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Sub-threshold design challenges low-power paradigm

Posted: 21 Jan 2015 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:MCU? sub-threshold? Ambiq Micro? IoT?

Ambiq Micro, an Austin, Texas-based company spun-off from research at the University of Michigan, has claimed its Apollo family of 32bit ARM Cortex-M4F MCUs consume the lowest energy5 to 10 times less energywhile beating MCUs with Cortex-M0+ benchmarks. That just might be the thing the wearables market needsa far longer battery life that results from much lower power consumption.

Optimising sleep

The Apollo MCUs optimise both active and sleep mode power. They consume 30?A/MHz when executing instructions from flash and feature average sleep mode currents down to 100nA. This doesn't compromise performance: the embedded ARM Cortex-M4F core, with its precision floating point unit, offers the computational horsepower required for IoT applications.

The Apollo MCUs operate at up to 24MHz and are available with up to 512kB of flash and 64kB of RAM to accommodate radio and sensor overhead in addition to application code. Communication with sensors, radios, other peripherals and an optional host processor is implemented via IC/SPI ports and a UART...

Energy savings using SPOT

Figure 1: Conventional semiconductors operate in the super-threshold region shown in green, which represents energy saved.

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