Imagination Technologies (IMG.L) announces the first members of its Ensigma Whisper flexible connectivity IP family, designed specifically to enable the integration of ultra-low power communications in SoCs targeting wearables, IoT and other connected devices that require extended battery life and low cost points. With the new Ensigma Whisper radio processing units (RPUs), customers can choose to integrate Wi-Fi 802.11n, Bluetooth Smart, or a combination of the two standards, depending on their specific application.

The new Whisper RPUs are based on the ultra-low power Ensigma Whisper Series5 architecture and complement the Ensigma Explorer RPU family, which is focused on enabling high-performance on-chip communications. With built-in processors and a high level of configurability, Ensigma RPUs are highly flexible and ideal for supporting multiple standards.

Repurposing mobile or other existing connectivity chips or IP won’t work for wearables and other ultra-low power IoT devices. Connectivity IP must be built from the ground up for these new applications, with a focus on low power consumption and compact area. The new Whisper IP cores are configurable engines that are purpose-built for integration onto next-generation SoCs targeting IoT and other applications including smartwatches, home automation, healthcare, automotive, industrial and beyond.

Takeshi Niwa, assistant director at TSR (Techno Systems Research), says: “In today’s connected devices, we see a clear move away from using separate wireless combo chips toward integrating connectivity onto the main application processor as companies look to reduce power, footprint and bill-of-materials. We are seeing this move first in smartphones, where we believe 70 percent of devices will have connectivity integrated in the AP by 2018. As wearable and IoT devices become mainstream, we believe the same trend will occur. With their focus on delivering real performance within an ultra-low power envelope, Imagination’s Ensigma Whisper RPUs are welcome entrants to the market.”

To further accelerate customers’ time to market, Ensigma Whisper RPUs are provided as a complete communications solution including certifications. In addition, a range of customizable RF and analog front-ends are available from Imagination and partners if needed. Imagination is initially offering the Whisper RPUs in three versions:

  • C5400: Wi-Fi 802.11n IP for low-power devices capable of audio/video streaming; enables customers to achieve Wi-Fi connectivity at the power levels of Bluetooth Classic while delivering better performance per MHz
  • C5300: Bluetooth Smart IP for ultra-low power, short range connectivity providing control functionality in devices including sensor hubs, wearables and home automation
  • C5401: For applications such as wearables, this IP combines Bluetooth Smart for control applications and Wi-Fi 802.11n for streaming; capable of operating concurrently

“There are two trends that will better enable wireless connectivity for the Internet of Things,” stated Philip Solis, research director at ABI Research. “One, of course, is integration of wireless connectivity basebands into the host processor. The other is the scaling down of designs to reduce cost, size, and most importantly power consumption. In the wireless connectivity space, where multiple connectivity standards are here to stay, this includes creating unique designs that take full advantage of the low-power connectivity requirements of wearables and IoT devices to significantly increase battery life.”

Ultra-low power connectivity

Ensigma Whisper RPUs feature highly optimized, configurable hardware along with Imagination’s PowerGearing™ for Ensigma that optimizes both static and dynamic power consumption in the cores.

The unique design of the Whisper architecture, with its tightly coupled modem/MIPS processor, enables the best connected standby power compared to other connectivity solutions, by enabling IoT and wearable devices to awaken more quickly and consume less power in the wake-up process.

The tightly-coupled modem/processor in Ensigma Whisper RPUs means that for sensor applications, customers can choose to eliminate the host processor or alleviate its load, leading to the smallest embedded system size and lowest power consumption.

Ensigma + MIPS: a powerful combination

Integrated, optimized Ensigma RPUs and MIPS CPUs are at the heart of Imagination’s Connected Processor IP Platform, a state-of-the-art embedded processor IP platform that delivers multi-standard connectivity, alongside a high-performance Linux or RTOS based applications environment – all in one fully integrated IP solution.

Whisper licensees can also leverage Imagination’s innovative FlowCloud IoT device-to-cloud technology, which connects devices to the internet and each other, enabling easy product registration and updates as well as access to a growing portfolio of services from Imagination and its partners.

Chakra Parvathaneni, vice president of Ensigma business operations at Imagination says: “We created the ultra-low power Ensigma Whisper architecture to complement our already successful high-performance Ensigma Explorer architecture. Whisper is designed to ensure our customers can hit their aggressive power and area targets for IoT, wearables and other low-power, low-cost devices. With Whisper and Explorer RPUs, we are enabling customers to integrate a broad spectrum of communications capabilities onto SoCs. The complementary MIPS and FlowCloud technologies in the Connected Processor IP Platform add even more value, enabling a unique end-to-end connectivity solution.”


Ensigma Whisper RPUs are available for licensing now.

About Ensigma RPUs

The Ensigma range of RPUs includes the low-power Whisper family and the high-performance Explorer family, designed to address applications from ultra-low power to maximum performance, and with a common API, customers can reuse software across the platforms. Ensigma RPUs provide multi-standard support in a single architecture, designed to enable customers to bring standards such as Wi-Fi, Bluetooth Classic, Bluetooth Smart, NFC, GNSS and other existing or emerging low-power connectivity technologies onto their SoCs. By bringing this functionality on-chip, customers can minimize power consumption, silicon footprint and system cost compared with conventional solutions. Ensigma RPUs are shipping today in numerous low-power audio and connectivity devices with a growing range of designs in the pipeline.

About Imagination Technologies

Imagination is a global technology leader whose products touch the lives of billions of people across the globe. The company’s broad range of silicon IP (intellectual property) includes the key processing blocks needed to create the SoCs (Systems on Chips) that power all mobile, consumer and embedded electronics. Its unique software IP, infrastructure technologies and system solutions enable its customers to get to market quickly with complete and highly differentiated SoC platforms. Imagination’s licensees include many of the world’s leading semiconductor manufacturers, network operators and OEMs/ODMs who are creating some of the world’s most iconic products. See: