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Posts Tagged ‘low power’

8Power Vibration Energy Harvesting Technology Powers Batteryless LPWAN GPS Trackers, MEMS Sensors

May 23rd, 2017 No comments

While IoT products usually promises one to 10 years battery life, they will be several billions of them, and ARM’s CEO even forecast one trillion IoT devices in the next 20 years. Recharging batteries at home may be fine, but imagine having to recharge or replace batteries on top of electric poles, inside walls, in remote locations, and other hard to reach places, considerable resources would have to be deployed just to replace or recharge battery every year or whenever the battery is close to being depleted.  That’s why work on energy harvesting technology for batteryless devices may be so important, and 8Power is one of the companies working in the field through their vibration energy harvesting technology that is said to harvest up to 10x the power of competing devices under comparable condition thanks to the use of parametric resonance phenomenon.

8Power LTE NB-IoT GPS Tracker (Left) and MEMS Sensor (Right)

The company has recently announced their Track 100 family of LPWAN GPS tracker, such as Track 100XL relying on LTE NB-IoT, but they also have models supporting LTE Cat M1 and LoRaWAN. The IP67 devices include vibration energy harvesting technology, as well as optionally a solar panel. The company also provides a “secure cloud hosted data platform to provide dashboards, analytics, device management, security and application API access to manage fleets of devices”. There’s no battery, and no need for (battery related) maintenance. Track 100 trackers are powered through the vibration generated by trucks, trains, or other vehicles.

The company is also working on integrating the technology into MEMS sensors that consume very little power (10 mW) in continuous operations. Beside leveraging vibrations from the transportation industry, and 8Power technology can also generate power from vibrations from  infrastructure (bridges, embankments, transmission lines) or machinery (high-power motors and rotating equipment), and the technology has already been validated through a experiment to monitor the structure of an older bridge in Scotland.

The company showcased their technology and latest products at IDTechEx 2017.

Via ARMDevices.net

Ambiq Micro Introduces Ultra-Low Power Apollo 2 Cortex-M4F MCU Consuming Less than 10 μA/MHz

December 18th, 2016 1 comment

Last year Ambiq Micro unveiled their Apollo Cortex-M4F MCU with Cortex M0+ energy efficiency thanks to operation in sub-threshold voltage (< 0.5 V), and the MCU is said found in Matrix Powerwatch, a fitness tracker powered by body heat that you never need to charge. The company has recently announced a new version of the micro-controller with Apollo 2 MCU with better maximum performance thanks to a higher maximum clock speed (48 MHz vs 24 MHz), and higher efficiency (10 μA/MHz vs 30 μA/MHz @ 3.3V).

apollo-2-mcu

Apollo 2 MCU key features and specifications:

  • Ultra-low supply current
    • <10 μA/MHz executing from flash at 3.3 V
    • <10 μA/MHz executing from RAM at 3.3 V
  • ARM Cortex-M4 Processor up to 48 MHz with FPU, MMU, wake-up interrupt controller with 32 interrupts
  • Ultra-low power memory
    • Up to 1 MB of flash memory for code/data
    • Up to 256 KB of low leakage RAM for code/data
    • 16kB 1 or 2-way Associative Cache
  • Ultra-low power interface for off-chip sensors
    • 14 bit, 15-channel, up to 1.2 MS/s ADC
    • Voltage comparator
    • Temperature sensor with +/-2ºC accuracy
  • Serial peripherals – 6x I2C/SPI master,1x I2C/SPI slave,2x UART, PDM for mono and stereo audio microphone
  • Clock sources
    • 32.768 kHz XTAL oscillator
    • Low frequency RC oscillator – 1.024 kHz
    • High frequency RC oscillator – 48 MHz
    • RTC based on Ambiq’s AM08X5/18X5 families
  • Wide operating range – 1.8-3.6 V, –40 to 85°C
  • Package –  2.5 x 2.5 mm 49-pin CSP with 34 GPIO; 4.5 x 4.5 mm 64-pin BGA with 50 GPIO

The MCU promises weeks, months, and years of battery life thanks to Ambiq Micro’s patented Subthreshold Power Optimized Technology (SPOT) Platform. Apollo 2 will be suitable for battery operated devices, or even batteryless devices leveraging energy harvesting such as wireless sensors, activity and fitness trackers, consumer medical devices, smart watches, and smart home/IoT devices.

