Linaro Announces Launch of 96Boards AI Platform

[Hong Kong, China, 19 March 2018] Linaro Ltd, the open source collaborative engineering organization developing software for the Arm® ecosystem, today announced 96Boards.ai and availability of a range of compatible member 96Boards platforms for developers working on AI hardware and software solutions.

“The Linaro Connect keynote demonstration of high performance real-time computer vision and intelligent audio processing, supported by machine learning algorithms and deep learning technology, shows how far developers can now go with readily available 96Boards AI development platforms based on the latest SoCs” said George Grey, Linaro CEO. “What’s most impressive is the choice of platforms that developers can use today to innovate and produce their own AI enabled products.”

Linaro members HiSilicon, Socionext, and Xilinx, and new 96Boards steering committee member Rockchip have all released 96Boards development products with AI hardware capabilities. Additionally, Qualcomm Technologies, Inc., plans to join 96Boards.ai with the DragonBoard™ 820c development board, featuring the Qualcomm® Snapdragon™ 820E embedded platform. Together, these platforms offer an unrivalled choice of heterogeneous compute solutions for AI development. These products offer different combinations of CPU, GPU, NPU, DSP and FPGA with both on-die and independent acceleration supporting hard-coded, optimized performance as well as programmable flexibility.

The 96Boards.ai hardware platforms offer access to the latest Arm-Powered accelerated AI hardware and vendor supplied software for Android and Linux. Linaro is planning a collaborative AI software project to interface industry standard AI platforms and libraries to the multiple hardware IP solutions being offered by industry leading vendors. The goal is to accelerate innovation by removing the need for redundant and fragmented engineering effort on each proprietary solution. By working together on shared, open source software foundations, more resources can then be applied to optimizing use case development on each vendor’s value-added hardware IP.

“In the last three years, 96Boards has established open hardware standards around which the ecosystem is creating a broad range of compatible, standardized compute platforms that provide access to the latest SoC technology,” said Yang Zhang, 96Boards Director and Chief Scientist of the Chinese Academy of Sciences AIRIA. “96Boards.ai brings together the latest SoCs with AI acceleration capability from multiple world-leading silicon vendors to provide the most advanced development and prototyping platforms for intelligent products. This new open AI platform will empower algorithm developers, researchers, product designers and SoC vendors to focus on their own, unique value-added differentiation.”

In addition to the choice of AI compute platforms, the 96Boards ecosystem offers a range of mezzanine and peripheral products to enable advanced audio, video and sensor interfaces. With the standard form factor and flexible interface options, compatible sensors will work with all conforming 96Boards platforms. This standardization enables developers to quickly pick and choose sensors and compute platforms for a broad range of embedded AI applications, from personal assistants and automotive driver assistance to smart cities, forensic investigation and drug discovery.

“As an inaugural member of the 96Boards.ai community we are excited to deliver to customers performance that is orders of magnitude higher than conventional microprocessors,” said Tomas Evensen, Chief Technology Officer of Embedded Software Xilinx. “As the world’s leading supplier of field programmable gate arrays (FPGAs), we continue to make great strides in all facets of AI acceleration. Xilinx’s unique heterogeneous combination of programmable elements, including; applications processors, real-time processors, digital signal processing elements and of course the FPGA logic fabric, gives us a unique advantage in bringing an unprecedented amount of performance and flexibility to the 96Boards.ai community. The new Ultra96 board, available from Avnet Electronics, is the flagship low-cost vehicle to demonstrate those benefits.”

“Socionext has been working with Linaro on an AI enabled 96Boards solution,” said Shuichi Yamane, Sub-leader of S3 Project, at Socionext. “Through the activities of the 96Boards community, we expect an open source platform that can fully utilize the features of Socionext AI solution will help to expand AI use cases significantly in the future.”

The DragonBoard 820c development board supports a wide range of interfaces and is ideal for prototyping complex embedded computing applications including for VR and AR, machine vision and artificial intelligence for commercial drones and robots. The Dragonboard 820c features the Snapdragon 820E embedded platform with a 64-bit ARMv8 -compliant quad-core Qualcomm® Kryo™ CPU, Qualcomm® Adreno™ 530 GPU and Qualcomm® Hexagon™ 680 DSP. Qualcomm Technologies aims to provide support for Linux on its Snapdragon Neural Processing Engine SDK in the second half of 2018 for use on DragonBoard 820c, so developers can take advantage of the Snapdragon 820E heterogeneous hardware architecture to accelerate on-device AI applications.

“It is a great honour for HiKey970 to join 96Boards.ai as a popular development platform for AI application development. HiKey970 is the third generation of HiKey series in 96boards. It is the world’s leading AI-enabled development platform highlighting with powerful computing power, richer hardware interfaces, and supporting mainstream operating systems and AI stacks. The HiKey970 integrates Huawei’s HiAI framework and other mainstream neural network frameworks, supporting both CPU and GPU AI calculations and NPU-based neural network computing hardware acceleration, which can greatly help on-device AI development.” said Eric Zhou, product marketing director of Huawei wireless terminal chipset BU. “We hope to bring developers an easy-to-use AI development platform. Much appreciation to our partners Linaro, Arm, Hoperun, LeMaker, and all the engineers, without their effort, we can’t achieve such a challenging task.”

“As a world-leading smart system technology, service and solution provider, ThunderSoft is always the believer in open standards and collaborative innovation. That’s why we are committed to build AI kit and solutions around 96Boards Open AI platforms. With our years of expertise and experience in smart system development, Thundersoft will enable the next generation of embedded AI innovation based on 96Boards.ai platforms.” said Pengcheng Zou, CTO of ThunderSoft.

“We’re excited to join Linaro as a 96Boards steering committee member, Rockchip is very committed to the open society, and Rock960 will be a very competitive AI platform for the community. We’re looking forward to developing a great AI product base on that,” said Feng Chen, Chief Marketing Officer of Rockchip.

“Hoperun is a 96Boards steering committee member and Manufacturing partner, launching partner of the HiKey970, 96Boards.ai provider and promoter, committed to build AI kit and solutions around the 96Boards Open AI platform,” said Hoperun CEO Chen Bin.

96Boards is Linaro’s initiative to build a single software and hardware community across cost-effective development boards based on ARM technology.

About Linaro

Linaro is leading collaboration on open source development in the Arm ecosystem. The company has over 300 engineers working on consolidating and optimizing open source software for the Arm architecture, including developer tools, the Linux kernel, Arm power management, and other software infrastructure. Linaro is distribution neutral: it wants to provide the best software foundations to everyone by working upstream, and to reduce non-differentiating and costly low-level fragmentation. The effectiveness of the Linaro approach has been demonstrated by Linaro’s growing membership, and by Linaro consistently being listed as one of the top five company contributors, worldwide, to Linux kernels since 3.10.

To ensure commercial quality software, Linaro’s work includes comprehensive test and validation on member hardware platforms. The full scope of Linaro engineering work is open to all online. To find out more, please visit https://www.96boards.ai/, https://www.linaro.org and https://www.96Boards.org.

Qualcomm, Snapdragon, Adreno, Hexagon, Kryo and DragonBoard are trademarks of Qualcomm Incorporated, registered in the United States and other countries. Other products or brand names may be trademarks or registered trademarks of their respective owners.

Qualcomm Snapdragon, Qualcomm Kryo, Qualcomm Adreno, and Qualcomm Hexagon areproducts of Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. and/or its subsidiaries.