SynSense advances neuromorphic audio processing with Xylo Audio 3 tapeout

1 min read

SynSense, a supplier of ultra-low-power neuromorphic hardware and application solutions, has completed the tapeout of Xylo Audio 3, the company’s ultra-low-power audio processing platform built on the neuromorphic inference core Xylo.

XyloAudio 3 is based on the TSMC 40nm CMOS LOGIC Low Power process and is able to deliver real-time, ultra-low-power audio signal processing capabilities while reducing chip costs. This tapeout is being described as a milestone for the commercialisation of SynSense’s neuromorphic audio processing technology. 

“With Xylo Audio we are expanding the sensory processing capabilities of our neuromorphic hardware to real-time audio and vibration monitoring. This tapeout is an important step for our Xylo family devices, incorporating advances in low-power design as well as improved audio interfacing, and readies Xylo Audio for volume production,” said Dylan Muir, Vice President of Global Research Operations at SynSense. 

Based on temporally sparse, quantised neural networks (spiking neural networks, or SNNs), Xylo Audio 3 is an ultra-low-power always-on AI chip for auditory processing. The highly efficient SNN temporal processing units in Xylo can reduce the energy consumption for complex temporal signal analysis tasks by at least 10 times.

Xylo Audio 3 integrates a configurable audio front-end (AFE) which accurately converts audio inputs into spikes, providing compatibility for a range of analogue and digital MEMS microphones.

The latest enhancements to the Xylo Audio family feature more flexibility in network configuration coupled with lower-power operation. Xylo Audio 3 enables edge AI for near-sensor auditory applications, for keyword recognition, environmental sound monitoring, industrial vibration monitoring and more, empowering a wide range of edge intelligence applications.

“We are providing Xylo Audio to many commercial and research partners, who are developing applications ranging from in-home audio event monitoring to underwater acoustic signature detection. Xylo enables our partners to build sophisticated audio-driven intelligence into their battery-powered edge devices,” added Muir.

In addition to its chip design, Xylo Audio 3’s use of the TSMC 40nm process contributes to cost reduction and ensures the stability of tapeout and production.

SynSense has already launched development kits based on Xylo Audio, and the company is actively supporting customers in application development. Muir added, “We expect engineering samples of Xylo Audio to be available at the end of 2023, with commercial volume sales to follow.”