BrainChip unveils Akida, the first spiking neural network acceleration chip for production environments
Artificial intelligence (AI) is a game-changing technology that can work in a plethora of applications. Brainchip, a neuromorphic computing company, is addressing the growing need for AI-powered solutions with its new “Akida” Neuromorphic System-on-Chip (NSoC). The chip is claimed as the first spiking neural network acceleration device for production environments.
“Spiking neural networks (SNNs)” is a type of neuromorphic computing which simulates the functionality of the human brain. SNNs use a simpler, one-shot training method and are ideal for tasks such as face recognition in low-resolution and noisy environments such as surveillance video.
The Akida NSoC is small, low cost and low power, making it ideal for edge applications such as advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS), autonomous vehicles, drones, vision-guided robotics, surveillance and machine vision systems. Its scalability allows users to network many Akida devices together to perform complex neural network training and inferencing for many markets including agricultural technology (AgTech), cybersecurity and financial technology (FinTech).
Spiking neural network chip “Akida”
The Akida NSoC is designed for use as a stand-alone embedded accelerator or as a co-processor. It includes sensor interfaces for traditional pixel-based imaging, dynamic vision sensors (DVS), Lidar, audio, and analog signals. It also has high-speed data interfaces such as PCI-Express, USB, and Ethernet. Embedded in the NSoC are data-to-spike converters designed to optimally convert popular data formats into spikes to train and be processed by the Akida Neuron Fabric.
“The artificial intelligence acceleration chipset marketplace is expected to surpass US$60 billion by 2025,” said Aditya Kaul, Research Director at Tractica, a leading market intelligence firm with a specialization in AI. “Neuromorphic computing holds significant promise to accelerate AI, especially for low-power applications. As many of the technical hurdles are resolved, the industry will see the deployment of a new class of AI-optimized hardware over the next few years.”
“Despite their best efforts, no other company, large or small, has managed to bring a neuromorphic computing chip to market in production volumes,” said Lou DiNardo, BrainChip CEO. “Akida, which is Greek for ‘spike,’ represents the first in a new breed of hardware solutions for AI.
“Artificial intelligence at the edge is going to be as significant and prolific as the microcontroller. With the Akida NSoC, BrainChip is forging that path and leading the way. Our recent announcement of the Akida Development Environment is now followed by a detailed architectural description. We are collaborating with major global manufacturers in a multi-market strategy to drive early adoption of the Akida NSoC”, the company noted in the announcement.
The Akida NSoC uses a pure CMOS logic process, ensuring high yields and low cost. Spiking neural networks (SNNs) are inherently lower power than traditional convolutional neural networks (CNNs), as they replace the math-intensive convolutions and back-propagation training methods with biologically inspired neuron functions and feed-forward training methodologies. BrainChip’s research has determined the optimal neuron model and training methods, bringing unprecedented efficiency and accuracy.
“Spiking neural networks are considered the third generation of neural networks,” said Peter van der Made, Founder and CTO of BrainChip. “The Akida NSoC is the culmination of decades of research to determine the optimum neuron model and innovative training methodologies.”
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