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EU AI Will Rely on Emerging Memory Technologies

European research centers will leverage emerging memory technologies for edge AI chips.

eetasia.com, Jul. 05, 2019 – 

Imec, the Belgium-based nanoelectronics and digital technologies research center, is leading a European Union program to develop low-power edge artificial intelligence (AI) chips based on several emerging memory technologies.

The three-year program, called Tempo (Technology & hardware for nEuromorphic coMPuting), is a cross-border collaboration between 19 research and industrial partners, including CEA-Leti of France and the Fraunhofer Group of Germany. The joint effort aims to develop process technology and hardware platforms leveraging emerging memory technologies for neuromorphic computing. The goal is to develop a new way to support applications in mobile devices that need complex machine-learning algorithms.

Today, applications of this sort typically rely on shipping data to cloud-based server racks and then back. Complying with European data privacy regulations is difficult with a cloud-based approach however. Given those restrictions, the alternative is to perform AI on the edge – within battery-powered mobile devices such as cars and smartphones. The technology to do so doesn't exist, so Europe must create it.

The topic is relevant especially in Europe, but it's a concern across the industry. Edge AI and machine-learning algorithms are becoming increasingly necessary in day-to-day products and applications such as smart home assistants with natural-language processing, security systems that employ facial recognition, or autonomous vehicles. The demand for complex computational algorithms will only grow further.

There are plenty of other reasons to avoid using the cloud beyond complying with data privacy rules. Sending data to the cloud costs energy and latency. The ultimate for edge AI applications is to enable intelligent energy-efficient local processing.

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