Qualcomm's Cloud AI 100 aims for first half 2021 deployments

Qualcomm's bet that it can use 5G to bring AI inferencing closer to edge compute nodes may be about to pay off.
Written by Larry Dignan, Contributor

Qualcomm is targeting first half 2021 commercial edge computing deployments for its Cloud AI 100 family of artificial intelligence inference processors and is releasing a hardware developer kit.

The edge computing deployments for the Cloud AI 100 family represent a key milestone for Qualcomm. The company outlined its Cloud AI 100 family last year and worked through the sample and production silicon cadence throughout 2020.

Simply put, Qualcomm has made some good progress since its 2019 Cloud AI 100 launch. The company is:

  • Sampling its Cloud AI 100 silicon to multiple customers with shipments in the first half of 2021.
  • Sampling its Edge Development Kit in October.
  • Targeting strong performance per watt metrics by leveraging its AI inferencing, Snapdragon 865 and Snapdragon X55 chipsets.
  • Supporting a software ecosystem that includes multiple models, frameworks and runtimes.

John Kehrli, senior director product management for Qualcomm's Cloud AI 100 effort, said the combination of 5G and AI has spurred edge computing innovation. "This market is continuing to grow faster than we thought 18 months ago," said Kehrli. "The 5G edge box is a greenfield opportunity for us."

Qualcomm sees its AI 100 market opportunity as broad enough to span data centers and edge computing to 5G edge boxes that could be affixed to light poles, 5G equipment and autonomous car systems. Qualcomm's secret sauce would be using its technology for use cases in retail, manufacturing, supply chain, smart cities and healthcare, said Kehrli.


The Cloud AI 100 form factor is delivered via cards in many cases since Qualcomm's plan is to focus on inference and attach to existing systems as an AI inference accelerator card. 

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