On The Move


Interview with Eric Esteve (Part 2) – Interface IP challenges

We are back with the continued interview with Eric Esteve of IP Nest. Check previous post for Q&A we covered earlier.

Q: Since you (and Synopsys) focus on interface IP what do you see as the overarching trends for interface IP?
A: Being strongly focused on Interface IP, since 2005, I have seen the massive adoption of the differential, high speed, serial communication techniques inside and outside the box (whichever is “the box”). This has been true for PCI Express replacing PCI, initially at 2.5 Gbps now up to 8 Gbps, for SATA replacing ATA at a speed moving from 1.5 up to 6 Gbps. Outside the box, HDMI is now a standard used in PC, Consumer and Wireless handset and USB is –finally- closing the gap and moving to 5 Gbps with USB 3.0. Amazingly the Memory Controller Interface and memory devices is still based on parallel communication, even if this physical interface is at the edge in terms of feasibility with 3200 Mhz for the DDR4. I don’t know when this interface will move to the same type (high speed, differential, serial) like the other, but I don’t see how it could stay the exception in the future! This will probably be the next “hot topic” for the Interface IP market.
I am also watching closely the different MIPI Interface specifications, as using a standardized communication technique in the mobile industry certainly makes sense, not only from a technical point of view but also as this is a more rational approach.

Q: What are the most promising interfaces used by semiconductor SoCs targeting mobile market segments and why?
A: Lets take TI’s OMAP5 an an example, we have pretty much the list of most promising interfaces for Application Processor SoC targeting mobile market segments:
• LPDDRn to access external DRAM
• USB 2.0 and USB 3.0 if you want to exchange data with your system, as well as for battery charging.
• HDMI when you want to display video with the system being the source.
• SATA has been freshly introduced, that you will use when you want to store data coming through the system on an external SSD
• MIPI functions, the list of supported specifications is long:
– LLI/uniport to interface with a companion device or/and with a Modem in order to share the same external memory and save a couple of $ on each handset
– CSI: to interface with one or more cameras, one or more CSI-3 and CSI-2 function
– DSI or Display serial interface
– SlimBus, a low performance, serial, low power interface with Audio chips
– UFS: MIPI Interface for mass storage devices
There are also other Interfaces (UART, SDIO and a lot more) which are used in Mobile, as well as in other segments, that I would qualify of being part of a second type, which can be reused internally or acquired through an IP vendor, for a fraction of the price of the above listed interfaces. If we look at the market for the “first type” Interfaces IP listed above, we can see that it is expected to grow up to almost $500M by 2015.

If you want to purchase one of Eric’s reports, go to http://www.ip-nest.com/index.php?page=wired or email Eric at eric.esteve@ip-nest.com.

Check this blog soon for our next Q&A with Eric including forecast and views about the mobile industry.

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