Documentation and devkits are available but you’d need to contact the company to learn more. Ambiq Micro’s Apollo 2 is currently sampling to some partners, and will be sampling more broadly in the coming months. A few more details may be found on Ambiq Micro Apollo 2’s product page.

STMicro SensorTile is a Tiny STM32 Module with Bluetooth 4.1 LE and Four Sensor Chips

December 8th, 2016 1 comment

STMicroelectronics SensorTile is a 13.5 x 13.5mm sensor board based on STM32L4 ARM Cortex-M4 microcontroller, a MEMS accelerometer, gyroscope, magnetometer, pressure sensor, a MEMS microphone, as well as a 2.4Ghz radio chip for Bluetooth 4.1 Low Energy connectivity for wearables, smart home, and IoT projects.

stmicro-sensortile

SensorTile hardware specifications:

  • MCU – STMicro STM32L476 ARM Cortex-M4 microcontroller@ up to 80 MHz with 128 KB RAM, 1MB flash
  • Connectivity – Bluetooth 4.1 Smart/LE via BlueNRG-MS network processor with integrated 2.4GHz radio compliant with
  • Sensors
    • LSM6DSM 3D accelerometer + 3D gyroscope
    • LSM303AGR 3D Magnetometer + 3D accelerometer
    • LPS22HB pressure sensor/barometer
    • MP34DT04 digital MEMS microphone
  • I/Os – 2x 9 half holes with access to UART, SPI, SAI (Serial Audio Interface), I2C, DFSDM, USB, OTG, ADC, and GPIOs signals
  • Debugging – SWD interface (multiplexed with GPIOs)
  • Power Supply Range – 2V to 5.5 V
  • Dimensions – 13.5 x 13.5 mm
SensorTile's Functional Block Diagram - Click to Enlarge

SensorTile’s Functional Block Diagram – Click to Enlarge

Software development can be done through a sets of APIs based on the STM32Cube Hardware Abstraction Layer and middleware components, including the STM32 Open Development Environment. The module is supported by Open Software eXpansion Libraries, namely Open.MEMS, Open.RF, and Open.AUDIO, with various example programs allowing you to get started. Several third-party embedded sensing and voice-processing projects also support the module. The module also comes pre-loaded with BLUEMICROSYSTEM2 firmware, and can be controlled with “ST BlueMS” app found on Apple Store and Google Play.

sensortile-kit

But the best way to get started is with SensorTile kit including SensorTile core module and:

  • STLCR01V1 cradle board with a footprint for SensorTile core board, HTS221 humidity and temperature sensor, a micro-SD card socket, a micro USB port, a lithium-polymer battery (LiPo) charger, and a SWD header.
  • A LiPo rechargeable battery and a plastic case for the cradle board, SensorTile module, and battery
  • STLCX01V1 Arduino UNO R3 compatible cradle expansion board with analog stereo audio output, a micro-USB connector for power and communication, a reset button and a SWD header.
  • A programming cable

I could not find a price for SensorTile core module, but STEVAL-STLKT01V1 SensorTile kit can be purchased for $80.85 directly on STMicro website or their distributors. Visit SensorTile kit’s product page for further information include hardware design files, quick start guide, software and firmware downloads, purchase links, and more.

