Established in 2020 under InnoHK, a major initiative of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government to develop Hong Kong as a hub for global research, the AI Chip Center for Emerging Smart Systems (ACCESS) is wholly owned by The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST), and in collaboration on research with The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK), Stanford University (Stanford), The University of Hong Kong (HKU), École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule Zürich (ETH) and University of Notre Dame. It is a tightly coordinated and multi-disciplinary center for advancing IC design and design automation technologies to enable novel data-centric computing paradigms supporting a wide range of AI applications.
The research agenda in ACCESS is organized into four research programs, addressing four key technical areas, including
(1) Enabling Technology for Emerging Computing Systems;
(2) Architecture and Heterogeneous System Integration;
(3) AI-Assisted EDA (Electronic Design Automation) for AI Hardware;
(4) Hardware-Accelerated AI Applications
Enabling Technology for Emerging Computing Systems addresses memory and data bandwidth problems to alleviate the bottlenecks of AI hardware by exploring integration of silicon-compatible emerging technologies with scaled silicon chips.
Architecture and Heterogeneous System Integration focuses on exploring different new architectural and system integration solutions for efficient neuromorphic computing on platforms ranging from cloud to smart Internet of Things (IoT).
AI-Assisted EDA (Electronic Design Automation) for AI Hardware hopes to develop new design methodologies and design automation tools for AI chips.
Hardware-Accelerated AI Applications emphasises selected emerging applications for hardware acceleration, exploring system architecture and new design tools specific to the target applications to achieve breakthroughs in AI hardware in speeds and energy efficiency.
The research programs in ACCESS span from fundamental/ curiosity research to mid-stream applied research and actual prototype development for technology demonstration, technology transfer to industry and spin-off under the entrepreneur incubation program. Located at the Hong Kong Science Park (HKSP), ACCESS provides world-class working environment for more than 90 working staff, including senior research staffs with both academic and industry experience, researchers (post-doc and graduate students), visiting professors / scholars, and administration staff working closely together with international experts and industry partners towards leading R&D outcomes.
Being a research center under the InnoHK initiative of the HKSAR Government, ACCESS will make remarkable contributions to the advancement of AI technologies for advanced chip/ hardware design and will advance Hong Kong as a driver for innovation in the important field of AI hardware.
"We recognise that specialised AI chips will be a key factor driving the AI revolution. Our team of world-class experts are designing customised AI hardware that will support more innovative applications, and complement other AI research projects in the region."
Professor Tim CHENG, Center Director of ACCESS and Vice-President for Research and Development, HKUST