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Multimedia processors enable low-cost car infotainment

Posted: 22 Oct 2008 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:navigation device? car infotainment? multimedia processor?

With the release of i.MX35 family of multimedia processors, Freescale Semiconductor is taking premium automotive infotainment capabilities beyond the domain of luxury cars. The device enables automotive OEMs may offer navigation capabilities and hands-free control of in-car audio as affordable options across their complete line of vehicles.

The AEC-Q100 qualified i.MX35 family of multimedia applications processors serves as the central intelligence unit for the entire automotive infotainment system. The processors are engineered to allow drivers safer and easier control of entertainment and navigation devices while behind the wheel. Consumers can choose a song from their portable media player music collection, retrieve a text message from their cellphone or get directions anywhereall with simple voice commands.

The i.MX35 automotive series builds on Freescale's automotive-grade i.MX31 processor, which powers Ford's SYNC in-vehicle communications and entertainment system. Compared to competing solutions, the i.MX35 multimedia processors have high levels of performance, system integration and sophisticated GUIs.

Designed specifically for automotive environments, i.MX35 processors are based on the ARM1136JF-S core. An available OpenVG graphics engine enables rich, smooth visuals necessary for today's automotive infotainment systems while providing exceptional zooming and animation of graphics and text. The i.MX35 family is leading the way with hardware-based OpenVG support, delivering portable media device-like experiences in-dash.

"By leveraging our longstanding relationships with the world's top automakers, device manufacturers and software providers, Freescale has developed a processor family designed to take hands-free infotainment control functionalitytraditionally reserved for luxury automobilesinto every vehicle," said Paul Marino, general manager of Freescale's multimedia applications division. "Delivering high performance and comprehensive functionality at previously unthinkable price points, the i.MX35 family of processors enables a compelling end-user experience."

Connectivity options, software tools
The i.MX35 family of automotive multimedia processors includes three pin-compatible devices, each targeting specific infotainment capabilities. The i.MX351 is intended for audio connectivity platforms; the i.MX355 is designed for cost-effective display-based systems; and the i.MX356 integrates an OpenVG 1.1-compliant graphics processing unit for applications such as navigation services, which often require higher levels of graphics content. The i.MX356's integrated OpenVG technology also enables applications such as personal navigation devices that require high performance graphics and connectivity.

The i.MX35 automotive multimedia applications processors are packed with connectivity options including two CAN modules, a Media Local Bus to connect to MOST "INIC" transceivers, Ethernet, two MMC/SD/SDIO ports and a CE-ATA/SDIO port for external wireless modules. They have two integrated USB PHYs and a 3.3V general purpose I/O interface. They also support lower cost memories like DDR2 and multi-level cell NAND that reduce system costs and provide the design engineer great flexibility.

Freescale's i.MX35 family supports the Microsoft Auto platformthe software that powers Ford SYNC, which connects drivers with a wide range of devices, services and technologies while on the go. Freescale also has a long history of collaboration with QNX Software Systems, whose Aviage family of middleware products runs on the i.MX35 processors.

An i.MX35 product development kit (PDK) is available to help simplify product development so developers can focus on critical differentiation needed for market success. Freescale also offers comprehensive board support packages for both the Microsoft Windows Embedded CE and Linux OS with the PDK, as well as optimized middleware such as audio and video codecs and digital rights management libraries. The QNX Neutrino operating system and Aviage multimedia suite are also supported.

Freescale is currently sampling i.MX35 processors to tier one customers and plans to expand to a broader base of customers in Q1 09. Volume production is expected Q3 09.

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