Embedded Linux Conference and OpenIoT Summit Europe 2016 Videos are Now Available Online

November 8th, 2016 1 comment

The Embedded Linux Conference and OpenIoT Summit Europe 2016 conferences took place on October 11 – 13 in Berlin, Germany, with many interesting talks about Linux, development boards, power management, embedded systems, software optimization, tools, and so on, as well as a few keynotes.

elce-openiot-2016

The Linux Foundation has recorded most talks and keynotes, and made the videos available on their website. A free registration is required, and will redirect you to the full unlisted playlist on YouTube.

Tim Bird keynote can be watch directly without registration.

You can also download the slides for each presentation.

Thanks to Harley for the tip.

NXP i.MX 6ULL Cortex A7 Processor is the Latest Member of i.MX6 32-bit ARM Processor Family

September 29th, 2016 2 comments

Freescale first unveiled i.MX6 processor family at CES 2011. Since then NXP has acquired Freescale, and kept working on the processors and even recently unveiled NXP i.MX 6ULL Cortex A7 processor promising 30 percent more power efficiency than its nearest competitors, and designed for “cost-effective solutions for the growing IoT consumer and industrial, mass markets”.

nxp-i-mx-6ull-block-diagramNXP i.MX 6ULL key features and specifications:

  • CPU – ARM Cortex A7 core @ up to 528 MHz with 128KB L2 cache
  • Memory I/F – 16-bit DDR3/DDR3L, LPDDR2 memory support
  • Storage I/F – 8/16-bit parallel NOR flash / PSRAM, dual-channel Quad-SPI NOR flash, 8-bit raw NAND flash with 40-bit ECC, 2x MMC 4.5/SD 3.0/SDIO Port
  • Display & Camera I/F
    • Parallel LCD Display up to WXGA (1366×768)
    • Electrophoretic display controller support direct-driver for E-Ink EPD panel, with up to 2048×1536 resolution at 106 Hz
    • 8/10/16/24-bit Parallel Camera Sensor Interface
  • Peripherals
    • 2x USB 2.0 OTG, HS/FS, Device or Host with PHY
    • Audio Interfaces – 3x I2S/SAI, S/PDIF Tx/Rx
    • 2x 10/100 Ethernet with IEEE 1588
    • 2x 12-bit ADC, up to 10 input channel total, with resistive touch controller (4-wire/5-wire)
  • Security – TRNG, Crypto Engine (AES with DPA, TDES/SHA/RSA), Secure Boot
  • Power Management – Partial PMU integration
  • Package – MAPBGA 0.8mm pitch 14 x 14mm, MAPBGA 0.5mm pitch 9 x 9mm

The company explain the new processor offer a “natural upgrade” for customer’s designs based on ARM7 & ARM9 processor, for example for  smart grid applications. The new i.MX 6ULL (Ultra Lighter than Light? 🙂 ) processor appears to be a cost down version of i.MX 6UL (Ultralight) with fewer security features (e.g. no SIMV2/EVMSIM), and lower maximum CPU frequency, but adding ePD support (according to specs, but not shown on block diagram)

Click to Enlarge

i.MX 6ULL Development Kit – Click to Enlarge

NXP i.MX 6ULL processor is sampling now, with mass production expected in October 2016, and pricing to start at $3.50 in 10,000 unit quantities. The Linux BSP and i.MX 6ULL evaluation kit with 512MB RAM, 256MB SPI flash, and various ports will also be available in October. More details can be found on NXP i.MX6 ULL  product page.

Mintbox Mini Pro Linux mini PC Gets AMD A10 Micro-6700T Processor, 8GB RAM, and 120 GB Storage for $395

September 29th, 2016 5 comments

Minitbox Mini is a low power mini PC based on Compulab Fitlet-i computer powered by AMD A4 Micro-6400T “Mullins” processor and running Linux Mint that was launched in 2015. There’s now an upgraded model – Mintbox Mini Pro – with a more powerful AMD A10 Micro-6700T, more RAM and storage with 8GB DDR3 and a 120 GB SSD, and faster and better networking thanks to 802.11ac WiFI, and dual Gigabit Ethernet.

