Archive for the ‘ TI ’ Category

Freescale vs. TI: Base station SoC battle

Freescale vs. TI: Base station SoC battle.

EW YORK – In response to various network operators’ diverging demands for small to large cells, Freescale Semiconductor and Texas Instruments are unveiling this week at the Mobile World Congress their respective visions for a “base station on a chip.” Freescale is rolling out a scalable, multimode wireless base station processor family, dubbed QorIQ Qonverge. The new family of products, designed to scale from small cells (Femto and Pico) to large cells (Metro and Macro), share a common architecture consisting of Freescale’s proven multi-core communication processor, multi-core DSPs and baseband accelerators. Freescale’s new baseband SoC is also playing a critical role in lightRadio technology, recently announced by Alcatel-Lucent. LightRadio technology, which Alcatel-Lucent is working on with Hewlett Packard and Freescale, is designed to help create mobile phone wireless base stations for carriers that are said to be “barely bigger than a golf ball.” Lisa Su, senior vice president and general manager of at Freescale’s networking and multimedia group, said, “Our new baseband SoC is in it.” Texas Instruments, on the other hand, has developed a new multimode wireless base station chip, called TMS320TCI668, delivering “double the LTE performance of any existing 40nm SoC,” according to the company. TI has added hardware accelerators to the company’s recently announced base station SoC, called TCI6616. Both TCI6618 and TCI6616 use TSM320C66x – TI’s new DSP featuring floating point and fixed point math in every core. Facing exponentially increasing data traffic, network operators have been scrambling to find new solutions to their networks. Freescale’s Su bluntly put: “Most operators can’t keep up with data traffic today.” Operators want network solutions that are “multi-mode” and “future proof,” she explained. While the transition to LTE could help, LTEs are still in early stage, said Su, despite a number of trials. If operators are still building out a 3G network, they want that equipment “to be 4G capable,” she said. In explaining the wireless network architecture’s current state of flux, she added: “Femto cells, deemed an ‘interesting solution’ six months ago, are now a part of the solution many operators are looking at.” Network operators want network architecture “optimized for cost, performance and capacity,” she added. Many in the industry agree that there is no one-size-fits-all answer to the wireless network architecture of tomorrow. “Everyone is designing their own vision of network architecture right now,” observed Brian Glinsman, general manager of TI’s communications infrastructure business. “Solutions proposed by equipment vendors are colored by their top five customers,” he added. This trend, in turn, influences semiconductor suppliers’ base station SoCs. “Any operator who says they know what client devices will demand in flavors of 802.11, WiMax, LTE, various flavors of 4G…is lying, overly optimistic, or both!” noted Rick Doherty, co-founder and director, at The Envisioneering Group. “So the only sane survival method is build cell systems with agile software radio support until 4G ‘stratifies’ into clear winners… again, driven by the consumer, business and institutional device mix and demand.” TI’s strategy is squarely focused on “spectral efficiency.” The new hardware acceleration integrated in the TCI6618 is responsible for handling the high numbers of bits flowing through base stations, while freeing the programmable DSP cores’ processing power to execute customer differentiation chores like scheduling and multiple-input and multiple-output (MIMO) antenna processing. TI claims the new TCI6618 enables gains “up to 40 percent spectral efficiency.” By making TCI6618 pin and software compatible with TCI6616, TI offers customers flexibility in designing multimode base stations supporting all 2G, 3G and 4G standards, according to the company. TI’s TCI6618 base-station SoC does not come with a RISC processor — necessary for network processing. The company won’t be detailing such a base station SoC complete with a cluster of ARM cores until mid-2011. As an interim step, in collaboration with Axcom Technology, TI is offering a new 3G/4G small cell base station platform in the second quarter of 2011. The platform consists of TCI6616 SoC for PHY and Layer 2 processing; C6A8167 Integra DSP+ARM processor for Layer 3 processing; GC5330 transmit/receive processor for digital radio front-end processing; and NaviLink 6.0 solution GPS for clock synchronization. “We are offering such a platform now so that developers can start writing code,” explained Glinsman. In contrast, Freescale’s plan is to start offering a family of base station processors integrated with their proven network processor. Well-established CPU and DSP technology Freescale’s QorIQ Qonverge processors combine on a single chip: multiple Power Architecture cores; StarCore DSPs with MAPLE packet processing acceleration engines; and interconnect fabric. Noting that there will always be waste in a system using discrete components, Su pointed out the efficiency of the QorIQ Qonverge processor, in particular, comes from its multi-core fabric. “We spent a lot of time developing it.” “The key strength of Freescale is that it has both well-established CPU and DSP technology,” noted Joseph Byrne is a senior analyst at The Linley Group. “Nobody else is in the same position.” According to Byrne, “Freescale’s embedded-processor business has been stronger than its DSP business, which creates a particularly good opportunity for the company.” He explained, “Freescale is well-placed to lure OEMs that had been using TI DSPs with Freescale embedded processors, eliminating TI from these designs.” TI, of course, will try to do the reverse but [the company] is not a well-established supplier of embedded processors, he added. Freescale’s Picocells/Enterprise-Femtocells base station SoC In all fairness, the timing for the availability of complete base station SoCs – both from Freescale and TI — may not differ much in the end. Both are aiming at the second half of 2011. But analysts believe Freescale may have an edge. “We think Freescale’s exisitng and new customers will get to the market faster because Freescale offers more tools and endorsed, trusted third party solutions (like performance monitoring) than TI,” said Doherty. “Time to market, flexibility to change designs as market demands (more so on enterprise cell than femto cell) is criucial.” Freescale is seeing fundamental changes in base station design and deployment. Freescale’s Su described the expected proliferation of tiny base stations enabled by Alcatel-Lucent’s lightRadio technology as akin to cloud-computing. “Instead of racks of servers, we now see a network of desktop connected to cloud,” she said. Similarly, by combining Alcatel-Lucent’s antenna and RF communications with Freescale’s digital baseband unit, “you will soon see a network of small base stations that are the size of a Rubik’s cube,” enabling networks. The Linley Group’s Byrne agreed. “The big-picture is that mobile broadband requires a dense network of base stations, but carrier’s capital expenditure is limited. Thus, some kind of solution that provides density economically is required.” He said that lightRadio looks like the kind of architecture that can do the trick.

