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MIPI I3C: A unified sensor interface

Sensors are everywhere surrounding us at home, office, cars, industry and everything else we are using today. It all started with the thermostat and first motion sensor used for an alarm system invented somewhere in 1950s. Over the period of time, rapid increase of sensors used across various applications created significant challenges, there was a need of sophistication in terms of size, electronics, packaging and integration of practically every kind of sensor one can think of. A modern sensor works the same way similar to the sensor decades ago, but is now smaller, better and much more reliable.

The rapid increase of sensors in smart devices has created significant design challenges. There were no consistent methods for interfacing physical sensors, resulting in use of different protocols including I2C, UART and SPI etc. With increasing number of sensors on a chip, it is increasingly becoming difficult to support and manage these different protocols. There was a need to unify and standardize the sensor system architecture in mobile wireless products delivering a faster, low cost, low power and higher performance interface for sensors. MIPI I3C has resolved these challenges and has become a unified interface for all type of sensors. Here we present brief comparison of I2C and MIPI I3C in the table below.

MIPI I3C, being developed by the Sensor MIPI Working Group, incorporates and unifies key attributes of currently existing interfaces, I2C and SPI, while improving the capabilities and performance of each approach with a comprehensive, scalable interface and architecture. This will reduce interface fragmentation thus reducing development and integration costs and fostering innovation opportunities. Synopsys VC Verification IP for MIPI I3C provides a comprehensive set of protocol, methodology, verification and ease-of-use features. Our current users indicate to us that they are able to achieve accelerated verification closure: native SystemVerilog and built-support for UVM enables ease-of-use, ease-of integration and high performance for them.

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Authored by Shwetank Lal

Stay tuned for upcoming blogs on I3C and other MIPI protocols.

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