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Alibaba Cloud’s Xuantie C906 processor attained firsts in the most recent findings from MLPerf Tiny v0.7, an AI benchmark focusing on IOT devices. The Xuantie C906’s performance excelled in all four core categories – visual wake words, image classifications, keyword spotting, and anomaly detection. The Xuantie C906 is Alibaba’s custom-built processor based on the RISC-V instruction-set architecture.

Xuantie C906’s remarkable performance marks a milestone that showcases the potential of the RISC-V framework in achieving tailored AI functions with extremely low computing power. 

The breakthrough performance in the AIoT area is driven by Alibaba Cloud’s innovation across hardware and software layers. Alibaba Cloud has improved the computing efficiency by using SinianML, a model optimiser, the Heterogeneous Honey Badger (HHB), the neural network model deployment toolset designed for the RISC-V architecture, and CSI-NN2, the optimised neural network operator library. In addition, Alibaba’s software stack, along with the hardware toolset and library, has optimised AI operators and further improved the performance of the AI inference model, resulting in the Xuantie C906’s exceptional performance.

Alibaba Cloud’s RISC-V based processors have already been deployed widely across a range of applications including smart home appliances, automotive environments and edge computing. Last year, Alibaba Cloud opened the source code of its XuanTie IP Core series, enabling  developers to access the codes on Github and the Open Chip Community in order to build prototype chips of their own, which can be customized for IoT applications such as networking, gateway and edge servers.

Launched by the open engineering consortium MLCommons, MLPerf™ Tiny benchmark measures how quickly a trained neural network can process new data for the lowest power devices and smallest form factors. MLPerf Tiny v0.7 is the organisation’s second inference benchmark suite that targets machine learning use cases on embedded devices.

“AI for IoT is a highly competitive arena where customization at every level is critical to achieve new breakthrough results at very low power,” said Calista Redmond, CEO of RISC-V International. “Alibaba continues to build RISC-V industry leadership in parallel with their dedication and contribution to the global RISC-V community.”   

“The flexibility of the RISC-V’s framework gives it an advantage in meeting the customisation demands of clients in the AIoT field. We will continue to drive innovation among the thriving RISC-V community, and assist global developers to build their own RISC-V-based chips in a much more cost-effective way,” said Jianyi Meng, Senior Director at Alibaba.

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