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Removable Storage cards, what’s next?

Posted by Hezi Saar on March 31st, 2016

UFS is gaining momentum with more phones such as Samsung Galaxy S6 and LG G5, and potentially more phones are coming to the market in 2nd half of 2016 with UFS memory on board. The performance improvements from the mainstream, mature eMMC allows SoCs targeting high end phones a way to differentiate and provide a much better user experience.
eMMC vs UFS concept

In the DesignCon 2015 UFSA panel I along with the other panelists discussed that UFS allows 15% reduction in booting time, 30% reduction in Application Loading time, and 30% reduction in Application Switching time compared to alternative storage options. Such representations are used many times a day by smartphone users hence they provide a real benefit to the end user making the experience more interactive and highly responsive.
UFS shows dominance in Random Read and Random Write metrics as well as Total system power reduction compared to other storage options. These metrics can be associated with the increased responsiveness of the smartphone utilizing the faster and lower power UFS memory.

There were a lot of speculations about why the Galaxy S6 did not include microSD expandable storage, and why LG G5 phone did include one.
Galaxy S6’s decision not to include micro SD slot could mean Samsung did not want to potentially limit the super fast UFS device. In a random read test done, microSD memory inside the Galaxy Note 4 and the Galaxy S5 performed more than 10 times slower than UFS 2.0. And as we covered earlier UFS provide a different user experience, which a slower removable storage card could impact.
UFS 2.0 vs eMMC 5.0 sequential and random speeds

It will be difficult to argue against having the capability to extend the memory capacity after buying the phone. Users around the world would pay extra for that capability and it’s proven to be a factor in the decision making when phone are pretty exhaled.

We can clearly see the need in having a much faster small form factor removable card that could meet the increasing system performance requirements and work along the embedded UFS device which will gain more popularity in the coming year in mobile applications and beyond.

JEDEC UFS Removable Card v1.0 standard was published this week, to address this need. This standard co-sponsored by Synopsys will allow designs to utilize this high performance and low power technology in mobile applications initially and I believe will trickle to other applications soon. Built on the UFS 2.0 spec, the UFS card allows to use a single lane to minimize number of pins and is targeted to operate at the fastest speed gear (5.8Gbps). The increased amount of multimedia information in mobile, virtual Reality and augmented reality electronics (several image sensors, 4K/8K view) requires this kind of high performance, and expandability to the industry. Having UFS card and micro SF card allow phone manufactures the flexibility to choose the right removable storage to accompany the embedded one without compromising user experience.



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Posted in Application processor, M-PHY, MIPI alliance, Smartphone, SoC, Storage, Tablet, UFS, Unipro | No Comments »

A Processor with Vision

Posted by Hezi Saar on March 14th, 2016

I just came back from the MIPI alliance face-to-face meeting last week that was engaging and interesting.
MIPI D-PHY v2.0 key contributors

At the beginning of the week, as part of the plenary session the MIPI alliance recognized several specifications with the key contributors.
Here’s a picture of main contributors for D-PHY v2.0 spec including Intel Henrik and Synopsys Raj Kumar.

Paul VishnyThe MIPI alliance also presented Lifetime Achievement award to Paul Vishny, the Legal council who helped shape the MIPI Alliance from the first inception days. I had the opportunity and honor to work with Paul on multiple engagements helping non-members be comfortable with the MIPI alliance policies and become members and adopters of MIPI IP.

There were a lot of discussions around the applications that can be powered (better said low powered) by MIPI specifications, around 5G, Sensors, and continuous adoption of display and camera technologies in both mobile and beyond mobile applications such as automotive, IoT and wearables.

MIPI strategic focus areas March16 (source: MIPI alliance twitter)

MIPI strategic focus areas March16 (source: MIPI alliance twitter)

While the traditional mobile market is reaching maturity and limited growth is expected in the coming years, there are promising applications that continue to use the strengths of MIPI based specifications which are used in high volume mobile electronics driving lower cost and lower power to service the needs of adjacent markets.

One application that I find very interesting is Machine learning, it combines many hardware and software capabilities and bring a new kind of application to the mainstream. Bringing intelligence to machines requires capabilities in multiple levels, ultra low power, performance-optimized and cost efficient interfaces that can deliver the required information to the processor plus the ability to process the information quickly and derive the next actions.
One example of a of a Vision Processor Unit (from Movidius) that is used for machine learning applications is described in this cool video:

So what’s next?
The industry supporting MIPI interfaces should continue to invest in improving the low power and efficiency of the interfaces used for applications beyond mobile. The success of MIPI interfaces in mobile helps substantiate a wide and robust eco-system, which in my mind requires few refinements to address application specific needs such as higher-reliability automotive applications. In the next couple of years we will see MIPI interfaces used in beyond mobile electronics such as Virtual reality, Machine learning, Wearables and Automotive ADAS.



