Researchers from IMEC and KU Leuven have designed a chip that combines a digital and analog coprocessor. An analog metronome is more efficient than a digital metronome, but a digital metronome is essential for computational accuracy and programmability.
He. She imec research center has The chip was primarily developed for artificial intelligence tasks, for example, augmented reality glasses, drones, and smart robots. These devices often have to process a lot of environmental images, which according to IMEC are better processed on the device itself for privacy reasons. However, this also requires a large amount of computing power, which means that the batteries of such mobile devices can run out quickly.
For this reason, Imec developed an analog chip, AnIA, two years ago, in which the calculations are performed directly in memory. As a result, “most computations are performed ten to a hundred times more energy efficient” than a digital accelerator.
However, AnIA was less suitable for tasks in which computational accuracy and programmability were important. This is why imec and KU Leuven developed the digital and analog accelerator, or Diana. It combines a digital and analog accelerator and chooses the co-processor that can perform best based on the specific task. For example, pattern recognition is better performed on an analog metronome, while these feedbacks are better processed on a digital coprocessor.
According to the researchers, Diana combines “the best of both worlds on one compact chip.” The chip was manufactured by GlobalFoundries. It is not clear whether the chip will be used in practice. The researchers want to present their research findings at next week’s ESC Electronics conference.
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