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Philips teaming with Sony Ericsson on smart phone

Posted: 29 May 2003 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:royal philips? sony ericsson? smart phone? media processor? p800 triband?

In a double-barreled disclosure, Royal Philips Electronics revealed it was the development partner for the multimedia processor at the heart of Sony Ericsson Mobile Communications' P800 triband smart phone, and said it will make the chip available in early 2004 under Philips Semiconductors' Nexperia media processor brand.

Philips said the processor - the P800 phone has been available since last November - will go head-to-head with such solutions as Intel's Xscale, Texas Instruments' Omap, and Nokia's Nomadik. One of Philips' biggest targets is Samsung Electronics, said Michel Windal, multimedia marketing director at Philips Semiconductors.

The move reflects the rapidly shifting business models of the mobile industry. Facing an onslaught of new multimedia requirements, leading handset makers are scrambling to keep up with the rising cost of multimedia chip development by shifting from proprietary ASICs to open chipset solutions. Now brand-name mobile-phone suppliers including Nokia and Sony Ericsson are feeding that trend.

The rise of Asia-based handset original device manufacturers is also contributing to the trend, said Ton van Kampen, business development director at Philips' mobile communications business unit. As ODMs begin to sell their handsets to OEMs, "ASICs are no longer used in those handsets," van Kampen said.

Philips previously supplied only RF chips for Ericsson's handsets, but was picked as joint developer of Sony Ericsson's multimedia processor for two reasons: its Dutch parent's multimedia expertise in consumer electronics, and because VLSI Technology Inc. - which Philips acquired in 1999 - was already an ASIC supplier to Ericsson.

The Nexperia mobile multimedia processor SoC integrates an ARM9 core, a DSP core, and a number of hardware acceleration engines. The DSP runs a variety of audio codecs and a variety of audio compression algorithms. The hardware acceleration engines "keep the performance up while making the multimedia processor affordable," said van Kampen. MPEG-4 and JPEG codecs are separate hardware blocks on the SoC. Other hardwired engines support various connectivity features ranging from USB On-the-Go to Bluetooth.

Sources close to Sony Ericsson said the current multimedia processor is using DSP Group's Teak core, though Philips is reportedly working to port all the software now available on that core to its own R.E.A.L. DSP.

- Junko Yoshida

EE Times

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