Posts Tagged ‘ TI ’

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. – 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 – SMIC, TI still in talks about fab takeover. – TI takes to Imagination’s graphics core upgrade – 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.”

TI: Mobile phones split architecture will rise

TI: Mobile phones split architecture will rise.

Greg Delagi, senior VP and general manager of Texas Instruments’ wireless terminals business unit believes that the so-called “split architecture” for handsets is set to rise.

The split refers to the digital processing that in some designs is split between a modem and an applications processor. In other designs, particular for simpler phones, attempts are made to address the user interface and application processing on an integrated base band chip.

However, with its development of the OMAP line of chips, which originally stood for open multimedia applications platform, TI has clearly backed the idea of sophisticated application processors that are kept separate from the heavy lifting for the cellular communications protocol.

Delagi conceives of a modern mobile phone as having four main building block ICs. One is the RF for the main call and a second is the RF for all the ancillary activities such as Bluetooth, FM radio, Wi-Fi and GPS. The third is the modem or radio base band chip operating in the digital domain. And last, but by no means least in Delagi’s view, is the application processor.

Of those four blocks Texas Instruments is emphasizing the application processor and the combination peripheral RF. “We still do some base band business but we are shifting our emphasis to OMAP and connectivity. That’s where the money is to be made,” Delagi told EE Times. “At the 2009 Mobile World Congress we announced OMAP 4. This year we’ve got silicon and a ton of applications.”

Delagi said that as multimedia demand explodes so the split architecture would prosper. “OMAP supports a split architecture, iPhone is a split architecture. Even the Nokia N900 is a split architecture. Remember at the same time as multimedia demand is increasing the modem has become much more complex.”

Split architecture
“What I see happening is that each of these blocks will evolve at their own pace.” He added: “The connectivity block is evolving in the same way so we have arrived at WiLink 7.0 which includes WiFi 802.11n, GPS, Bluetooth and FM. At the same time the main RF transceiver will evolve, but we are not involved in that. Our approach is agnostic.”

There is in the interesting distinction that TI is able to manufacture internally the WiLink combination chip but is increasingly outsourcing the leading edge digital CMOS used for OMAP chips.

The OMAP 4 is being introduced on a 45nm manufacturing process even as some OMAP 3 devices are being shrunk from 65- to 45nm. Delagi said that even though Texas Instruments was not investing in manufacturing plant for leading-edge digital it was helping multiple foundries develop process and remained committed to developing and selling digital chips.

He said that Texas Instruments would maintain multiple foundries as sources of manufacture and expected its large size to allow it command first call on foundries’ manufacturing capacity even in times of shortage.

In terms of design architecture some functions have to be left outside these main blocks—at least until they achieve such market penetration that it becomes more economic to include them than to have separate chip for those that require it. Delagi cited NFC as an important technology that has not yet hit the penetration to make it necessary to be integrated in a WiLink combination chip.

However, Delagi accepts that there is always pressure to integrate and that no chipset partition is set in stone. “As the pace of innovation starts to slow integration increases,” said Delagi. – TI Q4 net soars on higher analog IC demand – TI Q4 net soars on higher analog IC demand.

EE Times

Texas Instruments Inc.’s fourth quarter net income surged 512 percent on higher sales, improving margins and benefits from substantially lower restructuring expenses as the analog and wireless IC supplier continued to improve its operating position.The company said it now sees sales for the first quarter rising sequentially from the preceding quarter to between $2.95 billion and $3.19 billion, on continued strength in the analog semiconductor market, a segment that continues to show resilience through the global economic and industry downturn.

“In the fourth quarter, demand was strong across end markets without the usual holiday slowdown,” said Rich Templeton, chairman, president and CEO of TI in a statement. “With demand continuing to be solid and inventories well below historical levels, our outlook for the first quarter reflects the likelihood of sequential growth instead of the typical seasonal decline.”

Dallas, Texas-based TI reported net profit of $655 million, or 52 cents per share, in the three months ended Dec. 31, compared with net income of $107 million, or 8 cents per share, in the year-ago comparable quarter. The company’s performance in the fourth quarter of 2008 suffered from restructuring expenses of $254 million versus $12 million in the recently ended quarter.

TI’s revenue for the fourth quarter of 2009 rose 21 percent, to $3 billion from $2.5 billion in the year-ago quarter, lifted by strong demand for analog components and improvements in the company’s wireless and embedded processing segments.

The analog and wireless IC company has seen improvement in sales since the third quarter although it had problems meeting some unexpected demand during the last quarter as OEMs increased demand for analog components.

In the latest quarter, TI’s analog sales rose to $1.3 billion from $1 billion in the year-ago quarter and $1.2 billion in the third quarter. Embedded processing revenue increased to $412 million from $340 million while wireless IC sales strengthened to $732 million from $646 million.

TI also showed improvement in its margins on higher manufacturing asset utilization and lower overall costs. Gross profit margin in the fourth quarter increased to 53 percent from 44 percent while operating profit surged on lower reorganization charges as well as reduced R&D and selling, general and administrative expenses.

The company said R&D expenses for 2010 would be approximately $1.5 billion while capital expenditure for the year is forecast to be $900 million. Total capex in 2009 was $753 million down $10 million from the prior year.