Multiple cores power fifth generation of TIs OMAP

Multiple cores power fifth generation of TIs OMAP.

Texas Instruments’ believes its  OMAP 5 platform is expected to change the concept of ‘mobile’ by driving disruptive mobile computing experiences providing stereoscopic 3D, gesture recognition and computational photography based on multi-core processing, including ARM Cortex-A15 MPCore processors

The 28 nanometer OMAP 5 applications processors carry on the OMAP family tradition of delivering increases in performance and functionality, while lowering power consumption compared to their predecessors. They offer up to 3x processing performance and five-fold 3D graphics improvement, provide a nearly 60 percent average power reduction compared to a sample user experience on the OMAP 4 platform.

The OMAP 5 platform’s software is designed for maximum reuse to ease migration from the OMAP 4 platform.

The OMAP 5 processor uses two ARM Cortex-A15 MPCores capable of speeds of up to 2 GHz per core in the OMAP 5 implementation. The 50 percent boost in performance over the Cortex-A9 core (at the same clock frequency), is combined with up to 8GB of dynamic memory access and hardware virtualization support.

In addition to the two Cortex-A15 cores, the OMAP 5 processor includes individual, dedicated engines for: video, imaging and vision, DSP, 3D graphics, 2D graphics, display and security.

The processor also includes two ARM Cortex-M4 processors for offloading real-time processing from the Cortex-A15 cores to improve low-level control and responsiveness of mobile devices.

The OMAP 5 processor can support up to four cameras in parallel, as well as record and play back S3D video in 1080p quality, and perform real-time conversion of 2D content to S3D at 1080p resolution. The processor can also deliver advanced short- and long-range gesturing applications, as well as full-body and multi-body interactive gestures, utilizing either 2D or S3D cameras.

The OMAP 5 processor, coupled with a TI DLP Pico projector and a camera, can also enable interactive projection where the user can actually “touch and drag” projected images on both a table top or wall.

Additionally, the OMAP 5 processor can interface with and leverage a variety of sensor technologies to enable touchless sensing, such as proximity sensing, capacitive sensing and ultrasonic sensing.

The OMAP 5 processor includes hardware and software resources that enable the development and deployment of computational algorithms to improve picture and video quality from  built-in cameras. These provide camera stabilization, motion blur reduction, noise reduction, high dynamic range and face-based processing.

