Irish tech firm develops new AI chip to improve outer space data collection

  • O.C.E. Technology, an Irish space technology company, has presented and demonstrated its new artificial intelligence (AI) chip for embedded vision applications at the second European Workshop on On-Board Data Processing.

    The new AI chip called hisaor, from the Irish phrase for artificial intelligence (intleacht shaorga), incorporates eight GPUs and eight neural network accelerators as an AI co-processing unit.

    Barry Kavanagh, CEO at O.C.E. Technology, said, “Hisaor will enable new space applications to process high-resolution video and hyperspectral images on satellites minimising download data quantities and providing faster response to terrestrial data collected from onboard sensors.”

    Four ARM Cortex-A9 processors are the primary processing unit for the main operating system. Hisaor also includes multiple on-chip camera interfaces and video encoding and decoding units along with multiple high-speed bus interfaces.

    “The hisaor development environment is based on VeriSilicon’s Vivante Acuity™ software tools which make it easy for embedded developers to port their AI models trained in the cloud and execute these models on the chip. I see this as one of the main strengths of the product," added Mr Kavanagh. 

    Hisaor was a joint development with Zhuhai Orbita Aerospace Science & Technology Co. Ltd and is based on a collection of mature IP from leading companies. Work has also started on porting O.C.E.’s safety-approved real-time operating system OCEOS to the hisaor platform.

    O.C.E. Technology is also actively targeting the new technology at non-space applications such as autonomous vehicles, medical devices and intelligent manufacturing.

    The company headquartered at NovaUCD, the Centre for New Ventures and Entrepreneurs at University College Dublin (UCD), develops software for technical applications and supplies radiation-hardened chip-level components targeted primarily at the space and high-reliability sectors.

    O.C.E. is already operating in Europe, Korea, China, Russia and Singapore through a network of distributors. It is an Enterprise Ireland supported company, also supplies a range of satellite subsystems including solar cells, batteries, and attitude control units. These subsystems are already well proven on the Chinese space programme.

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