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NovuMind Launches Tensor Processor

November 5, 2019

Author: Mike Demler

Startup NovuMind is preparing to tape out a neural-network accelerator that it estimates will deliver 150 trillion operations per second (TOPS) while consuming just 5W, achieving an impressive 30 TOPS per watt. It based these estimates on a 28nm test chip, but it plans to use TSMC’s 12nm technology for the production chip. Running ResNet-70 at 1.0GHz, it expects the ASIC will classify more than 4,000 images per second. In a smart TV, the design will upscale video to 8K-resolution at 60fps. Customers are evaluating the test chip now, but NovuMind withheld the schedule for the initial product.

The new accelerator integrates eight of the company’s novel native tensor-processing cores, which it calls NovuTensor. In its latest funding round, NovuMind received an additional $6 million from venture capitalists, helping to fund the new chip’s development. Since its 2015 founding, the company has received a total of $23 million from seed and VC investors. It has 40 employees, with headquarters in Silicon Valley as well as offices in Beijing and Guangzhou China.

If the company achieves its goals, it will set a new record for neural-network power efficiency. Habana measures 7,500 images per second when running ResNet-50 on its 16nm Goya inference chip, but that result comes from a PCIe card that consumes more than 20x the power. NovuMind plans to offer its ASIC in a single-chip package as well as on one- and four-chip M.2 sticks. It expects the four-chip model to consume 20W, but the M.2 stick will provide more than twice the performance of Habana’s PCIe card. Some NovuMind customers are already planning to use the chip in smart TVs, so the company must now deliver on those expectations.

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