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New Inertial Modules Enable AI Training Inside Sensor

STMicroelectronics has introduced new inertial sensors that contain the intelligent sensor processing unit (ISPU) to power the onlife era: interacting with trained devices with intelligence moving from ‘on’ the edge to ‘in’ the edge.

The ISM330ISN always-on 6-axis inertial measurement unit (IMU) for movement and position sensing uses its embedded intelligence to deliver unrivaled performance and accuracy for its size and power. Ideal for IoT and industrial applications, ST’s new IMU sets to accelerate response time and extend battery life in equipment such as condition monitors for predictive maintenance, as well as battery-operated asset trackers and industrial applications such as robots.

The intelligence built into the ISM330ISN enables smart devices to perform advanced motion-detection functions in the sensor without interaction with the external microcontroller (MCU), thus saving power at system level. ST’s approach integrates a specialized processor, the ISPU, in a small area directly on the sensor chip, optimized for machine-learning applications. This enables the ISM330ISN module to have a 50% smaller footprint and consume 50% less power than a typical co-packaged MCU.

Developers can program the ISPU using ST’s NanoEdge AI Studio, a market-proven ST tool that many customers have used to deploy AI applications on STM32 microcontrollers. This technology is now available for programming the ISPU, enabling users to easily generate automatically optimized machine-learning libraries. Designing an anomaly detection library with AI learning capability directly inside the ISPU is possible with minimal data and just a few clicks. No specific data-science skills are needed.

Intelligence formerly implemented at the network edge, in an application processor, is now moving to the deep edge, inside the sensor,” said Simone Ferri, General Manager of Marketing, Analog MEMS and Sensors Group, STMicroelectronics. “Our ISM330ISN IMU heralds a new category of smart sensors, leveraging embedded AI to handle complex operations such as pattern recognition and anomaly detection with greatly increased efficiency and performance.”

While presenting new AI-powered creative opportunities, the ISM330ISN has the same 3mm x 2.5mm x 0.83mm package outline as conventional inertial modules. Hence designers can upgrade their products quickly and cost-effectively with no obligation to change an established circuit board layout.

The ISM330ISN contains a 3-axis accelerometer and 3-axis gyroscope with low-noise sensing performance, and an output data rate (ODR) of 6.6kHz. With the ISPU, the sensor ensures consistently high accuracy while consuming only 0.59mA in combination mode with the accelerometer and gyroscope active.

ST’s ISPU architecture, based on digital signal processing (DSP), is extremely compact and power-efficient, with 40Kbytes of RAM and occupying just 8000 gates on the sensor die. Performing floating-point operations with single-bit precision, ISPU is ideal for machine-learning applications and binary neural networks.

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