STMicroelectronics’ “Intelligent Sensor Processing Unit” Integrates Brains into Sensors

By Tiera Oliver

Associate Editor

Embedded Computing Design

February 17, 2022


STMicroelectronics’ “Intelligent Sensor Processing Unit”  Integrates Brains into Sensors

STMicroelectronics announced the launch of the Intelligent Sensor Processing Unit (ISPU) that combines a Digital Signal Processor (DSP) suited to run AI algorithms and MEMS sensor on the same silicon.

In addition to reducing size over system-in-package devices and cutting power by up to 80%, merging sensor and AI puts electronic decision-making in the application Edge. With the ISPU, ST is helping to migrate intelligent processing into sensors that support the fabric of life: no longer at the Edge but in the Edge.

ST’s ISPU provides benefits in the four Ps: power consumption, packaging, performance, and price. The proprietary ultra-low-power DSP can be programmed in C. It also allows quantized AI sensors to support full- to single-bit-precision neural networks. This ensures accuracy and efficiency in tasks such as activity recognition and anomaly detection by analyzing inertial data.

ST’s proprietary, C-language-programmable DSP is an enhanced 32-bit Reduced Instruction Set Computing (RISC) machine. It is extensible (in the chip-design phase) for dedicated instructions and hardware components. The processor offers a full-precision floating-point unit, uses a fast four-stage pipeline, operates from 16-bit variable-length instructions, and includes a single-cycle 16-bit multiplier. Interrupt response is a spritely four cycles. ST’s sensors with ISPUs will be packaged in standard 3mm x 2.5mm x 0.83mm packages and will be pin compatible with their (ST) predecessors, allowing quick upgrades.

Combining the sensor and ISPU is also a power saver; ST’s calculations show a 5-6x saving over System-in-Package approaches in sensor-fusion applications. They also show a 2-3x saving in RUN mode.

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Tiera Oliver, Associate Editor for Embedded Computing Design, is responsible for web content edits, product news, and constructing stories. She also assists with newsletter updates as well as contributing and editing content for ECD podcasts and the ECD YouTube channel. Before working at ECD, Tiera graduated from Northern Arizona University where she received her B.S. in journalism and political science and worked as a news reporter for the university’s student led newspaper, The Lumberjack.

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