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Tensilica has been attending CES for many years, before it was acquired by Cadence. The focus used to be on audio processing, with the HiFi family of processors. In fact, as I said in my preview post for this year's CES (see CES Preview), we now have over 100 licensees. More of the focus (!) is on vision and image processing. Since vision processing involves a lot of matrix multiplications, the raw number of MACs per second is an important metric. However, since these processors are often going into phones and other portable devices, the power dissipation is also critical.
The latest members of the Tensilica family of processors are:
A couple of years ago, Cadence announced its (then) latest processor, the Tensilica Vision P6 DSP. For details, see my post New Algorithms for Vision Require a New Processor. We have announced newer processors since, but it takes a couple of years to license the IP, integrate it into a chip, program it, manufacture the chip, build the chip into a device, and ship the device to stores. So while the later generation processors are going into new designs, the actual products that we had on show at CES were based on the Vision P6 DSP, or its predecessor the Vision P5 DSP.
You may not have heard of them, but Oppo and Vivo are top brands. Confusingly, they are actually the same company. Added together, they are #2 or #3 in the market, depending precisely which period you look. They both use the Mediatek Helio P60 application processor, which contains two Vision P6 DSPs. The Huawei Nova 3 phone uses a Vision p6 DSP, too, in the Kirin 970 AP (built by HiSilicon, which is the chip design company wholly owned by Huawei).
The two main image/vision-processing tasks that smartphones do are taking better photographs, often using multiple cameras simultaneously, and facial recognition. The facial recognition is done to unlock the phone, but perhaps more importantly from an accuracy point of view, it is used for mobile payments. This is especially important in China where cash is rarely used. Even someone selling vegetables at the side of the road will take mobile payments.
The Vision P6 DSP in the Nova 3 performs an unlock in under 40ms using the Face++ software integrated into the Android OS.
Winning the prize for the smallest product was the Geo Semiconductor GW5400, which is based on a Vision P5 DSP. It is hard to get a sense of scale in the photo above, since a PCB could be any size, but the camera is actually about 1" across. One challenge with making a product so physically small is heat dissipation, since the thermal energy density is quite high, with multiple chips and boards inside the housing.
As always, more details are on the appropriate product pages:
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