Mobile chip maker Qualcomm wants to enable deep learning-based software development on all kinds of devices, which is why it created the Neural Processing Engine (NPE) for its Snapdragon-series mobile processors. The NPE software development kit is now available to all via the Qualcomm Developer Network, which marks the first public release of the SDK, and opens up a lot of potential for AI computing on a range of devices, including mobile phones, in-car platforms and more.
The purpose of the framework is to make possible UX implementations like style transfers and filters (basically what Snapchat and Facebook do with their mobile app cameras) with more accurate applications on user photos, as well as other functions better handled by deep learning algorithms, like scene detection, facial recognition, object tracking and avoidance, as well as natural language processing. Basically anything you’d normally route to powerful cloud servers for advanced process, but done locally on device instead.
Facebook is actually one of the developers that gained early access to the NPE and the social giant and is already seeing five-fold improvements in performance for its AR features on images and live video, when using Qualcomm’s Adreno GPUs on Snapdragon SoCs.
Qualcomm’s NPE works with the Snapdragon 600 and 800 series processor platforms, and supports a range of common deep learning frameworks including Tensorflow and Caffe2.
As more tech companies look for ways to shift AI-based computing functions from remote servers to local platforms in order to improve reliability and reduce requirements in terms of network connectivity, this could be a huge asset for Qualcomm, and a big help in maintaining relevance for whatever comes after mobile in terms of dominant tech trends.