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Lattice Lessens Power With SensAI

May 21, 2019

Author: Linley Gwennap

Using its SensAI technology, Lattice offers AI accelerators that operate at less than one watt, or in some cases, less than one milliwatt. SensAI works with the company’s low-power FPGAs to create a dedicated accelerator for neural networks. Customers can build these networks using standard frameworks—no FPGA expertise is required. Lattice recently updated SensAI to improve its performance and power efficiency, enabling it to outperform competitors and bring new capabilities to low-cost IoT systems.

SensAI works with two Lattice products. The ECP5 family typically operates at less than 1W while providing up to 72 billion operations per second (GOPS) using 8-bit-integer (INT8) data—enough to recognize faces or traffic signs, for example. The smaller Ice40 family operates below 10mW. At just 0.4 GOPS, it can detect spoken keywords or human presence. This device often serves in always-on systems to wake the main processor. Both products can also handle binary neural networks (BNNs), which use single-bit data to increase throughput by up to 16x, or 576 GOPS for the ECP5. SensAI doesn’t consume all of the gates, so customers can program part of the FPGA for other logic functions.

Lattice originally developed the Ice40 FPGAs for smartphones and other mobile devices that require extremely low power. Some always-on IoT devices and battery-powered sensors have similar power requirements, making these applications a good target for the tiny FPGAs. The more powerful ECP5 family is better suited to line-powered devices such as smart cameras whose designers want to add object recognition or tracking capabilities at low cost and power. The Lattice products use much less power than traditional microprocessors, GPUs, and accelerator chips.

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