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Taiwan's ICSI integrates Flash disk with MP3 controller

Posted: 15 Jul 2002 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:icsi? integrated circuit solution? flash drive? mp3 controller? compactflash card?

Hoping to cash in on the growing popularity of portable Flash-based drives, IC design house Integrated Circuit Solution Inc. (ICSI) is releasing an integrated USB Flash disk and MP3 player controller chip. The company says the chip will pull down the cost of adding music functionality to the thumb-sized devices that will act as storage and music centers.

In the past few years, numerous companies have seeded the market with embedded Flash-based MP3 players, which typically store up to 128MB or more with external NAND-based Flash cards. At the same time, tiny USB Flash drives, dubbed "thumb drives," have also seeped into the market, some of which can store up to a gigabyte.

ICSI has added MP3 decoder and audio codec functionality to the chip, which also reads six types of storage interfacesCompactFlash card, smart media card, MultiMedia Card, secure digital card, memory stick card and IBM's Microdrive.

"Since the form factor is pretty small, it still just looks like a Flash disk. If I didn't tell you it was an MP3 player, you would just treat it as a thumb drive," said William Fu, an AVP at ICSI.

As the market grows and becomes more cutthroat for USB Flash disk MP3 players, contract system designers may turn to such chips not only to lower cost but also for the flexibility of their embedded 32KB programmable flash ROM.

Designers will have the ability to update ROM code during the manufacturing process, thereby cutting down the cost of hard-wired ICs.

ICSI claims the 60mA of power consumption makes it one of the top solutions on the market. It also includes a NAND interface for external storage. The USB 1.1 controller comes in 48-pin, 64-pin and 128-pin low-profile QFPs, and is sampling now. The company is working on a USB 2.0 version.

Mike Clendenin

EE Times

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