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MicroSD card brings extreme gaming into handsets

Posted: 17 Nov 2009 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:microSD card? game console? processor? accelerator?

Atmel CAP9 board

Atmel Corp. has announced a cross-platform mobile phone gaming consoles implemented in microSD cards, based on SoC developed by FXI Technologies AS using Atmel's 90nm SiliconCity Flexible Architecture.

When embedded in a microSD card, the FXI die can turn slot-enabled, handheld devices into high-end "console gaming" platforms. The FXI SoC integrates a 3D graphics accelerator, interface logic and ARM9 processor that can be seamlessly coupled to the manufacturer's traditional flash memory. Video games played on an FXI-enabled microSD card allow card vendors and others to offer an extremely compelling gaming experience. MicroSD card-based gaming consoles will be marketed by SD card vendors and gaming content providers, among others, and can be used in virtually any device with a microSD slot, irrespective of its manufacturer or the native application processor.

According to Tom Hackenberg, senior analyst at IMS Research, "Annual shipments of mobile handsets that will include microSD card slots are expected to reach over 500 million units by mid 2010. Add to these display enhancements, storage increases, video compression and the proliferation of mobile applications and you have a recipe for disruptive technologies, as microSD does for handsets, what CDs did for computers."

Isaac van Kempen, CEO at FXI said, "Traditionally, cellphone games have been limited to downloading games that use the same processor engine already in the device. MicroSD cards with FXI's die will include everythingthe graphics accelerator, interface logic and high end ARM9 processor within the same microSD that stores gaming and other applications. It will vastly upgrade cellphone performance, while providing consumers a console-class gaming experience."

"Atmel's SiliconCity Flexible Architecture has allowed us to build and package this functionality in a SoC with superior cost, power and performance advantages, but without the expense and long lead-times of a traditional custom ASIC. In addition, since Atmel's SiliconCity Flexible Architecture uses a standardized CAP9 design flow, the CAP9 development kits can be used as a game development platform. In fact, we are distributing the CAP9 board to game publishers and developers, so they can develop their software months before we have the microSD card silicon," van Kempen added.

Atmel's 90nm SiliconCity Flexible Architecture is an extension of Atmel's CAP customizable MCU products. Based on Atmel's Metal-Programmable Cell Fabric (MPCF), Flexible Architecture provides up to 350K gates/mm?, comparable to the gate densities traditional standard cell ASICs, without the high NREs and lead times. The design flow is identical to that of a CAP device, with the exception that the OEM defines the processor and on-chip bus subsystems, memories and peripherals. In the case of CAP customizable MCUs, Atmel defines the platform, leaving a metal programmable block for customization.

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