ST makes SoC chip breakthrough with MIT boffins

STMicroelectronics claims to have made a breakthrough in low power microprocessor development after teaming up with the very clever boffins from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

ST had been taking part in what is described as an advanced research and development project, and developed a voltage scalable 32-bit System on-Chip (SoC) which has managed “extreme energy efficiency”.

ST seems pretty excited about the “breakthrough” chip which it reckons can enable an “entirely new generation of microprocessors” for use in applications where long battery life is essential. 

And with the market for microcontrollers expected to hit $4.7 billion by 2015 ST clearly wants to stay ahead of rivals with its SoC technology.

According to ST vice president Alessandro Cremonesi, the SoC will be well suited to life in wireless sensors and implantable medical devices thanks to work alongside MITs Microsystems Technology Laboratories.

The SRAM cell can operate at 0.4V, while SoC reduces power to 10.2 pJ/cycle at 0.54 V. 

There is also ultra low power clock generation and analog to digital conversion, while all timers and serial interfaces have been developed to work at minimum voltage supply.

ST also announced that it has been working on SoC processors aimed at vision-based driver assistance in cars.

The EyeQ3 and EyeQ3 Lite are the next generation, ST says, for in car computing which can warn of lane changing, and a host of other detection sensors such as radar camera fusion for collision avoidance.

The new chips will be six times more powerful than the previous incarnation, and will be a step towards autonomous driving, though the chips will not be in production until 2014.