Perhaps the biggest trend in IT is the rise of Artificial Intelligence (AI). Over the past year, it has transitioned from an item of interest to an enabler of the digital enterprise. According to a report by MarketsandMarkets, the AI market is expected to grow from $21.46 billion in 2018 to $190.61 billion by 2025. That’s an incredible annual gain of 36.62% for the next seven years. No other technology comes close to that rate of expansion, with manufacturing being by far the hottest sector.
Enterprise-class AI requires specialized microprocessors. And Siemens is introducing a new module for the SIMATIC S7-1500 controller and the ET 200MP I/O system with a chip with AI capability. The S7-1500 TM NPU (neural processing unit) comes equipped with the Intel Movidius Myriad X Vision processing unit (VPU).
A neural network system on an SD card equipped with the USB 3.1 interfaces and a Gigabit Ethernet port facilitates enables the processing of data from connected sensors or from the CPU program. Machine-learning algorithms can then be used to perform visual quality checks in production plants. The dream of image-guided robot systems can also be efficiently realized.
The Intel Myriad X VPU chip is the first in its class to have a dedicated hardware accelerator for deep neural network structures. Its integrated image processing unit together with the computing unit for neural networks have opened the door to innovative new applications in industrial automation.
Compatible sensors such as cameras or microphones can be connected to the SIMATIC S7-1500 TM NPU module. The system utilizes Open AI frameworks such as Tensorflow for accelerated image processing. For example, this can add value in systems where mobile robot must recognize, pick out and place components that are lying randomly in a crate or during quality checks.
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