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Comms, consumer electronics lead tech trends

Posted: 16 Feb 2005 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:iic? esc? china? oem? cem?

In anticipation of China's 3G licenses this year, local mobile phone manufacturers have made full preparations for upcoming market opportunities. In the area of W-CDMA mobile phones, Huawei Technologies and ZTE Corp. have already taken the lead in launching their products. In addition, ZTE plans to launch a terminal based on cdma2000 and TD-SCDMA in the next few months. Other manufacturers, such as Amoisonic, Putian etc., also announced that they would market 3G mobile phones this year.

To help OEMs decrease design requirements and improve time-to-market, semiconductor suppliers are now launching various solutions and platforms for next-generation mobile phones. To know the technical features and differences between these platforms will be helpful for mobile phone manufacturers to realize product differentiation.

Among the exhibitors, companies like Analog Devices Inc. (ADI), Texas Instruments Inc., Philips Semiconductors, Renesas Technology Corp. and Infineon Technologies AG have already launched or will offer relevant solutions.

ADI has launched a W-CDMA chipset, dubbed as SoftFone-W, which includes a baseband and RF chip. According to the Chinese TD-SCDMA standard, ADI has also launched SoftFone-LCR chips that basically targets 3G mobile phones. TI, on the other hand, has launched new a OMAP2 architecture for 3G mobile systems that can be used to develop high-end smart phones and supports 3D games, 6Mpixel camera, Hi-Fi 3D sound effect and DTV functions.

Philips has recently launched Nexperia cellular solutions for 2.5G/3G mobile phones. Its Nexperia Sy.Sol 7000 is targeted at medium-end W-CDMA mobile phones and includes baseband, protocol stack software, RF, power amplifier and power management units. In the Nexperia platform, Philips offered its own mobile multimedia processor that can support Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, UWB and USB-OTG, as well as broadcast functions such as FM radio, DAB, mobile TV and GPS.

Based on TD-SCDMA standards, Philips is offering a relevant terminal chip and solution through T3G Technology, a joint venture established by Datang Microelectronics Technology, Samsung Electronics and Philips.

Moreover, Philips will also offer Nexperia Sy.Sol 5120 cellular solutions aimed at medium- and low-end GSM/GPRS mobile phones. It is composed of baseband (OM6357-7), UAA3587 RF transceiver, BGY502 front-end module, PCF50603 power management unit and operating software.

Meanwhile, Renesas is offering semiconductor solutions for 3G multimedia phones based on its SH-Mobile application processor. The SH-Mobile 3 supports 3Mpixel camera and integrates a complete MPEG-4 accelerator with a 2D/3D graphics engine. Renesas plans to develop SH-Mobile 4, which integrates MPEG-4/H.264 accelerator, SH-Mobile J3 processor and SH-Mobile L2 processor for medium- and low-end mobile phones.

Infineon has also announced that one of its mobile platforms is already out in the market. This platform includes an ARM9 processor, single-chip EDGE baseband controller S-GOLD, W-CDMA baseband processor from Broadcom Corp. and its own single-chip W-CDMA RF transceiver called SMARTi U. It supports UMTS, EDGE and GPRS standards, and has many multimedia applications, including chord polyphonic sound, MP3, Java games, camera and video streaming, as well as wireless connectivity features like Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and USB. These new functions speed up the development of mobile-phone peripheral chips and components and stimulate the requirements on mobile memory.

Aiming at this market, Winbond Electronics will appear in IIC-China with its mobile electronics solution that includes special chord polyphonic sound single chip for mobile phones, image processing unit in million-pixel camera phones and mobile memory pseudo SRAM. In the past, Japanese manufacturers control most chord polyphonic sound chip in mobile phones. This time, manufacturers have more choices as Winbond offers an alternative with its 40-chord polyphonic sound chip (W56940), which it says has a good price-to-performance ratio. Winbond has also launched a 64-chord polyphonic sound chip (W56964), which it claims can achieve 100 percent instrument sound fidelity and synchronously play a particular sound effect. The company is also active in developing MP3 and stereo sound products that will be launched soon.

Winbond's image-processing unit in camera phones, W99685, can link LCM with double LCD immediately. When previewing, the image is displayed on the LCD panel through the image sensor module after being processed by W99685. The top preview velocity can be 30 pieces per second and can greatly reduce the baseband chip load. Also, W99685 supports digital zoom, capturing photos continuously and recording mini-movie functions. Compared to W99685B, the W99685F offers USB and SD interfaces in transferring images between phone and PC.

Camera, memories

On mobile memory, Renesas' adopting stack technology can put its NOR flash memory, superAND flash memory, SRAM and mobileRAM into one package, which thereby meets the requirements of multimedia phones on RAMs with different types. As mobile phones increasingly require data storage, Infineon and Micron Technology have focused into the NAND flash memory market. Micron has launched a 128Mb high-density PSRAM.

With cameras becoming a standard configuration in medium- and high-end mobile phones, suppliers are aiming to achieve higher pixels. Micron has marketed a 2Mpixel CMOS image sensor for the camera phone market. Agilent supplies CMOS image sensor for mobile phones as well.

Aside from semiconductor manufacturers and component suppliers, a third-party design company called CEC Wireless Ltd will attend IIC-China with its CMS92 wireless module. The module is ultra compact with a size of 53-by-33-by-3cm and offers complete capability with GPRS Class 10 data link.

VoIP popularity

VoIP is one of the most important technology trends in 2004 that is now being integrated into equipment such as xDSL, cable modem etc. The IP telephone market for enterprises is developing rapidly. This year, VoIP applications are seen to spring up in resident communities gradually. In the exhibits, semiconductor manufacturers will showcase the latest VoIP solutions.