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Posted in Application processor, Baseband processor, Camera, CSI, D-PHY, Display, DSI, Image signal processor, MIPI alliance, Smartphone, SoC, Storage, Tablet, UFS, Unipro | Comments Off

Versatile Physical Layer servicing Camera and Display Interfaces

Posted by Hezi Saar on February 26th, 2016

In the last post I asked what is MIPI Alliance’s most popular specification in terms of adoption as of today.

The best resource I consider to answer this question is the latest MIPI Ecosystem Survey conducted by IPNest in 2015. The methodology behind this survey was to check with all 263 members of the MIPI Alliance (as of February 2015) and show the adoption of each specification. Note that currently MIPI interfaces primarily focus on mobile and that’s what this information represent however we are experiencing MIPI specifications moving beyond the traditional mobile electronics market.

So here are the results (source Eric Esteve, IP Nest blog):
MIPI Interfaces in Mobile

We can clearly see MIPI D-PHY as the leading specification with Camera (CSI-2) and Display (DSI) are very close. This is not surprising that we see the camera and display protocols ahead and supported by D-PHY as the dominant specification. Mobile electronics use a variety of image sensors and displays to service different consumer tastes so using these interfaces as the de-facto standards is expected. It is reasonable to expect to have these popular interfaces become even more popular in the future with more members joining the MIPI alliance from non-mobile market segments. The question is would we see different behavior and tastes or would we continue to see the leadership in D-PHY, CSI-2 and DSI continue in other markets?

I’ll be at the MIPI alliance event in the week of March 7th and will be happy to discuss with you then.



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Posted in Application processor, Baseband processor, Camera, CSI, D-PHY, DigRF, Display, DSI, Image signal processor, LLI, M-PHY, MIPI alliance, Mobile PCIe, RFFE, RFIC, SLIMbus, Smartphone, SoC, SSIC, Storage, Tablet, UFS, Unipro | Comments Off

What is MIPI #1 Specification?

Posted by Hezi Saar on February 11th, 2016

I got several inquiries about adoption rate of physical layers across the mobile and adjacent industries after posting the video showing D-PHY v1.2 silicon on 16nm
I realize that it’s debatable if it’s fair to compare one spec vs the other. However, I would like to note that de-facto standard has a lot of weight and it is what sets it apart compared to other potential specifications which only a few vendors select. Once a certain standard is well adopted across the industry, it establishes an entrenched position and cannot be replaced instantly. Any potential replacement standard need to take into consideration backwards compatibility to ensure vendor’s investment in the de-facto standard continues to bear fruits. It requires a phased approach towards replacing a successful standard and it’ll only be possible if the replacement standard has proven benefits compared to the de-facto standard and that the transition period is not long and not painful.

As you know the MIPI Alliance mission is establishing standards for hardware and software interfaces in mobile devices.

So here’s my question to you, since MIPI alliance’s inception more than 12 years ago, what do you think is the MIPI Alliance Number ONE specification in terms of adoption as of today?

2014 10 SystemDiagram



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Posted in Application processor, Baseband processor, Camera, CSI, D-PHY, DigRF, Display, DSI, LLI, M-PHY, MIPI alliance, RFFE, RFIC, SLIMbus, Smartphone, SoC, Tablet, UFS, Unipro | Comments Off

UFS in Volume Production

Posted by Hezi Saar on January 21st, 2016

JEDEC UFS is an Accredited Standard, developed and adopted through an open consensus process, under the guidelines of JEDEC.
The power of having a standard is that the industry has recognized a useful way to implement things both technically and economically, and through the procedure governed by the standard body (JEDEC for example) enable vendors to develop standard-compliant products and encourage a robust, interoperable eco-system. Standards reduce time to market benefiting the industry and end consumers as technical needs are met and cost goes down with increased maturity.