Click to Enlarge

Click to Enlarge

Mintbox Mini Pro specifications:

  • SoC – AMD A10 Micro-6700T 64 bit quad-core processor up to 1.2 GHz / 2.2 GHz (Boost frequency) with Radeon R6 Graphics (4.5W TDP)
  • System Memory – 8 GB DDR3L-1333 SDRAM (SODIMM module)
  • Storage –  120GB mSATA (SATA 3.0) SSD, and micro-SD slot (SDXC support, rate 25 MB/s)
  • Video Output – Dual HDMI 1.4a up to [email protected]; support two independent displays
  • Audio I/O
    • Output – HDMI, digital S/PDIF 7.1+2 channels output, 3.5 mm stereo audio jack
    • Input – Digital S/PDIF input, 3.5mm audio microphone jack
    • Codec – Realtek ALC886
  • Connectivity – 2x Gigabit Ethernet (Intel I211),  802.11ac Wi-Fi (2.4/5GHz dual band Intel 7260HMW) + Bluetooth 4.0
  • Cellular – Support for mobile data communication with on-board 6-pin micro-SIM socket
  • USB – 2x USB 3.0 + 4x USB 2.0 including one USB 2.0/eSATA combo port.
  • Expansion – miniPCIe (normally used for WLAN); mSATA socket (used by SSD)
  • Other I/Os – RS232 mini serial connector
  • Power Supply – Unregulated 10 to 15V DC; 12V/3A power supply included
  • Power Consumption – 4.5 to 10.5 Watts
  • Dimensions – 10.8 cm x 8.3 cm x 2.4 cm
  • Weight – 250g
  • Temperature Range – Commercial: 0°C to 70°C;  Extended: -20°C to 70°C; Industrial: -40°C to 70°C

The mini PC is pre-loaded with Linux Mint 18 Cinnamon 64-bit, but in case you’d change your mind, it also supports Windows 7/8/10, other 32-bit and 64-bit Linux distributions, and unnamed 32-bit and 64-bit Embedded OS.

The device ships with the power supply, an HDMI to DVI adapter, a 3.5mm audio jack to to RCA cable, two WiFi antennas, a mini-serial to DB9-male adapter cable, and the mSATA heatsink.

Click to Enlarge

Click to Enlarge

The company also published a comparison table showing the differences between Mintbox Mini and Mintbox Mini Pro.

Mintbox Mini Mintbox Mini Pro
SSD mSATA 64GB 120GB
RAM 4GB 8GB
Chipset A4-Micro 6400T A10-Micro 6700T
Graphics Dual HDMI – Radeon R3 Dual HDMI – Radeon R6
Ethernet Gbe Dual Gbe
Wifi 802.11n dongle Dual-band 802.11ac mini-PCIe
Bluetooth None 4.0
Price $295 $395

You’ll find a more detailed comparison here.

Since AMD Mullins processor are not quite as common as Intel Cherry Trail/Braswell processors, it might be interesting to compare AMD-A10-Micro-6700T  to a better known processor, and I’ve done so by pitting it against Intel Celeron N3150 Braswell processor found in mini PCs such as MINIX NGC-1.

amd-a10-micro-6700tBased on GeekBench 3 results, multi-core performance is about the same, but single core performance of A10 Micro-6700T is about 34% faster. CPUBoss also reports that the AMD processor should consume less than the Intel one, as the former is rated 4.5 W TDP against the latter 6W TDP. How much a given mini PC will consume will depend on the overall system design.

Mintbox Mini Pro can be purchased for $395 plus shipping and VAT, and a 5-year warranty on Fit-PC website. You may also be able to find some more info on Mintbox Mini Pro product page.

NanoPi NEO Board Gets Armbian Debian 8 & Ubuntu 16.04 with Linux 4.6 & 4.7 (Mainline), h3consumption Power Consumption Tool

August 23rd, 2016 14 comments

We’ve been blessed with a wide range of low cost Allwinner H3 boards thanks to Shenzhen Xunlong Orange Pi and FriendylARM NanoPi boards. Recently, armbian developers have been focusing on NanoPi NEO board, and they’ve now released Debian Jessie and Ubuntu Xenial with Linux 4.6.7 and Linux 4.7.2. The latter is mainline kernel with some patchsets for Ethernet.

