On The Move

Many customers approached us in the last year inquiring about I3C, its benefits and market adoption. The I3C benefits compared to other Sensor interfaces used today, such as I2C and SPI are clear. There are many sensor interfaces which cause unnecessary fragmentation, and are not optimized for system power efficiently for communication with sensors. These drawbacks limit applications and scalability for usage of sensors in mobile, IoT, embedded, automotive environments.

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Microsoft shared some interesting details about their 28nm SoC design targeting augmented reality headset. Well, that is not just a processor, it’s custom vision processor which Microsoft calls HoloLens Processing Unit (HPU) as it is specifically targeting the augmented (possibly also virtual) reality needs. It is very interesting to see the computing power that was implemented on the chip to accommodate the imaging algorithms that used. The interfaces used on this chip are referenced as PCIe, DDR and MIPI. As the HPU uses several camera interfaces, depth and motion sensor for image identification and processing, recognizing gestures it’s clear that MIPI Camera and Display interfaces are probably used extensively. As per the die plot provided, the MIPI interfaces take a very small area of the processor compared to the computing blocks that are dominant utilizing 24 cores.

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As electronics become smarter, require less human intervention, the machines around us are capable of doing more, making decisions based on environment and conditions. To facilitate that more sensors are used in electronics devices, it is common to see >12 sensors in latest smartphones used in the market, but this smarter device trend goes beyond mobile to markets such as consumer, industrial and automotive.

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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.

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I just came back from the MIPI alliance face-to-face meeting last week that was engaging and interesting.

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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