The latest processor goes a step further by using the same OMAP 5 hardware resources with vision algorithms to extract features and data from the picture, in order to implement applications such as face recognition, object recognition and text recognition. These vision capabilities can also be used as the foundation for augmented reality applications.


TI’s OMAP 5 platform is expected to sample in the second half of 2011, with devices on the market in the second half of 2012. The OMAP5430 processor is offered in a 14x14mm package-on-package  with LPDDR2 memory support.  The OMAP5432 processor is offered in a 17x17mm BGA package with DDR3/DDR3L memory support.  These products are intended for high-volume mobile OEMs and ODMs and are not available through distributors.

TI also plans to develop compatible ARM Cortex-A15 processor-based solutions for broader market applications across TI’s product portfolio.

Integration is winning in smartphone processors

Integration is winning in smartphone processors.

 

Peter Clarke

10/15/2010 5:56 AM EDT


LONDON – Baseband-integrated applications processors are gaining market share in the smartphone market, according to market research firm Strategy Analytics.

The consultancy has said that baseband-integrated applications processors accounted for 28 percent of the total applications processors shipped to smartphones in 2007 and was up to 70 percent in unit terms in the first half of 2010.

The two different partitions cover two different market approaches: baseband-integrated applications processors serve a broad market with a cost competitive solution while stand-alone applications processors tend to serve high-performance devices with support for the latest features. This is because software and its supporting application processors can develop faster than broadband modem requirements.

Baseband integration can result in performance penalties and reduce the flexibility of an applications processor, tying it to a particular air interface. However, Qualcomm and ST-Ericsson are responding to this challenge and attempting to provide leading-edge performance in baseband-integrated chips.

“Qualcomm is driving the baseband-integrated applications processor market and is also closing the performance gap against stand-alone vendors such as Texas Instruments, Nvidia and Samsung,” said analyst Sravan Kundojjala in a statement. “By our estimates, Qualcomm’s smartphone applications processor unit shipment share increased from just 3 percent in 2007 to 19 percent in first half 2010.”

Stuart Robinson, Director of the Handset Component technologies service, said that smartphone OEMs are also divided on this issue with Nokia, RIM and HTC prefering integration while Apple, Samsung and Motorola prefer to use stand-alone applications processors.

Intel buying TIs cable modem business

Intel buying TIs cable modem business.

Intel buying TI’s cable modem business

8/16/2010 12:56 PM EDT

SAN FRANCISCO—Intel Corp. has agreed to acquire Texas Instruments Inc.’s cable modem product line, the company said Monday (Aug. 16). Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed. 

Intel (Santa Clara, Calif.) said it plans to combine TI’s Puma product lines with the Data Over Cable Service Interface Specification (DOCSIS) standard technology and Intel SoCs to deliver advanced set top box, residential gateway and modem products for the cable industry. The objective is to provide cable OEMs with an open and powerful platform for delivering innovative and differentiated products to service providers that improve the video, voice and data content experience at home, the company said. 

All employees of TI’s cable modem team received offers to join Intel at sites in their home countries, primarily Israel, and will become part of Intel’s Digital Home Group, Intel said. The deal is expected to close in the fourth quarter, the company said. 

Observers have in recent weeks said Intel was signaling that it was interested in re-entering the communications chip market. Earlier this month Will Strauss, principal analyst at Forward Concepts Inc., said Intel was the most likely buyer of Infineon’s wireless business, which is now up for sale. Broadcom Corp. and Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. are also considered potential suitors for Infineon’s wireless group, which generated about $1.2 billion in sales last year, according to Strauss.

EETimes.com – SMIC, TI still in talks about fab takeover

Mark LaPedus

EE Times

(05/26/2010 10:37 $ EDT)

CHENGDU, China — Silicon foundry vendor Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corp. (SMIC) is still in talks with Texas Instruments Inc. about taking over the operation of a 200-mm fab in Chengdu, China, according to sources.

As reported in March, SMIC (Shanghai, China) is planning to end an agreement to manage the 200-mm wafer fab in Chengdu, according to reports. SMIC has been talking to TI about taking over the fab.

