Friday, 12 April 2019 10:03

Smartphones with dedicated AI chips to make up 75% of sales by 2022 Featured

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Smartphones with dedicated AI chips to make up 75% of sales by 2022 Image by Colin Behrens from Pixabay

The sales of smartphones that use artificial intelligence for processing is forecast to increase from 190 million units in 2018 to 1.25 billion units in 2022, which is more than three-fourths of the total that will ship that year.

Analyst firm Counterpoint Research said one of the main reasons behind this forecast was the expected launch of several Android smartphones that used Qualcomm's 855 system-on-a-chip in 2019 and subsequent years.

The company said that while smartphone vendors had been using AI capabilities for some time, the processing had been done either in the cloud or else distributed across the various processors - CPUs, GPUs or digital signal processors.

At present, AI was being used mostly for camera-related applications like facial recognition and image enhancement. This was expected to spread to other applications over the next two years.

“We see voice assistants as one of the first applications to benefit from device-based processing,” said Gareth Owen, associate research director at Counterpoint Research.

“Today, most voice processing in smartphones is cloud-based. However, voice assistants will be able to process commands quicker and respond faster with on-device processing. It also resolves privacy concerns.”

Counterpoint said Apple and Huawei were the first two smartphone companies to include dedicated AI processors - the A11 and the Kirin 970 respectively - in their flagship devices launched in September 2017.

Two years later, virtually all SoC vendors were doing so, with Qualcomm, for example, offering an AI Tensor Accelerator in the Snapdragon 855’s Hexagon DSP.

“With Qualcomm joining the fray and incorporating hardware-based AI acceleration in its latest Snapdragon SoC for the first time, industry-wide adoption of AI silicon in smartphones is inevitable,” said Peter Richardson, research director at Counterpoint Research.

“And with Qualcomm keen to extend machine learning capabilities into its lower cost chips, plus the availability of AI SoCs for mid-range phones from other vendors, this trend will quickly extend to mid-range and even low-range smartphones."

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Sam Varghese

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Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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