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Ambiq Apollo 3 Boosts Wearables

December 11, 2018

Author: Bob Wheeler

Ambiq is using its initial success in Huawei wearables to improve its Apollo MCUs. It recently announced Apollo 3 Blue, which adds features while reducing power compared with Apollo 2. The new product also has a turbo mode that doubles clock speed when an application requires maximum performance. It provides a single-chip design for fitness bands and RTOS-based smartwatches. Lead customer Huawei is already in production with its Band 3 Pro based on Apollo 3 Blue.

The new MCU builds on the solid foundation Apollo 2 established, reusing the Arm Cortex-M4F CPU, TSMC 40nm process, and embedded flash memory. In January, Ambiq announced Apollo 2 Blue, a system-in-package (SiP) that adds a Bluetooth 5 Low Energy (BLE5) radio. Apollo 3 Blue integrates BLE5 into the MCU die, reducing cost and power relative to the SiP. The company added dynamic voltage and frequency scaling to Apollo 3, enabling the 96MHz mode dubbed TurboSpot. The new chip also reduces 48MHz active power by 30%.

With its integrated Bluetooth radio and CPU turbo mode, Apollo 3 better matches the capabilities of MCU competitors than Apollo 2 while maintaining low-power leadership. These improvements yielded a major design win at Huawei. Ambiq’s next challenge is to deliver an integrated DSP for voice processing that boosts performance without sacrificing efficiency. That next-generation product could help the company enter new markets beyond its wearable niche.

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