On August 23rd-25th 2018, the first Smart China Expo was held in Chongqing, China and attracted more than 400 attendees from all over the country. The event was jointly organized by a variety of organisations; the Chongqing Municipal People’s Government; Ministry of Science and Technology, PRC; Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, PRC; the Chinese Academy of Sciences; the Chinese Academy of Engineering and the China Association for Science and Technology.
James Liu, Vice President of Imagination Technologies and General Manager of China, took to the stage at the Expo’s Semiconductor Industry Development Forum, where he spoke about Imagination’s history, products, and plans for collaboration in the field of artificial intelligence.
James Liu introduced Imagination to the crowd as the world’s second largest independent semiconductor intellectual property (IP) supplier and a leader in the field of graphics processing technology. The focus though was on the future, and more specifically, AI. However, as Lui pointed out, artificial intelligence is not a new topic.
“People have been working on AI ever since the 1970s,”. Liu said. “It is only recently, however, that the field has truly taken off, in large part thanks to the increased processing power offered by modern technology as well as new developments in AI algorithms.”
Lui went on to describe how when it comes to AI development China has some advantages in large part thanks to the relatively open data privacy laws in China.
“In terms of developing this advanced technology for use in the real world, China has a significant market advantage. Not only is data acquisition in China easier, we also already have a vast quantity of existing data gathered from our population. Chip companies can therefore quickly obtain data to test and train their artificial intelligence technologies.”
Where companies, universities and research institutes outside China shine is in their extensive experience in developing AI technologies, Lui observed. Because they have been working on AI for so long, they have a significant head-start and have been able to improve upon the core architecture of their products over many years and many generations. Lui held up GPU technology as an example, explaining that it is directly relevant to AI because the fundamental GPU architecture is well-suited to AI applications.
Therefore, in order to advance the AI industry, Imagination not only continues to work closely with its partners and develop new GPU semiconductor IP but has also launched its PowerVR Series2NX NNA. Released last September, the PowerVR Series2NX is a complete, independent hardware neural network accelerator: the world’s first NNA IP. Imagination has used its extensive experience in the field of GPU technology and artificial intelligence to deliver this truly ground-breaking AI product.
The PowerVR 2NX NNA delivers up to 4.1 Tera Operations Per Second (TOPS) and combines hardware IP, software and development tools to provide a complete neural network solution for SoCs. Depending on the needs of its application area, the PowerVR Series2NX can be used independently – without additional hardware – or in conjunction with other processors such as CPUs and GPUs.
Recently, Imagination also hosted AI seminars in China. Liu said that Imagination attaches great importance to cooperation with Chinese manufacturers, as well as neural network developers worldwide. In addition to working with chip design companies to develop AI chips for consumer applications such as mobile phones, tablets and smart TVs, Imagination is also working with technology companies and OEMs to integrate AI technology into other innovative application areas, such as autonomous vehicles and advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS).