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XO-1 $100 Laptop

Next Year in Portable Electronics wireless communications: Waveform Portability/SDR consumer electronics: Toy Story: Cool Applications portable power: Printed & Thin-Film Batteries High-Power Chargers CEO Interview:

Sanjay Srivastava Denali December 2007

An RTC Group Publication

Intersil Handheld Products High Performance Analog

We’ve Solved the Cell Phone Design Puzzle.

Improve your performance in handheld devices with Intersil’s high-performance analog ICs.

Analog Mixed Signal: Amplifiers DCPs Light Sensors Real-Time Clocks RS-232 Interface Sub Ohm Analog Switches Switches/MUXes Video Drivers Voltage References

Go to for samples, datasheets and support

Intersil – An industry leader in Switching Regulators and Amplifiers. ©2007 Intersil Americas Inc. All rights reserved. The following are trademarks or services marks owned by Intersil Corporation or one of its subsidiaries, and may be registered in the USA and/or other countries: Intersil (and design) and i (and design).

Power Management: Backlight Drivers Battery Authentication Battery Chargers Fuel Gauges Integrated FET Regulators LCD Display Power LDOs Memory Power Management Overvoltage and Overcurrent Protection Voltage Monitors



editorial letter dave’s two cents industry news analysts’ pages product feature products for designers

cover feature

Portable Handsets - 16 Small, Thin and “Cool” 3.2


30 consumer electronics 1A 10A


6A 30A

John East, Actel Corporation Voltage (V)

4 7 8 12 42 44


Powering a World of Plenty 17 Stephen Bailey, Mentor Graphics 2.8

Consumer Electronics: 18 2.6 The Road Ahead Steve Leibson, Tensilica, Inc. 2.4

Hard Drive vs. Flash: Competing 19 2.2 or Merging Technologies? Amit Nanda, Cypress Semiconductor

34 high-power batteries

Note: Data from production cells

2.0 0.0

wireless communications



1.5 Capacity (Ah)



How Much Can You Do In Software? 20 A Multi-Standard Radio Base Station

John Chapin, Vanu Inc.

Waveform Portability and Reuse 24

Jerry Bickle, PrismTech Corporation

portable power

High-Power Batteries and Chargers 34

42 featured product

Jeffrey VanZwol, Micro Power Electronics

Printed and Thin-Film Batteries 38

Lawrence Gasman, NanoMarkets, LC

second opinion

Designing Energy-Efficient 48 Consumer Electronics

Devadas Varma, Calypto Design Systems

ceo interview

Sanjay Srivastava 50 Denali

50 sanjay srivastava, denali

October 2007

editorial letter


On November 17 the UN released the final report of its Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the group that won the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize for their work. Normally understated UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, described climate change as “the defining challenge of our age.” The ministerial meeting in Bali earlier this month resulted in agreement that something needs to be done soon. The devil is in the details, of course, which now need to be worked out. The solution to global warming is both political and technical. Let’s leave the political issues aside for the moment and look at possible technical advances where EEs can contribute to the solution. I don’t mean obvious things like sell the Hummer, buy a Prius; switch from incandescent to mini-florescent light bulbs; and teach your kids to turn off the lights. I mean things you can incorporate into your next designs, or design areas you should consider embracing. Al Gore threw down the gauntlet at last April’s ESC, when he challenged embedded designers to come up with innovative solutions to conserve energy. There’s a helluva lot of room for improvement there, with large short-term payoffs. As John East of Actel pointed out in Portable Design’s October cover story (“The Electronics Industry: The Power to Change”), more than 50% of the 4,055 billion kWh of electricity consumed in the United States each year is used to power electric motors. By simply adding intelligent load matching or variable speed control—and, in small appliances, simply switching from AC to brushless DC motors— efficiency can easily approach 95%. According to East, if implemented broadly these measures “could result in an annual reduction of U.S. energy consumption of as much as 300 billion kWh, saving billions of dollars and reducing greenhouse gases by more than 180 million metric tons.” Maybe then we could forgo a few

What Can Engineers Do About Global Warming? john donovan, editor-in-chief

Portable Design blog For more detailed coverage of this and related topics, check out


dozen additional coal-burning power plants. Even large 3-phase motors can benefit from better engineering. Modern 3-phase motors rely on pulse width modulators (PWMs) and power transistors, under control of MCUs, to adjust the speed and torque of the motors. Replacing rheostats or tapped switches, electronic drive systems greatly increase motor performance and power efficiency, often allowing the substitution of a much smaller motor into an existing design. They cost a little more, but the cost can often be recouped in a short time. On a macro level, the public good of the resulting power savings is considerable. Then there is something as simple as the “wall warts” that power portable electronics devices when they’re not on batteries. I’ve got 14 of these things in my house alone. They reportedly consume four percent of the electricity used by the average U.S. home, or over one percent of total U.S. power consumption. If the energy usage were extrapolated to a national scale, the total would be about 52 billion kilowatt hours, or the energy produced by 26 average-size (coal-fired) power plants. Wall warts are simple linear supplies with transformers that suck electricity 24/7 whether anything is connected to them or not. It would be dead-bang simple, and not expensive, to lose the transformers; go to a switching architecture; sense the presence of a load; and decouple from the mains in the absence of one, using just enough energy to be able to power back up quickly on demand. Portable designers are experts in power management. Just move a little of it closer to the wall. Next, get on your company to look into alternative energy sources. Cypress and Google have led the charge in Silicon Valley to solar, getting them off the grid as far as possible. Austin has become a hotbed of wind power startups, since wind is one thing they have plenty of in the Panhandle and along the Gulf Coast. Speaking of wind power, if only we could harness all the hot air coming out of Washington on the subject of climate change, the politicians would finally be able to claim that they were contributing to the solution and not just the problem.

Dream of Darkness,


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team editorial team Editorial Director Editor-in-Chief Managing Editor Copy Editor

Warren Andrews, John Donovan, Marina Tringali, Rochelle Cohn

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John Reardon, Cindy Hickson, Cindy Muir, Aaron Foellmi, Jason Van Dorn,

portable design advisory council Ravi Ambatipudi, National Semiconductor Doug Grant, Analog Devices, Inc. Dave Heacock, Texas Instruments Kazuyoshi Yamada, NEC America

corporate office The RTC Group 905 Calle Amanecer, Suite 250 San Clemente, CA 92673 Phone 949.226.2000 Fax 949.226.2050

For reprints contact: Marina Tringali, Published by the RTC Group. Copyright 2007, the RTC Group. Printed in the United States. All rights reserved. All related graphics are trademarks of the RTC Group. All other brand and product names are the property of their holders. Periodicals postage at San Clemente, CA 92673. Postmaster: send changes of address to: Portable Design, 905 Calle Amanecer, Suite 250, San Clemente, CA 92673. Portable Design(ISSN 1086-1300) is published monthly by RTC Group 905 Calle Amanecer, Suite 250, San Clemente, CA 92673. Telephone 949-226-2000; 949226-2050; Web Address

dave’s two cents


As the holidays approach, I am once again assigned to find “gadgets for gifts.” Actually, I began my quest about a month ago. So far I haven’t seen many new “got to have” portable gadgets. Usually I pick gift gadgets based on some unique function, or a numerically specified performance like pixels or storage size. This started me thinking about the gift gadgets I received in my youth. In the ’60s I received a six-transistor radio. Back then it was all about the number of transistors in a pocket radio. I remember that when comparing presents, the number of transistors was the measure of excellence. It was important enough that many models had the transistor count cast in the plastic housing. Another thing I remember was that it took a round 9V battery. That was very hard to find and somewhat expensive for a kid’s budget. Yes, in those ancient days gadgets always had numbers attached to them. It helped determine its degree of sophistication and value. Another example is the number of jewels used to make a watch. One year I received a ninejewel watch. The greater the jewel number, the better the time piece – or so the public believed. The standard seemed to be 17 jewels, but as many as 100 jewels were offered according to an Internet search. Even today, jewel bearings are used in electronic watches with dial faces to improve battery life. In the mid ’70s, I received an LED display watch. There was no jewel rating, but it had a luminance rating. To see the time, you had to push a button then shade the watch face to see the display. Another time my brothers and I received walkie-talkies. Supposedly they transmitted with the maximum “no license required” power of 100 mW. The stated range was half a mile, but miles must have been shorter back then. Another number used to assess technical value was the number of channels. Ours had four from which you could select. We spent most of our time trying to talk to people with citizen band radios and were spurred on with the occasional contact. In December of 2005, PC World published an article listing the top 50 gadgets for the last 50 years [1]. Like any such list, a debate could ensue as to what should and should not be included. About 30 portable gadgets are on this list including the first transistor radio and an LED watch. Two years later, I wonder what would be added or replaced.

Back to my assignment: two digital cameras need replaced. Seems life expectancy is about three years. Purchased at the same time, both cameras developed display problems in chorus. Both recipients value small size and high-quality pictures. These parameters are good for nu-

dave’s two cents on...

Numbers …A Gift That Keeps on Giving! merical evaluation. The other gift most likely will be a portable media player. It too must have good numbers for size, weight and storage, as well as long battery life. Numbers seem to be more and more a part of life. From food labels to gas prices, they are everywhere. My wife has all but given up selecting a gadget gift for me. She says I am just too picky about what gadget numbers are the best value. Instead, she buys me gifts that I am incompetent to buy myself, like clothes. Thank goodness for her observations. Otherwise who knows what color combinations I would wear. For my two cents, colors should be given numbers, too. Then I could give her a combination of wavelengths and she would just work with that information, or she could ignore my suggestion and choose what looks nice. I hope you have a happy holiday season and get some rest for what will be a very interesting 2008. Dave Freeman, Texas Instruments [1] “The 50 Greatest Gadgets of the Past 50 Years,” Dan Tynan, PC World, Dec. 24, 2005.


news Mentor Graphics Announces an Optimized FPGA Design Flow

Mentor Graphics Corporation has announced support for hardware description language (HDL) generated by MathWorks Simulink HDL Coder in the Mentor Graphics Precision suite of advanced synthesis products. This capability enables mutual customers to transfer VHDL and Verilog generated by Simulink HDL Coder into the Precision Synthesis tool directly to generate an optimized netlist implementation for field programmable gate array (FPGA) designs. All mutual customers using Precision 2006a release or newer with Simulink HDL Coder can benefit from this flow, which will improve the productivity of FPGA design synthesis. The MathWorks and Mentor Graphics have collaborated on this flow to ensure interopernd ability. Simulink HDL Coder generates bittrue, cycle-accurate, synthesizable Verilog and er exploration ether your goal VHDL code from Simulink models, Embedded speak directly MATLAB code and Stateflow charts. ical page, the ght resource. “Simulink HDL Coder and Precision Synthetechnology, sis provide a rapid path from Simulink models es and products to FPGA implementation,” said Ken Karnofed sky, director of marketing, Signal Processing and Communications for MathWorks. “We are pleased to offer a workflow that leverages the capabilities of Mentor’s advanced FPGA synthesis products.” “This integrated flow with Simulink HDL companies providing solutions now Coder and Precision Synthesis benefits our exploration into products, technologies and companies. Whether your goal is to research the latest datasheet from a company, mp to a company's technical page, the goal of Get Connected is to put you in touchmutual with the customers,” right resource. Whichever level ofPlatzker, prodsaid Daniel gy, Get Connected will help you connect with the companies and products you areuct searching for. line director of FPGA Synthesis at Mentor onnected Graphics Design Creation and Synthesis division. “Both are industry-leading tools that support a vendor-independent design methodology, and this integrated flow significantly shortens the time-to-market of FPGA designs.” The Centerpiece of Mentor Graphics FPGA Flow is the Precision Synthesis tool. It is the industry’s most comprehensive vendor-independent solution for FPGA design, and it is the only synthesis tool that offers true push button multi-vendor physical synthesis. With compreGet Connected with companies mentioned in this article. hensive language support, including Verilog, an advanced ASIC prototyping flow,

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and automatic incremental synthesis, the Precision Synthesis tool is uniquely suited to handle today’s high-end FPGA designs. The Precision Synthesis tool features award-winning design analysis, allowing designers to cross-probe between multiple views and perform interactive static timing “what-if” analyses. The Precision Synthesis tool reduces design iterations and enables faster, more predictable completion of designs, while delivering a high quality of results. Precision Synthesis is available at a starting price of $20,200. Mentor Graphics Corporation, Wilsonville, OR. (503) 685-7000. [].

3G Handsets Surpass Half of U.S. Device Sales in Q3 2007

The Strategy Analytics ProductTRAX program released its Q3 list of top selling consumer handsets in the U.S. market. Motorola, with its RAZR and KRZR, and LG, collectively accounted for seven of the top best-selling consumer handsets. “Overall the average retail price paid for these top ten handsets was 19 percent higher than the market average; and we continue to see strong upgrade dynamics to supplement U.S. market growth,” stated Barry Gilbert, vice president of the ProductTRAX services at Strategy Analytics. “Motorola, however, despite selling four of the top ten models in Q3, realized an ASP of only $80, nearly 40 percent lower than the group average.” “3G devices accounted for 55 percent of these top selling device volumes. That share will continue to grow during Q4,” states Chris Ambrosio, a director in the Wireless Practice at Strategy Analytics. “While the iPhone gets the headlines, the “Sync” from Samsung and the “Chocolate” from LG quietly stole the show in the category of iconic, 3G feature phones. Samsung, in particular, is well-positioned to dominate 3G sales during the critical Q4 holiday season.” U.S. Q3 2007, Best-Selling Consumer Handsets 1. Motorola RAZR V3 2. Motorola RAZR V3m 3. LG VX8300 4. Apple iPhone 5. LG Chocolate VX8550/8500 6. Motorola MOTOKRZR K1m

7. Samsung SGH-A707 8. LG VX5300 9. Sanyo Katana II 10. Motorola V323i/V325i Strategy Analytics, Inc., Newton, MA. (617) 614-0700. [].

Mobile Operators Must Develop a Robust Business Case for Femtocells, Says Analysys

Mobile operators are considering widespread deployment of indoor base stations—called femtocells—as early as 2008. A large-scale rollout of femtocells carries considerable risk, and many early business cases are not commercially viable, according to a new report, “Femtocells in the Consumer Market: Business Case and Marketing Plan,” published by Analysys, the global advisers on telecoms, IT and media. “Femtocells are progressing rapidly from being an interesting emerging technology to being ready for mobile operators to deploy,” says report co-author, Dr. Alastair Brydon. “Engineering departments within mobile operators have generally led the evaluation of femtocells, but the next critical step is to define a profitable business case, based on clearly targeted and compelling customer propositions.” Key findings include: • A number of service and customer scenarios in which operators propose to use femtocells do not make sound commercial sense and may cannibalize existing ARPU. • Widespread use of femtocells solely to provide low-priced voice telephony in the home, although stimulating fixed-mobile substitution, could lead to disaster, as the revenue benefits are highly uncertain. Mobile operators that focus on voice telephony must target key market segments and resist very low pricing. For example, in a multi-person household with poor existing cellular coverage, operators can recoup the cost of femtocells within four months, provided a significant price premium is maintained over fixed calls. • A strategy underpinned by a range of multimedia service propositions will result in a much stronger business case for femtocells, bringing the potential to increase revenue and save substantial costs, and offering operators the chance to recoup their investment within one to eight months,

depending upon the scenario modeled. Applications such as mobile TV, video and audio services will significantly broaden the consumer appeal of femtocells. “Mobile TV could be a critical component of a successful femtocell business case, providing substantial cost savings as well as revenue enhancement,” says co-author Dr. Mark Heath. “Trials have shown heavy usage of mobile TV at home, and mobile operators could save $10 per household per year by avoiding the need to build dense DVB-H networks in order to provide mobile TV services indoors.”

Central to the XMOS technology is a compact, event-driven, multi-threaded processor called XCore. With up to 500 MIPs to share across up to 8 threads, the XCore engine readily implements a range of complex hardware functions. Access to its computational and control capabilities is through a familiar embedded software design flow. By using C-based behavioral languages, designers can quickly map white-

Analysys, Cambridge, UK. +44 1223 460600. [].

Qualcomm Makes First Call with Chips Using TSMC’s 45 nm Technology

Qualcomm Incorporated has announced that it has made the first phone call on a 3G chip manufactured with TSMC’s 45 nanometer (nm) process technology. Qualcomm recently taped out on its lowpower-optimized 45 nm process using advanced immersion lithography and extreme low-k intermetal dielectric material. This process technology provides competitive performance, as well as significant cost efficiency, decreased leakage and increased integration. The Company is also developing 40 nm process technology, which should deliver even greater benefits in semiconductor performance, cost and efficiency. Qualcomm Incorporated, San Diego, CA. (858) 587-1121. [].

XMOS Unveils First SoftwareDefined Silicon

XMOS Semiconductor, the creator of Software Defined Silicon (SDS), a new class of programmable semiconductor, today announced it has working silicon and beta design tools in the lab. Test chips were produced by TSMC on its 90 nm G process. XMOS’ innovative multi-processor approach to configurable semiconductor devices brings a new level of flexibility and low cost to a broad range of consumer applications.

board functional specifications into silicon. The XCore processor is tightly coupled to the outside world through a set of event-driven input-output ports, and inter-thread communication is provided by XLink, a channel mechanism that allows threads and XCores to interact at the hardware level. These bridges between the physical world and the processor engine provide a stable and simple interface for the software designer and the hardware engineer. Design tools and engineering samples of firstgeneration XMOS SDS chips will be available in the first half of 2008. Production volumes will follow 1-2 quarters later. These devices will be in the $1-$10 cost range to support cost-sensitive, high-volume applications. XMOS Semiconductor, Bristol, UK. +44 (0)117 915 1271. [].

AMD Expands R&D Presence in India

AMD has opened a new silicon design and platform research and development (R&D) facility in Bangalore. Dr. Hector Ruiz, AMD’s Chairman and CEO, traveled to Bangalore to inaugurate the newly built center, which is comprised of DECEMBER 2007

news state-of-the-art office space offering a host of modern amenities to improve the overall work experience. Employees will move into the new 52,000 square-foot center upon its completion and continue to focus on development of AMD’s most advanced, next-generation processing solutions. Mr. Alok Ohrie, managing director, AMD India said, “In a short span of six years of presence in India, AMD has posted market share gains as well as significant contributions to global R&D efforts. AMD India’s expansion demonstrates the confidence our corporation has in the delivery capabilities of the India R&D teams.” Engineering staffs in Bangalore are playing the lead role on “Shanghai,” AMD’s first 45 nm quad-core microprocessor, and are currently involved in design testing and optimization of the new chip. Prior to their efforts on Shanghai, teams were responsible for delivering key intellectual property (IP) for the first Quad-Core AMD Opteron microprocessor, previously codenamed “Barcelona.” AMD will continue operating its first facility in the city using the existing office space for administration, sales and marketing staffs.


er exploration ether your goal speak directly ical page, the ght resource. technology, es and products

AMD, Sunnyvale, CA. (408) 749-4000. [].


companies providing solutions now

OKI Ships World’s First SOI-CMOS

Technology-Based UV Sensor ICs exploration into products, technologies and companies. Whether your goal is to research the latest datasheet from a company, mp to a company's technical page, the goal of Get Connected is to put you in touch with right resource. Whichever level Ltd. of OkitheElectric Industry Co., has started gy, Get Connected will help you connect with the companies and products you arevolume searchingshipment for. of its ultraviolet (UV) sensor


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with companies mentioned in this article.


ICs, ML8511, starting this month. OKI plans to ship over 100 thousand chips to Hong Kong and the Chinese markets this year. “As trends toward health and anti-aging grow, many people are protecting their skin by monitoring the UV level they are exposed to. We believe it would be convenient if one could check the UV level more easily on a portable UV monitoring device,” said Takaki Yamada, president of Silicon Microdevice Company at Oki Electric Industry. “OKI succeeded in developing a UV sensor IC based on SOI-CMOS(1) technology, a first in the world.


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This IC will enable users to embed UV sensor functions in a variety of portable devices, offering end users the ability to check the UV level wherever they are.” The ML8511 is the world’s first UV sensor IC to be based on SOI-CMOS technology, and it integrates a UV light-receiving element and an analog output circuit into a single chip. This helps to reduce the number of components, cost and size compared to conventional devices. Because the IC includes an energy-saving standby function, it is perfect for battery-driven portable mobile devices that require low power consumption. OKI is also releasing a reference board to support customers’ product development. The board includes the ML8511 IC to measure the light density of incident UV light and display a UV index. Once the UV index is measured, the UV level is displayed using LEDs on the printed circuit board. Starting from April 2008, OKI will provide reference designs with detailed guidelines for skin care based on the UV level measured by the ML8511. Going forward, OKI plans to offer sensors with higher functionality based on SOI-CMOS technology and to increase its product lineup of easy-to-use sensor ICs for skin care. Oki America, Inc., Sunnyvale, CA. (408) 720-1900. [].

At the heart of innovation

Enabling the next generation of digital consumer applications Xilinx programmable logic devices (PLDs) are the technology of choice for today’s consumer products. Already pervasive in flat-panel displays, smart handsets, automotive infotainment, home networking and much more, Xilinx PLDs are also enabling tomorrow’s consumer technology innovations.

Low-Power, Low-Cost, High-Security Solutions Known for their design flexibility, low-cost, enhanced security and time-to-market advantages, Xilinx solutions are optimized for a variety of end markets and applications. Combine this with custom IP, starter kits and award-winning design tools, and you can see why Xilinx is the world’s leading PLD provider. Visit our website to learn more about Xilinx solutions—at the heart of innovation in the consumer marketplace.

©2007 Xilinx, Inc. All rights reserved. XILINX, the Xilinx logo, and other designated brands included herein are trademarks of Xilinx, Inc. All other trademarks are the property of their respective owners.

analysts’ pages Can Google’s Foray into Mobile Phones Succeed?

The promise: ubiquitous, mobile Internet access for millions of users worldwide. The stakes: a market of 324 million units and advertising revenue of $3.8 billion by 2011. The risk: embarking on an ambitious effort to establish a consortium to promote a new platform for mobile computing/communications, an endeavor that others have tried before—and have achieved only high-profile failure. The news: Google Inc.’s bold initiative to reshape the mobile-phone market by establishing a consortium of companies intended to promote a new platform for mobile-handset software that will bring Internet access to smartphone platforms. For users, Google’s move could mean that Internet access will no longer be limited to the confines of the PC. For Google’s rivals, the establishment of the consortium means the arrival of a powerful new competitor—one that could cannibalize their sales. For Google, this initiative could allow it to achieve its goal of dominating the potentially lucrative market for mobile advertising and Location-Based Services (LBS).


er exploration ether your goal speak directly ical page, the ght resource. technology, es and products

Opening up Handsets

Google on Monday announced the formation of the Open Handset Alliance, a multinational ed coalition of top technology and mobile communications firms. The Open Handset Alliance will focus on developing the Android software stack, a set of programs consisting of an operating system, middleware, a user-friendly interface and applications. Platforms based on companies providing solutions now Android intended deliver a superior user exploration into products, technologies and companies. Whether your goal is to research the latestare datasheet from ato company, mp to a company's technical page, the goal of Get Connected is to put you in touchexperience with the right and resource. WhicheverInternet level of access comimproved gy, Get Connected will help you connect with the companies and products you arepared searching for. to existing smartphones. onnected Perhaps the most significant aspect of Android is the fact that Google intends to offer the software to mobile-handset OEMs for free, or very close to free. This represents an alternative to existing software solutions like Windows Mobile, Symbian and various flavors of Linux, which incur considerable expenses for mobile-handset OEMs. “The implication of this is that it short circuits an incumbent node in the value chain, potentially decreasing consumer prices for Get Connected with companies mentioned in this article. such high-end devices. However, it also nibalizes a relatively lucrative revenue stream

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for operating system suppliers,” said Francis Sideco, senior analyst, wireless communication, for iSuppli.

figure 1

The Smartphone Market

Google’s announcement comes at a time when interest in such products has been stimulated by the arrival of Apple Inc.’s iPhone, which offers high-quality Internet access. Global shipments of smartphones are expected to rise to 324 million units by 2011, up from 124.3 million in 2007, according to iSuppli. Figure 1 presents iSuppli’s forecast for global smartphone unit shipments. iSuppli defines smartphones as mobile handsets with open operating systems that allow functional expansion through sophisticated add-on applications. Thus, Google is addressing a market with high growth potential.

figure 2

Google’s Goal

Google’s goal with the establishment of the Open Handset Alliance is to become the main provider of LBS and mobile advertisements on wireless handsets, replicating its success in PCbased ads and location-oriented services like Google Earth. The stakes in this market are potentially huge, since iSuppli forecasts the advertising portion of worldwide mobile video revenue will rise to $3.8 billion in 2011, up from just $135 million in 2007. Figure 2 presents iSuppli’s forecast of global mobile video-advertising revenue. Google’s interest in this area is so great that it may consider an acquisition of a provider of map navigation software.

Prospects for Success

To determine the chances for success of the Google venture, one can examine previous, similar initiatives. The closest parallel to the Google venture can be found in the venture launched by Go Corp./AT&T Microelectronics to promote support for pen-based mobile computing. Similar to what Google is doing now, Go and AT&T in the early 1990s attempted to create an industry ecosystem for a new type of product that combined wireless communications and computing. Like Google, it was to usher in a new category of mobile devices, in that case, the Personal Communicator. Go created an operating system and other software for pen-based computing, and the company and AT&T attempted to work with other market participants to cultivate an ecosystem for pen-based hardware and software. However, the AT&T/Go venture faced major competition from Microsoft Corp., which announced its own pen-based extensions to the Windows operating system, although it did not bring them to market until a decade later. This pre-emptive strike helped bring an end to the AT&T/Go initiative. Like AT&T/Go, Google is using a “camp strategy,” which calls for the formulation of supply- chain partnerships with multiple companies in order to create required building blocks for its initiative, according to David Carnevale, vice president, multimedia content and distribution for iSuppli. Key to success for this strategy will be getting a mobile-handset company to be first to market with a successful product that uses the Google software. “Google needs to get someone to be the first to make a phone that really creates the category and quickly results in millions of units sold,” Carnevale said. “Previous efforts at establishing standards have largely been failures. Selling a lot of products creates de facto market standards and that’s why the iPhone has attracted so much attention.” Like the AT&T/Go effort, Google’s plans face considerable competitive challenges, with the company’s software vying against solutions from high-powered rivals like Apple, Microsoft, Nokia, Palm and Research in Motion. However, Carnevale said the Google initiative stands a better chance of success than the AT&T/Go effort. This is mainly because

Google’s software plays to the company’s strengths in providing Internet information to users. iSuppli Corporation, El Segundo, CA. (310) 524-4000. [].

NanoMarkets Thin Film/Printable Battery Markets to Reach $5.6 Billion by 2015

According to a newly released report from NanoMarkets, the value of the thin-film and printed battery market will reach $5.6 billion by 2015. The report, “Thin Film and Printed Battery Markets” is the next in NanoMarkets’ ongoing series that covers the emerging markets for thin-film, organic and printable electronics.  According to NanoMarkets’ new report, thin-film and printed batteries with their customizable shapes, flexible form-factors and ultra-low weight are enabling new functionality to be added to a broad range of electronic products, such as smartcards, RFID and sensors, both increasing their usefulness and the size of their addressable markets. While many of the players in this space are smaller firms, several big name firms including Air Products, Dow Chemical, Intel and NEC have invested in this, underscoring its strategic importance.   This technology segment is also one where volume is everything both in terms of manufacturability and sales prospects. Thin-film and printable batteries can be delivered at attractive price points when produced in significant quantities and with the right processes. For technologies such as RFID, sensors, smartcards and medical devices that are also high volume and cost-sensitive, the ability for manufacturers to add cheap power sources is crucial. When you also factor in the ability for these batteries to extend these applications beyond their current usage, battery manufacturers can create a winning proposition for their customers.  In terms of market potential, NanoMarkets report projects that the thin-film and printed battery markets will be driven primarily by RFID, which by 2015 will generate $4.6 billion revenues, smartcards, which will generate

$346 million in revenues and sensors, which will create $434 million in revenues.  The NanoMarkets study predicts that printing will have a growing role in the next generation of smart batteries resulting in the growth in demand for zinc manganese dioxide or carbon zinc inks. The study also predicts that there will be a growing number of alternatives for the dominant LiPON electrolytes, with improved conductivity and thermal properties. While thin-film batteries using conventional lithiumbased materials will remain the dominant factor, non-lithium battery revenues will grow to $2.5 billion by 2015.  Nanomarkets, Glen Allen, VA. (804) 360-2967. [].

Broadband May Become More Popular Than TV for Many in U.S.

Within the next three years, more than 16 million U.S. TV households may be using their broadband service more than they use their TV sets today, reports In-Stat. This is one of the key

findings of an In-Stat survey of U.S. consumers about TV viewing, media and online habits, the high-tech market research firm says. Respondents had a broadband connection, a TV set, and were 18 years of age or older. “Today’s stable and profitable subscription TV services are facing new competition from online and mobile entertainment services, and from new, high-quality packaged goods, such as HD-DVD and Blu-ray discs,” says Gerry Kaufhold, In-Stat analyst. “The very nature of what consumers call ‘entertainment’ is undergoing a profound change in which the ability to instantly share content with friends, family members and those connected on social networks or buddy lists is creating micro user communities that replace traditional entertainment sources such as TV programs. As more high-quality content becomes available online, DECEMBER 2007


analysts’ pages savvy consumers are considering ways to reduce their monthly bills by getting everything from the Internet.” In-Stat’s survey also revealed the following: • Up to 30% of respondents would drop subscription TV and use the Internet for TV. • 42% of respondents said that they are not getting enough international news and information from their current TV delivery services, even though there are hundreds of channels available. • Nearly 40% of all respondents said “This is the first I've heard of” the U.S. analog TV cut-off mandate in February 2009. In-Stat, Scottsdale, AZ. (480) 483-4440. [].

will increase by 15 percent in the third quarter and 11.3 percent in the fourth quarter. Set-Top Box (STB)/Digital Video Recorder (DVR) systems are expected to generate strong HDD demand in the second half of the year. Sales in this segment are expected to rise to 22.7 million in the second half of the year, up 22 percent from 18.6 million in the first half. Table 1 presents iSuppli’s unit shipment and quarter-to-quarter growth rate estimates for overall HDDs as well as hard drives in notebook and desktop PCs. iSuppli estimates global HDD shipments grew to 132.5 million units in the third quarter, up 15 percent from 115.3 million in the second quarter.

Hard Disk Drive Market Rebounds in the Second Half

Hard Disk Drives (HDDs) are expressing renewed optimism that business conditions have turned for the better in the second half of 2007 nd and will continue to improve into 2008. In the first half of the year, prices fell by er exploration ether your goal about 20 percent per quarter for select equivaspeak directly lent-capacity notebook HDDs, declining from ical page, the ght resource. slightly more than $100 in December 2006 to technology, about $65 in early June 2007. The deep price es and products cuts inflicted so much pain upon the suppliers ed that they decided to back off from the mad rush to gain market share. “Market share alone does not fill the coffers,” said Krishna Chander, senior analyst for storage systems at iSuppli Corp. “Higher profits come from identifying and positioning companies providing solutions now product to address emerging trends, rather exploration into products, technologies and companies. Whether your goal is to research the latestlines datasheet from a company, mp to a company's technical page, the goal of Get Connected is to put you in touchthan with the right resource. level of battling it out Whichever over established commodigy, Get Connected will help you connect with the companies and products you areties searching for. that have little differentiation. These higher onnected profits drive investments in future technologies, keeping suppliers competitive.” Prices for equivalent-capacity HDDs are expected to decline marginally in the 4 to 6 percent range in the fourth quarter.

End of Article Get Connected

with companies mentioned in this article.


Demand Comes Through

HDD shipments will grow in concert with rising PC sales in the seasonally strong second half of the year. Global PC unit shipments will rise by 9.8 percent sequentially in the third quarter and by 12.4 percent in the fourth quarter. Meanwhile, worldwide HDD shipments


Get Connected with companies mentioned in this article.

Hard Times Over for Hard Drives

In another sign that the HDD market is rebounding, both Seagate Technology LLC and Western Digital Corp. provided optimistic outlooks half way through the third quarter. In mid-October, Seagate validated this outlook with very positive third-quarter results. In early November, Western Digital Corp. also reported strong results, with revenue for HDDs at $1.7 billion up 26 percent from the previous quarter. Seagate’s financials indicate it rebounded smartly from its nadir in the first quarter. The company’s gross margin rose to a respectable 24.6 percent in the third quarter, up from the low of 21.3 percent in the first quarter. Seagate’s margin is expected to rise by another 1 percentage point in the fourth quarter. Similarly, its revenue rose to $3.3 billion in the third quarter, up from $2.8 billion in the first quarter. The company said it expects revenue of about $3.5 billion in the fourth quarter. Western Digital increased its gross margin from 15 percent in the second quarter to a respectable 18.4 percent in the third quarter. In a similar vein, Hitachi Ltd. reported that

it had narrowed its losses in the fourth quarter and is looking forward to a small operating profit for its HDD operations. All three companies mentioned they either sustained or improved on their Average Selling Price (ASP) per HDD unit compared to the previous quarter. The HDD rebound bodes well for storage products across a broad spectrum of technologies, including flash, optical, tape and finished systems. The strong demand shows applications are continuing to generate more data and content that must be stored in different formats and media. iSuppli Corporation, El Segundo, CA. (310) 524-4000. [].

SIP Services Will Generate $150 Billion in Annual Revenue by 2012

IP Networks deployed by fixed and mobile operators will lead to mainstream Voice over IP and SIP (Session Initiation Protocol) services, driven by the increasing popularity of “smart” devices such as PDAs and smartphones. ABI Research principal analyst Ian Cox explains, “New affordable price points and ease of use will allow consumers to benefit from SIP services such as instant messaging, video sharing and conferencing, which will join VoIP as it takes over from circuit-switched voice. We have seen the start of a revolution, as mobile handsets become the product of choice not just for voice and simple text messaging, but also for any task that one can perform on a personal computer. And as networks are replaced by “flat architecture” all-IP with SIP application servers in the core, all forms of communications become possible.” SIP services will develop into the norm after 2010 and rapidly begin to dominate the world’s telecom markets. By 2012, almost half of all telecom users will be using at least one SIP service, but likely will have many services from

multiple devices able to communicate with other users and services across the Web and between enterprise and public networks. This will generate over $150 billion in service revenue annually with cumulative infrastructure capital expenditure of over $10 billion by that date. “Using SIP, telephony becomes another Web application, which can be integrated into other Internet services,” continued Cox. “It enables service providers to build converged voice and multimedia services.” ABI Research expects that by 2012, almost 1.2 billion VoIP users to be active, with most users also subscribing to several forms of messaging and video sharing driven by interest in user-generated content. Additional services supported by SIP will include presence, click to dial, buddy lists, e-mail and Web access, which are assumed to be “core” services and included as standard in any service offering and bundled with broadband access. A portion of the VoIP users will also be connected to an FMC service. ABI Research, Oyster Bay, NY. (516) 624-2500. [].

Music-enabled cell phones, however, may cut into this market, the high-tech market research firm says. “While video-capable, dedicated PMP/MP3 players seem safe from multimedia cell phone competition, there is a significant opportunity for cellular operators to capture those consumers who are considering audio-only MP3 players” says Alice Zhang, In-Stat analyst. Recent research by In-Stat found the following: • More than a quarter of the respondents to an In-Stat survey of Japanese consumers would like to use a multimedia mobile phone as a substitute for a multimedia player. • Japanese PMP/MP3/PDP player market retail volume is expected to reach nearly 1.5 million units by 2011, up from 760,000 units in 2007. • Consumer interest in video will constrain the growth of audio-only MP3 players in Japan. As PMP prices drop, more Japanese consumers will choose to purchase a PMP. In-Stat, Scottsdale, AZ. (480) 483-4440. [].

