MCU startup Alif samples two AI-enabled families

MCU startup Alif samples two AI-enabled families

New Products |
By Peter Clarke

The Ensemble family provides for wireline connected MCUs and fusion processors in single, dual, triple and quad core versions to cover a diverse range of applications.

The Crescendo family covers cellular connected processing. Again single to quad core versions plus AI acceleration, LTE Cat-M1/NB1/NB2 wireless, integrated SIM cellular subscriber management and GNSS positioning.

The company was co-founded in 2019 by CEO Syed Ali, previously co-founder, CEO and chairman of Cavium Networks and by President Reza Kazerounian, who was general manager of the microcontroller and connectivity business unit at Atmel until its acquisition by Microchip in 2016. Prior to his time at Atmel, Kazerounian held senior positions at Freescale Semiconductor and STMicroelectronics.

At its foundation the company’s mission was to enter the microcontroller market using the latest ARM cores, which come with enhanced support for machine learning.

The Ensemble scales from single Cortex-M55 MCUs to a new class of multi-core devices that Alif call ‘fusion  processors’. These blend one or two Cortex-M55 MCU cores, with one or two Cortex-A32  microprocessors (MPU) cores capable of running high-level operating systems, and up to two Ethos-U55 microNPUs for artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML)  acceleration.

Ensemble family devices contain an advanced secure enclave that provides multiple layers of security, such as device integrity protection, secure identity, root-of-trust, secure lifecycle management, and more. Together with on-chip SRAM and non-volatile memory, accelerated graphics, imaging, the Ensemble family is suitable for smart home products, appliances, point-of sale, robotics applications, the company claims.

Next: Crescendo

The Crescendo family offers the same functionality as the Ensemble family, and in addition adds LTE Cat-M1 and NB-IoT Cellular connectivity, optional iSIM for simplified subscriber  management, integrated RF, power amplifiers, and a concurrent GNSS receiver for  positioning, thus delivering the key capabilities required for smart city, connected infrastructure, asset tracking, healthcare devices, wearables, and more.

Many deployed IoT devices are battery powered, and battery life is critically challenged when there is a high requirement for local processing, AI/ML, and wireless communication.

To address this, Alif Semiconductor is introducing power management technology that allows fine-grained control of when resources in the chip are being powered.

Ensemble and Crescendo devices are sampling now to lead customers. These devices are supported by Alif Semiconductor’s software, development tools and kits. Production qualification is due to complete in 1Q22.

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