CEVA has unveiled Bluebud, a highly-integrated wireless audio platform aimed at standardizing DSP-enabled Bluetooth audio IP for the fast-growing Bluetooth audio markets, including True Wireless Stereo (TWS) earbuds, hearables, wireless speakers, gaming headsets, smartwatches and other wearable devices.
The Bluetooth audio market growth is expected to accelerate in the coming years, with ABI Research forecasting that nearly two billion devices will ship annually by 2024.
Bluebud addresses the technology complexities and scarcity of expertise that semiconductor and system companies are facing for the development of wireless audio systems. The platform serves to provide a standardized and self-contained solution that companies targeting the lucrative Bluetooth audio market can effectively drop-in to their system-on-chip (SoC) design, dramatically reducing the high entry barriers and time-to-market. Bluebud enables end-product differentiation via support for host-level application software which can run on the CEVA-BX1 DSP or an optional host CPU.
The platform combines CEVA’s RivieraWaves Bluetooth 5.2 IP, with both Classic Audio and LE Audio, and the CEVA-BX1 audio processor, together with all the required peripherals for wireless audio, in a compact low power design, with a footprint of less than 0.5mm2 in 22nm. The single-core architecture reduces the overall latency from RF to audio output down to less than 20ms, ensuring impeccable audio/video sync for movies and gaming.
The design also incorporates an advanced power management unit supporting idle and sleep power-down modes through sophisticated clock and voltage scaling, inherent in the fully integrated Bluetooth audio platform.
Furthermore, the onboard CEVA-BX1 DSP along with the SenslinQ DSP software framework enables semiconductor and OEM users to seamlessly integrate differentiated, value-add software from CEVA, its ecosystem partners or custom software, onto the Bluebud platform. CEVA’s optional software available for Bluebud includes ClearVox multi-microphone noise reduction & acoustic echo cancellation, WhisPro voice trigger & commands, and MotionEngine Hear for user control via tap and double tap, head tracking, in-ear detection and activity classification.
For lite AI inferencing workloads, Bluebud allows users to run TinyML models such as a wake word engine to summon your voice assistant or detect sound events for contextual awareness, using native support for the TensorFlow Lite Micro neural network framework.
“Consumer demand for TWS earbuds and other wireless audio devices has grown tremendously, with more diverse use cases and new features consistently being introduced,” said Erez Bar-Niv, CTO of CEVA. “The Bluebud platform serves to standardize DSP-enabled Bluetooth audio IP for any semiconductor or systems company, solving the complex challenges of syncing audio packets over Bluetooth, with a drop-in IP that delivers robust, high quality Bluetooth connectivity and audio performance.
“Supported by our portfolio of audio, voice, sensor fusion and AI software, Bluebud customers can develop differentiated wireless audio solutions with outstanding performance, addressing the full range of tiers from budget through to premium experience, faster than ever.”
Since its debut, Bluetooth 5.2 and its integral LE Audio has transformed Bluetooth audio thanks to new features that enhance audio quality and link robustness as well as enabling new audio sharing use cases. The audio quality improvements are courtesy of the LC3 codec, optimized for the CEVA-BX1, which also enables lower power operation and so extending the battery life of TWS earbuds and other audio streaming devices. The CEVA-BX1 processor combines efficient DSP compute capability with high-level programming and compact code size requirements of embedded applications.
Using an 11-stage pipeline and 4-way VLIW micro-architecture, it offers parallel processing with a Single Instruction Multiple Data (SIMD) ISA, widely used in neural networks inference, noise reduction and echo cancellation, as well as high accuracy sensor fusion algorithms.
The CEVA-BX1 is accompanied by a comprehensive software development tool chain, including an advanced LLVM compiler, Eclipse based debugger, DSP and neural network compute libraries, neural network frameworks support in the form of TensorFlow Lite Micro, and choice of industry leading Real Time Operating Systems (RTOS).
Bluebud platform key features:
- Single core CEVA-BX1 processor for DSP and control simplifies SoC architecture – compared with multiple cores that are required to build similar systems.
- Self-contained – while everything from Bluetooth link control, host protocol stack, profiles and audio codecs up to the application can run on the embedded CEVA-BX1, Bluebud provides the SoC integrator the option to add a host CPU to run user applications.
- Support for Bluetooth 5.2 with both Classic Audio and LE Audio, software upgradeable to next Bluetooth version.
- Complete Classic Audio software stack, required for Bluetooth audio streaming.
- A2DP profile for music streaming, including SBC, AAC and MP3 codecs.
- HFP profile for voice call, including CVSD and mSBC codecs.
- Complete LE Audio software stack, for audio streaming over Bluetooth low energy.
- Audio profiles for voice call and music streaming, including LC3 codec.
- Robust true wireless stereo connectivity for both voice calls and music streaming with low jitter / latency between left and right channels.
- Seamless bud-to-bud role-switching to maximize battery life.
- Easy and fast pairing with multi-source support, allowing buds to be connected to several devices and instantly switch between them when required.
The Bluebud platform is available for licensing by end of Q1 2021.