The situation in Chengdu is unusual because SMIC does not own the wafer fab in an arrangement that dates back to 2005. SMIC set up the 200-mm wafer fab, Cension Semiconductor Manufacturing Corp., to be managed by SMIC and backed by investors and the Chengdu government.

SMIC–as well as the Chengdu fab–are losing money, prompting SMIC to seek other buyers in that plant. TI is the main suitor, according to sources here.

SMIC and Chengdu government officials declined to comment on the reports

via EETimes.com – SMIC, TI still in talks about fab takeover.

EETimes.com – TI takes to Imagination’s graphics core upgrade

EETimes.com – TI takes to Imagination’s graphics core upgrade.

LONDON — Multimedia processor core licensor Imagination Technologies Group plc (Kings Langley, England) has signed a multi-use license agreement with Texas Instruments Inc. (Dallas, Texas) for a multiprocessor core version of PowerVR SGX Series5XT graphics engine.This follows a similar deal struck with Renesas Electronics Corp. announcedMay 4.

TI will deploy the graphics technology in future OMAP platform-based SoC designs for smartphones and other mobile devices. Imagination is set to receive license fees and royalties on shipments of SoCs incorporating Imagination’s IP. However, the company did not indicate absolute values or percentage rates for the royalties.

The PowerVR SGX Series5XT graphics processing unit (GPU) IP core family features performance enhancements over the established SGX Series5 architecture. Series5XT SGX cores are based on a second-generation Universal Scalable Shader Engine (USSE2) that delivers higher processing throughput than the earlier Series5 USSE shader engine, as well as other architectural extensions enabling low-power and high-performance for 2D, 3D and general purpose processing in either single-core or scalable multi-processor solutions.

Hossein Yassaie, CEO, Imagination said: “We are delighted to confirm that we have extended our long-standing relationship with TI. Our core technology continues to be vital to the significant and growing success of TI’s OMAP processors, an industry leading mobile and embedded SoC platform. This agreement will help Imagination deliver its latest outstanding PowerVR graphics technologies into the hands of device manufacturers, developers and consumers for years to come.”

Nvidia comfirms commitment to android – The Inquirer

Nvidia comfirms commitment to android – The Inquirer.

IN A CONFERENCE CALL about Nvidia’s first quarter financial results, the Green Goblin’s CEO, Jen-Hsun Huang said that his plans for a next-gen Tegra include the use of Android.

With every man and his dog seemingly wanting a smartphone, Nvidia is looking to get a slice of the market, and it sees Tegra as the way to get its foot in the door.

Tegra, its mobile web processor, will be able to run the Android 3 OS, Jen-Hsun added, and that will help it take on other, more established firms. “Although it made sense for the first-generation Androids to use available phone processors, the follow-on generations of Android are really going to go after performance,” he said in the conference call, which is transcribed here. “And Iphones are out there, the Iphone 4G is coming, the Ipad is obviously a revolutionary product. The bar is pretty high for all of the mobile players.”

Jen-Hsun knows where the competition will come from, but added that Tegra plus Android 3 will prove to be a winning formula. “Prior to Tegra, there are only two application processor companies out in the mobile space, right? Basically, it’s Qualcomm and TI, and they both make wonderful application processors,” he said.

“Our differentiation and our contribution to the space is where multimedia, high resolution, snappy graphics [are] really necessary. And the first-generation smartphones had pretty low resolution displays. And so snappy graphics and high-performance multimedia and high resolution just wasn’t as much of an issue. But [now] resolution’s a huge issue. And so that’s our contribution and that’s our differentiation and that’s what people are seeking out in the market.”

Responding to questions about its PC-bound heat generator, the Fermi GPU chip, Jen-Hsun, said, “We are ramping Fermi as we had talked about before, and the success of Fermi is certainly as we expected.”

In the meantime, Fermi is still being scrutinised. “The amount of testing that we have to do for Fermi GPUs [is] longer than mainstream products because they’re just much, much larger GPUs. The Fermi GPU, as you know, is some 3 billion transistors, and so there’s a lot of testing to do in it,” he added.

“Now of course we’re ramping into a fresh new market and a fresh new product and there’s a lot of pent-up demand, and so we just needed to keep the pressure on it and just keep cracking through it”.

Yep, we reckon it won’t be long ’til next winter, surely a good time to start seeing Nvidia’s Fermi GPUs. µ