Designing connected processors for consumer IoT

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MIPS, Ensigma and FlowCloud at the heart of wearables, eHealth, home automation and other connected devices

I saw an interesting comment from Rick Merritt (EE Times) on LinkedIn the other day. He was noticing how chips designed specifically for wearables are now starting to appear – and that made me realize the reach of our continued efforts to promote our product launches and partner success stories.

Chips designed specifically for consumer IoT

Even though we don’t design chips ourselves, our IP technologies are the building blocks of many SoCs that are used across multiple high-volume markets, including consumer IoT. Getting the underlying technology right becomes extremely important, especially in emerging markets where companies are intensely competing for a leadership position.

The landscape of consumer IoT (wearables, eHealth, home automation) is clearly undergoing a major evolution. Personal health and fitness devices are enjoying increased adoption, home automation is quickly becoming more than a buzzword in consumer electronics, while the NHS is starting to test a sticking-plaster-sized patient-monitoring patch from Sensium Healthcare.

Consumer IoT market - Imagination TechnologiesImagination Technologies: a business model based on partnerships

But if these categories of devices – and IoT technology in general – are truly to be successful in the long run, companies need to think seriously about both the hardware and software implications of designing for extremely low power.

Hardware and software IP for better connected platforms

This is where we come in to help; by carefully analyzing the market requirements for IoT, we can help our customers develop a strategy for the future of highly embedded processors. For companies looking to build innovative, ultra-low power chips for IoT, we offer a great mix of hardware and – equally critical – software technologies.


Silicon vendors can combine Ensigma RPUs and MIPS CPUs to design next-generation connected devices. Together, these flexible, scalable cores are designed to revolutionize IoT applications by delivering the only truly embedded Connected Processor Platform.

  • General purpose processors: MIPS M-class and I-class CPUs are the industry’s smallest and highest performance embedded 32-bit CPUs which sit at the heart of the connected processor, providing a superior feature set and a better security solution.
  • Connectivity: Extremely configurable, the recently launched Ensigma ‘Whisper’ allows our partners to support a multitude of low power connectivity standards, including Wi-Fi, Bluetooth Classic, Bluetooth Smart, NFC, GNSS.

Consumer IoT - Ensigma Whisper RPU block diagramOur ultra-low power Ensigma ‘Whisper’ architecture raises the bar for connectivity IP in consumer IoT

The press release announcing the new ‘Whisper’ architecture lists the numerous advantages of these low-power Ensigma RPUs:

  • 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
  • Clean: 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
  • Device drivers, stack and MAC software: We offer a comprehensive solution that includes a fully featured software stack, which complements our hardware IP. A full simulator is also provided, enabling our licensees to develop and tune their own code and to develop a range of system simulation and verification solutions.
  • Cloud solutions: FlowCloud provides a reliable underlying platform that enables companies to build and manage all aspects of connected services between devices and humans. FlowCloud is designed to address the needs of the consumer, enterprise Internet-of-Things (IoT) and cloud-connected devices.

FlowCloud technology connects devices to the internet, enabling easy product registration and updates as well as access to comprehensive and application independent services.

Imagination has the right solutions to cover every consumer electronics market segment. The block diagram below gives you an idea of how our breadth of IP maps to the consumer IoT space.

Consumer IoT - MIPS CPU Ensigma RPUMIPS CPUs and Ensigma RPUs are at the heart of connected devices

Comprehensive IoT solutions and examples from Imagination

The IoT market continues to be one of the most exciting segments of the semiconductor industry. As connectivity quickly becomes a must-have feature for all electronic devices, expectations for growth in the IoT market value are huge; by definition consumer IoT will be a heterogeneous combination of devices, sensors, and computing power.

It therefore becomes vital for companies to have access to comprehensive solutions and robust examples that accelerate go-to-market time. For an overview of how companies can combine our Connected Processor Platform and FlowCloud to build complete IoT solutions, check out this series of blog articles from my colleague Simon Forrest:

What do you think about consumer IoT applications? Do you own or plan to buy any wearable device? Leave us a comment in the box below.

If you want to be in the know on everything related to Imagination, subscribe to our blog and follow us on Twitter (@ImaginationTech, @PowerVRInsider, @MIPSGuru), Facebook, LinkedIn and Google+.

Alex Voica

Alex Voica

Before deciding to pursue his dream of working in technology marketing, Alexandru held various engineering roles at leading semiconductor companies in Europe. His background also includes research in computer graphics and VR at the School of Advanced Studies Sant'Anna in Pisa. You can follow him on Twitter @alexvoica.

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