FriendlyARM_NanoPi_NEO_BoardYou can download the Linux 4.6.7 based “beta” images from armbian NanoPi NEO page, and selected the “Vanilla” versions, then flash then one a micro SD card as you would normally do. Linux 4.7.2 based “experimental” images with USB OTG support and schedutil cpufreq governor can be found on the separate server in a temporary directory.

Thomas Kaiser explains further:

Ethernet and throttling are working (the latter not as efficient as with legacy kernel but at least it protects the SoC from overheating). Please note that all vanilla kernel images currently suffer from random MAC addresses on reboot so better choose a static IP address configuration. Also keep in mind that current cpufreq scaling settings in mainline kernel don’t know the 912 MHz operating point so with our default /etc/defaults/cpufrequtils contents you end up with 816 MHz max cpufreq (feel free to adjust, throttling works with these images).

You can test the schedutil cpufreq governor in Linux 4.7, by changing /etc/default/cpufrequtils to something like:

They have not released equivalent “Vanilla” images for Allwinner H3 Orange Pi boards, but I guess it will done once NanoPi NEO images are proven to be working reasonably. Eventually, you’ll be able to download the Linux kernel directly from Kernel.org for your Allwinner H3 boards. I’ve been told this won’t happen in Linux 4.8, but I’d assume Linux 4.9 or 4.10 are realistic targets.

Since NanoPi NEO board has been designed for IoT applications with low load too, armbian community has also investigated how to lower power consumption, and after finding that disabling Ethernet PHY saved 200 mW, and disabling HDMI and the GPU 210 mW, they created a new tool (bash script) called h3consumption, and working on all Allwinner H3 boards. You can find more power savings tips and h3consumption options in the forums.

PULPino Open Source RISC-V MCU is Designed for IoT and Wearables

April 6th, 2016 4 comments

lowRISC is not the only open source processor project based on RISC-V instructions, as researchers at ETH Zurich university and the University of Bologna have developed PULPino open-source processor based on RISC-V instructions set, optimized for low power consumption, and targeting wearables and the IoT applications.

PULPino Block Diagram (Click to Enlarge)

PULPino Block Diagram (Click to Enlarge)

PULPino is a single core processor derived from the PULP project (Parallel Ultra-Low-Power Platform) featuring a quad core RISC-V SoC with new RI5CY Signal Processing ISA extensions designed by the universities.

The core has an IPC (instructions per cycle) close to 1, full support for the base integer instruction set (RV32I), compressed instructions (RV32C) and partial support for the multiplication instruction set extension (RV32M). PULPino also features peripherals such as I2S, I2C, SPI and UART.

PULPino FPGA Implementation Running on ZedBoard

PULPino FPGA Implementation Running on ZedBoard

PULPino has already been taped out as an ASIC in UMC 65nm at the beginning of the year, but the RTL code be run on Xilinx Zynq-7010 powered Zedboard, and all source files, test programs, and tools have been released in github under the Solderpad hardware license derived from the Apache 2.0 software license meaning you can basically do what you want with the design.

An implementation of FreeRTOS is said to be available for PULPino and PULP processor, but I could not find it. They’ve also compared RI5CY core to ARM Cortex-M4 to show a similar area and power consumption using 65nm process.

RI5CY_vs_ARM_Cortex_M4

You can find more details about PULPino and PULP projects on Pulp Platform website, and PULP page on ETH Zurich university website. lowRISC.org also mentions there are three proposed projects for PULPinfo as part of Google Summer of Code: porting CMSIS-DSP to PULPino, Doom on PULPino, and porting the Arduino libraries to PULPino.

Via EETimes