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Semiwiki Blogger at DAC: MIPI Beyond Mobile, Myth or Reality?

Semiwiki Blogger at DAC: MIPI Beyond Mobile, Myth or Reality?
by Eric Esteve on 04-27-2015 at 4:00 am

Some of the various MIPI specifications are now massively used in mobile (smartphone or tablet), especially the Multimedia related specs like Camera Serial Interface (CSI-2), Display Serial Interface (DSI) or SoundWire (even if the spec has been released in December 2014, the adoption rate is very sharp, no doubt that it will be massively used in the future). You have to implement with CSI-2 or DSI controller a serial based physical interface, D-PHY specified up to 2 Gbps. In fact we have named the Top 3 MIPI specification by adoption rate: DSI, CSI-2 and D-PHY.

Catching an image with a camera (CSI-2) and transmit it (D-PHY) to the Application Processor (AP), process it and transmit (D-PHY) to a display device (DSI). Something is missing… how do I store these data? Universal Flash Storage (UFS) has been introduced a couple of years ago, supported by the Nand Flash manufacturers (Samsung et al.) therefore UFS is now the dominant spec for storage for (high end) smartphones. You need to implement UniPro (an extra controller) and M-PHY specified up to 5.7 Gbps to support UFS. M-PHY, UniPro and UFS are part of the second group of most used interface specification.

To define the last group, just remember that the MIPI Alliance has been initially created to support wireless phones, this interface group includes the radio related specifications, DigRF and RFFE (RF Front End). We have extracted this graphic from the latest MIPI Ecosystem Survey made by IPnest in 2015 (some of the miscellaneous interfaces have been removed for easier comprehension):

Thanks to this in depth review of the 263 members of the MIPI Alliance (as of February 2015), we know what are the preferred interface specifications used in mobile (smartphone and tablet). But the electronic industry is moving and searching for new growth segments, some emerging like IoT or wearable and others like automotive strongly evolving to include always more functionalities, in particular infotainment. MIPI technology is production proven and a chip maker desiring to integrate MIPI specification can benefit from all necessary support functions: Design and Verification IP vendors and test equipment vendors. Moreover, MIPI technology has been defined from the very beginning for low power and –even if it looks obvious- for interoperability between chips designed by different suppliers.

Why not using MIPI specifications to support wearable devices where low power is crucial (just think about the poor iWatch autonomy) and you need to communicate through one of the various wireless protocol (WiFi, Zigbee, BLE, etc.)? This is “MIPI Beyond Mobile”…

One of the very interesting findings of the MIPI Ecosystem 2015 survey was that MIPI is attracting many new members at a rate double in 2013 and 2014 than the last three years average (or 25/year in 2010, 2011 and 2013). Another finding is that a strong proportion of these new members are made of “young companies” and that a significant number of companies are supporting wearable and IoT.

We will propose our assumptions about the specifications to be adopted to support emerging IoT and wearable devices (and the related IP sales to be generated) during the 52th DAC in San Francisco. It will be on Tuesday 9 in the “IP Strategies and Management” track starting at 1:30 pm.
Sorry dear reader but I have to stop here to preserve the key findings for the DAC audience…

From Eric Esteve from IPNEST

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