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Ambiq Doubles CPU Frequency

September 22, 2020

Author: Aakash Jani

Ambiq Micro’s new Apollo 4 microcontroller delivers industry-leading energy efficiency while adding a graphics subsystem. The company also improved its connectivity by adding location support to its low-power Bluetooth subsystem. The fourth-generation MCU is manufactured in TSMC’s ultra-low leakage 22nm process and targets battery-powered devices. Ambiq ported its power-management technology (Spot) to this design. Lead customers are testing samples, and we expect production early next year.

Like its predecessor, Apollo 4 is based on Arm’s Cortex-M4. Owing to the process-node shrink from 40nm to 22nm, the M4’s peak frequency doubles to 192MHz. Ambiq doubled the system-level memory from the previous generation to support the new graphics subsystem and faster CPU. This memory comprises 2MB of magnetoresistive RAM (MRAM) and 1MB of SRAM. The new graphics accelerator integrates the Nema Pico GPU from Think Silicon. The GPU drives the display through a MIPI DSI 1.2 interface.

The new design integrates angle-of-arrival and angle-of-departure measurements, which can help an external GPS module provide more-accurate positioning than GPS alone, particularly indoors. Ambiq also added a Wi-Fi-coexistence module to prevent an external Wi-Fi chip from interfering with its Bluetooth radio. This feature simplifies the addition of Wi-Fi in smartwatches and other devices. Apollo 4 integrates a dedicated security subsystem that features a true-random-number generator and a crypto accelerator.

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