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Analog AI processor company Mythic launched its M1076 Analog Matrix Processor today to provide low-power AI processing.
The company uses analog circuits rather than digital to create its processor, making it easier to integrate memory into the processor and operate its device with 10 times less power than a typical system-on-chip or graphics processing unit (GPU).
The M1076 AMP can support up to 25 trillion operations per second (TOPS) of AI compute in a 3-watt power envelope. It is targeted at AI at the edge applications, but the company said it can scale from the edge to server applications, addressing multiple vertical markets including smart cities, industrial applications, enterprise applications, and consumer devices.
To address a wider range of designs, the M1076 AMP comes in several form factors: a standalone processor, an ultra-compact PCIe M.2 card, and a PCIe card with up to 16 AMPs. In a 16-chip configuration, the M1076 AMP PCIe card delivers up to 400 TOPs of AI compute while consuming only 75 watts. Mythic is based in Redwood City, California, and Austin, Texas.
A clever design
The company emphasizes energy efficiency and lower cost with its design that focuses on analog technology integrated with dense flash memory, CEO Mike Henry said in an earlier interview with VentureBeat.
Henry said that in AI computing, chips have to normally handle massive amounts of simple arithmetic, with trillions of adds and multiplies per second. His company figured out how to do that in analog circuits, rather than digital, using a smaller electrical current. It stores the results in flash memory, which is a dense storage medium. He believes this will work much more efficiently than graphics processing units (GPUs) or other ways of handling the same calculations when it comes to chip size, cost, and power usage.
In November 2020, Mythic unveiled the first Analog Matrix Processor for AI applications, which combines high performance with good power efficiency in a cost-efficient solution. While expensive and power-hungry hardware has limited the broad deployment of AI applications, Mythic says its integrated hardware and software platform is making it easier and more affordable for companies to deploy powerful AI applications for the smart home, AR/VR, drones, video surveillance, smart cities, manufacturing markets, and more. A single drone can contain as many as six cameras to help it learn to avoid collisions.
This kind of computing is needed at the edge of the network, alongside sensors such as cameras, lidar, radar, and security. Those sensors produce so much data that it’s hard to fit such large data models into a chip. So Mythic handles the computing with a small chip and packs a lot of flash memory into the chip, eliminating excess parts in the system. The Mythic chip should fit into an area the size of a postage stamp, Henry said. By contrast, GPUs and other options need heat-reducing components such as fans.
By comparison, Nvidia’s Jetson AI platform for robots and drones may consume 30 watts and cost $700 to $800, with a low-cost version at $100. But Mythic is shooting for lower cost, lower power consumption, and 10-20 times the performance, Henry said. The company is targeting around 25 trillion to 35 trillion instructions per second for its first chip.
Covering more markets
Tim Vehling, senior vice president of product and business development at Mythic, said in a statement the company’s groundbreaking inference solution takes AI processing and energy efficiency to new heights. He said it can scale from a compact single chip to a powerful 16-chip PCIe card solution, making it easier for developers to integrate powerful AI applications in a wider range of edge devices that are constrained by size, power, and thermal management challenges.
The M1076 AMP is integrated into an ultra-compact 22mm x 30mm PCIe M.2 A+E Key card for space-constrained embedded edge AI applications. For edge AI systems with more demanding workloads — including many streams; multiple large, deep neural networks; and higher resolutions and frame rates — a PCIe card form-factor with 16 Mythic AMPS supporting up to 400 TOPS and 1.28 billion weights in a 75-watt power profile can be utilized.
The M1076 AMP is ideal for video analytics workloads including object detection, classification, and depth estimation for industrial machine vision, autonomous drones, surveillance cameras, and network video recorders (NVRs) applications. The M1076 AMP can also support AR/VR applications with low-latency human body pose estimation, which is expected to drive future smart fitness, gaming, and collaborative robotics devices.
Mythic recently raised $70 million in funding, bringing its total raised to date to $165.2 million. It needs that kind of money to go up against rivals such as Intel, Nvidia, and Advanced Micro Devices, among others.
The company is scaling up the production of the company’s solutions, investing in its technology roadmap, and increasing support for the company’s growing customer base across Asia, Europe, and the U.S.
ME1076 PCIe M.2 A+E Key and MM1076 PCIe M.2 M Key cards are available for evaluation beginning in July.
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