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Next-gen VPU carries 20X power efficiency over precursor

Posted: 04 Aug 2014     Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:vision processing unit  Myriad  VPU  Tango 

Game changer

According to El-Ouazzane, the Myriad 2 will really be a game changer for computational camera use cases that require a ton of performance in a very small power envelope—from video capture to 3D scanning and mapping to array cameras to infrared optics cameras to advanced 360 degree panoramic cameras to augmented reality to indoor location-based services and immersive gaming. Using the Haar Cascade classification benchmark, the Myriad 2 can perform 50,000 multi-scale classifications per high-definition video frame in seven milliseconds.

 Myriad 2 VPU

Figure 3: Myriad 2 VPU: The dieshot shown again with areas marked. The device has a central shared memory for low power surrounded by 12 dedicated vision operation accelerators (bottom right), plus two general-purpose cores to run application software and high-speed I/O. (Source: Movidius)

Despite its high-performance hardware, Movidius puts its main emphasis on software; 65 of its 70 employees are engineers, and 90 per cent are software/system engineers. As the culmination of a development effort that took more than eight years and cost $60 million, the engineering team has put together a Myriad Development Kit (MDK) that it claims is easy to use, despite the complexity of configuring on-chip data flows for intelligent video stream operations.

"The MDK enables developers to configure arbitrary application pipelines using all of the resources on the chip," Gary Brown, vice president of marketing at Movidius, told us. "Sometimes developers will want those hardware accelerators. Sometimes developers will want their own proprietary captive software. They'll put together all those functions into a pipeline, and we have an automated way of mapping them on to the resources of the chip—making application development simpler than you might imagine with a chip containing all these resources."

 The Myriad 2 includes two proprietary RISCs

Figure 4: The Myriad 2 includes two proprietary RISCs—one to run the real-time operating system and one to run real-time apps. It also has 12 Streaming Hybrid Architecture Vector Engines that combine the best features of RISCs, digital signal processors, graphics processor units, and very long instruction world architectures. (Source: Movidius)

Besides an extensive library of commonly used functions, the MDK also provides reference applications such as a complete Bayer camera solution and a stereo depth extraction function, plus all the resources engineers need to develop their pipeline using code compile flows supporting C, C++, and an OpenCL. Developers can also make changes to functions in the pipeline and be up and running within just a few minutes, thanks to automatic mechanisms that solve data flow problems that would ordinarily have to be redesigned when an internal function is changed, Brown said. The Myriad 2 reference board supports multiple cameras and MEMS sensors. It also includes an application processor integration kit.

Samples will be available to select customers in August, and the device will be presented at the Hot Chips Symposium Aug. 10-12 in Cupertino, Calif. Brown said commercial mobile devices using the Myriad 2 will appear on the market within 12 months.

- R. Colin Johnson
  EE Times

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