Japan’s Portable Media Market Headed for Strong Growth through 2011

Fueled by market drivers, such as inexpensive flash-based players available around the world, growing broadband penetration, and the increasing availability of affordable, legitimate music and video online, the market for portable media equipment will see strong growth in Japan over the next several years, reports In-Stat.



cover feature Portable Handsets – Small, Thin and “Cool” by John East, President and CEO, Actel Corporation


Where would we be today without our cell phones or portable handsets? By some estimates, nearly one billion handsets were sold in 2006 and over one billion will be sold in 2007. Other data points suggest that the consumer electronics sector accounts for more than half of all semiconductor sales worldwide. While most consumers don’t understand the technology that powers these phones, they will certainly benefit from new technology in the coming years.

Power Matters

Power matters. Nobody knows this better than a portable designer. Indeed, designers of portable, battery-powered equipment are faced with a daunting challenge—insatiable consumer demand for smaller, cheaper, feature-rich portable devices with longer battery lives, lower cost and short time-to-market. The explosion of battery-operated applications, such as wireless handhelds, smartphones and multimedia players, and a growing cry for power conservation and longer battery life has created a global demand for low-power semiconductors. As a result, semiconductor designers have begun exploring how to continue to improve performance, reduce costs and extend battery life. Field-programmable gate arrays (FPGAs) are traditionally seen as the best vehicle for getting designs to market fast. Yet, use of the technology has been limited to prototyping due to power consumption and cost concerns. Over the past few years, advances in FPGA design, however, enable the devices to now be used in high-volume portable designs, and 16


new solutions are emerging that enable designers to reduce design cost and increase battery life. Flash-based FPGA solutions, for example, eliminate power-hungry configuration memory and the leakage current traditionally associated with FPGAs. FPGAs are available with static power as low as 5 microwatts and active/dynamic power as low as 25 microwatts—power consumption rivaling custom ASICs and processors. Moreover, their inherent programmability enables designers to engage in platform-based design, allowing OEMs to add or strip out features to satisfy multiple price points or to adapt to changing standards. The ability to leverage hardware and software design costs across multiple product models leads to greater economies of scale for portable designers. Of course, the ultimate goal is to achieve the lowest power possible and to accommodate long system idle times by allowing the system to enter and exit low-power modes quickly. This has become key for displays, storage and control functions, and increasingly, designers are leveraging FPGAs and power-smart intellectual property (IP) to provide this functionality. For example, LCD displays consume more than 50 percent of the power budget of a system. Using an FPGA, the system can enter a low power mode when the display is not being used, dramatically reducing the power consumption and extending the battery life.

Small, Thin and “Cool”

Today, cell phones have to be ultra thin to be ultra “chic.” Despite the miniaturization

of semiconductor packaging, power consumption and heat dissipation are still a concern. In very small 4 mm packaging, flash-based FPGAs provide unprecedented lowpower advantages while offering designers four times the density, three times the I/O and a 36 percent reduction in size compared to competitive programmable solutions. With 200x less static power and more than 10x the battery life than competitive offerings, these devices are an ideal solution for power-sensitive, spaceconstrained smartphones and other portable handheld devices. In 2008 power will continue to matter. The semiconductor industry will continue to address the unique challenges facing portable designers, particularly relating to power efficiency and battery life. Low-power, flashbased FPGAs, in particular, will enable portable designers to continue to develop smaller, “cooler” portable handsets with longer battery lives. Actel Corporation Mountain View, CA. (650) 318-4200. [].

Powering a World of Plenty by Stephen Bailey, Functional Verification Product Marketing, Mentor Graphics; Chair, IEEE P1801 (Low Power) Working Group


During the peak of the dot-com era there was tremendous hype about convergence and what form it would take. Although the popularity of the term faded along with so much else from that period, convergence quietly moved forward and is an established reality today. The ten top innovations developed over the past 10 or so years are all converged in the common cell phone you carry today: digital camera, flash memory, Bluetooth, e-mail, gaming, video, secure banking, TV, and lest we forget, CDMA/GSM cellular communications. The list of features and functionality on portable devices goes on and on like a child’s wish list for Santa. But don’t worry, there will be more in time for the Holiday season next year and the year after that, including high-quality image projection, 3-D displays, 20 Mbit/s – 1 Gbyte/s LAN data rates, and the ability to seamlessly switch between Bluetooth, LAN and cellular base stations. Unfortunately, all these wonderful capabilities require more power. But consumers are clamoring for longer battery life even as they impatiently await new features. Reducing power consumption and power loss in order to increase functionality and battery life requires the use of new design techniques that fall outside the capabilities of existing HDLs, which means that verification tools can neither simulate nor prove that the low-power design intent is correct. Also, implementation tools require proprietary mechanisms so that users can provide the necessary information to create lowpower chips.

The EDA industry responded with various ways to augment logic design with low-power formats. However, the lack of a single, standard format resulted in costly inefficiencies and an error-prone process resulting from the need to rewrite the low-power specification for each tool in the design and verification flow, severely impacting productivity, profit margin and design quality. Furthermore, verification of the functional implications of lowpower design has been performed late in the process—typically after physical design—as all relevant information was not available sooner in a verifiable format. Thus, lowpower design verification has been burdened with all the issues of full-timing, gate-level simulation: slow simulations with long turnaround times, long debug identification and long resolution times. It is essential to functionally verify poweraware designs at a higher level of abstraction without breaking consistency with the power intent at lower abstraction levels. This requires a standard way of specifying the power intent and then using that same power-intent specification at all abstraction levels. The Accellera United Power Format (UPF) standard allows the specification of implementation-relevant power information early in the design process—at the RTL or earlier. Because it is written as a tcl side file, UPF is independent of the RTL code and can be used to add power-related functionality to the RTL without modifying it. Thus, you do not need to verify the non-power-aware functionality of your RTL when the power specification changes.

Similarly, because it is independent of the HDL, UPF provides a consistent format for specifying power-aware design information and consistent semantics across verification and implementation tools. Using the UPF, you can specify supply networks, supply network behavior and logic functionality characteristics along with extending the existing RTL with power-related functionality, such as retention, isolation and level-shifting. The realization of convergence in consumer devices is creating an increasing pressure for power-aware design across the entire design flow. Everywhere there is a need to conserve and optimize power. New design requires new verification techniques to ensure performance, quality and competitiveness. The UPF is the key to unlocking powerful verification solutions as early as the RTL, allowing you to detect subtle yet critical functional bugs early in the design cycle. This is the only way to successfully unleash the power of today and tomorrow’s portable devices. Mentor Graphics Corporation Wilsonville, OR. (503) 685-7000. [].



cover feature Consumer Electronics: The Road Ahead


by Steve Leibson, Technology Evangelist, Tensilica, Inc.

This digital transformation in consumer electronics (CE) has been dramatic. CE products now drive industry development. The extreme demands of CE design (especially portable CE design)—high performance, low cost and low-power operation—stress every aspect of design from the circuit to system level. Because of CE’s stringent needs, the tallest technological hurdles lie ahead. Radio was the first CE product category. AM radio first invaded the world’s living rooms during the 1920s. FM radio followed in the 1940s and FM stereo appeared in the early 1960s. However, CE radio stayed analog for most of the century until the introduction of Internet “radio” in the 1990s. Wireless digital radio is all the rage in the 21st century. Telephony entered the CE universe with the commercial introduction of cellular telephony, answering machines and cordless phones in the late 1970s. The explosive rise of digital cellular telephony during the 1990s has now cemented the telephone as the largest volume portable CE product, shipping roughly 1 billion units per year. The advent of the digital camera during the late 1990s firmly placed photography into the portable CE realm. Disc-based music reproduction became digital with the introduction of CDs in 1982. Vinyl records vanished overnight. Digital audio now is audio. The three factors driving portable CE design are the quest for smaller form-factor, lighter weight and lower operating power. All three forces buck the need for more processor performance from one product generation to the next. SOC integration counters the first two factors, but the path taken to increase process18


ing capability—increased clock rates, which climbed a thousand fold over the decade, from a few MHz to beyond a GHz—caused energy consumption and heat dissipation to rise accordingly. The rapid rise in leakage power caused by the transition to nanometer silicon (90 nm and below) further exacerbates the power problem. CE design problems that require trillions of operations/second can already be economically addressed with today’s available silicon fabrication technologies, but the CE industry lacks appropriate design methodologies to harness large numbers of processors. It’s critically important for design teams to employ efficient system-design strategies for such complex systems; current design strategies are obsolete. The way forward leads away from today’s uniprocessor-centric design universe toward the use of tens and hundreds of processors per chip, all running at lowered clock frequencies to reduce power. Research has started in earnest to crack the problem of programming large arrays of processors. For example, a multi-university, multi-company effort called RAMP (Research Accelerator for Multiple Processors, http:// is investigating large, multiple-processor architectures. To quote the RAMP Web site: “Processor architectures have crossed a critical threshold. Manufacturers have given up attempting to extract ever more performance from a single core and instead have turned to multi-core designs. However, little is known on how to build, program, or manage systems of 64 to 1024 processors, and the computer architecture community lacks the basic infrastructure

tools required to carry out this research.” Today’s portable CE devices are based on concepts developed in the 19th century and mimic their centuryold predecessors, delivering improved versions of the same sight and sound content delivered by phonographs, radios, televisions, cameras and telephones for a very long time. Despite improved content quality and the use of multiple processors, present CE devices display no intelligence and little adaptability. Future 21st-century portable CE devices must deliver both intelligence and unprecedented adaptability to be competitive in the market. These products will need orders of magnitude more processing power to deliver new abilities previously only dreamed of by science-fiction authors. Tensilica Inc. Santa Clara, CA. (408) 986-8000. [].

Hard Drive vs. Flash: Competing or Merging Technologies?


by Amit Nanda, Staff Applications Engineer, Cypress Semiconductor

Hard drives are seemingly everywhere and an increasing number of emerging applications, including personal media players, video recorders and televisions with built-in time-shifting capabilities, continue to push the need for larger storage capacities. Flash memory offers significant advantages such as fast access and higher reliability and threatens to replace conventional hard drives in a wide range of applications. While hard drives utilize a mechanical system consisting of magnetic storage and a spinning platter, flash relies on solid-state memory with no moving parts to store small amounts of electrical charge in semiconductor transistor structures. From an outside perspective, it appears that hard drive and flash memory technology are in direct competition with each other. Is flash the “DVD” to the hard drive’s “VHS”? For many applications, it appears that a hybrid merger of these technologies may offer the best advantage of all. The primary factor affecting storage technology is whether consumer demand for increased storage capacity continues to outpace the “sweet spot” in price/performance for flash. If the past is any indication of the future, the storage requirements for an OS, applications and multimedia content will continue to consume as much storage space as can be permitted on a cost-effective basis. Flash doesn’t seem to be closing the overall capacity gap, so for high-capacity applications it will not conceivably replace rotating storage in the near future. Where flash can be expected to continue to invade and dominate is in low-storage markets where it has already overcome the ability of hard drives to compete, and unless video transforms cell phones into personal video players, hard drives will probably never gain a strong foothold in this market space. The real trouble will start when flash will be able to produce large

enough storage for a mainstream OS and business applications at a reasonable price point. Technically, this feat has already been achieved but at a 10-20x price premium over disk drives, which is currently no real threat to the hard drive market. Flash has moved into the storage space so quickly because of its successful integration into mobile multimedia devices. Personal media players, for example, have shifted focus onto two main forms of non-volatile storage: NAND Flash and hard disk drives. Hard drives have been the primary storage medium, but the growth in the NAND Flash market has been amazing. NAND density continues to double every year, compared to hard drive density doubling every two years, making it possible for flash to penetrate into applications traditionally served by hard drives alone. Hard drive technology has made incredible progress over the past few years in order to stay ahead of its game. With recent demonstrations showing densities of 345 Gbits/sq. inch, desktop drives are expected to reach 2 Terabytes with 400 Gbyte drives in notebooks. Can flash achieve this kind of capacity? Flash manufacturers are struggling to overcome current NAND floating gate limits, and by the time flash catches up to these densities, hard drive technology will have moved significantly forward again. So where does flash win? In terms of performance, NAND Flash offers fast read access times and better shock resistance than hard drives given their lack of any moving parts. These characteristics explain the rise in popularity of NAND Flash devices for mobile devices and other battery-powered applications where speed and robustness are factors that consumers are directly aware of. Flash’s one drawback is in write performance, which is slower than that of a hard disk. Consider a comparison between Cypress AT2LP with Hi-

