. SiFive and CEVA are directly addressing these challenges through the development of a range of domain-specific scalable edge AI processor designs, with the optimal balance of processing, power efficiency and cost.

The Edge AI SoCs are supported by CEVA’s award-winning CDNN Deep Neural Network machine learning software compiler that creates fully-optimized runtime software for the CEVA-XM vision processors, CEVA-BX audio DSPs and NeuPro AI processors.

Targeted for mass-market embedded devices, CDNN incorporates a broad range of network optimizations, advanced quantization algorithms, data flow management and fully-optimized compute CNN and RNN libraries into a holistic solution that enables cloud-trained AI models to be deployed on edge devices for inference processing. CEVA will also supply a full development platform for partners and developers based on the CEVA-XM and NeuPro architectures to enable the development of deep learning applications using the CDNN, targeting any advanced network, as well as DSP tools and libraries for audio and voice pre- and post-processing workloads.

SiFive DesignShare Program

The SiFive DesignShare IP program offers a streamlined process for companies seeking to partner with leading vendors to provide pre-integrated premium Silicon IP for bringing new SoCs to market.

As part of SiFive’s business model to license IP when ready for mass production, the flexibility and choice of the DesignShare IP program reduces the complexities of contract negotiation and licensing agreements to enable faster time to market through simpler prototyping, no legal red tape, and no upfront payment.

“CEVA’s partnership with SiFive enables the creation of Edge AI SoCs that can be quickly and expertly tailored to the workloads, while also retaining the flexibility to support new innovations in machine learning,” said Issachar Ohana, Executive Vice President, Worldwide Sales at CEVA. “Our market leading DSPs and AI processors, coupled with the CDNN machine learning software compiler, allow these AI SoCs to simplify the deployment of cloud-trained AI models in intelligent devices and provides a compelling offering for anyone looking to leverage the power of AI at the edge.”

“Enabling future-proof, technology-leading processor designs is a key step in SiFive’s mission to unlock technology roadmaps,” added Dr Naveed Sherwani, president and CEO, SiFive. “The rapid evolution of AI models combined with the requirements for low power, low latency, and high-performance demand a flexible and scalable approach to IP and SoC design that our joint CEVA / SiFive portfolio is superbly positioned to provide. The result is shorter time-to-market, while lowering the entry barriers for device manufacturers to create powerful, differentiated products.”

SiFive’s DesignShare program, including CEVA-BX Audio DSPs, CEVA-XM Vision DSPs and NeuPro AI processors, is available now.

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