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Qualcomm's neural network SDK made free for all comers

Facebook uses it for AR apparently. What? That's a positive? Our bad

By Richard Chirgwin, 26 Jul 2017

Qualcomm's decided to open up its year-old AI, by making its Neural Processing Engine (NPE) available to all.

The Snapdragon NPE first landed last year, with the company pitching capabilities including “scene detection, text recognition, object tracking and avoidance, gesturing, face recognition, and natural language processing”.

Announcing the open release, the chip-slinger cites Facebook as a user, with the Social Network™ working to use the NPE in its camera app “to accelerate Caffe2-powered [augmented reality] features.”

TensorFlow is also name-checked in the announcement, and since the SDK's page also mentions convolutional neural network support, Vulture South reckons Cuda ConvaNet (part of last year's announcement) is also in there somewhere.

As well as runtimes and libraries, the SDK provides APIs, sample code, debugging/benchmarking tools, documentation, and offline model conversion tools.

It supports the Kryo CPU, Adreno GPU or the Hexagon DSP Snapdragon cores.

Target verticals include “mobile, automotive, IoT, AR, drones, and robotics”, the development environment of choice is Ubuntu 14.04, and naturally you'll need a supported Snapdragon device for app tests.

The full list of supported devices are the Snapdragon 820, 835, 625, 626, 650, 652, 653, 660 and 630, and the Adreno GPU support needs libOpenCL.so on the device. ®

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