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How Much Power to Allocate to IoT Connectivity?

How Much Power to Allocate to IoT Connectivity?
by Eric Esteve on 07-31-2014 at 8:28 am

Ensigma is in fact the low-power radio processing unit (RPU) architecture, completing Imagination Technologies (IMG) port-folio, the well-known graphic processing unit (GPU) PowerVR family and MIPS CPU core products. If we take a look at the block diagram “Ensigma Series4 Explorer RPU”, we can easily identifies the Radio frequency (RF) interfaces, namely Bluetooth, WiFi and FM. Dedicated WiFi, FM or Bluetooth IC are available for years as standalone chips (ASSP), but the great innovation is to build a multi-standard modem, MAC and Modulation and Coding Processors (MCP). Such an approach allows defining a block of functions (everything integrated into the grey area), namely the Ensigma Explorer RPU IP, to be integrated into a larger System-on-Chip (SoC). By bringing this functionality on-chip, customers can minimize power consumption, silicon footprint and system cost compared with conventional solutions. Ensigma Series4 “Explorer” RPU is the high-performance solution for implementing all of the connectivity and broadcast reception requirements of tomorrow’s complex SoCs and advanced chipsets.

If the goal is to design for new generation of wearables, IoT and other connected devices where ultra-low power consumption and low cost points are key, Ensigma Series4 ‘Whisper’ low-power radio processing unit (RPU) architecture is the right solution, fully optimized for such applications.

Tomorrow’s IoT, wearables and other connected embedded devices demand more than the evolution of existing connectivity chipsets; they require solutions designed specifically for these emerging product categories. According with Tony King-Smith, EVP marketing, Imagination: “Many devices claiming to address IoT today are in fact repurposed from other markets such as mobile or embedded, but don’t fully address the extreme low power and cost requirements that this market will demand.” If you now take a look at the Ensigma “Whisper” RPU, you immediately realize that ‘Whisper’ RPUs has been fully optimized to support next-generation ultra-low power, cost-sensitive devices, offering configurability, power-efficiency, reusability and processing-efficiency:

  • Configurable: the ‘Whisper’ architecture supports a broad range of lower bitrate connectivity standards needed in IoT and other small-footprint connected devices
  • Power-efficient: ‘Whisper’ RPUs feature highly optimized, configurable hardware with Imagination’s PowerGearing for Ensigma that optimizes both static and dynamic power consumption in the cores
  • Reuse: ‘Whisper’ and Explorer RPUs share a common API, customers can reuse software across the platforms
  • Processing-efficient: the tightly coupled modem/processor in ‘Whisper’ can eliminate the host processor or alleviate its load, for the smallest embedded system size and lowest power consumption

Last but not least, even if Ensigma “Whisper” RPU has just been launched, customer can rely on Silicon proven architecture, as Ensigma RPUs are shipping today in numerous low-power audio and connectivity devices.

IoT is a very popular acronym, so popular that every chip maker or IP vendor probably has his own definition of the related applications! Imagination consider that Ensigma ‘Whisper’ RPUs should allow customers to create a “whole new generation of life-enhancing and efficiency-focused devices targeting markets as diverse as eHealth, energy, agriculture, security and many other areas.” In fact, whatever the final application, one of the common requirements of an IoT device is connectivity. If Ensigma Series4 Explorer RPU supports more than thirty different deployable standards available today, it’s clear that an IoT dedicated RPU like Whisper will have to only support lower bitrate connectivity standards such as Wi-Fi, Bluetooth Classic, Bluetooth Smart, NFC, GNSS and other existing or emerging low-power connectivity technologies.

In fact, consumer IoT will be a heterogeneous combination of devices, sensors, and computing power, integrated together with the main objective of ultra-low power consumption. What is the best approach for minimizing power consumption while offering efficient connectivity and computing power? Integration! Even if for development cost consideration, it’s unlikely that such SoC target advanced technologies like 28nm of even 14nmFF, integrating RPU and CPU functions and on-chip memory on more mature technology node will be more power efficient than building a system based on too many single IC.
Integrating Ensigma Serie4 ‘Whisper’ RPU IP in a larger System on Chip, along with specific logic block for differentiation, CPU core, on-chip memory and ROM is a good strategy for keeping a low Silicon footprint as well as low cost, supporting low bitrate connectivity standard and keeping power consumption at the lowest level, as required by the consumer IoT applications.

Availability:Imagination will start to roll out a line of Ensigma ‘Whisper’ cores in Q4 2014. Contact info@imgtec.com for more information.

Imagination RPU Blog: Ensigma

From Eric Esteve from IPNEST

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