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Near threshold specialist developing low power Cortex-M3 core

Finnish IP developer Minima Processor has announced ultra-low power technology for near-threshold voltage design that uses dynamic margining to minimise energy consumption in SoCs while maintaining yield.

According to the company, its IP based methodology for near-threshold voltage design combines hardware and software to enable circuits to function at their lowest possible power for any given task, data or ambient condition. The approach also includes ultra-wide dynamic voltage and frequency scaling (DVFS) and Minima claims that, when both dynamic margining DVFS are deployed, energy consumption could be up 20 times less than that drawn by a nominal voltage design.

In an early engagement, Minima is working with Arm to produce a low-power implementation of an Cortex-M3 processor.

“A 15 to 20 times reduction in energy in an IoT SoC is an impressive feat and one that will open up a whole new set of IoT applications,” said Phil Burr, Arm’s director of portfolio product management.

“Energy is the driving design parameter, especially for systems that are ‘always on’ to process audio, visual or sensor data,” explained Lauri Koskinen, Minima’s chief technology officer and co-founder. “With the semiconductor industry searching for solutions that reduce energy consumption for new market requirements and functionality, we are committed to delivering near-threshold voltage design solutions that work for whatever processors our partners choose. Minima’s approach is the only way that minimises energy across a broad range of processor solutions.”

Minima's dynamic-margining technology works with a designer’s CPU or DSP of choice, providing hardware and software IP to enable the device to modify power usage in real time during operation in response to performance needs, process variation or environmental conditions.

Minima raised approximately €5.6million earlier in 2017 through a funding round supported by Aalto University, CFT Nordic Investment Center, Lifeline Ventures, VTT Ventures and angel investors.

For more on sub threshold processing, click here.

Graham Pitcher

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