Underscoring its commitment to the mobile electronics market, QuickLogic® Corporation (NASDAQ:QUIK), announced the availability of a versatile upgrade path for smartphone developers. The company’s recent addition of high-speed UARTs to the library of functions for QuickLogic’s low-power, configurable Customer Specific Standard Product (CSSP) logic platforms for consumer electronics, offers a power-efficient single-chip solution to expand the interfacing capability of a mobile application processor to support high-data rate Bluetooth, as well as the integration of further high-desirability peripherals such as GPS.
Smartphone firmware can be very sophisticated, and migrating software to new host processors can be costly and time consuming. Unfortunately, the development of some of the underlying mobile application processors has not kept pace with market demand for new features such as VoIP calls and GPS. In particular, some processors have only low-speed UARTs, and just one SD (Secure Digital) host controller for peripheral connection.
Faster UART performance is a common request seen by QuickLogic. The standard UART capability integrated into some recent mobile application processors is a major limiting factor, as they tend to conform to the traditional UART role of low data-rate serial communication for applications such as a PC serial port. This is a particular problem for developers who need to support the latest high-speed EDR (enhanced data rate) mode of Bluetooth — a very important function for phones targeting business and high-end users.
Smartphones are also leading the cellular carriers’ drive towards supporting major new capabilities such as GPS positioning, location based services, and Wi-Fi capability for VoIP calls, etc. A high speed UART again provides a suitable mechanism for interfacing to some GPS chipsets, while another SDIO port offers a simple means of connecting to embedded Wi-Fi chipsets.
One of QuickLogic’s CSSPs, the PolarPro platform, is providing smart phone developers with a means of expanding the native host controller resources of the phone’s mobile application processor. One of the smallest devices in the family, which consumes less than 10 microamps in standby mode and comes in TFBGA packages as compact as 5×5 mm, can easily integrate two high speed UARTs and an additional SDIO port, as well as the processor interface required.
This CSSP approach provides a low power, single-chip solution that contrasts well against alternative implementation strategies. There are commercial devices available for additional SDIO host controllers, or devices offering multiple high-speed UARTs, but using both would eat up valuable real estate on an already densely packed PCB. Migrating to another state-of-the-art processor is always an alternative, but this demands a major investment in software porting effort, as well as time. Conventional logic could also implement the functionality required, but this technology is generally viewed as too power hungry and costly for consumer applications such as this.
“Expanding the functionality of smartphones is typical of the applications that the novel CSSP approach supports,” says QuickLogic’s senior solutions marketing manager, Howard Li. “Power efficient devices can be populated with a small feature set such as this UART-and-SDIO example, or a wide range of high-level capabilities such as USB OTG, dynamic LCD contrast control, flexible memory interfacing, autonomous data transfer engines that can operate without waking up the host CPU, etc. CSSPs really provide the ‘missing link’ in today’s consumer semiconductor world, offering a mechanism that can expand the capabilities of ASSPs or CPUs both cost effectively and with very low power consumption.”
The first platform in QuickLogic’s latest PolarPro II family offers a capacity of 27 Customizable Building Blocks (CBBs), a measure of the level of functionality that can be integrated. A high-speed UART from QuickLogic’s library requires 5 CBBs, and an SDIO port, 15. Together with the logic required to implement an application processor interface, this device provides a cost effective solution for the smartphone configuration discussed. Other, larger PolarPro platforms are available for OEMs and ODMs that require more functionality, as well as devices that combine hard-wired functions with a programmable fabric.
QuickLogic Corporation (NASDAQ:QUIK) is the inventor and pioneer of innovative, customizable semiconductor solutions for mobile and portable electronics OEMs and ODMs. These silicon plus software solutions are called Customer Specific Standard Products (CSSPs). CSSPs enable our customers to bring their products to market more quickly and remain in the market longer, with the low power, cost and size demanded by the mobile and portable electronics market.
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