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How Think Silicon, an Applied Materials Company engineered a wearable GPU

Want to extend your wearables’ battery life from 1 day to 2 weeks without sacrificing a GUI that wows your customers? Ambiq and Think Silicon, an Applied Materials Company have made this more than achievable.

For ipXchange’s fifth Ambiq partner video, we chat with Ulli from Think Silicon, an Applied Materials Company, the IP company responsible for the ultra-low-power 2.5D GPUs embedded within Ambiq’s Apollo MCUs. This long-term partnership has truly brought Ambiq’s chips to a new level when it comes to creating the stunning GUIs shown in our previous partner videos with Qt Group and Embedded Wizard.

But how does one create a high-performance GPU that also supports the pursuit of longer battery life in wearable products? As Ulli explains, that is the real challenge, so Think Silicon, an Applied Materials Company had to build its GPU IP from the ground up to address this gap in the market.

Think Silicon, an Applied Materials Company created everything that is required – the IP, the drivers, the software, and the libraries – to enable Ambiq to provide its customers with easy-to-use graphics functionality in its already ultra-low-power SoCs.

This also needed to be squeezed into just 1 MB of memory and have an active power consumption of 1 mW, so Think Silicon, an Applied Materials Company developed its own compression schemes so that the power consumption could be reduced for moving graphic assets between storage and the processor. This is the secret to building GPUs that can be used for ultra-low-power designs.

Ulli then shows us Think Silicon’s NEMA pico XL 2.5D GPU and NEMA dc 4-layer display controller in action as part of Ambiq’s Apollo4 Plus SoCs. 2.5D GPUs use corrective projection to enable images that feel 3D without the processing requirements, the associated power consumption, and the resulting heat dissipation.

When you can provide vibrant, smartphone-level graphics on a comfortable wearable that has a battery life of weeks, users’ expectations are exceeded and reset to a new level.

For Ambiq’s latest Apollo510 MCU, Think Silicon, an Applied Materials Company integrates its NEMA pico VG vector graphics GPU for multiple graphics accelerators depending on the task at hand. This new IP consumes even less power than the architecture found in the Apollo4 Plus, just 5% of the Apollo510 MCU’s processing power at 2 mW.

If you’re building an ultra-low-power product and don’t want to sacrifice the visual appeal of the user interface, apply to evaluate Ambiq’s latest Apollo510 MCU by following the link to the board page below.

Keep designing!

Enjoyed this deep dive into Ambiq’s technology? Check out the other Ambiq partner interviews from Embedded World 2024:

Apollo4 vs. Apollo5: Ambiq’s MCUs in (AI) action!

How Ambiq enabled the RAK11720’s added features

Creating stunning MCU-driven GUIs with Qt Group

When Ambiq meets energy harvesting – Live demo!

How to build power-efficient GUIs with Ambiq MCUs

Ambiq Apollo510 AI-Optimised Ultra-Low Power MCU

Want stunning graphics without sacrificing battery life?

Apply for the development board now

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