Alif Unveils the Ensemble E1C, Packing a 46 GOPS AI Acceleration Alongside an Arm Cortex-M55 Core

With up to 2MB of RAM, these compact chips aim to deliver power-efficient on-device intelligence.

Alif Semiconductor has announced a new entry in its Ensemble family, the E1C — a microcontroller offering 46 giga-operations per second (GOPS) of minimum-precision compute for on-device machine learning and artificial intelligence (ML and AI) workloads.

"Alif already blazed a new trail in the industry for powerful and extremely efficient localized ML with the Ensemble family, and the new E1C series products squeeze those same capabilities into a smaller space with even more power-efficiency," claims Alif co-founder and president Reza Kazerounian of the company's latest microcontroller. "This progression opens more opportunities in applications for health monitoring, distributed sensing, audio processing and more for developers to reduce size, power, and cost."

The Ensemble E1C is designed to sit below the company's existing Ensemble E1 in the line-up, featuring a single Arm Cortex-M55 core running at up to 160MHz with the Helium vector acceleration extension and an optional 128 MACs per cycle Ethos-U55 neural processing unit (NPU) capable of delivering up to 46 GOPS of compute at minimum precision. Memory depends on model chosen, and ranges from entry-level parts with 256kB of static RAM (SRAM) and 512kB of non-volatile magnetoresistive RAM (MRAM) through a mid-range version with 1MB of each to the top-end model with 2MB of SRAM and 1.9MB of MRAM.

For connectivity to external devices, the E1C includes UART, I2S, I2C, I3C, SPI, Octo-SPI, CAN FD, eMMC, SD/SDIO, MIPI Display Serial Interface (DSI), an eight-bit Low-Power Camera Parallel Interface (LPCPI), and USB High Speed buses, along with general-purpose input/output (GPIO) pins including two 12-bit successive-approximation (SAR) analog to digital converters (ADCs) and a 24-bit sigma-delta ADC along with a 12-bit digital to analog converter (DAC).

Alif has confirmed plans to launch E1C chips and a related development kit in August this year for "lead customers," with general production in the fourth quarter; parts will be available in 90-bump WLCSP, 120-bump FBGA, and 64-lead TQFP packages, the company has said, though pricing had not been disclosed at the time of publication.

More information on the Ensemble E1C is available on the Alif website.

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