Last year, several models of Qualcomm’s mobile chipsets gained AI acceleration capabilities. Now, Qualcomm is leveraging its custom hardware and networking expertise to introduce a new solution for dedicated cloud-based AI processing. The Qualcomm Cloud AI 100 is a custom hardware solution for cloud AI inference workloads.
Built on a 7nm process node, Qualcomm designed the Cloud AI 100 from the ground up for AI processing, stating that it has “greater than 50x” the peak AI processing performance of its Snapdragon 820 chipset, which would make it one of the most powerful solutions in its class. It’s also designed for power efficiency, with Qualcomm claiming that it offers “10x performance per watt over the industry’s most advanced AI inference solutions deployed today" and is therefore easily scalable to meet performance or power requirements.
Combined with a full software stack for developers and partners, Qualcomm is aiming the Cloud AI 100 at the full gamut of cloud-to-edge workloads, where it will compete with GPU, CPU, and FPGA-based solutions from companies like Intel and NVIDIA. Support for existing software stacks will be available, with Qualcomm specifically listing PyTorch, Glow, TensorFlow, Keras, and ONNX.
Qualcomm is also touting direct benefits for end-users of supported devices, with significant performance improvements for features like natural language processing and translations via personal assistants, image recognition and search, and personalized content recommendations.
Keith Kressin, Qualcomm’s SVP of Product Management, issued the following statement alongside the product’s announcement:
Today, Qualcomm Snapdragon mobile platforms bring leading AI acceleration to over a billion client devices. Our all new Qualcomm Cloud AI 100 accelerator will significantly raise the bar for the AI inference processing relative to any combination of CPUs, GPUs, and/or FPGAs used in today’s data centers. Furthermore, Qualcomm Technologies is now well positioned to support complete cloud-to-edge AI solutions all connected with high-speed and low-latency 5G connectivity.
Qualcomm plans to begin sampling the Cloud AI 100 to enterprise customers in the second half of 2019.