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MIPS CPU and Newton2 Platform for Wearables

MIPS CPU and Newton2 Platform for Wearables
by Eric Esteve on 11-19-2014 at 11:00 am

I have written recently about SmarCoT (Smart Connected Thing) and smartwatches are one of these numerous smart and connected applications that some still refer to as IoT. Imagination Technologies is working hard to be part of the SmarCoT ecosystem and Ingenic, IMG customer, has recently launched a MIPS-based chip (M200) and Newton2 platform addressing high end applications like wearable. Ingenic expects MIPS 64-b CPU to be integrated in target applications like:

  • Infotainment: smartwatches, augmented reality headsets, smart glasses, smart cameras
  • Healthcare: wearable healthcare monitors
  • Fitness and wellness: fitness bands, activity trackers, smart clothing, sleep sensors

And such products are likely to address the needs of mid to upper class customers, able to spend a couple of $100’s or more for a gadget. These applications are expected to be a more effective driver for SmarCoT development than your electricity meter, it’s more fashionable, rank you in the early adopters and immediately value the buyer. Just like listening an iPod in the 2000’s.

I have learned from this blog from Imagination Technologies Ingenic introduces MIPS-based M200 chip and Newton2 platform for wearables and IoT that “The new GEAK Watch 2 uses an Ingenic wearable chip and delivers over 15 days of battery life”. Here we come one of the most important factor when dealing with wearable, the power consumption. If the chip maker is responsible for the product power consumption, it’s clearly better to select the right CPU IP core, delivering the best power efficiency and to architect the SoC for ultra-low power from the beginning. IMG has rethink their CPU port-folio in respect with the different market, High-end or Ultra-affordable mobile, Smart TV and STB, Networking and finally wearable, as you can see in the spider diagram below:

Thanks to the spider diagram, the result is clear: the wearable segment can afford with lower performance level and lower features, but need low power. This translate into implementing a power-saving hardware architecture where a high-performance MIPS CPU clocked at 1.2 GHz tackles most of the heavy lifting, while less demanding tasks are handled by a secondary low-power 300 MHz MIPS CPU. The multimedia department sees the addition of a 3D graphics engine that supports OpenGL ES 2.0. M200 also integrates a dedicated, multi-standard video engine for low power decoding and encoding of popular codecs like H.264 and VP8 (up to 720p at 30 fps). The chipset also includes an ISP for image pre-processing that supports a range of vital features for camera vision applications. When in full operating mode, the M200 chip consumes only 150mW and standby power consumption for Newton2 is less than 3mW, allowing devices to work for twice as long.

The above Ingenic M200 chip architecture sounds like an Application Processor design (for late 2000’s smartphone), as it’s pretty complex, integrating the MIPS flavor of big.LITTLE, 512 KB L2 cache, a DDR3/LPDDR2 Memory controller and PHY, a Video PU, a Graphic PU, an ISP, an Audio Codec and plenty of interfaces, MIPI DSI and CSI and an USB OTG, to name a few. Reaching an active power dissipation of 150 mW has certainly been challenging, if you take a look at the complete system, a 15mmx30mm board, it also integrates a PMU IC, a camera IC, a display IC, a GPS and sensor IC, a 9axis gyroscope, a huge eMCP memory chip and a Broadcom WiFi + Bluetooth 4.1 chip!

As far as I am concerned, I have no problem to rank Newton2 within the IoT category, I just would rank it in the high end segment, with smart glasses and the like. Thus, we may expect to see sales reaching (several) million units, but the billion unit step is more questionable. This type of wearable (probably sold several $100) could be the flagship products, driving the mass market customers to the SmarCoT concept (even if they don’t massively buy the above product for cost reason), expecting the end user to massively buy the multiples-and yet to develop- SmarCoT products…

From Eric Esteve from IPNEST

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