Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 Deep Learning SDK Nudges Local Neural Nets Closer To Mainstream

Qualcomm announced the deep learning software development kit (SDK) for the company’s Snapdragon 820 SoC. Qualcomm’s deep learning SDK is called the Snapdragon Neural Processing Engine, and it's powered by the company’s Zeroth Machine Intelligence Platform, with optimizations designed to take advantage of the heterogeneous compute capabilities of the Snapdragon SoC. The Zeroth platform drives intelligent deep learning software optimized for mobile devices. Among other things, it may be able to more effectively block malware on mobile devices.

Qualcomm said that the Snapdragon Neural Processing Engine SDK will give developers a “powerful, energy efficient platform” that will help them create mobile neural network tools that can be used for scene detection, text recognition, natural language processing and more.

The idea is that OEMs can run their own neural network applications locally, on-device, and don't have to communicate with the cloud. If that sounds strikingly similar to the work Movidius is doing with its vision processing, that's because it is. Movidius even just announced its Fathom Neural Compute Stick, which is simply a neural net loaded up on a USB flash drive-like stick.

Deep learning is exciting business, and the likes of Nvidia are certainly buying in. The prospect of machines understanding what they see will help usher in the era of artificial intelligence-based computing that has been coming with the rise of Siri and Cortana and Google Now, as well as Microsoft's recently-announced bot-focused "Conversations as a Platform" concept.

The Snapdragon Neural Processing Engine SDK will support any device with a Snapdragon 820 SoC, which includes flagship smartphones such as the Samsung Galaxy S7 and S7 edge and LG G5. Other compatible devices include security cameras, drones and even some automobiles.

The Snapdragon Neural Processing Engine SDK should be available in the second half this year.

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 Kevin Carbotte is a contributing writer for Tom's Hardware who primarily covers VR and AR hardware. He has been writing for us for more than four years.