Qualcomm on Wednesday announced the Qualcomm Artificial Intelligence engine, a comprehensive solution for AI computing on mobile devices, primarily smartphones and tablets. The platform is meant to enable on-device AI processing, consequently making contemporary consumer electronics seeking to take advantage of such technologies less reliant on the cloud. Qualcomm's solution uses both hardware and software, the former of which is already present on the last three generations of flagship Snapdragon chips, i.e. silicon modules as old as the Snapdragon 820. Additionally, the Qualcomm AI engine will also be supported by the Snapdragon 660, the company confirmed.
The invention relies on the software framework of the Snapdragon Neural Processing Engine and the core hardware components of Qualcomm's contemporary chips, including the Adreno GPU, Kyro CPU, and the Hexagon Vector Processor. With the Qualcomm AI engine, all of those solutions work together in order to deliver what the firm claims is an unprecedented level of on-device AI computing. Cloud technologies can still be used to facilitate the processes handled by the AI engine but aren't required for it to work, allowing the platform to function offline. The San Diego, California-based semiconductor juggernaut says it opted for such a versatile approach to the engine's design with the goal of delivering a platform that original equipment manufacturers and developers can optimize how they see fit and use it to create solutions for a broad range of use cases.
The Snapdragon NPE basis also guarantees support for Caffe, Caffe2, and Google's TensorFlow frameworks, as well as the Open Neural Network Exchange standard, with that list of compatible technologies being highlighted by Qualcomm as yet another piece of evidence proving its AI engine is as versatile as they come. The Android Neural Networks API that Google debuted with Android 8.0 Oreo is also part of the package, providing AI developers with direct access to the Snapdragon hardware so long as they're working with devices powered by the ubiquitous mobile operating system. Qualcomm is now making its AI engine available to developers and OEMs, with the company also planning to showcase its latest technologies at Barcelona, Spain-based MWC 2018 scheduled to start on Monday.