Powered by Arm/FPGA, Advantech Enters AI in Manufacturing
As an advocate of intelligent manufacturing who has been providing advanced intelligent solutions for various industries, Advantech has also begun introducing AI elements (e.g., intelligent monitoring of machine status, raw material/energy usage, and QA/QC process) into its own production lines. Two major contributors for Advantech in adopting AI to modernize its production lines are intellectual property (IP) core technology from Arm and field-programmable gate array (FPGA) technology from Xilinx.
Advantech’s IoT.SENSE staff interviewed Advantech Chief Technology Officer Allan Yang and Associate Vice President Jamie Lin to share their views on and strategies for innovative trends driven by AI, IoT, and smart production.
Advantech CTO Allan Yang
Advantech AVP Jamie Lin
Mr. Yang noted that although AI is not a new topic in scientific research, it had not gained much attention from the general public or industries until the past two or three years. The main reason for the shift in attention is the pace of recent developments, which has created huge business potential in areas outside of academia.
Developments in AI are currently aimed at higher versatility or multi-usability rather than a single focus on a dedicated area. DeepMind has renamed its chess program to AlphaZero, because the program can now also a variety of chess-type games, including Japanese Shogi. This new system has repeatedly outperformed other top computer chess programs in the world, and this is undoubtedly an important milestone for AI moving toward versatility.
In fact, the commercial value of AI had manifested
itself long before the appearance of AlphaGo. For example, the use of YouTube’s
video recommendation system and Amazon’s online shopping store are the direct
result of deep learning, a technology branch of AI. Considering the fast
evolution and potential commercial value of AI, it is unsurprising why AI is
currently the hottest technology. However, talk is one thing and practice is
another matter entirely. There are many details and hurdles that need to be
overcome to put AI into practice in specific application scenarios in different
Mr. Yang revealed that Advantech has developed a close relationship with Arm Holdings, and the company understands the product roadmap of Arm processors. For the future, Arm will target the needs of AI processing and launch more specialized and more efficient IP cores and peripherals, which will be a great help in promoting edge computing and AI applications. Advantech will continue to maintain its close partnership with Arm.
Mr. Lin revealed three major goals for Advantech’s
intelligent manufacturing: 1) to modernize its production facilities, which
involves enabling all machines and equipment to support Industry 4.0
implementation; 2) to realize the interfacing of data acquisition and software
execution and import the data into its manufacturing execution system, product
lifecycle management and other corporate IT systems; and 3) to expand the
application of machine vision and deep learning to all nodes and links for
For the first goal, Mr. Lin acknowledged that it is
costly to upgrade or retrofit existing machines and equipment, especially those
that require support or licensing from the original equipment manufacturer.
However, under certain circumstances, these machines and equipment may be
equipped with add-on data acquisition modules developed by Advantech, and these
can be installed with non-intrusive methods, thus providing a means to acquire
sufficient parameter data.
Reconfigurable Acceleration Stack