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FTDI video engine eliminates frame buffer, cuts costs

Posted: 30 May 2013 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:video engine? display controller? touch screen? graphics engine? frame buffer?

"If you think of your typical processor, it probably requires additional RAM [usually SRAM] and Flash to store the program code. But with a microcontroller, the size of program we have to drive our images is so small that we don't need that external memory. For example, the display list is in total 8KB. Each instruction is 4B and you only need six instructions to draw a clock face. That's 24B."

The bottom line is a possible BoM reduction by 40-60 per cent, claimed Lunn. In an exclusive presentation to EE Times Asia, he said they are estimating the total BoM for a complete system in volume, to be under $19 with the FT800 at $2.75 (in 100,000-unit volumes), components and PCB at $3.5, the display at $9-$10 and the cost of assembly and test at $1.75.

Gordon Lunn

Lunn: In terms of support, there will be a lot of collateral available at the time of launch.

Product support
The company has been gearing up to support the new product by expanding engineering as well as sales. For instance, FTDI has engaged a customer supporting team leader for the Asia-Pacific with a team of three customer-facing engineers in Taiwan. The company has about 20 staff in Taiwan as well as sales, engineering and support in Shanghai, China. The company distributes products in the Asia-Pacific through distributors, Arrow Electronics and Embedded Systems Solutions.

"We already know the customers through our USB business and we can take the display business to them," added Lunn. "Also, our sales model is through distribution, which opens up additional customers to us."

On the engineering side, Lunn believes the hardware is relatively simple compared to "some of the alternatives that you see with 128-pin BGA packages. So the hardware side will hopefully be quite simple to implement."

For the software side, FTDI has partnered with Mikroelectronika for support in a GUI-based tool that lets you drag and drop shapes on to a palette. "So, in terms of support, there will be a lot of collateral available at the time of launch [in the June-July, 2013 timeframe]. There will be evaluation boards that we will launch as well as the chip," he added.

The chip is in the manufacturing stage and Lunn said they are building up stocks to fill the distribution chain as well as support key customers.

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