A low-power chip, developed by start-up Ineda Systems, has been developed to extend the lifetime of wearable devices.
The chip works alongside the main processor. It listens for voice commands at all times and is able to run simple apps. The main processor can thus save energy by spending more time powered down.
Ineda is now testing two chip designs known as Micro and Advanced; it plans to enter mass production some time in 2015. These chips feature two or three processor cores. One core has relatively little computing power, but also consumes very little energy. It is always operating; for instance, monitoring microphones and motion sensors to look for commands, or maintaining a Bluetooth connection. The other one or two cores are only turned on for more intensive tasks, like playing music or running apps. If these cores cannot handle the job, the main processor is woken up.
Ineda’s chips are built on the MIPS architecture, which competes with ARM – used on most mobile devices today. Operating systems like Android are built around ARM chips, and would need modifying to support the MIPS architecture. Ineda ‘has ideas’ on how to tackle this issue.
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ARM’s Big.Little chips feature large and small processor cores; Ineda has added more cores for low-power tasks and offloads very intensive applications to the main processor. (TA)