Wearable tech has enjoyed a lot of attention recently and for good reason: the global market for wearable computing devices is set to reach $30.2 billion by 2018 according to BCC Research.

More importantly, coverage from the recent Android Wear launch has put the focus back on the crucial relevance of dedicated platforms and operating systems designed specifically for this distinct category of ultra-portable, low power products.

Even though Google has several initiatives in the wearable space, Android Wear is all about smartwatches that need to be production-ready by the end of the year. To accelerate adoption among ecosystem members, Google has introduced several key initiatives, including preview versions of their tools and APIs and created a workgroup of Android Wear promoters.

Android-Wear-PartnersMIPS CPUs from Imagination are fully optimized for Android Wear

Since Imagination is the only IP supplier on the list above, this means MIPS, PowerVR and Ensigma licensees will have early access to the latest resources from Google and a chance to better optimize their platforms for the next generation of wearable devices, opening up exciting opportunities ahead.

In the coming months we will be focusing on several fully-featured, highly efficient hardware platforms that use hardware IP from Imagination to create disruptive solutions for the approaching wave of connected consumer and enterprise devices.

Ingenic Newton offers a highly optimized, low power solution for wearables and consumer IoT

One of the several MIPS-based application processors designed for wearables is the Ingenic Newton platform.

Ingenic Newton - MIPS-based JZ4775 apps processorIngenic Newton includes the MIPS-based Ingenic JZ4775 CPU, multimedia, connectivity, smart sensors and many other perihperals

Founded in 2005 and based in Beijing, Ingenic Semiconductor is a leading Chinese embedded CPU provider. The company designs its own MIPS-based, ultra-low power CPU called XBurst which has already shipped in more than 40 million devices (tablets, e-book readers, multimedia players, wearables, etc.).

XBurst adopts an innovative, high performance pipeline engine designed for extremely power-efficient throughput. The performance, silicon area and power consumption of XBurst outclasses designs based on competing CPU architectures.

Ingenic Newton achieves very impressive power consumption figures under typical workloads: standby power is a measly 4mW, generic computing tasks (think MP3 playback) take up to 100mW on average while peak power consumption is around 260mW. This means that Ingenic-powered smartwatches can last for 30+ hours on a single charge.

Ingenic Newton is a highly integrated solution that includes the following blocks:

  • A low power, high performance 1GHz MIPS-based Ingenic JZ4775 CPU
  • Multimedia:
    • Dedicated 2D graphics engine
    • Multi-standard VPU (MPEG-2, MPEG-4, VC-1, H.264, VP8, RV9) designed for smooth 720p@30fps playback
  • Memory: 256KB L2 cache RAM + up to 3GB mobile DDR3/DDR2/LPDDR RAM + eMMC
  • 4-in-1 combo connectivity: Wi-Fi (802.11 a/b/g/n at 2.4/5 GHz), Bluetooth 4.0 + EDR (including Bluetooth LE support), NFC, FM
  • Sensors:
    • 3-axis gyroscope, accelerometer magnetometer
    • pressure, humidity and temperature
    • bio-signal detection and processing
  • Expansion ports: UART, I2C, USB, GPIO

The Ingenic Newton platform has been designed to fit in devices about the size of a quarter dollar coin (21.6mm x 38.4mm), targeting markets such as wearables, IoT, healthcare, home appliances, security, industrial control, consumer electronics and many more.

 Ingenic Newton - MIPS-based Ingenic JZ4775 CPU Ingenic Newton is roughly the same size of an SD™ card

Ingenic Newton offers multiple benefits and covers many of the requirements for wearables:

  • Integrates a scalable, high performance and efficient architecture
  • Includes the right balance of media-rich features like hardware video codecs and 2D graphics
  • Implements fine-grain power management, leading to longer battery life
  • Delivers a comprehensive set of low-power communication capabilities
  • Is a proven, Android-certified technology that has already shipped in several popular smartwatch models

Created from the ground up for a fully featured wearable experience

Ingenic Newton offers maximum flexibility for companies wishing to design differentiated connected products. It features several key design techniques that bring power consumption to a minimum and cut down on unnecessary components, therefore reducing cost and area.

Ingenic Newton - highly integrated apps processorIngenic Newton includes a wide range of sensors and connectivity modules, making it ideal for wearables and IoT devices

For example, the PMU (Power Management Unit) is not integrated inside the Ingenic JZ4775. The main reason for this choice is straightforward: different applications have unique power supply requirements. Wearables like smartwatches, fitness bands or e-health monitoring patches typically require tiny batteries while home appliances (refrigerators, washing machines, HVAC, etc.) will generally be plugged into the main electrical grid.

The other distinct advantage of Ingenic Newton is its modular design, allowing the user to quickly create different prototypes to demonstrate various applications or form factors to their customers. Additionally, companies can remove unneeded components from the module to reduce the BOM cost. Ingenic are also offering the possibility to create custom designs for large shipments; they have already shipped several custom smartwatch reference platforms to several OEMs.

Both Imagination and Ingenic share the vision of supporting multiple open operating systems. Linux 3.0.8, Android 4.4 KitKat and several real-time operating systems have already been ported to the Newton platform and developers can access the open source drivers. Additionally, Ingenic can provide specialized software packages for customers that are looking at voice or gesture control for user interfaces.

What do you think of the Android Wear operating system and the Ingenic Newton platform? Are you looking forward to getting the new wearable products? For the latest news and announcements on MIPS in wearables, follow us on Twitter (@ImaginationPR, @MIPSGuru) and keep coming back to our blog.

About the author Alex Voica

Profile photo of 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.

View all posts by Alex Voica