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Atmosic -- Extreme Low Power Bluetooth 5 ICs  
Founded: Jan 2016
Status: Private
Source: Semiconductor Times, 11/18
12930 Saratoga Avenue, Suite B6
Saratoga, CA 95070

Atmosic (see 10/18 issue) was founded in 2016 to develop “extreme low power wireless platforms for the IoT market.” The team consists of leaders from Atheros (acquired by Qualcomm) from its inception. The company has received $21M in Series A/A1 financing led by Sutter Hill Ventures, Clear Ventures and Walden International. Additional capital will be raised in 2019. Atmosic has roughly 28 employees and is growing.

Atmosic took a wireless agnostic approach to determine the most power-efficient foundation for its first IoT connectivity solutions. To radically reduce power consumption, Atmosic has developed three key technologies: Lowest Power Radio, On-demand Wake-up, and Controlled Energy Harvesting. With Lowest Power Radio and On-demand Wake-Up, Atmosic enables 10X to 100X lower power, reducing power utilization to a level that Controlled Energy Harvesting is a viable power source. With the addition of Controlled Energy Harvesting, the solution can deliver forever battery life or battery-free operation.

Lowest Power Radio is based on the team’s extensive wireless and low-power experience, which has enabled Atmosic to achieve radical power performance improvements while maintaining full standards compliance.

To create On-demand Wake-Up, Atmosic has implemented two levels of listening: one provides the lowest level of “radio consciousness” to perceive incoming transmissions; the other is a deep sleeper, waking only when alerted to incoming transmissions by the “radio consciousness” portion. On-demand Wake-Up requires coordination with the host, which would send a special pattern to wake-up, causing Atmosic ICs within range to wake-up. While this may cause some radios to wake-up unnecessarily, the number of wakeups will still be vastly lower than a typical beacon’s 86,400 wake-ups per day based on a time interval of one second.

Instead of relying on ambient energy harvesting, which is inherently unpredictable, Atmosic’s Controlled Energy Harvesting technology is based on a known energy source that can be controlled to guarantee robust, deterministic functionality while minimizing the system dependence on battery power. The technology can work in the 2.4GHz or 900MHz bands. As an example, a computer could be used to emit a deterministic RF energy source for a mouse or wireless keyboard in close proximity.

For its first products, Atmosic recently unveiled the industry’s lowest power standards-compliant wireless Bluetooth 5 platforms, according to the company, comprising the M2 and M3 series. Bluetooth 5 provides performance increases over legacy Bluetooth by 4X the range (now comparable to Wi-Fi), 2X the speed, and 8X the bandwidth.

The Atmosic M2 Series Bluetooth 5 SoC features Lowest Power Radio delivering 5X to 10X lower power; the addition of On-demand Wake-up reduces power by 10X to 100X. The Atmosic M3 Series Bluetooth 5 SoC adds Controlled Energy Harvesting to provide forever battery life or eliminate the need for battery power. Packaging options for the M2 and M3 Series include flash and non-flash, 5x5 QFN, and 6x6 DRQFN packages. The ICs incorporate an Arm Cortex-M0 processor and assorted peripherals to form a complete solution.

Wiliot (see 12/17 issue) is developing a battery-free energy harvesting Bluetooth solution, although details have not been released. However, it does not appear to be a standards-compliant Bluetooth 5 solution and appears to be targeting a lower end market: “small sticker with processing power and sensors, for a fraction of the price of traditional beacon devices”.

The M2 and M3 series solutions are now available for customer sampling and will be in volume production in Q2’19. They are fabricated in “generic CMOS.” Atmosic is working with lead customers now. Initial target applications include asset trackers, wearables, computer mice, remote controls and industrial beacons.

David Su, Ph.D., Co-founder & CEO (previously VP of Analog/RF Engineering at Atheros and VP of Engineering at Qualcomm following the acquisition of Atheros)

Masoud Zargari, Ph.D., Co-founder & VP of Engineering (previously Sr. Director, Engineering at Qualcomm and a member of the founding team and Senior Director of Engineering at Atheros)

David Nakahira, Co-founder & VP, Systems Engineering (previously Sr. Director, Engineering at Qualcomm and a member of the founding team and Director of Engineering at Atheros)

Srinivas Pattamatta, VP, Business Development (previously Senior Director Product Marketing at Synaptics and Director of Business and Product Marketing at Qualcomm)

Manolis Terrovitis, Ph.D., VP, Technology (previously Sr. Director, Technology with Qualcomm and Sr. Director, Technology & Fellow with Atheros)

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