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I3C Will Support MIPI Pervasion Beyond Mobile: IoT, Wearable, Automotive

I3C Will Support MIPI Pervasion Beyond Mobile: IoT, Wearable, Automotive
by Eric Esteve on 08-30-2016 at 7:00 am

MIPI I3C specification Draft Specification is now available to all MIPI Alliance members in First Draft Review, but we can be confident that I3C has been already implemented by some of the members. Before I3C specification, the de facto communication standard for sensors in mobile and consumer applications was I²C, requiring only two signal lines (clock and data). But I²C has several shortcomings, including the inability for sensor slaves to initiate communication, an overhead protocol that reduces throughput and pull-up resistors that limit clock speed and increases power dissipation.

Another commonly used standard is the serial peripheral interface or SPI, with major disadvantage: SPI lacks a clearly defined standard that has resulted in many different implementations. According with the MIPI Alliance: “I3C incorporates and unifies key attributes of I2C and SPI while improving the capabilities and performance of each approach with a comprehensive, scalable interface and architecture. The specification also anticipates sensor interface architectures that mobile, mobile-influenced, and embedded-systems industries will need in the future.”

One picture is worth than one thousand words and the above picture from MIPI Alliance clearly deals with the main two concerns for mobile, battery powered systems: performance and power consumption. Performance is crucial in the mobile industry, the most competitive market segment today, when smartphone manufacturers fight to release new products offering better features every year. Looking at the right part of the picture is enough to be convinced that I3C raw bitrate is far better than I2C (in fact you can’t even see I2C value!) and that I3C specification offers communication modes like HDR-DDR, HDR-TSP and HDR-TSL able to support sensor interface architectures that mobile industry will need in the future.

Needless to say, for mobiles, IoT edge devices or wearable, the power consumption is so important that the time between charges of a fitness wristband, for example, could make or break the product. On the left side of the picture, the energy consumption per Megabit comparison is made between I2C and the various I3C data rates (in blue at VDD=3.3V, in red at VDD=1.8V). We can talk about the (far better) performance efficiency of I3C, as the results are expressed per Megabit of data transferred with the sensors.

According with MarketsAndMarkets (March 2014) sensors are experiencing an unprecedented growth, from $650M in 2012 and with an expected compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 36.25% through 2020, the total global sensor market is expected to reach $154.4B by 2020. We know the major drivers: the adoption of low-cost, small form factor sensors in smartphones and tablets and the emergence of IoT and wearables applications, most of these integrating sensors.

Once again with MIPI specifications, the very dynamic and competitive mobile industry is expected to drive I3C adoption, impacting the production price of I3C equipped sensors. The higher the production level, and we are talking about billion sensors manufactured every year, the lower the selling price. This is that we have called the “virtuous cycle” in blogsposted as early as in 2011, the lower product price allowing adoption beyond mobile, in wearable, medical, industrial and IoT.

That’s the reason why we can expect the first MIPI DevCon to be held on Sept. 14-15, 2016, in Mountain View to attract system architects, engineers, designers, or business and marketing executives from various industries and not only the mobile industry.

This link is fully dedicated to I3C-related presentations at DevCon: From this web page, a few sentences extracted from the introductions to the presentations clearly show that the goal is to provide the audience with practical information, on top of the description of the I3C various features:

  • Leveraging I2C as a foundation, many components of I3C will be familiar to implementers, but with guidance provided here, attendees will leave with a clearer understanding of MIPI I3C’s new innovative features, how they will improve their systems, and what considerations should be made to fully leverage them.
  • One of the most advanced features is the ability to operate in I3C High Data Rate modes, HDR-DDR, HDR-TSP and HDR-TSL, which provides the best performance in both speed and power.
  • Mobile stylus and touch applications commonly use proprietary interfaces to connect a variety of on-cell, in-cell and hybrid sensors to application processors. Next-generation systems will benefit from advances in a new MIPI touch standard family that leverages the MIPI I3C specification.
  • …provide a quick overview of the MIPI CSI-2 and I3C specifications and their key features that are important to meeting the required functionality, performance and power targets.

These presentations are given by:

Ken Foust,Sensor Technologist and Researcher with Intel Corp.
Alex Passi,Software Engineering Manager with Cadence Design Systems
Hezi Saar,Staff Product Marketing Manager at Synopsys, Inc.
Dale Stolitzka,Principal Engineer at Samsung Electronics, Co.
James GoelDirector – Technical Standards, Qualcomm Technologies, Inc.

You will also notice that I3C is back-up by the top three semiconductor leaders (Intel, Samsung and Qualcomm), as well as by the top two IP and VIP vendors supporting MIPI technology for a long time, Cadence and Synopsys. If you consider that two out of three semi companies are also providing foundry services, and even mobile systems manufacturing for Samsung, you realize that I3C is a specification which has a bright future!

From Eric Esteve from IPNEST

I3C-related presentations at DevCon:

WHAT:MIPI DevCon: Moving Mobile Forward, the Alliance’s first annual developers conference

DevCon agenda by speakers: Speaker List
WHEN & WHERE:Sept. 14-15, 2016, at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, Calif.

WHO:The conference agenda is designed for system architects, engineers, designers, test engineers, engineering managers, and business and marketing executives. Members of the media and industry analysts are invited to attend with complimentary registration.

MIPI Alliance working group leaders and other experts will lead sessions outlining implementation experiences, use cases, and application examples from a technical perspective, and select MIPI Alliance member companies will conduct product demonstrations.

WHY:MIPI Alliance technology is driving new capabilities within mobile and impacting markets, such as the Internet of Things (IoT), automotive, wearables, industrial, and augmented/virtual reality. MIPI DevCon 2016 will provide the latest information on MIPI specifications for implementation in mobile and other emergent markets.

TO REGISTER:Find more details and registration links at including a $49 “early bird” registration fee available until Aug. 19.

PROGRAM DETAILS:The MIPI DevCon 2016 agenda features expert commentary and presentations from MIPI members representing the industry’s top companies working in mobile, IoT, automotive and other fast-growth industries. Four comprehensive informational tracks include:

  • Implementations and Use Cases for Beyond Mobile
  • MIPI I3C: Introduction and Impact on Cameras and Other Sensors
  • Verification and Debug
  • Camera and Display – Prototyping, Bridging and Compression
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