UFS is gaining momentum with more Storage devices (SK-Hynix, Samsung, and more) and Application Processors (Qualcomm, and more) being rolled out with UFS support. We can find UFS adopted in Mobile Electronic devices which reflects value to the end user through improved customer experience better storage performance, reduced total system power, reduce total system cost. As more vendors develop and rollout UFS products the industry has a variety of processors and devices to select with differentiating features, higher overall volumes and cost reduction. Read the Success Story about Synopsys IP used in SK-Hynix UFS v2.0 device available in Production as an evidence to market adoption trend.
skhynix_mobilestorage_ss

Here’s a video from Samsung explaining the differences between the most common standards used today in mobile storage interfaces:

The clear advantages and growing market adoption of UFS translate to a steady transition of electronics using existing mobile storage standard (eMMC) to the newer more efficient UFS. As usually with standards, transition does not happen overnight. eMMC is well entrenched and it’s sometimes easier for developers to upgrade to higher eMMC speed.
As always, there will be custom solutions out there, for various reasons including value chain optimization, but this is not the norm (this is not standard right?).
The road is clear for UFS to take the lead in servicing the mobile storage market, starting in the high end smartphones and getting into mainstream electronics in the near future.

If you want to see more evidence of eco-system maturity, Synopsys had several demo’s in the last few years to show a complete UFS solution and drive market adoption, here’s a video with hardware demonstrating a complete UFS solution:

Want to learn more about the differences between standards and specifications?
Here’s a link to a good resource explaining the differences. Custom solutions are not covered or discussed, these are not standards.



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Posted in Application processor, M-PHY, MIPI alliance, Smartphone, SoC, Storage, Tablet, UFS, Unipro | Comments Off

Being First to Market – Proven D-PHY v1.2

Posted by Hezi Saar on January 14th, 2016

In my last post I was discussing how to reduce display data transmission using Display Compression technology.
Reducing transmitted traffic while supporting a higher link rate allows to reduce pin count, power consumption and area (cost) of implementation.
In the Oct’15 MIPI Face-to-face meeting we (Synopsys) showed the Industry’s first DPHY v1.2 operating at 2.5Gbps/lane with 16nm silicon running at 2.5Gbps. We used a setup that had two D-PHY testchip boards, one D-PHY acting as Rx and another D-PHY acting as Tx connecting to test equipment to provide stimulus and capture the results.

The diagram below shows how D-PHY v1.2 speeds of 2.5G can be utilized to send all transmitted information over a single data lane, with DSC compression:
Reducing number of pins with D-PHY v1.2
The combination of compression and high bandwidth for displays, higher pixel rate for image sensors is driving the wide adoption of D-PHY v1.2 across the industry, improving system flexibility and deploying cost effective implementations. The MIPI D-PHY continuous to be the physical interface of choice for camera and display interfaces in mobile and beyond-mobile applications and its progression towards faster speeds, longer channel lengths strengthens the eco-system and its dominant market position.

In case you missed the MIPI event in Oct, here’s a quick video we took showing the setup:

Yes, Synopsys is first to market with a proven D-PHY v1.2 solution and competitors will follow which will strengthen the eco-system and allow more options. Being first doesn’t only mean that we can service the first adopters which is obviously true. It also means the ability to service (and most likely having) more customers, more maturity in design and in production. At the end of the day, IP vendors service the eco-system in enabling customers adopt a technology, making it a lower risk investment and helping customers get to market faster.



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Posted in Application processor, Camera, CSI, D-PHY, Display, DSI, Image signal processor, SoC | Comments Off

Cost-effective Display interface implementation

Posted by Hezi Saar on October 26th, 2015


Does your SoC Display interface implementation looks like this?
Dual DSI without DSC


Do you want it to look more like this?
Save Power Area Cost with DSC

then you need to consider adding VESA DSC Encoder to your SoC.

I’ll be presenting a paper on Thursday Oct 29, at MIPI Alliance meeting in Taipei that explains the DSC Benefits.
I’ll be discussing how DSC enables to use the SoC with CoG display driver, and to reduce pin count with DPHY v1.2 at 2.5Gbps.
All these implementations are being designed today to provide better specifications, cost, power to future mobile and mobile-influenced devices.
Synopsys will also show cool hardware demo’s including Industry’s first DPHY v1.2 operating at 2.5Gbps/lane.

Hope to see you on Thursday at Grand Hyatt in Taipei.

#0000FF
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Posted in Application processor, D-PHY, Display, DSI, MIPI alliance, Tablet | Comments Off

Learn from MIPI and Mobile Storage Experts

Posted by Hezi Saar on October 15th, 2015


We live in a challenging era where a lot of information is presented to us and it is hard distill what’s important and where to invest our time.

