Neural network DSP IP for automotive, mobile and drone markets

May 02, 2017 // By Jean-Pierre Joosting
Cadence Design Systems has unveiled the Cadence® Tensilica® Vision C5 DSP, which claims to be the first available standalone, self-contained neural network DSP IP core optimized for vision, radar/lidar and fused-sensor applications with high-availability neural network computational needs.

Ideally suited to the automotive, surveillance, drone and mobile/wearable markets, the Vision C5 DSP offers 1TMAC/s computational capacity to run all neural network computational tasks.

As neural networks get deeper and more complex, the computational requirements are increasing rapidly. Meanwhile, neural network architectures are changing regularly, with new networks appearing constantly and new applications and markets continuing to emerge. These trends are driving the need for a high-performance, general-purpose neural network processing solution for embedded systems that not only requires little power, but also is highly programmable for future-proof flexibility and lower risk.

Camera-based vision systems in automobiles, drones and security systems require two fundamental types of vision-optimized computation. First, the input from the camera is enhanced using traditional computational photography/imaging algorithms. Second, neural-network-based recognition algorithms perform object detection and recognition. Existing neural network accelerator solutions are hardware accelerators attached to imaging DSPs, with the neural network code split between running some network layers on the DSP and offloading convolutional layers to the accelerator. This combination is inefficient and consumes unnecessary power.

Architected as a dedicated neural-network-optimized DSP, the Vision C5 DSP accelerates all neural network computational layers (convolution, fully connected, pooling and normalization), not just the convolution functions. This frees up the main vision/imaging DSP to run image enhancement applications independently while the Vision C5 DSP runs inference tasks. By eliminating extraneous data movement between the neural network DSP and the main vision/imaging DSP, the Vision C5 DSP provides a lower power solution than competing neural network accelerators. It also offers a simple, single-processor programming model for neural networks.