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Toshiba: Mobile ICs need to keep pace with market

Posted: 24 Feb 2010 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:mobile IC? handset market? processor?

Under pressure to deliver differentiated handset offerings, OEMs nevertheless want to use the same base platform for their mobile phone products, according to Deepak Prakash, director of marketing for multimedia products at Toshiba America Electronic Components Inc.'s ASSP business unit. This environment challenges chip vendors to make sure that their products offer the right blend of performance and features in order to stay relevant as long as possible, he added.

EE Times put five questions to Prakash as part of a series of written interviews with mobile chip vendors conducted in advance of Mobile World Congress. The following are excerpts from Prakash's responses.

EE Times: What are the three biggest changes (new trends in business, apps, operating systems, hot features, technology, geography, etc.) you are seeing on the mobile handset market in 2010 and beyond?
Deepak Prakash: High-functionality phones with differentiated features are the future of the mobile handset market. Customers want to use the same base platform for their phones, but provide differentiation between models through varying feature sets. Toshiba enables this by providing solutions like I/O expanders, keypad controllers, interface converters and bridges that make it easier for the mobile handset manufacturer to provide different features. Additionally, as smart phone processors move to other mobile applications like eReaders and WebTablets, Toshiba's devices can be used to let smart phone processors interface with peripherals from a different supply chain.

What are the new requirementsimposed by handset OEMs and carriersfor mobile handset chip vendors?
OEMs and carriers are constantly looking for new features from the handset manufacturers. Toshiba's mobile peripheral devices enable the OEM to quickly and easily add new peripherals. Our bridges also provide serializing and deserializing functions. This reduces the number of wires that have to run all over the mobile device, which enables mechanical design flexibility and reduced EMI.

What are the biggest threats and/or challenges lurking on the horizon for mobile handset chip vendors as a whole?
The biggest challenge for mobile chipset vendors is the speed at which this market is moving. Carriers and OEMs are trying to differentiate themselves through their handset offerings, which causes rapid product development cycles and extreme time-to-market pressures. This environment challenges chip vendors to make sure that their products offer the right blend of performance and features in order to stay relevant as long as possible.

What are you offering?
Toshiba has a product portfolio of mobile peripheral devices that connect input/output devices, such as displays and cameras, to host processors with different interfaces and data bandwidths. Our display and camera bridges and hubs and controllers feature embedded DRAM memory that supports standardized high-speed serial interfaces such as MDDI, MIPI-CSI and MIPI-DSI, as well as parallel interfaces like MIPI-DPI and MIPI-DBI to ensure the high-data throughput needed in host to I/O device communications, while still keeping power consumption low. In addition, these devices promote flexibility in mechanical and electrical design. For example, our bridge chips enable the use of display panels and cameras that use different interfaces than the host processor. This lets OEMs use multiple panel and camera types and still be able to connect to a host using differing point-to-point interfaces. It can also allow OEMs to reuse panels and cameras implemented in previous handsets in next-generation products to help simplify new product development. Additionally, the external LCD controllers with full-frame memory enable display panel refresh without involving the host processor, as well as supporting higher refresh rates. Lastly, our products can also reduce EMI issues and power consumption by enabling the use of at least one high-speed serial interface either on the host or panel/camera side of a mobile handset using a clam shell or slide-out form factor.

What's your differentiation from other mobile chip vendors? And why will it succeed?
Toshiba's mobile peripheral devices solve the supply chain problems for handset manufacturers. We enable the handset manufacturer to use the same peripherals, like cameras and displays, over multiple platforms. Our products adhere to established mobile industry standards, making them interoperable with other standards based devices. Furthermore, Toshiba's leading edge manufacturing facilities help us bring our products to market with the right features at the right price.

- Dylan McGrath
EE Times





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