SiFive And CEVA Collaborating To Bring Machine Learning Processors To Mainstream Markets

By Dan Anderson ● January 14, 2020
  • Commercial RISC-V processor IP and silicon solutions provider SiFive announced it is partnering with wireless connectivity and smart sensing technologies licensor CEVA to enable the design and creation of ultra-low-power domain-specific Edge AI processors for a range of high-volume end markets

Leading commercial RISC-V processor IP and silicon solutions provider SiFive announced it is partnering with wireless connectivity and smart sensing technologies licensor CEVA to enable the design and creation of ultra-low-power domain-specific Edge AI processors for a range of high-volume end markets. This partnership — which is part of SiFive’s DesignShare program — is centered around RISC-V CPUs, CEVA’s DSP cores, AI processors and software.

And the partnership 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. The initial end markets include smart home, automotive, robotics, security, and surveillance, augmented reality, industrial, and IoT.

“Enabling future-proof, technology-leading processor designs is a key step in SiFive’s mission to unlock technology roadmaps,” said 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.”

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

CDNN utilizes 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. And 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.

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

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