For years, audio engineers have been working to improve the voice quality and protect your next conference call, remote class, or virtual happy hour from unwanted background noise. The result of this work became available as part of Intel’s new 11th Gen Intel® Core™ processors.
The key is dynamic noise suppression. This technology uses AI to recognize and remove common laptop background noises, like a barking dog or a crying baby. While noise suppression technology has been around for years, with the more recent advances in AI algorithms and low power hardware accelerators, dynamic noise suppression is now available while reducing the impact on a laptop’s battery and performance.
Intel is working to change that. With our Gaussian Neural Accelerator (GNA) 2.0, noise suppression will last longer, with less drain on the laptop battery, and come built-in for the next generation of laptops.
I know the difference this can make. I rely on noise suppression myself, for any situation where I’m communicating through my PC. These days, more people are working from home than ever before and relying on video conferences to stay connected. Even if my dog comes barreling into the room and starts barking, I can just keep talking, without interruption. That means I’m free to work from anywhere in my house, without the stress of worrying about background noise.
This technology is first available on the Acer Swift 5. Acer is ahead of the game on audio solutions, and this is the first laptop to offer GNA 2.0-enabled noise suppression on Intel’s 11th Gen Intel® Core™ processors.
Designed for Today’s World
The Acer and Intel teams collaborated closely to bring dynamic noise suppression capabilities to the Swift 5. Intel’s industry-first solution offloads AI-based noise suppression from the CPU to the more efficient GNA 2.0, which dramatically reduces the impact on battery life.
By putting the right workload on the right compute solution, it ensures people have the best real-world experience. Here’s how our teams made it happen on the Acer Swift 5:
- Tapping Intel’s unique technology: Intel works closely with leading audio vendors to make sure their noise suppression algorithms run well on GNA for both power consumption and sound quality. This relies on AI that has been trained to recognize common noises, such as a crying baby, a barking dog, or a noisy kitchen. The noise suppression is tested with users for a clean audio experience, so people can purchase the Acer Swift 5 with confidence.
- Connecting complex audio solutions: Since GNA 2.0-enabled noise suppression is the first of its kind, Intel’s experts—including a designated audio engineer—supported Acer to customize it for the Swift 5. This included extensive collaboration between Intel, Acer, the ODM, and a third-party audio vendor to coordinate solutions across the Basic Input Output System (BIOS), laptop audio driver, microphone, and speakers. Intel provided Acer with support as part of our co-engineering programs, including a BIOS reference code, a pre-install Windows driver, and a full set of tools to verify that GNA is functional, configured properly, and working correctly.
- Meeting Cortana’s requirements: In addition to calls, noise suppression can benefit voice-activated digital assistants. Acer and Intel worked together to apply the noise suppression solution to the tests and requirements for Microsoft Cortana, so the Swift 5 provides an easy-to-use virtual assistant, no matter where someone is.
Listen to the audio files to see how Intel’s GNA 2.0-enabled noise suppression removes background noise.
Beyond noise suppression, the Acer and Intel teams leveraged their deep co-engineering partnership to deliver a range of cutting-edge capabilities and features on the Swift 5. It offers a 90% screen-to-body ratio, an anti-microbial screen and chassis, multiple cooling modes, and blazing connectivity on Wi-Fi 6 (GIG+). The Acer Swift 5 is an Intel Evo platform verified design1, ensuring that it delivers exceptional experiences, including significant responsiveness gains compared to a two-year old premium laptop, 9 or more hours of real-world battery life on laptops with FHD displays2, 4 or more hours of battery life in a 30-minute charge on laptops with FHD displays34 and will wake from sleep in less than a second.
A New “Must-Have”
The engineers, executives, and industry partners who’ve tested GNA 2.0-enabled noise suppression usually ask one question: “When can I get it?”
If my experience has taught me anything, it’s that noise suppression is the new must-have laptop feature. And it’s arriving at the perfect time. As remote work grows, the number of video calls is taking off, and noise disruption is becoming a bigger problem. Just consider that the number of daily Zoom video call participants increased 30x from December 2019 to the spring of 2020.1 We want our background noise suppression solutions to give those people the confidence to video call from anywhere.
But this is also a first step towards other new capabilities. We’re going to keep working with audio vendors and OEMs to hone the technology, so it can recognize and edit out additional types of noise. And in the future, GNA could power features like real-time voice transcription and translation, closed captioning, and far-field speakers.
Acer and Intel are working together to create these technologies—drawing on the lessons learned from the industry firsts on the Acer Swift 5.
For more information about the Intel Evo Platform, visit Intel.com/ProjectAthena.