Posted by Hezi Saar on August 4, 2016
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.
How do you connect to multiple sensors in your system? How do you manage multiple sensor connectivity? How do you solve potential routing and power issues with sensor connectivity? How do you resolve additional bandwidth needs in sensor connectivity?
One simple answer, using MIPI I3C.
MIPI I3C unifies all sensor connectivity under same specification. Allowing to implement a variety of system architectures to target different needs, MIPI alliance delivers on its promise to standardize hardware and software connectivity. MIPI’s promise to have a common set of interfaces maximizes design reuse, drives innovation and reduces time-to-market for the mobile and beyond mobile industry. In this particular case MIPI I3C is aimed at incorporating and advancing the available I2C, SPI and UART interfaces into a consolidated specification, and at the same time provides backwards compatibility with most types of I2C devices. MIPI I3C makes it easier for both device manufacturers and software developers to add more sensors to devices and combine multiple sensors from different vendors in products while reducing component and implementation costs. At the same time of maintaining backwards compatibility and future proofing the design, the MIPI I3C specification also improves performance and power efficiency and provides sensor management capabilities.
Synopsys rolled the Industry’s first I3C controller to the market, and we are seeing a very healthy demand and usage of this IP. Here are some common use cases, we help facilitate with our I3C controller IP.
The figure below shows the I3C master in an SoC bus subsystem which is similar to how the I2C master is used in today’s designs, enabling easy migration to the I3C bus with minimum risk.
Multiple sensor devices, based on their capabilities, are connected to the I3C bus, which can operate in different modes and speeds of operations. Typical examples of such sensors are touchpad sensor, gyroscopes, etc, all of which use the I3C bus to communicate back to the CPU in the SoC.
The figure shows an example of a system using the I3C sensor hub. In this case, the I3C bus has a secondary master, apart from the main master connected to multiple sensors. Acting as an I3C hub, the secondary master takes ownership of the I3C bus and communicates to the sensors directly. As soon as the secondary master has the relevant sensor data available in its I3C bus, it can communicate to the main master, which propagates the data to the CPU.
Starting this week, MIPI Alliance members can download MIPI I3C specification for their review and development. MIPI members can also contact Synopsys to get information about our I3C controller IP that is available now. MIPI alliance encourages early adoption of the specification and invites new members to join the organization with prorated membership fees through December 2016. Go here (http://mipi.org/join-mipi) to join MIPI alliance and start using I3C.
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Views and Trends in mobile electronics connectivity related to MIPI IP
I started my career as an R&D engineer for embedded systems, then transitioned into applications engineering and product marketing roles in the semiconductor industry. With my systems knowledge, I have led many IC design wins that have enabled portable applications such as cellular phones, digital cameras and eBooks.
What intrigues me about the mobile electronics market is how rapid technological innovations, economic forces and changing consumer preferences drive market direction. Let’s explore these developments together.
– Hezi Saar