embedded news: Hot Chips , face authentication, and more

embedded news: Hot Chips, face authentication at IFA, and more

This week’s embedded news features various announcements including the latest from Hot Chips, a reference design for face authentication to be shown at IFA in Berlin, and more.


A selection of news from the world of embedded, this week featuring Alphawave IP, Biren, Cadence Design Systems, Efinix, Imagination Technologies, Kinara, OKdo, Radxa, SEGGER, StarFive,  STMicroelectronics, trinamiX, United Microelectronics Corporation (UMC), and Untether.

At Hot Chips, Chinese startup Biren has emerged from stealth, detailing a large, general-purpose GPU (GPGPU) chip intended for AI training and inference in the data center. The BR100 is composed of two identical compute chiplets, built on TSMC 7 nm at 537 mm2 each, plus four stacks of HBM2e in a CoWoS package. Using chiplets for the design meant Biren could break the reticle limit but retain yield advantages that come with smaller die to reduce cost. Another advantage of the chiplet design is that the same tapeout can be used to make multiple products. Biren also has the single-chiplet BR104 on its roadmap.

Also from Hot Chips, Untether unveiled its second-gen architecture for AI inference, the first chip using this architecture, as well as plans to expand to edge and endpoint accelerators. Untether’s new architecture, internally codenamed Boqueria, addresses trends for very large neural networks, including transformer networks in natural language processing and beyond, endpoint applications that require power efficiency, and applications that require performance and power efficiency combined with prediction accuracy. The first chip to use the Boqueria architecture, SpeedAI, is a data center inference accelerator capable of 2 PFLOPS of FP8 performance running at peak power consumption (66 W), or 30 TFLOPS/W based on a more usual 30-35 W power envelope.

Cadence Design Systems said its analog/mixed-signal (AMS) IC design flow has been certified for United Microelectronics Corporation’s (UMC) 22ULP/ULL process technologies, optimizing process efficiency and shortening design cycle time, for development of 5G, IoT and display application designs. UMC’s 22nm process features ultra-low power consumption and ultra-low leakage to meet various application requirements including extended battery life, a small form factor, and strong computing capabilities. The UMC-certified Cadence AMS flow provides a Unified Reliability Interface (URI), which enables customers to better monitor the circuit’s reliability and service life when designing on UMC’s 22ULP/ULL processes while achieving an ideal balance between cost and performance.

(Image: trinamix)

STMicroelectronics and trinamiX announced a collaboration on a reference design for face authentication, which will be demonstrated live for the first time at IFA 2022 in Berlin on 2-6 September. The solution performs behind an OLED screen and on the security level required for mobile payments. The reference design for smartphone OEMs is a full system implementation that integrates illumination, a camera module that combines ST’s global-shutter image sensor with enhanced near-infrared (NIR) sensitivity (VD56G3), and trinamiX’s patent-protected algorithms running on the processor. The solution uses skin detection to verify a user’s liveness, which effectively differentiates between skin and other materials, such as fake photos, hyper-realistic masks, and deepfakes.

StarFive JH SoC
(Image: StarFive)

Imagination Technologies said its IMG BXE GPU IP has been integrated into StarFive’s latest RISC-V single-board computer (SBC), the VisionFive 2, stating that its GPU was selected for its considerable advantages in power, performance, and area (PPA) for cloud, industrial, networking, consumer and automotive applications. The company said VisionFive 2 is the world’s first RISC-V SBC with an integrated GPU, with the board featuring a StarFive JH7110 SoC running up to 1.5 GHz and incorporating a quad-core RISC-V CPU and high-performance GPU. The JH7110 SoC provides an ultimate customer experience in visual processing thanks to the UI rendering technology of its GPU, the IMG BXE.

Dennis Segers Image
(Image: Kinara)

Kinara (formerly Deep Vision) has appointed semiconductor industry veteran Dennis Segers to its board of directors. Segers served as the chairman of the board of Xilinx, Inc. from 2015 to 2022 until its acquisition by AMD for $49 billion. He was an executive of Xilinx, Inc from 1993 until 2001, operating in various capacities including senior vice president and general manager of the FPGA business units. Previously he held roles with Mostek, National Semiconductor, Benchmarq Microelectronics, Matrix Semiconductor, Synplicity, Azuro and Tabula.

(Image: OKdo)

OKdo has set up an exclusive partnership with Radxa to manufacture and distribute Rock single board computers (SBCs) and Rock system on modules (SoMs). Rock SBCs empower professional engineers, developers, and students to quickly create innovative products using the small form factor hardware providing a host of features as standard to enable secure, connected solutions. The boards can also be customized; the ability to depopulate SBCs without compromising their integrity brings financial and environmental benefits and enables development of high-volume end products that meet precise needs and hence help reduce e-waste.

(Image: SEGGER)

SEGGER said its’ BigFAT specification, which enables any third party to store files larger than 4 GB on standard FAT media, is now publicly available. This specification is not encumbered by any patents and can be used freely, along with the supporting tools. FAT (file allocation table) is the industry standard for formatting removable storage such as SD cards and USB memory sticks. Its main shortcoming is limited file size. SEGGER addresses this shortcoming with BigFAT, extending the FAT file system with support for files well beyond 1TB, breaking large files into small pieces, each piece comfortably fitting on a FAT volume as an individual file, and presenting these files as a single massive file to the user, while maintaining full compatibility with standard FAT.

Efinix CEO Sammy Cheung with Nitin Dahad
(Image: Nitin Dahad)

This week, FPGA firm Efinix said it has shipped 10 million units. In my recent interview with the company, co-founder and CEO Sammy Cheung said, “We are not trying to be another Altera or Xilinx. They are great companies. We are looking at something different that addresses more than just the $6 billion FPGA market. We believe that, together with our RISC-V platform, we can conquer a much bigger market, including some of the general-purpose processor or ASIC markets.”

Alphawave IP announced it has received all regulatory clearances required for the completion of the previously announced acquisition of OpenFive, including approval from the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS). The transaction is expected to close in September 2022 subject to the satisfaction of other customary closing conditions. Alphawave announced in March 2022 it was acquiring the entire OpenFive business from SiFive for $210 million in cash, to tap the huge demand for chiplets and RISC-V.

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