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Next Qualcomm mobile chip might have dedicated NPU

  • The upcoming Snapdragon mobile chipset for 2019 might have a dedicated NPU.
  • NPU stands for Neural Processing Unit and its function is to process AI features.
  • Huawei’s Kirin series of chipsets already have dedicated NPUs, so Qualcomm might be cribbing from those.

According to Roland Quandt over at WinFuture, the next Qualcomm Snapdragon chipset designed for flagship mobile devices might be packing a little something extra.

If the rumors are true, the next Qualcomm Snapdragon chipsets for mobile devices will likely be 12.4 x 12.4mm silicon built on Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company’s (TSMC) 7nm process node using optical lithography. However, that’s not too surprising.

What is surprising is that the chipsets will also likely feature an onboard Neural Processing Unit (NPU) which will handle AI functions. We already see this design change happening in Huawei’s Kirin chipsets, where the main processing of the phone is handled on one part of the chip, and the AI functions are handled on another.

With the current Qualcomm Snapdragon 845, for example, AI functions are performed on the main chip along with all the other functions. It’s likely that this separation of tasks is in anticipation of AI functions taking a much larger role in future smartphones.

With AI taking top-billing at CES 2018 and even mid-range devices coming with AI-capable chipsets, it seems logical to dedicate a portion of future chips to just AI features.

You can read WinFuture’s entire report on the rumors here.

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