tachi hard drive and San Disk Cruzer 512 Mbyte flash drive driven by a Dell D820 Laptop operating Performance Test 6.1 Suite. The read delta between these two drives is significant: reads off NAND Flash occur almost ten times faster than from a hard drive spinning at 5400 rpm. In contrast, the write speed of a flash drive versus a hard drive is significantly different, this time with the hard drive writes about ten times faster than those of the flash drive. Taking into account the differences in read and write times, it becomes clear why the merging of these technologies to create Hybrid drives makes sense for many applications. For example, having an application boot from flash results in faster startup time. Then, once the OS is ready, the hard drive would serve as primary storage. Hybrid drives have already been adopted by many PC and drive manufacturers, with more applications to follow. Both flash memory and hard drive technologies have their advantages. Certainly, hard drives still seem to dominate the market when it comes to storing large media files, like videos, pictures and music, but even in these applications the use of flash in a hybrid architecture can boost performance. Additionally, hybrid technology can bring advantages to many other applications, including communications technologies such as SATA and Fibre Channel, where flash/hard drive hybrids promise to increase both performance and reliability. Cypress Semiconductor San Jose, CA. (408) 943-2600. []. DECEMBER 2007


wireless communications software radio

How Much Can You Do in Software? A Multi-Standard Radio Base Station This article describes the Anywave Base Station Subsystem from Vanu, Inc., which earned the first software defined radio certification ever awarded by the U.S. Federal Communications Commission, and is deployed in commercial operation at multiple sites in the U.S. and Canada.


by John Chapin, Chief Technical Officer, Vanu, Inc.

Innovative software radio technology utilizing industry-standard, commercial-off-the-shelf hardware is now being utilized to deploy the first true multi-standard radio access networks (RANs) for cellular telephone systems. These systems provide unprecedented flexibility and value to cellular operators, and are well suited to both traditional macrocell networks and to non-traditional deployments such as mobile base stations and distributed antenna systems. Until now, multi-standard RANs have been limited to cellular standards specifically designed for compatibility. With recent advances in software design and hardware performance, cellular standards can now be implemented entirely in software running on standards-neutral industry-standard hardware, enabling arbitrary waveform combinations such as iDEN/GSM/1xRTT within a single Base Transceiver Station (BTS). The Base Station Controller (BSC) function can also be performed in software on standards-neu-



tral hardware, in some cases allowing BSCs supporting different standards to coexist in a single device. This eliminates the costly duplication of hardware and data links previously required to support multiple independent standards. Because all standards are implemented entirely in software, the Anywave BSS can dynamically change the mix of standards and/or the amount of the carrier’s valuable spectrum allocated to each. This flexibility permits much more effective use of capacity when the number of customers or their usage cannot be predicted in advance. It also enables carriers to allocate valuable spectrum and backhaul resources to broadband data capacity only in those cells where customers using the broadband service are active at any given time.

Standard Hardware Platforms

The software components of the Anywave BSS execute on industry-standard, non-pro-

prietary hardware platforms; even the highspeed signal processing for the air interface is a portable software application running on a standard server. Each customer can select the optimal hardware platform to support the desired network feature set at a minimum cost. Installed configurations range in scale from a basic laptop to a fully redundant, high-density blade server. Typical installations utilize NEBS-compliant carrier-grade or low-cost ITgrade rackmount servers (an example of a rural deployment is shown in Figure 1).

Size and Power Consumption Savings

Software-only designs such as the Anywave BSS exploit improvements in form-factor and power resulting from ongoing R&D investments by the computing industry. For example, multicore processors provide a substantial improvement in system performance without a corresponding increase in size or power consumption. Similarly, multi-carrier radio heads also can reduce heat dissipation and power requirements when compared to the analog RF combining networks used in competing BTS designs.

Distributed Antenna Systems (DAS)

When Anywave BTS servers are combined into a processing center for a DAS, the processing center effectively acts as a server farm, and can be deployed and managed using mature data center technologies. The Anywave BSS uses a switched RF sample interconnect between the center and the antenna sites, enabling dynamic reallocation of processing capacity; additional processing servers can be allocated to a given antenna site when it has a higher load or more challenging operating conditions. As a result, the center need only include sufficient processing capacity and redundancy for the maximum load across the entire distributed antenna system.

Operations, Administration and Maintenance (OA&M)

Since the Anywave BSS runs on industrystandard servers or blades, it leverages their remote access and maintenance capabilities. Remote “integrated lights-out” management provides cost-effective remote monitoring and management of a variety of hardware and software parameters. SNMP-based access to all of the software and hardware components enables

integration with a wide range of management tools. Software upgrades, configuration changes and log collection can all be performed remotely, minimizing expensive “truck rolls” to multiple remote antenna sites.

Evolution to Future Standards

An operator can add new cellular standards to an existing Vanu Anywave BSS network as a software upgrade. This expandability makes it much easier for carriers to keep up with the rapid evolution of the cellular market. figure 1 Although hardware upgrades may be necessary if the  DeLeon, TX site new standard oper-  of Mid-Tex Cellular  ates in a frequency band that is not  Operator’s Previous supported by the  Base Station  existing RF head, or if the signal processing for the new standard exceeds the computational capacity of the Anywave  installed servers, Server these upgrades are inexpensive com-  Anywave RF  Head pared to the cost (enclosure also contains power amplifier) of rolling out an   entirely new set of single-standard network infrastrucVanu Anywave GSM/GPRS BSS in a rural cellular deployment. ture hardware.

table 1 Benefits of Anywave BSS for Cellular Operators Key Features


Multiple cellular standards operating at the same time

Traditional macrocell networks

Add new standards through software-only change

Remote sites with satellite backhaul

Smooth upgrade path to 3G and future standards

Stand-alone networks Cost-effectively scales from tiny picocells to large highdensity deployments Supports distributed antenna systems (DAS)

CAPEX and OPEX Savings Use of industry-standard platforms available from multiple hardware vendors reduces cost Multicarrier radios and allIP design reduce footprint, power, on-site maintenance and backhaul requirements On-demand spectrum and capacity reallocation across standards increases efficiency



figure 2


Switch Interface

Radio Access Network


Backhaul Network


Power Amp



(b) Layer 3 and up

Signal Processing Subsystem

Software on general purpose processor

firmware on FPGA or DSP

RF Chain

Receiver/ Exciter

Traditional SDR Architecture for a line card in a BTS.

RF Sample Interconnect using Standard network or I/O bus. Signal Processing Subsystem

Layer 3 and up


RF Chain

Receiver/ Exciter

RF Head

Vanu Software Radio Architecture for a BTS

Vanu Software Radio vs. a conventional “firmware radio” SDR for a Base Transceiver Station (BTS).

figure 3 (a) analog RF combining network wastes power, heat

to power amp, duplexer, and antenna

line card Legacy Line Card BTS Architecture

(b) RF Head up to 16 carriers

to power amp, duplexer, and antenna

digital sample interconnect

Anywave Multi-carrier BTS Architecture Comparison of legacy architecture vs. Anywave architecture for a multi-carrier site.



All of the Vanu Anywave software is written in C/C++ running on the Linux operating system. The entire system, including the signal processing for the air interface, is simply a collection of software applications that can run on any general-purpose processor. The software is designed to allow multiple processes to run on the same CPU, enabling a single server or blade to support multiple different air interfaces at the same time, with capacity dynamically shared among all operating air interfaces. The software radio technology adopted by the rest of the industry (also called Software Defined Radio, or SDR) allows the supported air interface such as GSM or CDMA to be changed through a software-only upgrade. However, this approach requires specialized processors such as DSPs or FPGAs, and might more properly be termed “firmware radio” to reflect its lack of portability and dependence on specific hardware devices. Figure 2 compares the BTS architecture of a Vanu Anywave BSS to a conventional SDR.

Multi-Carrier RF Heads

Portable Vanu Software on Industry-Standard Server

industry-standard server running multiple carriers

True Software Radio

Radio transmission and reception in the Anywave BSS is performed by advanced multi-carrier radio head units. This design can provide significant heat dissipation and power loss savings compared to the inefficient combining networks used in legacy line card BTS architectures (Figure 3). The analog electronics in the RF head support a variety of cellular standards. As shown in Figure 4, selectable carrier frequency and bandwidth allows multiple carriers using different standards to operate simultaneously (e.g., the transmission and reception of GSM and CDMA channels at the same time through the same RF head). The carriers in use can even be changed dynamically to match the capacity of each standard to the number of customers currently in the coverage area of the BTS. The transceiver in the RF head performs digital channelization and down-conversion (on receive) and digital up-conversion and summing (on transmit) to reduce the bandwidth requirements on the RF sample interconnect.

Standard RF Sample Interconnect

The RF head exchanges digitized samples representing the band or channels of operation with the Anywave signal processing server over an RF sample interconnect utilizing fiber

Radio Access Network and BSC

The BTS connects to the other components of the radio access network via an IP connection, which can be transported over a variety of links (e.g., T1/E1, Ethernet). Cost-effective commercial switches, bridges and routers are available, as are tools for network monitoring and maintenance. The burst-like data traffic characteristic of 2.5G and 3G cellular standards can be efficiently multiplexed over IP, allowing for OPEX reductions in backhaul from the BTS not possible with traditional designs. The Anywave BSC is implemented as a software application whose traffic and control functions are segregated into independent processes. The BSC is implemented as three processes: a control process, a Transcoder and Rate Adaption Unit (TRAU) for voice traffic, and a Packet Control Unit (PCU) for data traffic. These software modules can all run on a single processor for low-capacity installations. For scalability, a single BSC can be distributed over a cluster of servers, each with one or more TRAU or PCU process handling the traffic load from one or more BTS units. The Vanu Anywave BSC connects to the customer’s telecom switch via either SS7 or VoIP links. The BSC’s IP-centric design readily integrates with next-generation network architectures that utilize separate control and traffic connections. When connecting to a legacy telecom switch, an external gateway is used to translate between IP over Ethernet and SS7 over T1.


The software-based Vanu Anywave Base Station Subsystem brings together a suite of technologies that provide an unprecedented level of flexibility, scalability and cost-effectiveness to cellular operators. The core technology enables true multi-standard operation and takes advantage of industry-standard, COTS servers, reducing both CAPEX and OPEX, and significantly reducing requirements for on-site main-

figure 4




tenance. The use 26 MHz transmit 26 MHz receive of advanced multitunable anywhere in tunable anywhere in carrier RF heads legal transmit band legal receive band supports multistandard operation and dynamic capacity reallocation. A switched-fabric Different RF heads standard networksupport different bands (SMR, cell, PCS, Euro) ing protocol in the fronthaul makes distributed antenna solutions economiUp to 16 carriers within band cal. IP everywhere Individually selectable center frequency and bandwidth Dynamic retune/hopping in the backhaul and switch connection enables the use of RF characteristics of a typical RF head for the Vanu Anywave BSS. commodity equipment and multifigure 5 plexed network links. These benefits are the direct Digital Signal Fronthaul consequences of Layer 3 Switched Processing Network and up Redundant Vanu’s unique, Subsystem software-centric Portable Software On Industry-Standard Server approach to the raBTS processing center dio access network. The multi-standard RF software can run on Head any of a wide range of server platforms Distributed Antenna System Antenna Site and exploit any of a range of backhaul, fronthaul and Block diagram of an Anywave BSS Distributed Antenna System. RF head equipment, all based around industry-standard, commercially available platforms and networking protocols. Consequently, network operators can focus infrastructure investments on system configurations that not only meet their specific requirements for features and scalability at minimal cost, but also significantly enhance business model flexibility through enabling software-only upgrades and on-demand spectrum and capacity allocation. Vanu Anywave BSS networks in both macrocell and innovative vehicle picocell, enterprise in-building, and home deployments enjoy significant cost and flexibility advantages over conventional alternatives. 1850

or GigE links (Figure 2). These standard networking technologies are readily integrated with industry-standard servers, eliminating the need for specialized interface boards. These interconnects can even be extended over long distances into a fronthaul network for distributed antenna systems, as shown in Figure 5. Switching capabilities improve redundancy and permit reallocation of BTS servers across antenna sites in response to changing loads.

