Published: Wed, March 22, 2017
Culture | By Kelly Harrison

ARM DynamIQ Technology Prepares Cortex-A Chips for AI and Machine Learning

ARM DynamIQ Technology Prepares Cortex-A Chips for AI and Machine Learning

"We started cluster with the ARM11 4-core cluster ten years ago, and then big.LITTLE was six years ago, and we used the CoreLink SoC [fabric] to scale these into larger systems", said Nayampally. 1+3 or 1+7 DynamIQ big.LITTLE configurations, for example, will be possible now and will deliver high-level AI performance for the device. "DynamIQ technology is a monumental shift in multicore microarchitecture for the industry, and the foundation for future ARM Cortex-A processors".

The new architecture is an evolution from ARM's previous big.LITTLE architecture, which was introduced in 2011. DynamIQ takes this a step further by enabling big.LITTLE configurations of up to eight different CPU cores on a single compute cluster for the first time.

So Dynamiq is specifically created to offer more performance while putting out less heat. According to ARM the new architecture thus delivers "substantially more granular and optimal control" in SoC design.

The interesting bit in regards to machine learning is that training usually happens in the datacenter (although one company, XNOR.ai, also maintains it will offer training on a device) while the inference, or execution, of the models happens on both the cloud and on specific device. ARM didn't go into a lot of detail on this matter, but the company says users can expect up to a "50x boost in AI performance over the next three to five years relative to previous systems". ARM wants it for workstations and servers dedicated to artificial intelligence and machine learning. "On any Cortex-A device you now have eight CPUs (as opposed to four) which is good for high performance computing", said Kevin Krewell, principal analyst at Tirias Research.

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ARM is also including new multi-core flexibility for spreading workloads to the cores where they are best suited.

Krewell sees the new design being relatively weak for the sensors and wearables that can act as endpoints in the internet of things, since many of those run on the Cortex-M architecture.

With the DynamIQ, with is essentially an extension of ARM's Cortex-A processor design and will form the next family of Cortex-A processors due to emerge later this year, the Cambridge-based tech firm is enabling a expanded combination of cores on a single chip, with each core able to support an individual power profile allowing chipmakers to implement custom frequencies in each core.

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