NXP Debuts Programmable Embedded Vector Processor for Mobile Devices

NXP Semiconductors, the independent semiconductor company founded by Philips, announced a major technological innovation, a powerful fully programmable vector processor, helping solve the integration, flexibility and standards issues of mobile communications. NXP’s Embedded Vector Processor (EVP) enables mobile devices to support multi-mode and multi-standard platforms, whilst also capable to cope for emerging telecom standards. This is particularly critical for handset manufacturers during the transition from 3G to 4G.

“As we progress from 3G to 4G, and as the combinations of wireless communication channels become infinite, the piece meal addition of these modules onto the system-chip becomes unsustainable,” said Rene Penning de Vries, CTO of NXP Semiconductors. “Not only will the aggregate size of the required modules become difficult to accommodate, their combined power consumption will threaten battery life, and the increased silicon content will adversely impact product cost.”

Addressing end-users’ demands to be continuously connected in the best possible way creates the requirement to support multiple standards (GSM, Edge, UMTS, HSDPA, Bluetooth, WiMax, UWB, FM, Wifi, NFC, etc) on a single mobile phone. As a result, not only do extra frequencies and standards have to be accommodated, but MIMO antennas for broadband applications have also to be included. This convergence means that each handset holds an increasing number of radio components and antennas which in turn creates serious issues with regards to size, coexistence and power consumption. This is what NXP calls the “Porcupine Problem”, in reference to the spiky composition of all of the various antennas added to the system design.

In response to the Porcupine Problem, NXP has devised a new approach that breaks-down the RF portion of the design into three classes, based on data rates. For example, the low-end would include a combination RF chip dealing with Near-Field Communication, Bluetooth, Zigbee, Wibree and UWB; in the middle-tier is a reconfigurable RF channel for cellular communications; and for high data rates a reconfigurable RF channel for high-bandwidth applications such as WiFi, WiMax and LTE is proposed.

Critical to this approach is the implementation of a highly parallel Embedded Vector Processor (EVP) to provide the computational resources for programmable modem functionality. This programmable vector processor complements classical DSP and ARM cores.

EVP will be available this year for embedding into ICs and will be included in several NXP products to be released in the 2008/2009 timeframe.

About NXP Semiconductors
NXP is a top 10 semiconductor company founded by Philips more than 50 years ago. Headquartered in Europe, the company has 37,000 employees working in more than 20 countries and posted sales of EUR 5 billion in 2006. NXP creates semiconductors, system solutions and software that deliver better sensory experiences in mobile phones, personal media players, TVs, set-top boxes, identification applications, cars and a wide range of other electronic devices.

Nexperia is a trademark of NXP.