SK Telecom leads consortium to develop next-generation AI NPU

By Lim Chang-won Posted : April 23, 2020, 16:28 Updated : April 23, 2020, 16:28

[Courtesy of SK Telecom]

SEOUL -- SK Telecom, a top mobile carrier in South Korea, will lead a domestic consortium involving prominent research institutes and universities for a state-financed project to develop a next-generation neural processing unit (NPU) capable of handling artificial intelligence learning and reasoning.

SK Telecom (SKT) will apply a newly developed NPU to a cloud data center to verify performance and power efficiency. Combined with an AI data center and a 5G network, high-quality AI services can be provided even in low-end terminals without latency

"SK Telecom will play an important role in the government's goal of being the world's No. 1 in AI semiconductors," said SKT chief technology officer Kim Yoon. "We will make sure that South Korea, a memory powerhouse, can do well in the AI semiconductor field through preemptive technology investment and commercial service innovation."

FuriosaAI, which develops system semiconductors optimized for AI, is responsible for maximizing the reasoning performance of the new NPU that can respond to various AI algorithms and consume less power.

SK hynix and Seoul National University will develop a next-generation interface that can quickly send and receive large-capacity data at a speed of 3Gbps. After pushing for international standardization, it will be applied to next-generation memory controllers.

South Korea has unveiled the goal of becoming a global leader in AI-related semiconductors. Samsung Electronics has promised to strengthen NPU capabilities and applications.

The world's largest microchip producer said it would evolve its NPU research into novel AI hardware technologies such as neuromorphic processors that aim to operate at the level of a human brain. Samsung's Exynos 9820 is a premium mobile application processor that is powerful enough to process AI-related tasks by itself. It features an integrated NPU that specializes in the acceleration of machine learning algorithms.
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