Microsoft Research Blog

Microsoft Research Blog

The Microsoft Research blog provides in-depth views and perspectives from our researchers, scientists and engineers, plus information about noteworthy events and conferences, scholarships, and fellowships designed for academic and scientific communities.

Second version of HoloLens HPU will incorporate AI coprocessor for implementing DNNs

July 23, 2017 | By Microsoft blog editor

By Marc Pollefeys, Director of Science, HoloLens

It is not an exaggeration to say that deep learning has taken the world of computer vision, and many other recognition tasks, by storm. Many of the most difficult recognition problems have seen gains over the past few years that are astonishing.

Although we have seen large improvements in the accuracy of recognition as a result of Deep Neural Networks (DNNs), deep learning approaches have two well-known challenges: they require large amounts of labelled data for training, and they require a type of compute that is not amenable to current general purpose processor/memory architectures. Some companies have responded with architectures designed to address the particular type of massively parallel compute required for DNNs, including our own use of FPGAs, for example, but to date these approaches have primarily enhanced existing cloud computing fabrics.

But I work on HoloLens, and in HoloLens, we’re in the business of making untethered mixed reality devices. We put the battery on your head, in addition to the compute, the sensors, and the display. Any compute we want to run locally for low-latency, which you need for things like hand-tracking, has to run off the same battery that powers everything else. So what do you do?

You create custom silicon to do it.

 

First, a bit of background. HoloLens contains a custom multiprocessor called the Holographic Processing Unit, or HPU. It is responsible for processing the information coming from all of the on-board sensors, including Microsoft’s custom time-of-flight depth sensor, head-tracking cameras, the inertial measurement unit (IMU), and the infrared camera. The HPU is part of what makes HoloLens the world’s first–and still only–fully self-contained holographic computer.

Today, Harry Shum, executive vice president of our Artificial Intelligence and Research Group, announced in a keynote speech at CVPR 2017, that the second version of the HPU, currently under development, will incorporate an AI coprocessor to natively and flexibly implement DNNs. The chip supports a wide variety of layer types, fully programmable by us. Harry showed an early spin of the second version of the HPU running live code implementing hand segmentation.

The AI coprocessor is designed to work in the next version of HoloLens, running continuously, off the HoloLens battery. This is just one example of the new capabilities we are developing for HoloLens, and is the kind of thing you can do when you have the willingness and capacity to invest for the long term, as Microsoft has done throughout its history. And this is the kind of thinking you need if you’re going to develop mixed reality devices that are themselves intelligent. Mixed reality and artificial intelligence represent the future of computing, and we’re excited to be advancing this frontier.

Related:

Up Next

Artificial intelligence, Computer vision, Graphics and multimedia

Microsoft HoloLens facilitates computer vision research by providing access to raw image sensor streams with Research Mode

Microsoft HoloLens is the world’s first self-contained holographic computer. Remarkably, in Research Mode, available in the newest release of Windows 10 for HoloLens, it’s also a potent computer vision research device. Application code can not only access video and audio streams but can also at the same time leverage the results of built-in computer vision […]

Marc Pollefeys

Partner Director of Science

Artificial intelligence, Systems and networking, Technology for emerging markets

AI for the Developing World with Dr. Ranveer Chandra

Episode 18, April 4, 2018 - Dr. Chandra talks about how his research may eventually make your wi-fi signal stronger and your battery life longer, but also shares the story of how spending childhood summers with his grandparents in rural India inspired a line of research that could change the face of farming and help meet the food and nutrition needs of a growing global population.

Microsoft blog editor

Computer vision

HoloLens future highlights wide ranging vision research at ECCV

By Marc Pollefeys, Partner Director of Science, HoloLens and Jamie Shotton, Partner Scientist Lead, HoloLens We are pleased to announce Microsoft’s Platinum sponsorship of the 14th European Conference on Computer Vision (ECCV) in Amsterdam from October 8-16. ECCV is one of the top international conferences on computer vision research. Microsoft researchers, scientists, and engineers will be […]

Microsoft blog editor