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What’s New in the Market: Energy Conserving Chips?

Newer technologies have been changing the face of communication systems just like Google Glass that recently created excitement in the market. But such wearable devices even with the slightest use require charging at least once every day. But recent developments have come to light where low-power chips are being designed to assist main processors to save energy and extend battery life.

Ineda Systems have come up with a new chip which is encased in a device that would assist the working of the main processor. The startup has designed this chip in a way that it can be used for multiple purposes like running of apps and detecting voice commands. This way the main processor stay powered down for a longer time because of the energy saved by the chip. The Vice President at Ineda for Platforms and Customer engineering, Ajith Dasari said, “We looked at the typical use cases of a wearable device and we designed a chip with those in mind. About 90% of the time a user’s device will be in ambient mode or they will be only using simple apps.”

Ineda started back in 2010 and investors like Qualcomm, which pretty much controls the market when it comes to making chips for Samsung, tablets and smartphones, has backed up the company firmly. Two designs for the chip in question are underway at Ineda and the company would be moving into mass production, next year.

Two to three cores are featured by Ineda chips. Considering one core, the power it consumes is very little and it operates round the clock but its computing power is low. To process heavier tasks only and to have a dramatic increase in power, an Ineda chip with one or two cores can be used. The chip has the ability to stir the main processor as a last resource if the cores aren’t enough.

An “Advanced” Ineda chip is a complex piece of work and is to go into production by next year aiming to serve smart watches. Tasks like keeping alive a Bluetooth connection with another device, gesture detection with the help of motion sensors and waking up the device with a spoken key phrase can be performed by simplest of the three cores. The more complex tasks can be achieved by the second core in collaboration of the first core. These tasks involve detecting voice commands, running a “hear-rate tracker” like simple app and play songs. The complexity of the tasks that can be performed increases with the increase in chips. As soon as the third chip activates it would help the access the internet for data regarding the execution of tasks like recognition of entire speech.

The micro design is also underway, consists of two cores and happens to be less powerful but it is targeted at watches and wearable devices that have less features. Dasari exclaimed that the “Micro” chip can also be used to make a smartphone power-effiecient.

To increase functionality and battery life, many smartphone manufacturers have used chips already, thus Ineda’s chips target is smartphones, initially. Chips found in Motorola’s Moto X may be able to detect the phrase “OK, Google” but Dasari claims that Ineda’s single chip can do much more and better. Similarly a chip in the new iPhone is capable of detecting data from motion sensors and processing it.

Ineda’s chips would help conserve power as said by an associate professor, Tulika Mitra, currently found at the National University of Singapore. Tulika commented about Ineda’s chips that they are better than some new ones being launched by the company, ARM that has released big and little chips with similar processors. Mitra further added “One challenge for Ineda’s chips is that operating systems used by mobile device manufacturers today would likely need some modification to support its novel multi-core architecture”.

With features to add and improve, Mitra believes that Ineda is on the right path of development to provide energy conserving chips in the market.