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Agere architecture reduces mobile phone design time

Posted: 20 Feb 2004 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:agere systems? digital baseband chipset? proven software? networking? processor core?

Promising to enable mobile phone manufacturers to cut their design cycle by up to six months, Agere Systems Inc.'s Vision architecture combines a digital baseband chipset, proven software and advanced tools to deliver a low-power, highly integrated platform.

"The Vision architecture is designed to address some specific areas of the mobile market and handset designs,", said Andy Craigen, senior manager for Agere's mobile terminal division. "It is the first architecture that will deliver a unified memory structure and resource sharing while guaranteeing not to have any conflict in the system," Craigen added.

Agere, a provider of IC solutions for wireless data, high-density storage and multiservice networking applications, is offering the architecture to OEMs and ODMs who are developing handheld devices with advanced multimedia features, including 2.5G/GPRS, EDGE and 3G/WCDMA.

Separate processing domains

The architecture is based on two key elements - power-efficient processor core and modular software platform. The digital baseband chipset uses a low-leakage process technology and multiple processors. The three separate processing domains include a communications processor core, an application processor core and a 16-bit DSP.

According to the company, this segmentation allows each processor to be fully dedicated to its particular function and eliminates complications such as increased integration and debug times that often occur with solutions that offer combined communications and applications processing.

"As systems evolve, we can enhance any one of those domains independently of the others," Craigen said. This type of set-up also removes the interdependencies that result when domains share processing and memory space.

The architecture provides a protected protocol stack running from the same external memory as applications. Although an on-chip instruction and data cache is included on all the processors, a unified external memory space, which can be accessed by all processors, is also integrated.

Craigen explained, "We have a unified memory structure that allows all processors to access the same memory; however we designed the system in such a way that we have, what we call, an assured communications environment." This guarantees that the communication system always work regardless of what applications a mobile phone developer adds to it.

Low-leakage process

According to Graham Carter, senior manager of strategic marketing, handhelds based on the new architecture can lead to a 150 percent improvement in battery life compared with a single-processor solution.

"We believe that the approach that should be taken is a distributed course, low megahertz, and low leakage process." Craigen added.

Initial products based on the new architecture will support external Bluetooth and Wi-Fi devices. Silicon with pre-integrated software and all tool sets will be delivered to lead customers on the third quarter of 2004. Silicon in-development software will be offered early in the second half of this year.

-Margarette Teodosio

Electronic Engineering Times- Asia

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