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Applications processors enable EPDs, LCD devices

Posted: 18 Jul 2011 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:application processor? display controller? EPD?

Freescale Semiconductor Inc. has expanded its portfolio of i.MX applications processors that integrate hardware-based display controllers and ARM Cortex-A8 cores with three new devices for the i.MX50 product family. These products enable compelling end devices featuring LCD and/or electronic paper displays (EPDs).

Combined with Freescale's complementary MC34708 power management IC (PMIC), this optimised platform helps speed time to market and allows customers to buy right-sized, easy-to-use solutions for their specific applications.

The incorporation of hardware-based display control technology is a hallmark of the i.MX50 product family. Freescale announced the initial member of the family last year with the introduction of the i.MX508 SoC. Designed to bolster and extend Freescale's processing leadership for the growing eReader market, the i.MX508 was the first SoC to integrate advanced ARM Cortex-A8 technology with a hardware-based display controller from E Ink.

Offering high resolution, easy readability and exceptional energy efficiency, EPDs allow systems designers to create exciting display-based products that deliver ultra-low power consumption and extremely long battery life. EPD technology is targeted for applications such as digital signage, kiosks and home/office automation equipment for which "always-on" functionality is essential.

The i.MX50 family of applications processors provides optimal design flexibility and efficiency. Ample memory bandwidth helps i.MX50 processors enable faster memory connections for optimised system performance. Integrating an enhanced pixel processing pipeline (ePxP) and the OpenVG hardware accelerator, the devices allow customers to display advanced graphics and UIs with minimal CPU overhead. An integrated, enhanced LCD interface offers maximum display flexibility, supporting even the simultaneous deployment of EPD and LCD displays in a single end product. The i.MX50 processors support LCD displays with resolution up to 1280x1024 pixels (SGXA).

The i.MX508 is currently in production, and the additional i.MX50 products are sampling now, with volume availability expected to follow later in Q3 2011. The i.MX502 is a low-cost processor offering, and at less than $10 (MSRP), provides support for high performance, LCD-based applications such as vending machines and DECT phones. The i.MX503 supports OpenVG acceleration and is ideal for portable products requiring more advanced user interfaces such as medical monitoring tablets and PNDs. The i.MX507 and i.MX508 products both support the EPD controller, with different levels of graphics capabilities for targeted EPD markets.

The i.MX50 family also includes power management technology. Designed specifically for use with the i.MX50 family as well as the i.MX53 product line, Freescale's new MC34708 PMIC features a high level of integration targeted toward single-cell Li-ion applications. The MC34708 incorporates a number of power supplies to support the i.MX processor, as well as an array of system peripheral ICs. An integrated dual-input switching charger allows for faster charge time from either direct input supply or USB input, where it supports auto-charge modes compliant with the universal charging standard. An integrated mini/micro-USB switch allows for porting of audio, UART and USB through a single connector, reducing system cost and enabling a more streamlined aesthetic design. Additional features include a coulomb counter, general purpose 10bit ADC, real time clock with backup battery and charger, indicator LED drivers and six GPIO ports.

The MC34708 PMIC also can be used in a number of non-battery powered applications where the charger buck is used for supplemental supply generation. A family of products designed to target varying levels of integration aligned to specific end applications are planned to follow the MC34708.

Freescale's i.MX50 and MC34708 solutions are available as reference designs with full software BSPs and backed by integrated technical support. The i.MX50 EVK is a single board solution with optional display add-ons. Freescale also offers a Smart Application Blueprint for Rapid Engineering (SABRE) platform for eReaders reference design and Linux and Android software for fast time to market.

Samples of the i.MX502, i.MX503 and i.MX507 are available now and start at $9.97 suggested resale for 10K units. The MC34708 also is sampling now and is available in both 8x8mm 0.5mm pitch BGA and 13x13mm 0.8mm pitch BGA versions. The 10K suggested resale on the 13x13mm device is $4.04, with the 8x8mm device at $3.74 in the same volume. The i.MX50 EVK, SABRE platform for eReaders, and supporting software are also available now from Freescale.

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