Ineda planning mass production of low-power chips for wearables in 2015

Ineda Systems, a startup funded by the likes of Qualcomm (NASDAQ:QCOM), Samsung and others, is testing samples of two chip designs that could extend battery lives for wearable devices. Mass production of the chips is expected next year.

According to MIT Technology Review, Ineda's low-power chip works alongside a device's main processor, running simple applications and remaining alert for voice commands. This enables the main processor to power down for longer periods. In typical uses cases, wearable devices are in ambient mode or using simple apps some 90 percent of the time, said Ajith Dasari, Ineda's vice president for platforms and customer engineering.

Ineda was founded in 2010 and has offices in Santa Clara, Calif., and Hyderabad, India. In April the company announced receipt of $17 million in funding from investors including Qualcomm and Samsung, though Ineda had actually closed the Series B funding in December 2013. Ineda Chairman Sanjay Jha has a wealth of experience in both devices and chips, having formerly served as CEO of Motorola Mobility and COO of Qualcomm.

Ineda's hierarchical approach involves chips with either two or three processor cores, one of which has little computing power but remains operational while consuming little power. The other more powerful core or cores only kick in to deliver more processing capability as needed. For even heavier-duty tasks, the main processor, which consumes the most power, is switched on.

The company's first line of system on chips (SoCs) featuring its wearable-processing-unit (WPU) technology is named Dhanush, which means "The Bow" in Sanskrit. Ineda announced in April four tiers of SoCs in the Dhanush family: Advanced for high-end wearable devices, Optima for mid-range wearable devices, Micro for low-end smartwatches and Nano for simple wearable devices that require a microcontroller-class compute and memory footprint.

Technology Review reports that Ineda's three-core Advanced chip design is expected to enter production next year. The company's two-core Micro design is also being tested in preparation for eventual production. The Micro could also be added to smartphones to improve power efficiency, according to Dasari.

Tulika Mitra, told Technology Review that Ineda's approach differs from that of ARM, which released a line of "big.LITTLE" chips with large and small processor cores. "Instead of only big and little cores, now you have a range of cores," she said of Ineda.

However, Ineda's multi-core chips will require software integration to work with existing mobile device operating systems. Dasari said the company is developing tools to address that issue.

For more:
- see this MIT Technology Review article

Related articles:
Canalys: Samsung shipped most 'smart wearables' in H1 2014
Billions of consumers forecast to buy wearables, in-home devices over the next five years
Google Glass creator: Glasses are just one option in wearables market
Marvell, MediaTek unveil new chips to target Internet of Things
ARM pushes deeper into wearables with Taiwan design centre
Intel banks on wearables as the next big computing platform

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