ARM announces chip overtake for AI future

Even though smartphones, smart TVs, and other connected devices aren't susceptible to the issue called blue screen of death, they have many other hardware and firmware limitations that chip-maker ARM is trying to solve with the newest series of processing units.

The company announced a major overhaul of its chip microarchitecture earlier this week, one that could boost the processing capabilities of almost everything, starting from smart baby monitors to Fitbits to the next iPhone. Called Dynamiq, it is more than 50 times faster than ARM's existing architecture, which powers the current Cortex-A series of processors.

Should you care about your smartphone's processing power? ARM executives point to the fact that smartphones and other devices of the future will be much more smarter and more complex than today's crop of personal electronics, meaning that they'll need immense processing power to tackle all of their artificial intelligence algorithms. Even if the software was perfectly written and is performed in the cloud, the device's own processor can still be a bottleneck.

And doing it on a device with today's processors will result in a problem that anyone who's tried a long virtual reality gaming session with their Samsung Gear VR $79.99 at Amazon probably experienced: the phone will likely overheat and shut down. That is equivalent of the blue screen of death might be little problem for gamers, but if it happened in a self-driving car during ride, the consequences could be far more dire.

So the main goal of Dynamiq is specifically to offer more performance while putting out less heat. It also can support AI and machine learning accelerators, a new class of microprocessor that can handle all AI tasks while the main processor powers the smartphone's conventional tasks, such as taking photos or browsing the Internet. It's an evolution from ARM's philosophy, which is about choosing the right processor for the right task.

ARM says Dynamiq will allow companies to certify their devices for the stringent ASIL-D standard which is important part of the governs safety protocols for self-driving cars.
New chips based on the new Dynamiq architecture will start showing up in consumer devices as early as 2018, Nayampally said. The company estimates that around 100 billion ARM-based chips will be needed by 2021.

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