AI is probably the most talked about subject in the embedded space these days. Hardly a meeting goes by without AI being brought up, either as the main subject of conversation or something peripherally related. That was certainly the case with the virtual press conference I attended last week for Blaize, a fairly new entrant to the space.
Blaize introduced the company’s first AI computing hardware and software solutions aimed specifically at the Edge of the IoT, dubbed the Pathfinder and Xplorer platforms and the AI Software Suite. According to the company, the hardware-software combination will enable Edge-based AI products across a wide range of edge use cases and industries. That would include industrial, smart cities, sensor fusion, last-mile delivery, and retail.
The company feels that it is filling the void created by products that are either not compute intensive enough, too expensive, or too complex. It claims to “migrate AI computing out of the data center to the Edge,” as well as the industry’s first option for code-free AI development at the Edge.
The new products are built upon Blaize’s Graph Streaming Processor (GSP) architecture. The Blaize GSP is a 100% programmable processor that features multi-threading and streaming. With 16 GSP cores and 16TOPS of AI inference performance within a 7W power envelope, GSP can deliver superior system-level efficiency versus GPU/CPUs for edge AI applications as well as less memory bandwidth and lower latency.
In terms of a specific product, the P1600 embedded systems-on-module (SOM) is designed such that no host processor is needed. It simply plugs into a PCIe slot. Beyond that, the X1600E small form factor accelerator platform is aimed at small and power-constrained environments such as convenience stores or industrial sites. It can accelerate AI applications in industrial PCs or as a rack of cards in a small 1U server. The X1600P is a standard PCIe-based accelerator in a half-height, half-width form factor.
The Blaize AI software suite is built on open standards. Comprised of the Picasso software development kit (SDK), and AI Studio, a completely code-free visual interface, the software suite offers tools for both traditional developers and non-coder domain experts. In addition, both tools sets utilize Blaize Netdeploy, which uses edge-aware algorithms to maximize accuracy and performance.
Samples of both product lines are available now with full production expected starting in the fourth quarter. The Xplorer X1600E sells for $299 in large volumes. The Pathfinder P1600 SOM is available in an industrial grade for $399, while the Xplorer X1600P costs $999.
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