Vanu, Inc. Cambridge, MA. (617) 864-1711. [].



wireless communications software radio

Waveform Portability and Reuse—Key Enablers on the Road to Software Defined Radio SDR radically reshapes the relationship between the application software, the radio hardware and the operating system, leading to increased software portability and reuse across disparate physical radio platforms.


by Jerry Bickle, Chief Scientist, SDR Products, PrismTech Corporation

As the development and deployment of Software Defined Radio (SDR) technologies continue to progress within the industry, software continues to move closer to the antenna across the RF chain. A good measure, and key enabler of this can be found in waveform portability and reuse across radio platforms—a productivity advantage dependent upon the level of separation between the application software and the radio hardware and operating system. This separation and isolation of the waveform implementation from the underlying operating environment (OE) is a crucial milestone in the development and rapid adoption of SDR. It leads the way for increased portability and reuse of radio software, and facilitates new dynamic configuration and interoperability functions critical to Net-centric operations, first-response and public safety communication require-



ments. The industry is now applying these separation/isolation techniques and tools to achieve software portability and reuse across disparate physical radio platforms using differing OEs designed to either the Software Communications Architecture (SCA) [1,2] or the Object Management Group’s (OMG) SWRadio [3] standard. In the SCA specification, the basic building block of a waveform application is called a Resource component (Figure 1). A Resource component realizes or supports the Core Framework Resource (CF::Resource) interface as described by the SCA standard. This interface provides the generic management operations for configuration, testing, lifecycle management, connectivity and component control. A Resource component, in addition to supporting the CF::Resource interface, can support additional interfaces (functionality) by offering services via its provides ports and can

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wireless communications

figure 1 Resource Interface Provides Port Resource Component Users Port

Resource Component Illustration.


er exploration ether your goal speak directly ical page, the ght resource. technology, es and products

figure 2 Component Container Resource Interface


Component Infrastructure Provides Port Component Implementation

companies providing solutions now Users Port

use services offered by other components via its uses ports. These ports allow Resource components to be connected into assemblies of components. These assemblies of Resource components, in turn, deliver waveform functionality to the SDR. The implementation of a Resource component, as shown in Figure 2, can be viewed as having three distinct logical partitions: a Component Container, a Component Infrastructure and a Component Implementation. A Resource Component Implementation is constrained so as not to violate the SCA’s POSIX-based Application Environment Profile (AEP). The AEP establishes the functions that an operating system used by the OE must provide to the Resource component, and as such, allows the Resource component implementation to remain portable across operating systems. The Component Container provides software that supports execution of the Resource component on the target processor and handles: • the entry point arguments, • the middleware setup (ORB initialization, ORB Portable Object Adapter (POA)), • the creation and activation of a Resource component, • the binding of the Resource component object reference to a CORBA Naming Service, and • a blocking function that waits on operating system signals to terminate the entry point. The SCA Component Infrastructure itself

can all from SCAa company, requirements and CORexploration into products, technologies and companies. Whether your goal is to research thedeal latestwith datasheet mp to a company's technical page, the goal of Get Connected is to put you in touchBA withmechanisms the right resource. Whichever level of the Resource associated with gy, Get Connected will help you connect with the companies and products you arecomponent searching for. interface:



Component’s Implementation Logical Partitions.

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• PropertySet – configure and query properties • LifeCycle – initialize and release object • TestableObject – executing specific test properties • PortSupplier – get Uses and Provides Ports.

The SCA Component Infrastructure can also deal with all the SCA requirements and CORBA mechanisms for the CF::Port interface that each uses port implements. The CF::Port interface provides the inter-


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faces required to connect and disconnect provides ports. The Component Implementation contains the implementation of the component (its business logic such as encode, decode, modulate, demodulate, filter, etc.). The Component Implementation processes information coming in at its provides ports, and after processing the information can send the transformed information via its uses ports to another component for further processing. The following sections describe how the Component Container, Component Infrastructure and Component Implementation can be made portable across SCA/SDR OEs.

Software Reuse

Software reuse is defined for the purpose of this article as the use of previously existing software artifacts to build new software artifacts. Software that is reusable typically has the following traits: modularity, loose coupling, high cohesion, information hiding and separation of concerns. These traits allow the software artifact to be isolated and easily repackaged in future software development activities. Component Implementations must strive to achieve these features if they are expected to be reused in future waveform component assemblies. Using modern Model Driven Development (MDD) tools, it is possible to generate a Platform Specific Model (PSM) from a Resource Component Platform Independent Model (PIM).The PSM, in essence, binds the design expressed in the PIM to a set of required deployment technologies. These technologies may include, but are not limited to, coding languages (such as C or C++), middleware technologies and operating systems [4]. Figure 3 illustrates the concept. The PSMs produced from an MDD tool may vary and some of the outcomes are as follows: • A Component Implementation may be produced that is unique to an OE implementation and tightly coupled to the Component Container and Infrastructure. This type of implementation would also likely be highly dependent on a particular OE, middleware, or operating system implementation, and since there is a lack of proper separation of concerns maintained between the Compo-

Other component reusability considerations include: • Adherence to Language Standards (e.g. C, C++, VHDL) and elimination of non-portable language features. • The use of industry accepted design patterns in the development of component implementations. • The development of common operating system and middleware compilation environments for a specific processing environment. Software Portability is the ease with which one system or component can be transferred from one hardware or software environment to another [4]. In the case of an SCA-based SDR, porting may refer to the porting of a waveform application onto an SCA/SDR platform or the porting of a Resource Component onto another SCA/SDR OE. The goal of some of the SCA/SDR standards [1,2,3] is to provide open system specifications. An open system [6] is a system that implements sufficient open specifications for interfaces, services and supporting formats to enable properly engineered applications software to: • be ported across a wide range of systems (with minimal changes) • interoperate with other applications on local or remote systems • interact with users in a style which facilitates user portability The goal of application or component portability is to minimize the cost and effort that are known and economically reasonable to

wireless communications

nent Container, Infrastructure and Implementation, reuse of the Component Implementation is significantly hampered. • A Component Implementation may be produced that is decoupled from any particular OE Component Infrastructure. The SCA Component Infrastructure and Component Container in this case are designed to be specific to an OE. However, by having the Component Implementation maintain proper separation from any particular OE, the Component Implementation is allowed to migrate from one OE implementation to another seamlessly (Figure 4).

Software Portability is the ease with which one system or component can be transferred from one hardware or software environment to another.

port an application or component onto another platform. Ideally, one would want to simply recompile their application software for a new platform; however, this is usually not possible for various reasons (including processor, operating system and compilers differences to name a few). As shown in Figure 5, the same component PSM can be made portable across multiple OEs without significant re-engineering of the entire application.

figure 3 Resource Interface Resource Component PIM

OE PSM Component Container

Resource Interface Component Infrastructure Component Implementation


Component Container

Resource Interface Component Infrastructure Component Implementation


Component Container

Resource Interface Component Infrastructure Component Implementation


PIM to PSMs.



figure 4 Component Container

Resource Interface SCA Component Infrastructure

Component Container

Resource Interface SWRadio Component Infrastructure

Same Component Implementation across different component infrastructures

Component Implementation across Component Frameworks.

There are several dimensions to application portability [6]: Resource • Program Portability: Will the code run sucInterface cessfully on all intended platforms? Resource • Data Portability: Are the data structures Component PIM or files used in the application portable or nd available on all platforms? • End-User Portability: Since re-training of er exploration ether your goal users can be a relatively expensive exerspeak directly Component PSM cise, it is often required that an application ical page, the Component ght resource. have the same look and feel across several Resource Container technology, Interface platforms. es and products Component • Developer Portability: The use of a stanInfrastructure ed dard set of interfaces and services across Component the entire target platform minimizes the reImplementation training of developers. • Documentation Portability: Users of applications on different platforms often OE OE OE have different expectations regarding companies providing solutions now the of documentation they receive exploration into products, technologies and companies. Whether your goal is to research the latesttype datasheet from a company, Portable Component PSM. mp to a company's technical page, the goal of Get Connected is to put you in touch withespecially the right resource. Whichever level of in the context of on-line help gy, Get Connected will help you connect with the companies and products you are searching for. facilities. onnected

figure 5

Here we will mainly concern ourselves with the first of the above considerations. However, there will frequently be significant overlap with the other aspects.

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Program Portability

Program Portability for a Resource Component’s implementation may be impacted at the Component Container level. Potential impacts on the Component Container related to operating systems and middleware compliancy include:


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• The entry point name. Certain operating systems require a fixed name for the application’s entry point, where others do not. This issue can be handled using compile time directives for specifying the entry point name. This allows the same source code to be used across a wider range of operating systems. • Entry point arguments. These arguments may not always conform to a fixed standard across all operating systems. • Middleware transport setup. The setup of the middleware transports may not always conform to a fixed standard and may vary based on processor and bus architecture. Code development or automatic generation factors that impact the Component Infrastructure and Component Implementation include (by no means a complete list): • Adherence to coding language standards. Here, elimination of non-portable or compiler vendor-specific language features is key. For example, avoid “pragmas,” use of bit-fields, use of native types, etc. • Avoidance of middleware vendor-specific APIs. • Source code language commonality. For example, striving to make header files compatible with both C and C++ whenever possible. • Consistent use of operating systems libraries across languages. This makes porting code from more resource-constrained environments (DSP) to less resource-constrained environments (GPP) feasible (Figure 6).

Developer Portability

Developer Portability (also known as Platform Portability) has two aspects: • Common platform service components that abstract common radio functionality promote waveform application portability. These common services can be standardized and offered across radio platforms developed by differing vendors thereby increasing the reuse and portability of waveform applications. • Platform capability that is offered by the

Currently, industry standardized SDR platform service components are severely lacking. Some interfaces and service component definitions have been defined and offered to industry by the U.S. DoD’s Joint Tactical Radio System (JTRS) program [7] while some others are in the process of being standardized by the Software Defined Radio Forum and the Object Management Group (such as smart antenna [8] and digital IF interfaces [9]). Although this handful of common platform service definitions goes a long way to increase waveform application portability, additional standardization in this area is sorely needed. The degree to which a waveform application is portable to a particular radio platform is determined by the evaluation of waveform application PIM against the platform service components offered, as well as the mapping of waveform component implementations onto the radio OE and physical radio platform. As such, in addition to basic software portability, a waveform application must also be able to reproduce its intended behavior on the radio platform to which it is being migrated. In order to do this a waveform application must capture as part of its deployment properties: • the QoS requirements between the waveform application’s components, • the QoS requirements between the waveform application components and platform service components, and • the component’s processing requirements.

wireless communications

OE and the physical communication channels of the radio hardware.

References [1] S  oftware Communications Architecture 2.2, [2] S  oftware Communications Architecture 2.2.2, [3] P  latform Independent Model (PIM) & Platform Specific Model (PSM) for Software Radio Components (also referred to as UML Profile for Software Radio) v1.0, OMG formal/2007-03-01, technology/documents/formal/swradio.htm [4] M  DA Presentations and Papers, http://www. [5] Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers. IEEE Standard Computer Dictionary: A Compilation of IEEE Standard Computer Glossaries. New York, NY: 1990. [6] ISO/IEC 14252:1996 [IEEE Std 1003.01995] Guide to the POSIX Open Systems Environment [7] S  oftware Communications Architecture (SCA) and JTRS Application Program Interfaces (APIs), [8] P  IM and PSM for Smart Antenna RFP, sbc/06-12-10, doc?sbc/2006-12-10 [9] P  IM and PSM for Digital Intermediate Frequency Interface RFP, OMG sbc/04-08-15, [10] P  rismTech Spectra SDR Power Tools, asp?id=305&sid=18&sid2=54 PrismTech Corporation Burlington, MA. 781-270-1177. [].

figure 6 Resource Interface Resource Component PIM

Component PSM Component Container

Resource Interface Component Infrastructure Component Implementation

More Less Less Constraining Constraining Constraining OE (DSP) OE OE Different Constraining but Compatible OEs Illustration.


