Power Components

Wireless SOC for Battery-Power Devices Achieves Under 6μA/MHz

Ambiq Micro and TSMC reported that Ambiq’s Apollo3 Blue wireless SoC, built on TSMC’s 40nm ultra-low power (40ULP) process achieved world-leading power consumption performance. The Apollo 3 Blue leverages both Ambiq’s Subthreshold Power Optimized Technology (SPOT™) platform and TSMC’s 40ULP low operating power (low-Vdd) technology.

Apollo3 Blue with TurboSPOT™ increases the computational abilities of the ARM Cortex M4F core to 96MHz while lowering the active power consumption to less than 6µA/MHz. The Apollo3 Blue’s exceptional performance has enabled Ambiq to reach new markets including battery-powered smart home devices and always-on, voice-enabled applications such as remote controls and hearables.

Ambiq added several new features to its SPOT-based Apollo product line including a QSPI interface, an integrated DMA engine, and advanced stepper motor control for ultra-low power analog watch hand management.

With unprecedented energy efficiency and microphone inputs, the Apollo3 Blue forms the core of Ambiq’s Voice-on-SPOTTM reference platform making it suitable for adding always-on voice assistant integration and command recognition to battery-powered devices.

A dedicated second core for the ultra-low power BLE5 connectivity platform enables connections to the phone and cloud, providing superior RF throughput and leaving plenty of resources available for user applications.

With careful optimization of all leakage paths including the gates and junctions, TSMC’s 40ULP technology conserves power with low-leakage transistors. TSMC provides an eHVT ultra-low-leakage transistor and ultra-low leakage (ULL) SRAM bitcell to further enable IoT applications. TSMC’s 40ULP also provides a low-Vdd solution. Low-Vdd is supported by multiple Vt option transistors and a comprehensive design infrastructure.

This design infrastructure includes standard cell supporting operating voltage of 0.7V with robust timing sign-off methods, design flow optimized for low operating voltage, and an accurate wide-range SPICE model covering low-Vdd range.

In addition, TSMC’s manufacturing superiority with minimal process variation helps them overcome the limitations of energy consumption for battery-powered applications.

“Ambiq Micro is proud to continue our long-standing relationship with TSMC and build our next generation SPOT-enabled devices on TSMCs low-Vdd process technologies”, said Aaron Grassian, Ambiq Micro Vice President of Marketing. “Ambiq Micro consistently sets dramatically new levels of energy efficiency with each new product enabling customers to add true intelligence to mobile, battery-powered edge devices.”

“It’s exciting to witness what can be accomplished when Ambiq’s design innovation meets TSMC’s extensive process know-how,” said Dr. Kevin Zhang, TSMC Vice President of Business Development. “TSMC continues to develop its comprehensive portfolio of low-Vdd offerings, from 55ULP and 40ULP to 22ULL, supported by the industry’s most extensive design ecosystem, to help our customers create intelligent, connected devices that are always ready to interact with users in an easy, intuitive fashion.”

Ambiq Micro, Inc. , TSMC
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