Cadence Tensilica HiFi IP Accelerates AI Deployment with Support for TensorFlow Lite for Microcontrollers

Optimized software enables low-power neural network inferencing for advanced audio, voice and sensing applications

Cadence® Tensilica® HiFI DSPs are the first DSPs to support TensorFlow Lite for Microcontrollers, enabling rapid development of edge AI and ML applications using advanced audio, voice and sensing. (Photo: Business Wire)

SAN JOSE, Calif.--()--Cadence Design Systems, Inc. (Nasdaq: CDNS) today announced that software for Cadence® Tensilica® HiFi digital signal processors (DSPs) has been optimized to efficiently execute TensorFlow Lite for Microcontrollers, part of the TensorFlow end-to-end open-source platform for machine learning (ML) from Google. The combination of edge-based ML running on the ultra-low power cores supports the increasing demand for pervasive intelligence in advanced audio, voice and sensing applications. For more information on the Tensilica HiFi DSP family, visit

The HiFi DSPs are the first DSPs to support TensorFlow Lite for Microcontrollers. With the addition of optimized software support for TensorFlow Lite operators on the HiFi DSP cores, developers can now take full advantage of the TensorFlow platform. This promotes rapid development of edge applications that use artificial intelligence (AI) and ML, removing the need for hand-coding the neural networks and resulting in faster time to market and higher performance.

Implementing AI at the edge, including devices that use voice and audio as a user interface, requires running the inference model on the device. This has many benefits:

  • Eliminates the latency associated with sending data to a cloud service and waiting for the response to be sent back to the device
  • Reduces power consumption associated with sending/receiving large amounts of data across a network
  • Maintains privacy and minimizes security issues since the data never leaves the device
  • Without cloud dependency, the device can be disconnected from the network and still operate

“Voice and audio AI applications are now mainstream, as voice-based user interfaces become more popular with consumers,” said Ian Nappier, product manager at Google. “TensorFlow Lite’s microcontroller software combined with optimized operators for the HiFi DSP makes developing and deploying innovative neural nets on low-power, memory-constrained audio DSPs easier than ever.”

“Our powerful crossover microcontroller, the i.MX RT600, includes a 600MHz Tensilica HiFi 4 DSP that delivers 4.8GMACs of performance,” explained Joe Yu, VP of microcontrollers at NXP® Semiconductors. “This new MCU provides the optimal balance in power and performance. The compute power makes the i.MX RT600 ideal for our customers deploying voice, audio, and other neural network-based applications at the edge. Supporting the popular, end-to-end toolchain, TensorFlow, as well as other inferencing technologies, on the HiFi DSP will enable ML developers to take advantage of the compelling combination of compute and memory on this chip.”

“Enabling ML at the edge saves power, protects privacy and greatly reduces latency,” observed Yipeng Liu, director of audio/voice IP at Cadence. “Tensilica HiFi DSPs are the most widely licensed DSPs for audio, voice and AI speech. Support for TensorFlow Lite for Microcontrollers enables our licensees to innovate with ML applications like keyword detection, audio scene detection, noise reduction and voice recognition, with the assurance that they can run in an extremely low-power footprint.”

Tensilica HiFi DSPs are part of the broad Cadence IP portfolio and support Cadence’s Intelligent System Design strategy, enabling pervasive intelligence.

About Cadence

Cadence is a pivotal leader in electronic design, building upon more than 30 years of computational software expertise. The company applies its underlying Intelligent System Design strategy to deliver software, hardware and IP that turn design concepts into reality. Cadence customers are the world’s most innovative companies, delivering extraordinary electronic products from chips to boards to systems for the most dynamic market applications including consumer, hyperscale computing, 5G communications, automotive, aerospace, industrial and health. For six years in a row, Fortune Magazine has named Cadence one of the 100 Best Companies to Work For. Learn more at

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Release Summary

Cadence Tensilica HiFi DSPs support TensorFlow Lite for Microcontrollers for rapid development of edge AI/ML audio, voice and sensing applications.


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