Alif's Balletto Microcontrollers Combine BLE and Matter Capabilities with AI Acceleration

Built around an Arm Cortex-M55 with Helium extensions and a Ethos-U55 coprocessor, the Balletto dances around low-power edge AI tasks.

Embedded electronics specialist Alif Semiconductor has announced the Balletto microcontroller family, claimed to be the first to include Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) and Matter support alongside a neural processing unit (NPU) accelerator for machine learning and artificial intelligence (ML and AI) workloads.

"Alif Semiconductor's Balletto family is targeting BLE challenges faced by the wireless audio and smart home industry today with a platform adapted to high bit-rate audio and the Matter ecosystem," says Alif president and co-founder Reza Kazerounian of the company's latest launch. "With the launch of multiprotocol support, coupled with our industry leading AI/ML powered MCU [Microcontroller Unit], it has never been easier to build battery life-friendly connected intelligent edge devices."

The Balletto chips are built around Arm's Cortex-M55 microcontroller core with the Helium vector processing extension, running at up to 160MHz, and an Ethos-U55 neural processing unit (NPU) coprocessor β€” delivering, Alif says, up to 46 giga-operations per second (GOPS) of compute for on-device machine learning and artificial intelligence tasks. The parts also include a dedicated Arm Cortex-M0+ chip for security tasks, with a RISC-V core handling the network stack.

That network stack is connected to Bluetooth 5.3 Low Energy (BLE) and IEEE 802.15.4.2011 radios, the latter supporting the Matter smart home standard and the former including BLE Audio and Auracast capabilities β€” soundly demonstrated in one of the company's proposed use-cases for the new chips, true wireless stereo (TWS) headsets and hearing aids. Alif also suggests the Balletto parts could be ideal for wearables and, perhaps surprisingly, point-of-sale (POS) systems.

other features of the chips include up to 2MB of zero wait-state static RAM (SRAM) and 2MB of high-speed magnetoresistive RAM (MRAM) for non-volatile storage, an octal SPI interface, I3C, USB High Speed, two CAN FD channels, an analog front end with digital to analog converter (DAC) and 24-bit sigma-delta analog to digital converter (ADC), camera and display interfaces with a 2D graphics processor, and up to 77 general-purpose input/output (GPIO) pins.

More information on the Balletto B1, the first in the family, including how it compares to the company's existing Ensemble range is available on the Alif website; pricing has not yet been disclosed.

Gareth Halfacree
Freelance journalist, technical author, hacker, tinkerer, erstwhile sysadmin. For hire:
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