Peter Clarke, EETimes
8/25/2015 09:42 PM EDT
LONDON — Mike Noonen, recently appointed interim CEO at microcontroller startup Ambiq Micro, discusses the focus and opportunities for this pioneering company designing circuits that can operate below the threshold voltage of the constituent transistors.
In January 2015 Ambiq Micro Inc. (Austin, Texas) introduced the Apollo family of Cortex-M4F-based microcontrollers. These MCUs can operate at voltages below 0.5V and the company claims that this can provide a 10-fold improvement in MCU power consumption compared with competitors' MCUs. This is mainly based on the fact that power consumption scales with the square of voltage, although the achievable clock frequency for digital circuits also reduces with the voltage.
However, Ambiq's sub-threshold technology is not limited to MCUs. MCUs are almost always mixed-signal circuits and Ambiq already sells a range of real-time clock (RTC) circuits based on its technology. Noonen's ambitions for the company are broad.
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