Think Silicon Ultra Low Power NEMA GPUs are Designed for Wearables and IoT Applications

Orange Pi Development Boards

When you have to purchase a wearable device, let’s say a smartwatch or fitness tracker, you have to make trade offs between user interface and battery life. For example, a fitness tracker such as Xiaomi Mi Band 2 will last about 2 weeks per charge with a limited display, while Android smartwatches with a much better interface need to be recharged every 1 or 2 days. Think Silicon aims to improve battery life of the devices with nicer user interfaces thanks to their ultra-low power NEMA 2D, 3D, and GP GPU that can be integrated into SoCs with ARM Cortex-M and Cortex-A cores.

Nema|t 3D GPU Block Diagram

The company has three family of GPUs:

  • NEMA|p pico 2D GPU with one core
    • 4bpp framebuffer, 6bpp texture with/out alpha
    • Fill Rate – 1pixel/cycle
    • Silicon Area – 0.07 mm2 with 28nm process
    • Power Consumption – leakage power GPU consumption of 0.06mW; with compression (TSFSc): 0.03 mW
  • NEMA|t tiny 2D & 3D GPU with one to 4 cores
    • 4bpp framebuffer, 6bpp texture with/out alpha
    • OpenGL ES support
    • Can render a 420×420 3D UI @ 80 MHz
    • Fill Rate – 1-4pixel/cycle; up to 1,600 MPixel/s for the quad core version  @ 400 MHz
    • Silicon Area – 0.1 to 0.25 mm2 with 28nm process
    • Power Consumption – leakage power GPU consumption of 0.07mW; with proprietary compression technology (TSFBc, TSTXc): 0.03 mW
  • NEMA|s GPGPU with one to four cores
    • Supports Network On Chip (NoC) interconnect for clusters with each cluster supporting up to four cores, and each core handling up to 128 threads
    • Fill Rate – 1pixel/cycle
    • Silicon Area and Power Consumption – TBA, as Nema|s is only implemented via FPGA for now
NEMA|s GPU

The first two models are available right now, while the third is still in development. The company is also working on the fourth family with NEMA|ts “tiny small” GPU, but no details have been provided.

Provided the website is up-to-date, NEMA|p 2D GPU is supported in FreeRTOS V8.0.1 and Linux kernel 3.x, while NEMA|t can be used in Linux 3.x and Android 4.x. The company also provides a software library in ANSI C, as well as DirectFB and Qt support.

I found out about the NEMA through a Charbax video at Mobile World Congress 2017.


Think Silicon GPUs are said to be already used in Microchip and Dialog MCUs, and Sequant recently announced an “LTE for IoT System-on-Chip” with a NEMA|p 2D/2.5D GPU. The demo in the video above also shows an Ambiq Micro board connected to an FPGA implementation of one of their GPUs. You’ll find more information on Think Silicon website.

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itchy n scratchy

If that has an oss driver we should all wish them luck and hope they will expand well into higher class gpu ranges 😉