TI has already integrated VoIP and WLAN functions into its DSL resident gateway reference design. The reference design is based on TI's AR7 DSL single router, and the family includes AR7VWi and AR7V. AR7VWi integrates VoIP, 802.11b/g and DSL functions into a single platform; while AR7V can offer VoIP function based on DSL.

Broadcom will exhibit corporation IP-phone solutions. The company's broadband business department will demonstrate products relevant to cable modem, resident gateways etc.

Micrel Inc. has already launched a reference design of next-generation wireless VoIP routers that involves the entire hardware and software. KS8695PX+LSI403LC and KS8695PX+LSI403LP reference designs are now being offered. Voice compression, G.168 echo cancellation and phone function in VoIP solutions can be realized through signal and processing function of LSI Logic's ZSP voice processor unit. The combination of LSI403LC ZSP voice processor unit and Micrel's KS8689PX network processor provides a ready VoIP solution. ZSP kernel is a product that LSI Logic will discuss in IIC-China. As an authorized DSP IP, the kernel can be used in VoIP terminals, wireless mobile phones and multimedia terminals.

Myson Century Ltd in Taiwan has also launched its VoIP single-chip CS6220 and developed various VoIP communication protocols including advanced SIP RFC3261, H.323 MGCP SIP and Megaco. CS6220 is an SoC with built-in RISC/DSP that sufficiently supports all application functions relative to VoIP.

H.264, MPEG-4 consumer electronics

MPEG-4 is a new type of video compress technology that is obtaining more and more support from contract

electronics manufacturers (CEM). LSI Logic's 2G video recorder DVD chip DMN-8602 processor integrates an MPEG-4 video decoder that allows DVD playback program sources downloaded from the Internet. TI will offer MPEG-4 encoder/decoder solutions to its customers who are using OMAP2 processors. Renesas' mobile-phone application processor support MPEG-4 video acceleration function as well. Winbond, on the other hand, has launched a new-generation graphic processor unit, W99702, which integrates MPEG-4 encoder/decoder and ARM9 kernel. The graphic processor unit provides powerful motion, audio/video compression and processing function, and supports MP3, AAC and AMR.

Meanwhile, H.264 has also been gaining favor from CEMs. Nowadays, system manufacturers have great requirement on compression technology based on H.264 standard because it reduces the bandwidth needed by transmitting high-definition digital video through the operator's network. Broadcom's broadband business department will exhibit a video decoder/audio processor chip named BCM7411, which supports H.264 video compression technology and can be used in STBs, resident gateways and cable modems.

USB-OTG becomes essential

More and more mobile devices need USB host and peripheral functions to establish connection between two different equipment and establish data exchange when there is no PC. Thus, efforts made by semiconductor suppliers are focused on how to integrate USB-OTG host function in the processor.

Atmel Corp. has already launched a USB-OTG solution, AT43USB380, which meets the requirements of embedded application on OTG/host function. Based on master/slave processor architecture of the AT43USB370, the integrated solution adopts AT43USB380 USB 2.0, being compatible with OTG and shares in USB transmitting task with system processor through relevant software.

Maxim Integrated Products has also launched a USB-OTG transceiver called MAX3301E, which is designed for portable equipment such as cellphones, PDAs and digital cameras. It has a USB controller that integrates host and peripheral functions inside the MAX3301E transceiver.

TransDimension will introduce its 2G USB-OTG controller, TD242LP, which has already passed the USB Implementers Forum (USB-IF) Certification. The TD242LP controller has two portsone is the special host port and the other one can be used as host port, peripheral port or OTG port. Compared to 1G products, the 2G USB-OTG controller saves more chip resources and has lower power consumption. Also, TransDimension has launched its first single-chip USB-OTG controller called TD1120, which supports high-speed peripheral function and full-speed host function. The OTG controller is a 3G OTG product. It is used for high-performance, low-power consumption of mobile and consumer electronics, such as cellphones, PDAs, media players and multifunction printers. In mobile applications, TD1120 has high-speed PC synchronization function. Used as a peripheral equipment, it can reduce the transmission time of data files.

ALI will bring its latest M5636 high-speed OTG PIO/DMA port control chip to the exhibit. The company said that this USB2.0 integrated control chip has passed USB-IF compatibility test and bus power certification. M5636 OTG port control chip can connect with a universal 8/16bit MCU through its embedded high-speed 8/16bit PIO/DMA multifunction control port or customization chip. It can be used for high-end scanners, printers, digital cameras, digital duplicators, PDAs, multimedia mobile phones and portable media players.

Taiwan's Chesen Electronics Corp. will launch its chips on USB-OTG storage, bridge and audio fields, as well applications targeted at PC peripheral equipment, MP3 players and digital home.

Also from Taiwan, Asix Electronics Corp. will exhibit some crucial products such as USB2.0 to GbE controller (AX88178), USB2.0 to rapid Ethernet controller (AX88772) and 5/8 port gigabit switch controller, which are mainly used in gigabit switches, gigabit router, USB to GbE adapter etc.

In the Wi-Fi arena, Broadcom will exhibit its 54g chips with 802.11 solution. The company said that its 54g Wi-Fi chip has been used in notebook computers, wireless access points and routers. Aside from that, the company will bring its latest Wi-Fi mobile phone solution that targets consumer electronics equipment that integrate VoIP, WLAN and multimedia functions.

Mobility and the ability to access data stored in mobile phone is the main reason for which customers are attracted to use Wi-Fi mobile phones. According to ABI Research, by 2009, cellular/Wi-Fi dual-mode mobile phone shipments will exceed 50 million, taking on 7 percent of total shipment of mobile phones worldwide.

- Abbon Yan

Electronic Engineering TimesChina




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