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SoC-based solutions for information appliances

Posted: 01 Apr 2002 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:stb? pda? home gateway? portable system? vcd?

Information appliances, such as set-top boxes (STBs), home gateways, personal portable appliances, PDAs, smart phones and others, should mean any products providing the easy connectivity to the Internet. Because of the rapid changes in consumer demands and product features for information appliances, the time-to-market, the right product features and the affordable prices become increasingly critical. Therefore, carefully examining the following criteria for the development of information appliances will be instrumental:

Low-power consumption. This criterion is definitively essential for mobile appliances. Low power consumption means longer operation time and standby time for these appliances. Such low power consumption is also a very important criterion for home appliances. Unlike PCs, which usually have clumsy and noisy heat dissipation fans for CPU, most home appliances, such as VCRs and stereos, emit very little annoying noise and require no fans for heat dissipation. Moreover, low power consumption solutions also mean the capability to design products in consumer-oriented slim and sleek form factor without the constraints of huge heat sinks and fans.

High integration. The history of VCR and DVD markets indicates that the right price affects the market growth of consumer electronic products a great deal. In order to create consumer demands, information appliances should use highly integrated SoCs solutions to achieve the right magical price, sleek form factor and rich functionality.

Ample performance. The major functions of information appliances are accessing the Internet and surfing various Web sites. To attract non-professional consumer users, more and more web sites are ornamented with varieties of interactive multimedia features, such as Java Virtual Machine, Macromedia Flash, Real Audio, Real Video and others. Unlike PCs, driven by the specsmanship, information appliances are driven by real application needs and require ample performance to provide the consumer a multimedia Internet experience.

X86 compatibility. Due to PC users accounting for the majority of the Internet world, most plug-ins are developed for x86 PCs. So, information appliance solutions based on x86 CPU can easily tap into these existing resources. Also, the x86 PC industry has accumulated incomparable resources from hardware to software, from components to systems and from designers to manufacturers.

Multiple OS compliance. The wide spectrum applications for information appliances require different system OS solutions, such as Window CE, embedded Linux and other RTOS. For example, communication gateways require the real-time ability to ensure connectivity to communication channels. In that case, using the real-time RTOS and a high performance CPU core will provide a deterministic operation behavior.

Customized designs

As one of the x86 SoC providers in the market, Rise Technology is using its low-power, high performance iDragon mP6 CPU core to develop a series of SoC products for information appliance applications. The iDragon processor is capable of multiple VCD playback with only a single off-the-shelf AA battery.

The Rise Technology iDragon SCX501 consists of a fifth generation X86 core, a synchronous DRAM controller, a 2D acceleration graphics engine, a video input port, three-line filters, a TV output encoder and a video pipeline. The video pipeline performs the functions, such as video window scaling, color space conversion as well as chroma/color keying for the picture-in-picture function (PiP) function.

? Len Koh

Marketing Manager

Rise Technology

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