Communications

Processor core targets IoT sensing nodes

15th April 2015
Siobhan O'Gorman

 

A processor core targeted at IoT sensing nodes and always-on applications has been released by EnSilica. The eSi-3260, which extends the company’s eSi-RISC family, combines advanced DSP functionality with a small footprint and a low power consumption.

The inclusion of a 64-bit precision, fully-pipelined MAC unit makes the core suitable for audio, high-accuracy sensor hub, motion control and touch screen applications. In addition to 32-bit data, the MAC unit supports dual 16-bit SIMD multiply and MAC operations. Uniquely, full complex multiplication is also supported, performing four multiplies and two additions per cycle. The inclusion of saturating and rounding arithmetic, along with instructions to support bit-reversed addressing, provides outstanding FFT acceleration and accuracy.

The eSi-3260 employs a five-stage pipeline which has been optimised to deliver market-leading performance in mainstream process nodes with frequencies of over 1GHz obtainable in a 28nm process with dynamic power as low as 14μW/MHz. This can be reduced to 3μW/MHz when optimising the processor for power, rather than frequency. A flexible memory architecture, with either native, AXI or AHB interfaces, allows the inclusion of instruction and data caches as well as tightly coupled memories for running code that is timing critical. The addition of a cache facilitates high-performance operations even when they are run from embedded Flash.

The radix-8 fast divide and square root options enable 32-bit integer division and square root operations to be reduced to six cycles, greatly decreasing the cycle count in sensing operations where these operations are key to the code operation. An optional, fully pipelined single precision floating point capability helps accelerate high dynamic range calculations for applications such as gesture recognition and fingerprint detection. Custom instruction support allows a further level of application acceleration such as IIR and logarithmic DSP operations or cryptographic operations for standards including ECC, RSA, AES and SHA.

“The balance of processing performance, silicon area, low power and DSP functionality provided by the eSi-3260 delivers a distinct technology edge for customers looking to develop complex IoT sensing nodes and devices in what is a highly competitive market,” said Ian Lankshear, CEO, EnSilica.

Adopting the eSi-RISC series of processors for its touch screen controllers, Ken Tsui, Vice President, Design Engineering of Solomon Systech Limited, commented: "The solution developed by EnSilica, with its excellent features, has enhanced greatly the functionality of our product. We look forward to joining hands again with the team to develop more high-performance IC solutions."

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