Low-power configurability can be had for mobile and IoT Edge devices

Low-power programmable devices are in vogue, as the popularity of Xilinx’s Zynq architecture has shown. Lattice Semiconductor, who already is a player in this space, has added a new family to its portfolio, the iCE40 UltraPlus FPGA devices. The company claims that it’s one of the industry’s most energy-efficient and programmable mobile heterogeneous computing (MHC) solutions.

Potential applications include smartphones, wearables, drones, high-end cameras, human-machine interfaces (HMIs), industrial automation platforms, and security and surveillance products. In short, the architecture should accelerate the design of mobile and IoT edge devices.

This latest addition to the iCE40 Ultra family is a significant upgrade from previous family members, adding 8X more memory (to 1.1 Mbit of RAM), 2X the number of DSPs (to eight), and improved IO. The increase in memory footprint allows data to be buffered for longer low-power states.

The end result is that the architecture can easily handle features like voice, gesture, and image recognition, haptics, graphics acceleration, and signal aggregation. These are features that are often found in devices that are “always on” and “listening” for commands, even in battery-power devices, as it can operate below 1 mW. Standby power is below 1 μW.

A unique microphone array facilitates beamforming results in high-quality audio, even in battery-powered mobile devices. Package sizes can be as small as 2.15 by 2.55 mm, and QFN packages are available for industrial applications. Evaluation samples and boards are now available.