Collin Arocho
20 October 2020

NXP is going all-in on AI. The Dutch semiconductor giant this week announced two separate partnerships with the aim of enhancing its AI prowess. The first came when it announced it’s the lead technology partner for Arm’s Ethos-U65 micro-NPU (neural processing unit) and plans to integrate the technology into future I.MX applications processors. The technology partnership focuses on defining the system-level aspects of this micro-NPU, which supports up to 1 TOPS (512 parallel multiply-accumulate operations at 1 GHz). The Ethos-U65 maintains the MCU-class power efficiency of the Ethos-U55 while extending its applicability to higher-performance Cortex-A-based systems-on-chip (SoC). The Ethos-U65 micro-NPU works in concert with the Cortex-M core already present in NXP’s I.MX families of heterogeneous SoCs, resulting in improved efficiency.

Edge IoT

The second partnership came via a strategic investment in the Canadian software specialist Au-Zone Technologies for their assistance in bolstering NXP’s EIQ machine-learning development center with easy-to-use machine learning (ML) tools and expand its offering of silicon-optimized inference engines for edge ML. Au-Zone’s Deepview tool suite will augment EIQ with an intuitive, graphical user interface and workflow, enabling developers of all experience levels to import datasets and models, rapidly train and deploy neural-network models and ML workloads across the NXP edge processing portfolio. To meet the demanding requirements of today’s industrial and IoT applications, the EIQ-Deepview ML tool suite will provide developers with advanced features to prune, quantize, validate and deploy public or proprietary NN models on NXP devices. Adding the Deepview run-time inference engine to complement open-source inference technologies in NXP EIQ, users will be able to quickly deploy and evaluate ML workloads and performance across NXP devices with minimal effort.

With these partnerships in place, NXP believes it can power a new wave of edge AI, hardware and software enabling highly efficient and cost-effective solutions that can be embedded in a range of devices. “Our scalable application processors deliver an efficient product platform and a broad ecosystem for our customers to quickly deliver innovative systems,” says Ron Martino, Senior Vice President and General Manager of Edge Processing at NXP. “Through these partnerships with both Arm and Au-Zone, in addition to technology developments within NXP, our goal is to continuously increase the efficiency of our processors while simultaneously increasing our customers’ productivity and reducing their time to market. Our vision is to help our customers achieve lower cost of ownership, maintain high levels of security with critical data and to stay safe with enhanced forms of human-machine interaction.”