Apollo4 SoC Family from Ambiq Redefines Ultra-low Power in Wearables, Connected Devices and Always-on Voice-Processing

September 14 2020, 05:05
Ambiq unveiled its latest Apollo4 SoC family, enabling next generation endpoint devices with record-setting energy efficiency - running as low as 3µA/MHz - and new levels of performance. The new Apollo4 systems enable manufacturers to create leading-edge endpoint devices leveraging the unique SPOT platform with Ambiq’s easy-to-use, rich peripheral set. The Apollo4 is available now with CSP and BGA package offerings, as well as an Apollo4 Blue SoC with Bluetooth LE. 

Ambiq is widely recognized in ultra-low power microcontrollers (MCU), System-on-Chips (SoC), and Real-time Clocks (RTC). The Apollo4 is purpose-built to serve as both an application processor and a coprocessor for battery-powered endpoint devices, including smartwatches, children’s watches, fitness bands, animal trackers, far-field voice remotes, predictive health and maintenance devices, smart security devices, and smart home devices.

The new Apollo4 SoC family is the 4th generation system processor solution built upon Ambiq’s proprietary Subthreshold Power-Optimized Technology (SPOT) platform. The Apollo4’s complete hardware and software solution enables new battery-powered endpoint devices to achieve a higher level of intelligence without sacrificing battery life. 

The Apollo4 SoCs are implemented on the TSMC 22nm ULL process from Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company and use a 32-bit Arm Cortex-M4 core with Floating Point Unit (FPU) and Arm Artisan physical IP, achieving an unmatched 3 μA/MHz executing from MRAM with low deep sleep current modes. It supports up to 192 MHz clock frequency with TurboSPOT and features a 2D/2.5D graphics accelerator and MIPI DSI 1.2 with up to two lanes at 500Mbps per lane, delivering a feature-rich user interface.

The Apollo4 Blue SoC integrates a Bluetooth Low Energy 5 radio including 2Mbps support as well as direction-finding Angle of Arrival (AOA) and Angle of Departure (AOD) for always-on applications. It also features proprietary audio interfaces and ultra-low power analog microphone for truly always-on voice processing, 8 PDM channels, 2 stereo I2S channels with ASRC, and an ultra-low power ADC for analog mics.

"As the market is shifting towards adding billions of smart devices at endpoints in the coming years, the need for energy efficiency is beyond critical to sustaining the realization of an IoT world where everything stays connected 24/7," says Dan Cermak, VP of Architecture and Product Planning at Ambiq. "Building on the advanced technologies from Arm and TSMC, our Apollo4 SoC family presents the perfect combination of increased system capability with significantly reduced power consumption for all battery-powered endpoint devices."

With up to 2MB of MRAM and 1.8MB of SRAM, the Apollo4 has more than enough compute and storage capacity to handle complex algorithms and neural networks while displaying clear and smooth graphics. If additional memory is required, external memory is supported through Ambiq’s multi-bit SPI and e.MMC interfaces.
"We are excited to be Ambiq’s IP partner for their new Apollo4 SoC family. Ambiq leverages Arm’s Cortex-M4 and Arm Artisan physical IP to deliver an ultra-wide dynamic range of operation at extremely low power," says Kiran Burli, sr. director, marketing & licensing, Arm. "Built on their SPOT technology, Apollo4 is poised to deliver exceptional user experience with its enriched graphics and ultra-low power voice processing for truly always-on operation."

"TSMC is delighted to have another successful collaboration with Ambiq building on what we achieved together starting from the 40nm generation to make smart IoT devices even smarter with extended battery life," adds Simon Wang, Senior Director of IoT Business Development at TSMC. "Our 22ULL technology complements Ambiq’s design expertise with the most competitive ultra-low power planar technology to enable low leakage with enhanced computing power to support value-added IoT features. TSMC's innovative 22nm embedded MRAM technology is essential to support on-chip code storage for MCU functions to achieve industry-leading power performance."

Founded in 2010, and based in Austin, TX, Ambiq is a technology company with a mission to foster a cleaner, greener, and safer environment where mobile and portable devices could either reduce or eliminate their total power consumption from the batteries. In 2020, Ambiq achieved its most significant milestone, with over 75 million devices embedded with an Ambiq chip. On the heels of this success, the company now aims to bring intelligence to all battery-powered endpoint devices and enable them to stay connected intuitively, and unobtrusively.
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