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AI IC research explores alternative architectures

Jun. 04, 2018 – 

Imec said at its annual event here that it is prototyping a deep-learning inference chip using single-bit precision. The research institute hopes to gather data over the next year on the effectiveness for client devices of the novel data type and architecture--either a processor-in-memory (PIM) or an analog memory fabric.

The PIM architecture, explored by academics for decades, is gaining popularity for data-intensive machine-learning algorithms. Startup Mythic and IBM Research are designing two of the most prominent efforts in the field.

Many academics are experimenting with 1- to 4-bit data types to trim the heavy memory requirements for deep learning. So far, commercial designs for AI accelerators from Arm and others are focusing on 8-bit and larger data types, in part because programming tools such as Google's TensorFlow lack support for the smaller data types.

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