Cadence Supports Intelligent SoC Development with On-Device Tensilica AI Platform

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SAN JOSE, Calif., September 13, 2021—Cadence Design Systems, Inc. (Nasdaq: CDNS) today unveiled its Tensilica AI Platform for  AI SoC development, including three supporting product families optimized for varying data and on-device AI requirements. Spanning the low, mid and high end, the platform delivers scalable and energy-efficient on-device to edge AI processing, which is key to today’s increasingly ubiquitous AI SoCs, according to Cadence. A new companion AI neural network engine (NNE) consumes 80 percent less energy per inference and delivers more than 4X TOPS/W compared to industry-leading standalone Tensilica DSPs, while neural network accelerators (NNAs) deliver flagship AI performance and energy efficiency in a turnkey solution, the company said.

Targeting intelligent sensor, internet of things (IoT) audio, mobile vision/voice AI, IoT vision and advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) applications, the Tensilica AI Platform delivers optimal power, performance and area (PPA) and scalability with a common software platform.   Built upon the application-specific Tensilica DSPs already shipping in volume production in AI SoCs for the consumer, mobile, automotive and industrial markets, the Tensilica AI Platform product families include:

  • AI Base: Includes the popular Tensilica HiFi DSPs for audio/voice, Vision DSPs, and ConnX DSPs for radar/lidar and communications, combined with AI instruction-set architecture (ISA) extensions.
  • AI Boost: Adds a companion NNE, initially the Tensilica NNE 110 AI engine, which scales from 64 to 256 GOPS and provides concurrent signal processing and efficient inferencing.
  • AI Max: Encompasses the Tensilica NNA 1xx AI accelerator family—currently including the Tensilica NNA 110 accelerator and the NNA 120, NNA 140 and NNA 180 multi-core accelerator options—which integrates the AI Base and AI Boost technology. The multi-core NNA accelerators can scale up to 32 TOPS, while future NNA products are targeted to scale to 100s of TOPS.

All of the NNE and NNA products include random sparse compute to improve performance, run-time tensor compression to decrease memory bandwidth, and pruning plus clustering to reduce model size.

Comprehensive common AI software addresses all target applications, streamlining product development and enabling easy migration as design requirements evolve. This software includes the Tensilica Neural Network Compiler, which supports these industry-standard frameworks: TensorFlow, ONNX, PyTorch, Caffe2, TensorFlowLite and MXNet for automated end-to-end code generation; Android Neural Network Compiler; TFLite Delegates for real-time execution; and TensorFlow Lite Micro for microcontroller-class devices.

“AI SoC developers are challenged to get to market faster with cost-effective, differentiated products offering longer battery life and scalable performance,” said Sanjive Agarwala, corporate vice president and general manager of the IP Group at Cadence. “With our mature, extensible and configurable platform based on our best-in-class Tensilica DSPs and featuring common AI software, Cadence allows AI SoC developers to minimize development costs and meet tight market windows. By enabling AI across all performance and price points, Cadence is driving the rapid deployment of AI-enabled systems everywhere.”

“Scaling low power on-device AI capabilities requires extremely efficient multi-sensory compute,” said Pete Warden, Technical Lead of TensorFlow Lite Micro at Google. “Cadence and the TensorFlow Lite for Microcontrollers (TFLM) team have been working together for many years to co-develop solutions that enable the most cutting-edge, low-footprint use cases in the AI space. The trend for real-time audio networks to use LSTM-based neural nets for the best performance and efficiency is a key example. Working closely with Cadence, we are integrating a highly optimized LSTM operator on Tensilica HiFi DSPs that enables the next level of performance improvements for key use cases like voice-call noise suppression. We are excited to continue this collaboration and provide industry-level innovation in the low-energy AI space.”

The NNE 110 AI engine and the NNA 1xx AI accelerator family support Cadence’s Intelligent System Design strategy, which enables pervasive intelligence for SoC design excellence, and are expected to be in general availability in the fourth quarter of 2021. For more information on the Tensilica AI Platform and new AI IP, please visit

About Cadence
Cadence is a pivotal leader in electronic design, building upon more than 30 years of computational software expertise. The company applies its underlying Intelligent System Design strategy to deliver software, hardware and IP that turn design concepts into reality. Cadence customers are the world’s most innovative companies, delivering extraordinary electronic products from chips to boards to systems for the most dynamic market applications, including consumer, hyperscale computing, 5G communications, automotive, mobile, aerospace, industrial and healthcare. For seven years in a row, Fortune magazine has named Cadence one of the 100 Best Companies to Work For. Learn more at