In summary, using the techniques described in this article in conjunction with modern MDD techniques and tools, such as PrismTech’s Spectra Power Tools, it is currently possible to generate reusable and portable component implementations that are operating system and middleware neutral. This neutrality allows SDR application developers to create implementations that can be used across a wide range of SDR Operating Environments, and allows software to move closer to the antenna across the RF chain. DECEMBER 2007


consumer electronics cool applications

Toy Story: This Year’s Cool Portable Applications With the holidays rolling around again, Portable Design declared a temporary halt in tossing away catalogs before first taking a peek at the latest portable gadgets. All year long we offer guidance on how to design portable products. At year’s end we thought it would be fun to take a look at some of the more creative portable products that may have wound up under your tree (or be retrofitted). Batteries not included, of course. Palm-Size R/C Helicopter

OK, this may not be the most sophisticated design, but it may be the most fun. These injection molded, carbon-fiber mini copters can take off from your hand and circle your desk as your co-workers gape in amazement. Full con-

trol allows you to hover and turn left or right as your copter moves slowly forward. Two different channels let you fly with a friend. Using IR instead of RF for control, the copters include flashing colored LEDs for “night flying” and can fly for 5-7 minutes after a 15-minute charge. Warning: Don’t fly lower than your cat can jump. ThinkGeek ( Price: $29.99 - $49.99.

Kindle E-Book

Is Amazon’s new wireless e-book reader really “the future of book reading” as the ads claim? Well, it’s certainly a novel approach. With a built-in connection to a free nationwide wireless network, readers can download and read books, newspapers, magazines and blogs. New e-book releases cost about $10, with old classics going for as little at $1.99. More than 90,000 e-books are available, most of which can be downloaded in less than a minute. Kindle 30


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consumer electronics

features a 6” diagonal E-Ink electronic paper display, 600 x 800 pixel resolution at 167 ppi, 4-level gray scale (read: not color). Put this one on your wish list, it’s as backordered as the Wii. Amazon ( Price: $399.

FLY Fusion Pen Computer

The FLY Fusion Pentop Computer from Leapfrog is able to read your handwriting and turn it into editable text once you upload it to your computer. But that’s just the beginning. It can translate the sentence you just wrote in English and read it to you in French or Span-


er exploration ether your goal speak directly ical page, the ght resource. technology, es and products

this tee shirt features a glowing radio tower decal. The animated bars radiating out from it fluctuate depending on 802.11b/g signal strength. The perfect accessory in Silicon Valley or Austin, where “formal wear” is a black tee shirt. No word yet if other air interfaces are in the works. Think Geek (www.thinkgeek. com). Price: $29.

Digital Photo Keychain

Still haven’t bought a digital picture frame? Well, skip directly to version 2.0 with the digital photo keychain. With a 1.5inch OLED display and 8 Mbytes of internal memory, Tao’s keychains can hold up to 31


companies providing solutions now

exploration into products, technologies and companies. Whether your goal is to research the latest datasheet from a company, mp to a company's technical page, the goal of Get Connected is to put you in touch with the right resource. Whichever level of gy, Get Connected will help you connect with the companies and products you are searching for.


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ish using a built-in speaker. Kids can touch their pentop computer to FLY Paper and quiz themselves on history, get help with a quadratic equation, or even play their favorite MP3. They—OK, you—can even draw some drums and play them by tapping on the image with the pen. Leapfrog ( Price: $79.95

Wi-Fi Detector Tee Shirt

Look cool and find wireless hotspots at the same time. Powered by three AAA batteries,


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pictures at 128 x 128-bit resolution. Available in a variety of finishes, you’ll never again be lacking for photos of the kids. Tao Electronics ( Price: $49.99.

consumer electronics

i-SOBOT Humanoid Robot

If you still haven’t gotten over Sony’s pulling the plug on Aibo, then check out the i-SOBOT Humanoid Robot. Its custom-developed servo-motors allow i-SOBOT 17 degrees of freedom and more than 200 distinct actions. From his speaker you’ll hear hundreds of preset phrases and 60 kinds of sound effects; two LED eyes glow bright green and blue. You can control i-SOBOT’s actions via a wireless infrared remote with Flickr, Snapfish and Facebook. Eye-Fi (www. Price: $99.

EyeClops Bionic Eye

EyeClops is a handheld “bionic eye” that plugs into your TV’s video input. Point it at any object and see it magnified 200x on the big

LCD using dual joysticks and command buttons for kicks, punches, somersaults, dancing, push-ups, you name it. He also responds to voice commands in logical — but unpredictable—ways. Recommended for ages 10 and over. Go ahead—you’re over 10! Sharper Image ( Price: $299.95.

screen. Comes with a viewing tube and dish for checking out bugs, sand, crystals and leaves up close. A lot cheaper and more durable than a 200x microscope—not to mention more fun. For kids ages 6-12. Jaaks Pacific ( Price: $49.99.

Eye-Fi Wireless Memory Data Card

Just haven’t gotten around to downloading last Christmas’ photos from your digital camera? Eye-Fi is a wireless 2 Gbyte SD memory card that automatically connects to your home wireless network, sending JPEG-format pictures to your computer or directly to one of 17 photo sites, including Picassa, Shutterfly, DECEMBER 2007


portable power cool applications

High-Power Batteries and Chargers There is a new variety of Li-ion cells available that supports high discharge currents required for many applications.

by Jeffrey VanZwol, Marketing Director, Micro Power Electronics


The power tool industry’s demand for highpower batteries that are lighter weight, smaller and have a better cycle life than Ni-Cad batteries has enticed cell manufacturers to develop high-drain Li-ion cells. The RoHS restrictions on Ni-Cad have greatly improved the market success of high-drain cells. These cells are a derivative of Li-ion products, and are derived from the desire for high capacity, resulting in cells that deliver high power for shorter periods of time. There is a new variety of Li-ion cells available that supports high discharge currents required for many applications, and subsequently, supports high charge currents for fast charging.

High-Drain Cells

Within the cell, the reduction of the path length and resistance for the transport of ions and electrons accommodates high discharge and charge rates. Changes start with the bat34


tery active materials. Traditional Li-ion cells are based on a LiCoO2 cathode compound. With traditional Li-ion cells, lithium ions can only be inserted through two-dimensional paths. Shortening the path length is achieved by changing the physical morphology of the battery active material, as well as changing the material’s chemical structure. One solution is physically accelerating the transfer of material by decreasing the particle size of the materials to nanoscale. New chemistries, such as Lithium Manganese Spinel (LiMn2O4), offer three dimensional pathways for ion insertion. In addition, the resistance of the cells is lowered by using thin materials, increasing the concentration of electrolyte, and reducing its viscosity with solvents. Cell manufacturers have used one or more of these techniques to modify their formulations to support high discharges. E-One Moli energy offers a high-drain cell based on a manganese spinel cathode material.

portable power

Fast Charging

A major benefit of a high-drain cell is the ability to support fast charge. Traditional cobalt

figure 1 2500 -


2000 Grav. Power Density (W/Kg)

In Figure 1, this cylindrical 26700 (26 mm in diameter, 70 mm in length) cell supports 80A pulses for over 10 seconds. Moli has very recently introduced a spinel chemistry cell in the traditional 18650 size. The drawback of a highrate cell is the lower capacity. The 26700 and 18650s have capacities of only about 2.9 Ah and 1.2 Ah, respectively. This cell is targeted toward power tool applications. A123 Systems offers a cell that supports very high drain rates. This cell was also developed specifically for the power tool market. As presented in Figure 2, the A123 cell exploits nanoscales particles to achieve a performance very similar to the Moli cells The fundamental cathode chemistry is also different from the Moli technology, so the voltage is somewhat lower. The A123 cell has an operating voltage of 3.2 instead of 3.6 because Lithium Iron Phosphate (LiFePO4) material is used. Kokam offers a high-drain polymer option. This Lithium polymer battery is able to draw up to a 20C rate discharge continuously, with a peak discharge rate of 40C. These high-drain cells have similar characteristics. The cell impedance is low, and the discharge/charge rates can be high. This enables fast charge, or allows fewer cells per battery pack. Unfortunately, the energy density of these highdrain cells is lower than traditional Li-ion cells. Off-the-shelf safety circuits and fuel gauges are not yet available, so custom circuit boards are usually required within the battery pack. From an economic perspective, the high-drain cells are new to the market, so the volumes and prices have not achieved the levels of traditional Li-ion cells. For any specific cell configuration such as an 18650, it is anticipated that the high-drain cells will always command a premium over traditional Li-ion cells.



60A 50A

1500 -




1000 -


500 -

10A 5A








Time (seconds)

Performance of the Moli cell at different currents.

oxide Li-ion cells appreciate a 3-hour charge cycle using a 0.5 C rate Constant-Current Constant-Voltage (CC-CV) charge regimen. One could ask why we cannot fast charge a traditional Li-ion cell? Why not simply increase the current delivered during the constant current phase of the charge cycle? As shown in Table 1, the overall charge time is not significantly increased when the current is increased from 1C to higher rates. The difference in charge time with a 2C rate compared to a 3C charge rate is

table 1 0.7C Charging

1.0C Charging

2.0 Charging

3.0 Charging

CC Time

Charge Time

Discharge Time

CC Time

Charge Time

Discharge Time

CC Time

Charge Time

Discharge Time

CC Time

Charge Time

Discharge Time





































Comparison of charge times with increasing charge current (time in minutes).



portable power

figure 2 3.6 3.4





3.2 Voltage (V)


only about one minute, regardless of cell vendor. The cells reach the upper voltage cut-off faster, but the duration in the constant voltage mode (of the CC-CV charge regimen) will be much longer. This increases the potential for damage to the battery due to over voltage. The resistance of traditional Li-ion cells will cause them to heat up more during faster charges, so the cells will begin to break down and battery cycle life is significantly reduced.

3.0 2.8 2.6

er exploration ether your goal speak directly 2.4 ical page, the ght resource. 2.2 technology, es and products


Note: Data from production cells 2.0 0.0 0.5 1.0

1.5 Capacity (Ah)



Performance of the A123 cell at different currents.

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High-drain cells be accompanied with exploration into products, technologies and companies. Whether your goal is to research the latest datasheet fromcan a company, mp to a company's technical page, the goal of Get Connected is to put you in toucha with the rightcharger resource. that Whichever of advantage of battery canlevel take gy, Get Connected will help you connect with the companies and products you arethe searching for. characteristics of a high-drain cell. Since


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a high-drain cell can support high-current discharges, a battery charger can fully charge a cell in an equivalent period of time. The article will review the required modifications to be applied to a conventional charger to take advantage of the unique characteristics of high-drain cells.

Connecting it Up

An initial area that needs to be considered is interconnects and traces on the PCBA, as well as the contacts between the charger and the battery. With respect to traces, a typical design using 2-oz copper may need to support a continu-


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ous/peak current of 2 or 3 amps, and traces on the PCBA could be 1 to 2 mm wide for proper current density. If we need to support a 15-amp continuous charge current, traces would need to be expanded to be 4 to 6 mm wide due to higher current. With interconnects between PCBAs, typical chargers can operate with 1-2 mm diameter Beryllium Copper contacts with Gold or Nickel plating. Increasing the charge current to 15 amps dictates that the interconnect material should upgraded appropriately. Similarly, external contacts between charger and battery need to be upgraded to support higher currents. One can utilize off-the-shelf contacts (such as pogo pins), however, most off-the-shelf contacts are limited to 2-amp delivery. An alternate approach is using multiple low-current contacts in parallel to deliver +/voltage to the battery. The use of several +/contacts improves the redundancy of the overall connection between the charger and battery in the event that one individual contact should fail. For high-current contacts, the recommended option is the development of custom contacts, such as a spring loaded or bent wire contact, where the gauge of the metal contact is designed to carry the maximum current. The custom contact can be designed with multiple contact points if heat related contact issues need to be addressed.

