Monday, May 20, 2024

Microcontrollers Enhance Smart Devices With AI

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The Balletto microcontroller family launches with BLE, Matter, and NPU, revolutionizing IoT solutions with advanced features and connectivity for AI tasks.


Alif Semiconductor has launched the Balletto microcontroller family, which is claimed to be the first to include Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) and Matter support alongside a neural processing unit (NPU) accelerator for machine learning and artificial intelligence (ML and AI) workloads.

The Balletto chips are based on Arm’s Cortex-M55 microcontroller core with the Helium vector processing extension, operating at up to 160MHz. They also feature an Ethos-U55 neural processing unit (NPU) coprocessor, providing up to 46 giga-operations per second (GOPS) for on-device machine learning and artificial intelligence tasks. The chips include a dedicated Arm Cortex-M0+ chip for security functions, while a RISC-V core manages the network stack.

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These chips have Bluetooth 5.3 Low Energy (BLE) and IEEE 802.15.4.2011 radios. The latter supports the Matter smart home standard, while the former includes BLE Audio and Auracast capabilities. These features are demonstrated in use cases such as true wireless stereo (TWS) headsets and hearing aids. Alif also suggests that the Balletto chips could be well-suited for wearables and, unexpectedly, point-of-sale (POS) systems.

Additional features of the chips encompass up to 2MB of zero wait-state static RAM (SRAM) and 2MB of high-speed magnetoresistive RAM (MRAM) for non-volatile storage, an octal SPI interface, I3C, USB High Speed, two CAN FD channels, an analogue front end with digital-to-analogue converter (DAC) and 24-bit sigma-delta analog-to-digital converter (ADC), camera and display interfaces with a 2D graphics processor, and up to 77 general-purpose input/output (GPIO) pins.

“Alif Semiconductor’s Balletto family is targeting BLE challenges faced by the wireless audio and smart home industry today with a platform adapted to high bit-rate audio and the Matter ecosystem,” says Alif, president and co-founder Reza Kazerounian, of the company’s latest launch. “With the launch of multiprotocol support, coupled with our industry-leading AI/ML powered MCU [Microcontroller Unit], it has never been easier to build battery life-friendly connected intelligent edge devices.”

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Nidhi Agarwal
Nidhi Agarwal
Nidhi Agarwal is a journalist at EFY. She is an Electronics and Communication Engineer with over five years of academic experience. Her expertise lies in working with development boards and IoT cloud. She enjoys writing as it enables her to share her knowledge and insights related to electronics, with like-minded techies.


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