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Tool lowers system cost for handsets

Posted: 16 May 2007 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:ASSP for communications and peripheral protocols? single chip device for connectivity gap? integrated host controller for handhelds?

Seeking to solve the "connectivity gap" in handheld products, QuickLogic Corp. is launching a single-chip device into the emerging arena of integrated core-logic or host controllers.

The device, which is called ArcticLink, is an ASSP that can be configured to support several communications and peripheral protocols for handheld systems, said Howard Li, senior marketing manager for connectivity solutions at QuickLogic.

ArcticLink is a single-chip device that integrates several wireless-connectivity and digital-storage functional blocks to solve the connectivity gap. These include a programmable fabric, a USB 2.0 controller, a CE-ATA/SDIO host device, a PHY block and an FPGA/processor interface. In the future, the solution will also support imaging, video and higher-speed I/O standards, the company said.

The on-chip programmable fabric can be configured to work with handheld-based application processors from Analog Devices, Freescale Semiconductor, Marvell, Renesas, Samsung and Texas Instruments. Like a chipset in a PC, ArcticLink offloads many of the tasks within a handheld without reducing processor performance and utilization.

It also solves another problem. Typical handheld devices consist of a general-purpose application processor as well as a number of discrete parts, such as a USB controller, storage interface and others. ArcticLink replaces as many as five discrete components in a portable device, thus lowering system costs, Li said.

QuickLogic is the latest vendor to roll out an integrated host controller for handhelds. Seeking to reshape the mobile market, Cypress Semiconductor Corp. late last year unveiled a similar solution, called the West Bridge Antioch. With it, Cypress was pushing for a new peripherals conceptor even a standard architecturefor feature-rich handheld systems.

"There are a lot of similarities between the two devices from QuickLogic and Cypress, but we have some advantages," Li said. "Our solution supports a programmable fabric."

Targeted for smart phones, portable media players, navigation systems and industrial products, the ArcticLink programmable platform is said to reduce design times and risk for OEMs.

The 1.8V programmable fabric is a six-metal-layer, 0.18?m device. It is a single-register, multiplexer-based logic cell technology with 100,000 system gates and as many as 120 I/Os.

The ArcticLink device also includes a USB 2.0 high-speed On-the-Go controller with an integrated PHY-layer device. The USB 2.0 OTG controller supports the maximum USB speed of 480Mbps and can be configured as either a host or a device.

Programmable ArcticLink integrates building blocks and supports several communications and peripheral interfaces.

In addition, the device has a separate SD/SDIO/MMC/CE-ATA host controller. Handling speeds up to 52MHz, the controller supports a number of peripheral interfaces: SD card 2.0, SDIO host 2.0, MMC 4.1 and CE-ATA 1.10. Other functionssuch as PCI, IDE, NAND flash, SPI, Bluetooth 2.0 and other custom interfacescan be implemented in the programmable fabric.

The ArcticLink solution is expected to begin sampling in Q2, with production slated for Q3. It is available in both an 8-by-8mm 121-ball CTBGA and a 12-by-12mm 196-ball TFBGA lead-free package. ArcticLink will sell for less than $4 each in high volume in 2008. The product is being made for QuickLogic by foundry Tower Semiconductor Ltd.

- Mark LaPedus
EE Times

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