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i.MX8M Plus Processor Embeds NPU for Machine Learning

NXP Semiconductors has announced the i.MX8M Plus
application processor which is the company’s first i.MX family to integrate a
dedicated Neural Processing Unit (NPU) for advanced machine learning inference
at the industrial and IoT edge.

The i.MX8M Plus combines a high-performance NPU
delivering 2.3 TOPS (Tera Operations Per Second) with a Quad-core Arm
Cortex-A53 sub-system running at up to 2GHz, an independent real-time
sub-system with an 800MHz Cortex-M7, a high-performance 800 MHz audio DSP for
voice and natural language processing, dual camera Image Signal Processors
(ISP), and a 3D GPU for rich graphics rendering.

With the combination of high-performance Cortex-A53 cores
and NPU, edge devices are expected to be able to make intelligent decisions
locally by learning and inferring inputs with little or no human intervention.
The range of applications made possible with the cost-effective i.MX8M Plus
spans people and object recognition for public safety, industrial machine
vision, robotics, hand gesture, and emotion detection with natural language
processing for seamless human-to-device interaction with ultra-fast response
time and high accuracy.

Built in advanced 14nm LPC FinFET process technology, the
NXP i.MX8M Plus can execute multiple, highly-complex neural networks
simultaneously, such as multi-object identification, speech recognition of
40,000+ English words and medical imaging. For example, the powerful NPU is
capable of processing MobileNet v1, a popular image classification network, at
over 500 images per second.

Developers can off-load machine learning inference
functions to the NPU, allowing the high-performance Cortex-A and Cortex-M
cores, DSP and GPUs to execute other system-level or user applications tasks.
The vision pipeline is anchored by dual integrated ISPs that support two
high-definition cameras for real-time stereo vision or a single 12MP resolution
camera and includes High Dynamic Range (HDR) and fisheye lens correction. These
features enable real-time image processing applications such as surveillance,
smart retail applications, robot vision and home health monitors.

To enable voice applications, the i.MX8M Plus integrates
a high-performance HiFi 4 DSP that enhances natural language processing with
pre- and post-processing of voice streams. The powerful Cortex-M7 domain can be
used to run real-time response systems while the applications processor domain
executes complex non-real-time applications to reduce the overall system-level
power consumption by turning off the application processor domain while keeping
only the Cortex-M domain alive for wake word detection. The i.MX8M Plus extends
advanced multimedia, and video processing with a system that can compress
multiple video feeds using the H.265 or H.264 HD video encoder and decoder for
cloud streaming or local storage and a rich user experience enabled by 3D/2D
graphics, and Immersiv3D audio with Dolby Atmos and DTS:X.

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The i.MX8M Plus advances industrial productivity and
automation with machines that can inspect, measure, precisely identify objects,
and enable predictive maintenance by accurately detecting anomalies in machine
operation. In addition, the factory human-machine interfaces can be made more
intuitive and secure by combining accurate face recognition with voice/command
recognition and even gesture recognition. Supporting Industry 4.0 IT/OT
convergence, the i.MX8M Plus integrates Gigabit Ethernet with Time-Sensitive
Networking (TSN), which combined with Arm Cortex M7 real-time processing
provides deterministic wired network connectivity and processing. NXP also
offers tailor-made, optimized Plus Power Management Solutions PMIC (PCA9450C)
to support the i.MX8M Plus.

To meet the high quality and reliability standards
required for industrial applications, the i.MX8M Plus features Error Correction
Code (ECC) for internal memories and the DDR interface. The family is expected
to be qualified to meet the stringent industrial temperature range (-40C to
105C ambient), power-on profile (100 percent power-on), and is planned to be
part of NXP’s industry-best longevity commitment (15 years). NXP is sampling
the i.MX8M Plus applications processors to customers now.

NXP Semiconductors | www.nxp.com

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i.MX8M Plus Processor Embeds NPU for Machine Learning

by Circuit Cellar Staff time to read: 3 min