Acer Swift 5: Distracting Background Noise Is a Thing of the Past

By Joe Alvarez, AI Product Manager in Intel’s Client Computing Group

The Industry First on the Acer Swift 5:

  • The Acer Swift 5 is the first laptop to offer Intel’s GNA 2.0-enabled noise suppression for better virtual connection, collaboration, and video calls.

  • Intel’s industry-first technology offloads noise suppression from the CPU to a more power-efficient Gaussian Neural Accelerator, which comes built into Intel’s 11th-generation processors.

  • The Acer and Intel teams collaborated closely to enable and optimize GNA 2.0-enabled noise suppression for the Swift 5, which will help people to meet the challenges of today’s world.

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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.

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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.

Legal Disclosures5 6 7

Product and Performance Information

1

Refers to Intel® Evo™ platform-based laptops powered by 11th Gen Intel® Core™ i7 processors, the best processors for thin & light devices, as measured by systems with 11th Gen Intel® Core™ i7-1185G7 on industry benchmarks, Representative Usage Guide testing, and unique features, including as compared with AMD Ryzen™ 7 4800U. For more complete information about 11th Gen performance, visit www.intel.com/11thgen. Intel's comprehensive laptop innovation program Project Athena ensures all designs with the Intel Evo brand have been tested, measured and verified against a premium specification and key experience indicators. Testing results as of August 2020, and do not guarantee individual laptop performance. Power and performance vary by use, configuration and other factors.

2

Time taken to drain from 100% to critical battery level while performing workflows under a typical-use environment comprising multiple cloud-based and local apps and web pages including Google Chrome*, Google G-Suite*, Microsoft Office 365*, YouTube* and Zoom*, including limited periods of non-use. Testing conducted on laptops connected to 802.11 wireless, and with shipped hardware configurations including Windows* 10 and 250-nit LCD screen brightness. Testing results as of August 2020, and do not guarantee individual laptop performance. Power and performance vary by use, configuration and other factors.

3

Charge attained in 30-minute window while powered off from OEM-default shutdown level. Testing results as of August 2020, and do not guarantee individual laptop performance. Power and performance vary by use, configuration and other factors.

4

©Intel Corporation. Intel, the Intel logo, and other Intel marks are trademarks of Intel Corporation or its subsidiaries. Other names and brands may be claimed as the property of others.

5

Performance varies by use, configuration and other factors. Learn more at www.Intel.com/PerformanceIndex.

6

Performance results are based on testing as of dates shown in configurations and may not reflect all publicly available updates. See www.intel.com/Evo for configuration details.

7

Intel® technologies may require enabled hardware, software, or service activation. No product or component can be absolutely secure. Your costs and results may vary.