Arm Ethos-U85 NPU delivers up to 4 TOPS for Edge AI applications in Cortex-M7 to Cortex-A520 SoCs

Arm has just Introduced its third-generation NPU for edge AI with the Arm Ethos-U85 that scales from 256 GOPS to 4 TOPS or up to four times the maximum performance of the previous generation Ethos-U65 microNPU, while also delivering 20% higher power efficiency.

While previous Arm microNPUs were paired with Cortex-M microcontroller-class cores potentially embedded into a Cortex-A application processor, the new Ethos-U85 can be married with Cortex-M microcontrollers and Cortex-A application processors up to the Cortex-A510/A520 Armv9 cores. Arm expects the Ethos-U85 to find its way into SoC designed for factory automation and commercial or smart home cameras with support for the new Transformer Networks and the more traditional Convolutional Neural Networks (CNNs).

Arm Ethos-U85 NPU

The Arm Ethos-U85 supports 128 to 2,048 MACs with performance ranging from 256 GOPS to 4 TOPS at 1 GHz, embeds 29 to 267KB RAM, offers SRAM, DRAM, and flash interface for external memory, and up to six 128-bit AMBA 8 AXI interconnect interfaces for the host. It supports int8 weights and int8 or int16 activations.

Recommended microcontroller cores are the higher-end Cortex-M7, Cortex-55, and Cortex-M85 cores and the Ethos-U85 can also interface with LITTLE Cortex-A cores such as Cortex-A35, Cortex-A53, Cortex-A55, Cortex-A510, or Cortex-A520, or even Cortex-A57 big core running bare metal core, an RTOS, or a Linux distribution.

Ethos-U55 vs Ethos-U65 vs Ethos-U85

Arm also introduced the Corstone-320 IoT reference design platform based on an Arm Cortex-M85 CPU, a Mali-C55 Image Signal Processor, and the new Ethos-U85 NPU designed for voice, audio, and vision edge AI applications such as real-time image classification and object recognition, or voice assistants with natural language translation on smart speakers. We don’t have a photo of the hardware, but Arm provides a block diagram for both IP blocks and software, as it is likely running on an FPGA board instead of tapped-out silicon…

Arm Corstone-320 IoT reference platform

The platform includes software, tools, and support including Arm Virtual Hardware, meaning you can access the Corstone-320 hardware hosted in the cloud.  Arm says the Ethos family of NPUs has already been licensed by more than 20 partners to date, and  Alif and Infineon are two of the early adopters of the new Ethos-U85. Additional may be found in the press release, and blog posts for the NPU and IoT reference design.

SoC designs with Ethos-U85 NPU
Potential SoC designs integrating the Arm Ethos-U85 NPU
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