Texas Instruments TCI6484 DSP Combines MAC, PHY Functions

By combining the math of PHY processing with the logic of MAC processing onto a single chip, Texas Instruments Incorporated (TI) [NYSE:TXN] has advanced the functionality of digital signal processors (DSPs) for complex, multiprocessing Beyond 3G cellular infrastructure applications such as HSPA/HSPA+, LTE and WiMAX Wave 2. This new 65nm, single-core 1 GHz DSP also doubles acceleration, delivering improved data throughput and reduced latency for better quality of service – and potentially eliminating the need for a costly RISC co-processor. TI gives base station OEMs the opportunity to either lower their system cost through chip-reduction or increase their system density supporting more carriers or channels per card.

“As LTE continues to become a near-term reality, base station OEMs should be equipping their systems with flexible processors that can readily meet the performance and data processing requirements they will soon need to meet,” said Flint Pulskamp, wireless semiconductor program manager for IDC. “By combining MAC and PHY functionalities on the TCI6484, TI is enabling OEMs to use a single, scalable converged solution that can be reused across pico, micro and macro basestations.”

The hardest working DSP available
By nature, DSPs are exceptional tools for performing the same math task repeatedly at very high speeds. However, their functionality has been limited when the task requires logic, a function typically performed by a hardwired co-processor with customized software to perform the task. By enhancing the memory and cache performance, coupled with the industry’s highest performing TMS320C64x+TM core, the new TMS320TCI6484 DSP reaches new levels of functionality. This multi-functional chip increases the efficiency of the base station system and reduces development costs. As a result, manufacturers can focus on delivering new features and functions to the market faster.

“In the base station marketplace, TI is expanding its reach from traditional DSP-based applications and moving aggressively towards MAC processing,” said Brian Glinsman, general manager of TI’s communications infrastructure solutions group. “By leveraging our 20-year history of processor knowledge, and our system partitioning expertise, we are able to grow the total available market for DSP applications while delivering a compelling, cost effective solution to our customers.”

The TCI6484 DSP also includes additional high performance accelerators and peripheral interfaces which are optimized for cellular infrastructure products. This level of integration, packed into a 23x23mm chip, allows base station manufacturers to increase the channel or carrier capacity by 50 percent.

Efficient MAC-layer processing in wireless base stations hinges upon available memory and rapid access to stored data. The TCI6484 designers boosted the Level 2 cache memory by 4x versus previous generations. The larger on-chip cache memory stores frequently used instructions, keeping them closer at hand and eliminating the time spent accessing data stored on slower, external memory.

Data that is stored externally can be accessed 25 percent faster than previous chips with the double data rate (DDR2) memory interface. Faster access reduces latency – an application killer for data-intensive applications such as real-time conferencing and streaming media. Not only is latency reduced but the TCI6484 supports symbol rate processing at 34Mbps, making it an ideal platform for higher-density, lower-cost base stations. The chip supports symbol rate processing needed for multiple sectors or carriers for multiple air interfaces including GSM-EDGE, Evolved EDGE, WCDMA, HSPA/HSPA+, TDS-CDMA, WiMAX Wave 2 and LTE.

The TCI6484 leverages the same 1 GHz TMS320C64x+ core found in other DSPs from TI, making it code compatible with previous generations. By re-using code, equipment manufacturers can reduce their overall development time and cost by 60 percent. TI also offers optimized software libraries for WiMAX Wave 2, LTE and HSPA+. These libraries enable higher channel density as well as lower power per channel. Developed and tested within TI’s carrier-class environment, the inclusion of this software allows base station manufacturers to focus on their own system-level software. System level testing can be accomplished with a hardware development card that supports two TCI6484 devices.

To further enhance OEMs ease of design, TI offers a complete portfolio of high performance analog products, including optimized RF products, high performance data converters, clock devices and power management products. TI is the only semiconductor provider to offer a complete analog signal chain for 2G3G/Beyond3G air interfaces.

The TCI6484 will be sampling in 1Q with targeted cellular infrastructure customers and will be available to the broader market in 3Q08. It will be on display at the Mobile World Congress Conference in Barcelona, February 11-14, Hall 8, TI’s booth #8A84.

More information, Texas Instruments