» Current | 2021 | 2020 | 2019 | Subscribe

Linley Newsletter

Esperanto Minions Excel at AI

December 22, 2020

Author: Linley Gwennap

Startup Esperanto Technologies has designed a chip with a thousand tiny RISC-V cores based on its ET-Minion design. Each core has a custom tensor unit that offloads the matrix multiplication common in neural-network inferencing; working together, the Minions can perform 139 trillion INT8 operations per second (TOPS) when operating at 1.0GHz. Yet the ET-SoC-1 design is estimated to consume only 20W in typical operation. This power efficiency is suited to both data-center accelerators and network-edge applications.

The chip has taken a long road to market. Esperanto completed its RTL design in September 2018 in preparation for a mid-2019 tapeout, but completing the design took far longer than expected. It expects to tape out to TSMC soon; if so, we expect samples in 2Q21 and full production in 1H22. To support this effort, the company has a total of $82 million in funding and a staff of more than 100 employees and full-time contractors.

The chip contains 34 tiles that each comprise 32 ET-Minion cores, for a total of 1,088 cores and 136MB of SRAM. The chip also features four supervisory ET-Maxion CPUs, an eight-lane PCI Gen4 interface, and four 64-bit DRAM interfaces. The company withheld the die size for the 24-billion-transistor chip, which we expect measures about 300mm2. It plans to offer the chip standalone, on a PCIe card, and in the Dual M.2 form factor that Facebook favors. A Glacier Point card can hold six of these M.2 modules in a dense power-efficient design. Using this card, the Esperanto modules can achieve more than 800 TOPS with a typical power of 120W. The company plans to disclose neural-network benchmark results once it completes silicon characterization.

Subscribers can view the full article in the Microprocessor Report.

Subscribe to the Microprocessor Report and always get the full story!

Purchase the full article

Free Newsletter

Linley Newsletter
Analysis of new developments in microprocessors and other semiconductor products
Subscribe to our Newsletter »

Events

Linley Spring Processor Conference 2021
Coming the week of April 19, 2021
Virtual Event
More Events »