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Bench Talk for Design Engineers

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Bench Talk for Design Engineers | The Official Blog of Mouser Electronics

New Tech Tuesdays: MCUs That Keep Natural Language Processing Technology Progressing Tommy Cummings

New Tech Tuesdays

Join journalist Tommy Cummings for a weekly look at all things interesting, new, and noteworthy for design engineers.

Language-based artificial intelligence has had its challenges. Specifically, while AI was better than humans at data-driven tasks, it still trailed humans when it came to cognitive skills.

But advances are being seen in natural language processing (NLP), the branch of AI that focuses on how computer systems can process language as humans can.

NLP combines advanced technology with human linguistics, enabling machines and humans to speak the same language and to talk to each other to exchange information and ideas. It also provides machines with the ability to understand both written and spoken human communication.

The technology is nothing new. NLP development has been around since the 1950s with experiments in automated translation of language. Other systems included human-machine interfaces (HMI), chatterbots, machine translation, algorithms, and machine learning.

Machines must be able to train themselves quickly from a vast field of language to understand humans. This requires high computational capabilities, such as graphics processing units (GPUs), field-programmable gate arrays (FPGAs), CPUs, application-specific integrated circuits (ASICs), crossover processors, and microcontroller units (MCUs). We’re already seeing advances in HMI when it comes to voice control applications.

Through it all, data is the biggest player in this technology, even the simple application of text data. In this age of Big Data, organizations have become aware of the value of text data. To power data-heavy technology—emails, analysts' reports, archival material, even transcribed meetings and phone calls—design engineers will need, as always, powerful microprocessors.

In this week's New Tech Tuesday, we'll look at MCUs from NXP Semiconductors, Intel®, and STMicroelectronics essential to natural language processing applications.

Yes, You're Going to Need These Powerful Processors

Developers can design scalable HMI interface solutions with the NXP Semiconductors i.MX RT1060 Crossover MCU. Designers can create solutions for smart-home applications, such as thermostats, by leveraging the high-performance capability of the i.MX RT1060 crossover MCU, which operates at up to 600MHz. The RT1060 has advanced integration, such as liquid-crystal display (LCD) controllers and camera interfaces coupled with NXP and partner-driven graphics software. The embeddable MCU is suitable for industrial applications and data-intensive consumer products that require display functionalities.

Intel®'s third-generation Xeon® Gold Processors have proven to be powerful and flexible chips. The processors are designed with built-in AI acceleration for faster analytics and advanced security capabilities capable of bringing AI from edge to cloud. The scalable processors are engineered to process data for financial models, manufacturing, genome research, and more. They're also optimized for cloud, enterprise, high-performance computing (HPC), network, security, and Internet of Things (IoT) workloads. The processors feature up to 40 cores and a wide range of frequency, feature, and power levels.

Designers will find the STMicroelectronics STM32H7 High-Performance MCUs to be one of the fastest, most powerful 32-bit Reduced Instruction Set Computer (RISC) cores available. STM32F7 MCUs deliver the maximum theoretical performance of the Arm® Cortex®-M7 core, regardless of whether the code is executed from embedded Flash or external memory. The STM32H7 offers the highest performance in code execution and data transfers. The MCUs support a full set of DSP instructions and a memory protection unit (MPU) to enhance application security.

Tuesday's Takeaway

The technology behind natural language processing continues to evolve. By implementing AI and its subset NLP together, we're seeing a technology that allows humans and machines to communicate in a more seamless way.

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Tommy Cummings is a freelance writer/editor based in Texas. He's had a journalism career that has spanned more than 40 years. He contributes to Texas Monthly and Oklahoma Today magazines. He's also worked at The Dallas Morning News, Fort Worth Star-Telegram, San Francisco Chronicle, and others. Tommy covered the dot-com boom in Silicon Valley and has been a digital content and audience engagement editor at news outlets. Tommy worked at Mouser Electronics from 2018 to 2021 as a technical content and product content specialist.

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