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29 May, 2017 - 12:59 By Tony Quested

ARM kickstarts AI revolution and could ship 100bn chips in five years

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Cambridge superchip architect ARM today launched a new technology suite designed to revolutionise the global use of Artificial Intelligence, delivering virtual reality capabilities to a range of devices at the fastest speeds ever witnessed and in the most secure environment ever engineered.

The first processors based on ARM DynamIQ technology take a huge stride towards boosting AI performance by more than 50x over the next three to five years. And the breakthrough will deliver further growth at an incredible pace for the business as ARM ramps up from its Cambridge UK headquarters.

ARM is confident it can double the number of chips that its technology partners will ship over the next five years to a staggering 100 billion.

To put that into perspective, ARM says 50 billion chips were shipped in the 22 years from birth to 2013 – then came an explosive burst of productivity as 50bn chips were shipped in just four years to 2017. Now ARM says it expects that 100 billion chips will be circulated around the globe between now and 2021 as it accelerates AI experiences “from edge to cloud.”

Nandan Nayampally, VP and general manager at ARM’s Compute Products Group, said that in more than a dozen years with the business he had “never been more excited about a product delivering such a boost to single-threaded performance without compromising our efficiency leadership.”

One element of the comprehensive suite of products – the ARM Mali-G72 GPU – expands virtual reality, gaming and machine learning capabilities on premium mobile devices with 40 per cent more performance. Autonomous driving – one of the red hot nextgen technologies currently in sharp focus – will also benefit from the innovation.

Nayampally said: “AI is already simplifying and transforming many of our lives and it seems that every day I read about or see proofs of concept for potentially life-saving AI innovations. 

“However, replicating the learning and decision-making functions of the human brain starts with algorithms that often require cloud-intensive compute power. 

“Unfortunately, a cloud-centric approach is not an optimal long-term solution if we want to make the life-changing potential of AI ubiquitous and closer to the user for real-time inference and greater privacy. 

“In fact, survey data we will share in the coming weeks shows 85 per cent of global consumers are concerned about securing AI technology, a key indicator that more processing and storing of personal data on edge devices is needed to instill a greater sense of confidence in AI privacy.

“Enabling secure and ubiquitous AI is a fundamental guiding design principle for ARM considering our technologies currently reach 70 per cent of the global population.

“As such, ARM has a responsibility to rearchitect the compute experience for AI and other human-like compute experiences. To do this, we need to enable faster, more efficient, and secure distributed intelligence between computing at the edge of the network and into the cloud.”

ARM DynamIQ technology, which the company initially previewed back in March, was the first milestone on the path to distributing intelligence from chip to cloud.

Today ARM hits another key milestone, launching its first products based on DynamIQ technology, the ARM Cortex-A75 and Cortex-A55 processors. The products are enhanced by a secure foundation for billions of devices – ARM TrustZone technology – to fortify the SoC in edge devices. 

The Cortex-A75 has been designed to deliver a breakthrough single-threaded performance. Nayampally said: “The Cortex-A75 delivers a massive 50 percent uplift in performance and greater multicore capabilities, enabling our partners to address high-performance use cases including laptops, networking, and servers, all within a smartphone power profile. 

The Cortex-A55 is being marketed as the new industry-leader in high-efficiency processing.

Nayampally said: “SoCs based on Cortex-A53 came to market in 2013 and since then ARM partners have shipped a staggering 1.5 billion units, and that volume is continuing to grow rapidly. 

“That’s an extremely high bar for any follow-on product to surpass. Yet, the Cortex-A55 is not your typical follow-on product. With dedicated AI instructions and up to 2.5x the performance-per-milliwatt efficiency relative to today’s Cortex-A53 based devices, the Cortex-A55 is the world’s most versatile high-efficiency processor.

“Software is central to future highly-efficient and secure distributed intelligence. The ARM ecosystem is uniquely positioned to deliver the breadth of disruptive software innovation required to kickstart the AI revolution. 

“To further support our latest CPU and GPU IP, we are also releasing a complete software development environment. Our ecosystem now has the opportunity to develop software optimised for DynamIQ ahead of hardware availability through a combination of ARM virtual prototypes and DS-5 Development Studio.

“As ARM prepares to work with its partners to ship 100 billion chips over the next five years, we are more agile than ever in enabling our ecosystem to guide the transformation from a physical computing world into a more natural computing world that’s always-on, intuitive and of course, intelligent. Today’s launch puts us one step closer to our vision of ‘Total Computing’ and transforming intelligent solutions everywhere compute happens.”

• Picture credit – Getty Images

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