What are Neural Processing Units (NPU)?


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Neural Processing Units are gaining importance in the semiconductor industry.

About Neural Processing Units (NPU)

  • An NPU, or a Neural Processing Unit, is a dedicated processor designed specifically for accelerating neural network processes.
    • A neural network is essentially a type of machine learning algorithm that mimics the human brain for processing data.
  • Therefore, the NPU is highly capable for handling machine learning operations that form the basis for AI-related tasks, such as speech recognition, natural language processing, photo or video editing processes like object detection, and more.
  • In most consumer-facing gadgets, such as smartphones, laptops, and tablets, the NPU is integrated within the main processor, adopting a System-on-Chip (SoC) configuration.
  • However, for data centres, the NPU might be an entirely discrete processor, separate from any other processing unit such as the central processing unit (CPU)or the Graphics processing unit (GPU).
  • How is NPU different from CPU and GPU?
    • CPUs employ a sequential computing method, issuing one instruction at a time, with subsequent instructions awaiting the completion of their predecessors.
    •  In contrast, the NPU harnesses parallel computing to simultaneously execute numerous calculations. This parallel computing approach results in swifter and more efficient processing.

Q1: What are Semiconductors?

These are materials that have electrical conductivity between that of a conductor and an insulator. They are the foundation of modern electronics and power a vast array of technologies such as computers, smartphones, solar panels, and medical devices.

Source: NPU: What is it and why is it gaining importance in semiconductor industry