Fitness bands and activity trackers are helping millions of consumers monitor their exercise habits and improve their  overall health. IHS Technology is projecting that fitness trackers will be worth $2.2 billion in 2014, up 22% over last year’s $1.9 billion.

Designing embedded processors for fitness bands

If you are targeting such a device, an M-class MIPS CPU and a low-power Ensigma Whisper RPU provide an ideal combination.

02-Basic wearable SoCs-fitness trackersAn example of a chipset for affordable wearable devices

Our MIPS M5100 and M5150 CPUs are embedded processor cores that deliver best-in-class performance. Both cores have several unique advantages for MCU-class processors, including:

  • Full hardware virtualization: companies can use virtualization to build more secure wearable devices. For example, wearable SoCs using our M5100 or M5150 CPUs can implement a multiple-domain environment where one guest running a real-time kernel manages the secure transmission of sensor data, while another handles a real-time operating system.
  • A fast FPU to accelerate audio and image processing or improve voice recognition algorithms
  • Ultra-secure debugging: since wearables have access to a great deal of personal information, they need to be tamper-proof. Our M-class CPUs offer a secure debug feature which prevents external probes from accessing the core internals so application code is protected at all times.

Ensigma Whisper RPUs (radio processors) are designed specifically for the next generation of ultra-low power, cost-sensitive wearable devices.

  • Configurable: Ensigma Whisper RPUs support a range of essential low-bitrate connectivity standards needed in IoT (e.g. Wi-Fi, Bluetooth Classic, Bluetooth Smart, NFC, GNSS, etc.)
  • Power-efficient: Our PowerGearing for Ensigma technology helps system designers optimize both static and dynamic power consumption
  • Clean: Ensigma Whisper RPUs are designed to keep system area and power consumption extremely low

The combination of MIPS CPUs and Ensigma RPUs creates the basis for an always-on, always-connected sensor hub that can process motion, orientation, biometric and other MEMS data while consuming the lowest amount of power possible.

Wearable - fitness trackersFitness trackers can use Bluetooth Smart to send data to other devices

Case study: Dhanush Nano from Ineda

Dhanush Nano is a WPU (Wearable Processing Unit) designed for simple wearable devices that require microcontroller class of compute and memory footprint.

Ineda Dhanush WPU - MIPS PowerVRDhanush WPUs from Ineda implement a sophisticated computing architecture

It includes an ultra-low power MIPS M-class MCU that sits at the heart of the sensor hub and executes fast, power-efficient digital signal processing instructions; it is an ideal design for basic wearables like smartbands that require a simple real-time operating system (RTOS).


This article is part of an on-going series that focuses on what Imagination is doing to ensure our partners are able to create the next wave of chipsets for every category of wearable devices.

Here are a few related posts that describe how companies can combine our hardware and software IP to create truly differentiated wearable devices:

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About the author: Alex Voica

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Before deciding to pursue his dream of working in technology marketing, Alexandru held various engineering roles at leading semiconductor companies in Europe. His background also includes research in computer graphics and VR at the School of Advanced Studies Sant'Anna in Pisa. You can follow him on Twitter @alexvoica.

View all posts by Alex Voica