How to get a server rack in your back pocket?

EU project TEMPO targets low-power chips for AI applications based on emerging memory technologies

LEUVEN (Belgium), July 2, 2019 — This week, imec, a world-leading research and innovation hub in nanoelectronics and digital technologies, presents TEMPO: a unique cross-border collaboration between 19 research and industrial partners, funded by ECSEL Joint Undertaking which supports public-private partnerships in the EU. The three-year program aims at developing process technology and hardware platforms leveraging emerging memory technologies for neuromorphic computing for future applications in mobile devices that need complex machine-learning algorithms. It is a one-of-a-kind collaboration effort to enable applications that now need cloud-based server racks, to be executed within battery-powered mobile devices such as cars and smartphones (at the edge of the internet-of-things).

Increasingly, edge artificial intelligence and machine-learning algorithms enter our day-to-day products and applications such as smart home assistants with natural-language processing, face-recognition-based security systems or autonomous vehicles. In the coming years, the demand for these increasingly complex computational algorithms will only grow further. At this moment, high-end server parks process the data in the cloud. However, sending data to the cloud costs energy, latency, and is often not preferred for privacy reasons. As such, the ultimate edge artificial intelligence applications require intelligent energy-efficient local processing.

TEMPO

TEMPO aims to tackle this challenge by leveraging the process technology platforms that are being developed by the European research technology organizations and cooperating foundries in the project, and combining it with the application and hardware knowledge from further partners. The TEMPO project will evaluate the current solutions at device, architecture and application level, and build and expand the technology roadmap for European AI hardware platforms. The project will leverage MRAM (imec), FeRAM (Fraunhofer) and RRAM (CEA-Leti) memory to implement both spiking neural network (SNN) and deep neural network (DNN) accelerators for 8 different use cases, ranging from consumer to automotive and medical applications.

Emmanuel Sabonnadiere, CEO at CEA-Leti: “It is our aim to sweep technology options, covering emerging memories, and attempt to pair them with contemporary (DNN) and exploratory (SNN) neuromorphic computing paradigms. The process- and design-compatibility of each technology option will be assessed with respect to established integration practices and meet our industrial partner roadmaps and needs to prepare the future market of Edge AI where Europe is well positioned with multiple disruptive technologies.”

Prof. Hubert Lakner, Director of the Fraunhofer Institute for Photonic Microsystems (IPMS) and Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Fraunhofer Group Microelectronics: “A key enabler for machine learning and pattern recognition is the capability of the algorithms to browse through large datasets. Which, in terms of hardware, means having rapid access to large memory blocks. Therefore, one of the key focal areas of TEMPO are energy efficient nonvolatile emerging memory technologies and novel ways to design and process memory and processing blocks on chip.”

Luc Van den hove, CEO at imec: “We are delighted to enter in such broad European collaboration effort on Edge Artificial Intelligence, gathering the relevant stakeholders in Europe, including CEA-Leti and Fraunhofer, two of our most renowned colleague research centers in Europe. Thanks to our combined expertise, we can scan more potential routes forward than what would be possible by each of us individually, and as such, position Europe in the driver seat for R&D on AI. Imec looks forward to the progress we can make together in the TEMPO project and hopes this will lead to more similar collaborations in the future. Behind the scenes, we are already defining more public and bilateral agreements with several of the partners involved.”

More information: https://www.imec-int.com/en/semiconductor-technology-and-systems 

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Hanne Degans
press communications manager - imec

About TEMPO

TEMPO (Technology & hardware for nEuromorphic coMPuting) is a European innovation project. This project has received funding from the ECSEL Joint Undertaking (JU) under grant agreement No 826655. The JU receives support from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme, and from Belgium, France, Germany, Netherlands, Switzerland. TEMPO was kicked off on the 1st of April 2019 and has a duration of three years. The consortium of this ambitious project consists of no less than nineteen members. Imec takes the lead as the sole Belgian consortium partner. The other consortium members are, for France: CEA-LETI, ST-Microelectronics Crolles, ST-Microelectronics Grenoble, Thales Alenia Space and Valeo. For Germany: Bosch, Fraunhofer EMFT, Fraunhofer IIS, Fraunhofer IPMS, Infineon, Innosent, TU Dresden and Videantis. For the Netherlands: imec the Netherlands, Philips Electronics and Philips Medical Systems. For Switzerland: aiCTX and the University of Zürich.

For more information: www.ecsel.eu   

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About imec

Imec is a world-leading research and innovation hub in nanoelectronics and digital technologies. The combination of our widely acclaimed leadership in microchip technology and profound software and ICT expertise is what makes us unique. By leveraging our world-class infrastructure and local and global ecosystem of partners across a multitude of industries, we create groundbreaking innovation in application domains such as healthcare, smart cities and mobility, logistics and manufacturing, energy and education.

As a trusted partner for companies, start-ups and universities we bring together more than 4,000 brilliant minds from over 97 nationalities. Imec is headquartered in Leuven, Belgium and has distributed R&D groups at a number of Flemish universities, in the Netherlands, Taiwan, USA, and offices in China, India and Japan. In 2018, imec's revenue (P&L) totaled 583 million euro. Further information on imec can be found at www.imec-int.com.

Imec is a registered trademark for the activities of IMEC International (a legal entity set up under Belgian law as a "stichting van openbaar nut”), imec Belgium (IMEC vzw supported by the Government of Flanders), imec the Netherlands (Stichting IMEC Nederland, part of Holst Centre which is supported by the Dutch Government), imec Taiwan (IMEC Taiwan Co.), imec China (IMEC Microelectronics (Shanghai) Co. Ltd.), imec India (Imec India Private Limited) and imec Florida (IMEC USA nanoelectronics design center).

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