As a designer, you have a unique opportunity to learn the latest advancements in mobile and mobile-influenced markets, the newest MIPI and Mobile Storage technologies used, how and why from experts from MIPI Alliance, UNH-IOL, UFSA, Synopsys, Keysight and Protocol Insight. There are three MegaTour public seminars scheduled in HsinChu (Taiwan), Shenzhen and Shanghai (China) where you can get very valuable information and have a chance to ask questions and see some cool hardware demos.

In the Synopsys session we will be discussing trends and uses of display, camera and storage in SoC designs.
Mobile SoC

We will cover the latest display topologies used in various applications, how a smart implementation can help there. We will also discuss use of multiple image sensors in typical applications, where various lane configurations, speeds are needed. We will also talk extensively about Mobile Storage and latest features in UFS and eMMC that help support higher throughput which is increasing as more multimedia content and data are being generated in the device.

At the end you’ll have the chance to speak with the experts defining, designing and testing these standards and see a live hardware demos such as these CSI-2 and UFS IP Prototyping Kits.


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Posted in Application processor, Camera, CSI, D-PHY, Display, DSI, Image signal processor, M-PHY, MIPI alliance, Smartphone, SoC, Storage, Tablet, UFS, Unipro | Comments Off

Choosing the Right interface for your SoC

Posted by Hezi Saar on September 29th, 2015

I am often asked when meeting with customers about latest trends and what would be the right interface for the customer next design.
The answer of course depends on which market you go after, your cost targets and more, however being aware of the latest trends help in the decision.

The article describing trends in display and storage interfaces covers the latest developments in Display and Storage interfaces.

In display, we are seeing trend in adding VESA DSC Encoder connecting to DSI protocol and D-PHY, to the SoC side to help reduce transmission rates, cost and power.

VESA DSC is implemented in a typical MIPI DSI display solution

VESA DSC is implemented in a typical MIPI DSI display solution

In storage, we are seeing higher adoption for JEDEC UFS 2.0 standard both in SoC and Storage ICs.

Active and standby power savings comparisons are drawn between eMMC and UFS storage technologies (Source: Universal Flash Storage Association)

Active and standby power savings comparisons are drawn between eMMC and UFS storage technologies (Source: Universal Flash Storage Association)

I’m planning to be in MIPI Face-to-face meeting in October in Taipei, present a paper, show several hardware demos as part of Synopsys presence in the event and driving specifications / definition. I hope to see you there and discuss the needs in your next design.


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Posted in Application processor, D-PHY, Display, DSI, MIPI alliance, Smartphone, SoC, Storage, UFS, Unipro | Comments Off

UFS and CSI-2 Accelerated Design

Posted by Hezi Saar on November 19th, 2014

With the rumors about UFS going mainstream with first introduction in Samsung Galaxy S6 phone expected next year (2015), I wanted to raise what I see as a repeat concern when discussing adoption of new standard (such as UFS).
A key challenge in today’s mobile IC and electronics design is the ability to meet time to market window, get your system up and running with new standards and interoperate with other devices. This is particularly true for JEDEC UFS v2.0 which is fairly new standard that the indusrty is gearing up to mass production of the first UFS devices and Application Processors targeted to be available in the hands of customers in 2015.

Availability of a mature, low risk IP from a reputable company is critical to achieve these goals. I met with too many customers that chose an IP that is claimed to be available or lower-cost to realize at the end that they have no product to go to market with. A big part of the IP selection critera is having a prototyping system that puts hardware and software together and provides a complete system.

You can see our UFS complete solution demonstration here:

JEDEC UFS and MIPI CSI-2 are very good examples to such a system that provides a complete vertical solution to customers developing Mobile ICs. Having MIPI CSI2 and UFS IP prototyping kits enable customers to have an immediate access to proven solution that can easily connect to other external devices and serve as out-of-the-box reference design.

Here’s a video showing USB3.0 IP Prototyping kit, so that you get the idea:

With availability of a variety of proven protcols (USB 3.0, SSIC, PCI Express 2.0, PCI Express 3.0, DDR3, LPDDR3, LPDDR2, MIPI CSI-2, HDMI 2.0, and JEDEC UFS) I see many benefits to the industry by allowing vendors to explore new concepts before their IC design starts, enabling rapid connectivity and starting the hardware design at a later stage. IP Prototyping kits can also help in interoperability tests, in software development while the hardware is being worked on (designed, fabricated, characterized) so more things can be done in parallel and achive the increasing time to market pressures.

Come and get you IP Prototyping kit, read more here.


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Posted in Application processor, Camera, CSI, D-PHY, Display, DSI, Image signal processor, M-PHY, MIPI alliance, Smartphone, SoC, Storage, Tablet, UFS, Unipro | Comments Off