Designing a Charger

One of the most important factors to be considered in a charger design is how fast the cell needs to be recharged. Typically, a 5-watt power supply could power a battery charger for a traditional Li-ion single cell 18650 pack. For an equivalent size high-drain cell, one could fast charge this cell in 15 minutes with 15-amp power supply. The inclusion of a 15-amp power supply within the battery charger affects many other aspects of the charger. Thermal management is greatly affected by larger power supplies and high-current charge electronics. Heat generated from the power supply is detrimental to the electronics of the charger, as this heat can 1) put the batteries out of their allowable charging temperature range (typically -20째 to 60째C) and 2) deteriorate the cells when they sit in the charger. Many thermal management principles exist to dissipate heat

it, the charger can reduce or suspend the charge current to the cell. The availability of high-drain cells has provided manufacturers of portable devices with greater variety when addressing high-drain or fast-charge requirements. Along with the excitement of their high-power capability, one must remember that affiliated charging schemes for these cells provide a new set of challenges for both electrical and mechanical engineers tasked with this challenge. We have highlighted some of the primary design challenges affiliated with using these high-power cells, as well as charging these cells. Micro Power Electronics, Inc. Beaverton, OR (503) 693-7600 []

portable power

quickly within a charger. The most obvious is the inclusion of a fan and vents. Chargers for traditional cobalt oxide cells do not typically need fans, but fans are usually needed to quickly charge high-drain cells. Many manufactures object to fans as they 1) reduce product reliability due to their electromechanical nature, 2) provide an ingress point for debris into the charger enclosure, 3) are a primary source of noise, and 4) add cost. With battery charger designs, there are other thermal management techniques to minimize the negative effect of heat on the cells. Strategic placement of the Printed Circuit Board Assembly (PCBA) in relation to the cells is critical. As presented in Figure 3 (a cross-sectional view of an older charger design), the PCBA is mounted to the cell cup, sits directly under the cells, and incrementally heats them during their charge cycle. The heat from the charger is in addition to the self-heating of the cells during the charge cycle. A newer charger design, presented in Figure 4, places the PCBA more distant from the cups holding the cells, and has a prominent air gap for insulation. In addition, this newer design utilizes an aluminum enclosure that provides a heat sink for the PCBA. This newer enclosure also has aluminum cooling fins for better radiance of internal heat. Thermal management of the cells is required to ensure they do not overheat during charging, as there is a large amount of energy quickly transferred into a relatively small container. The risk of thermal runaway with any cell is much higher in a quick charge cycle. Variable current charging includes the active monitoring of the cell temperature during the charge cycle. It is critical that the interior temperature within the pack is monitored. The interior pack temperature is accessed via a thermistor contact between the pack and charger, or delivered via a SMBus serial interface. Microcontrollers, embedded within the battery charger, enable the charger to monitor all electrical and environmental aspects of the cell. These microcontrollers can administer variable charge currents based on 1) available power, 2) cell temperature conditions, and 3) maximum allowable charge current. Charge current can be maximized until the battery approaches its high temperature limit. If the cells hit their high temperature lim-

figure 3

A cross-sectional view of an older charger design.

figure 4

Newer charger design with air gap and aluminum fins.



portable power cool applications

Printed and ThinFilm Batteries Printed and/or thin-film batteries may be the perfect solution for your next small, ultra-portable design. Some of the applications may surprise you. by Lawrence Gasman, Principal Analyst, NanoMarkets, LC


Thin-film batteries are solid-state batteries, whose characteristic feature is (not surprisingly) that they are very thin. Printed batteries are simply any battery that uses printing in their manufacture. Typically, what are printed in printed batteries are the electrodes and the battery then uses a liquid electrolyte. (Eventually the whole of a printed battery may be printed.) Both types of batteries chase after more or less the same markets. Thin-film and printed batteries are suited to applications where their small profile and lowcost manufacturing make them economically attractive. These include low-power applications such as smart cards, memory chips, active RFID tags and medical implants (e.g., hearing devices and neurostimulators). Some companies are seeking out niche applications—such as cosmetic patches—where there appears to be a unique need for the special features offered by this kind of battery.



Why Thin-Film and Printed?

In a recent market study, NanoMarkets LC predicted that the market for these kinds of batteries could reach $5.6 billion by 2015. This large number is based on some major advantages that thin-film and printed batteries can bring to the table Thin-film batteries typically offer long shelf life and robust rechargeability; some of the batteries in this category can be charged thousands of times. Small form-factors are also important. There are emerging low-performance electronic applications where conventional batteries just won’t fit; powered smart cards for example. And thin-film batteries add negligible bulk to an end-product. There are also production advantages. If battery manufacture can be integrated on the same production line with the device being powered and on the same substrate, then fixed production costs can be allocated to both battery and

Better Batteries through Chemistry

The most widely used batteries for regular mobile communications are Lithium-ion batteries. Thin-film Lithium-ion batteries offer advantages in addition to those common to all thin-film batteries. They can withstand heating to as high as 280째C, for example. A variation on the theme is the Lithium-polymer (LiPo) battery. The advantages of LiPo include lowercost manufacturing and being more resilient to physical damage. In addition, these batteries have thin-profile geometry with cell thickness measuring as little as one millimeter. But there are challenges to this technology including internal resistance, longer charge times and slower maximum discharge rates compared to more mature technologies. Lithium-polymer batteries are also more expensive than thin-film Lithium-ion batteries. Printed batteries tend to use either zinc manganese dioxide or carbon zinc chemistries, which are lower-cost materials than those in the Lithium-ion thin-film batteries. These materials can be formulated into inks to be printed by the screen printing process onto a variety of substrates. These batteries are said to be environmentally friendly and cheap. The most significant development in the thin-film battery market in terms of materials is the use of Lithium phosphorus oxynitride (LiPON) as an electrolyte. This enables the battery to be solid-state, reducing safety or environmental issues significantly. The technology is

portable power

device. Some of these batteries have solid-state electrolytes, which enable high temperatures to be withstood during processing; vacuum deposition production methods to be used if necessary or batteries can be used laminated smart cards. The main factor retarding the market for the thin-film/printed batteries at the present time is high cost. Thin-film/printable batteries discussed in this article are currently unable to compete with conventional battery technology on price. This will change as volumes for thinfilm/printed batteries ramp up and technology gets better. However, few battery manufacturers want to compete on price alone, since this is likely to impact profitability.

licensed from Oak Ridge National Laboratory and this material platform is currently licensed to five thin-film battery companies. There has also been some work done on providing alternatives to LiPON. One alternative developed at MIT uses a solid polymer, has improved conductivity and supports higher temperature applications.


By far the largest application for these batteries is likely to be found in active and batteryassisted RFID. There is much talk in the RFID industry about battery-assisted technology as a solution to the cost issue surrounding active tags. If these battery-assisted devices take off, this would obviously be good news for battery

table 1 Thin-Film and Printable Batteries Market ($ Millions) 2008








Other smart packaging





Point-of-purchase displays





Powered smart cards





Medical devices





Sensor networks















Active RFID

makers. Thin-film battery firms that are heavily targeting this part of the market are emphasizing the following capabilities: ability to increase range, power, data transfer speed, useful lifetime and operating temperature range. Thin-film or printed batteries are also regarded as highly suitable for other kinds of smart packaging. It is possible that the battery could be printed along with the other packaging materials in an in-line process right in the printing/converting plant. However, packaging is almost always a cost-sensitive area. For soft drink and food manufacturers, adding just one cent to the cost of packaging is a big deal. It is hard to imagine how batteries of any kind DECEMBER 2007


portable power

could be used in this kind of packaging, but there are niche areas where the functionality of packaging is such that additional costs can be comfortably borne. Such niche areas include pharmaceutical compliance packaging, certain temperature/freshness monitoring products embedded in large cartons/palettes, and tamper-proof courier packages. The sensor area is yet another market where the potential for this kind of battery appears to be high. Wireless sensor networks and environmental sensing devices are often located in areas where other forms of electricity are not widely available and batteries are the obvious choice of power source. For very small sensing devices, thin-film batteries may be the obvious choice, although in some cases energy harvesting and photovoltaics may prove a better way to power remote sensors than batteries. Or batteries may be used to simply store the energy produced by these other sources. A prime target within the sensor segment for thin-film/printable batteries is where sensors are located in harsh environments. Some examples would be in tire pressure sensors, military sensors and sensors used in oil drilling and mining. Another type of product that must often be deployed in areas that do not have easy access to grid electricity, and is therefore yet another target market, is a point-of-purchase display nd used in a retail environment. Also in this environment, smart cards for financial applications er exploration ether your goal offer significant potential markets for thin-film speak directly or printed batteries. However, at present most ical page, the ght resource. such cards do not need batteries. Where battertechnology, ies come into the picture is with the latest genes and products eration of smart cards, which are called—natued rally enough—“powered cards.” These have enough features that it is no longer possible to power them from an external source. Powered cards can incorporate displays, dynamic account information, authentication services, light and sound. One product development dicompanies providing solutions now rection fordatasheet powered that is receiving conexploration into products, technologies and companies. Whether your goal is to research the latest fromcards a company, mp to a company's technical page, the goal of Get Connected is to put you in touchsiderable with the right resource. Whichever level of of cards with attention is the concept gy, Get Connected will help you connect with the companies and products you areone-time searching for. passcode authentication capabilities. onnected Batteries are needed for certain specialized medical devices and for implants and patches that have therapeutic, diagnostic, or cosmetic functionality. Batteries serving this market vary in their requirements, but key factors are often flexibility (for patches especially), long periods between charges and small form factor. For labs-on-a-chip and diagnostic devices, thin-film/printable batteries considered in this article could enable a smaller form-factor for the device or even lower price points. ThinGet Connected with companies mentioned in this article. film batteries could also provide improved power for implants, limiting the need for bat-

End of Article



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tery replacement and patient surgeries and offering smaller, thinner devices, which could be charged through the body. Cosmetic, therapy and stimulation patches can also be driven by printable batteries because of the cost factor and because these batteries can be manufactured in customized shapes.

The Business Side of Things

Investment levels in the printable and thinfilm battery business have not yet been huge. The amounts invested in individual firms have typically been under $20 million, often just a few million dollars. This would not be enough to build a high-volume plant. But there are a few outliers. In 2006, Infinite Power Solutions raised $34.7 million primarily to build its new facilities. Power Paper has received $72 million from an international group of investors. Relatively few of the large electronics, battery and materials firms play in this market directly, but there are exceptions. NEC is a player, but seems to be quite some way from commercializing it. Varta, the leading supplier of nickel, metal hybrid button batteries is also involved with Lithium batteries for smart cards. Ultralife is a public company that supplies many kinds of batteries including some of the type considered here. The involvement of large firms in this sector looks more impressive, if one considers strategic investments. Cymbet, for example, has received finance from the venture arms of Intel and Dow Chemical. Air Products has invested in Solicore. Military and government sources seem also to have played an important role in the financing of thin-film and printable battery companies. In the U.S. In-Q-Tel, the VC-firm that has a close association with the CIA has invested in this area. In Europe, Enfucell got money from Vera Venture, a Finnish government-backed seed funding company, and from Tekes, the Finnish Funding Agency for Technology and Innovation. The thin-film/printable battery story is not yet completely convincing when it comes to volumes; the applications that could generate large volumes—powered smart cards and active RFID, for example—have yet to prove themselves. This could make the pitches of thin battery makers a little unconvincing at times. Nonetheless, the underlying economics and the features of these batteries seem to suggest big rewards in the future. Nanomarkets Glen Allen, VA. (804) 360-2967. [].


product feature XO-1: The Hundred-Dollar Laptop by John Donovan, Editor-in-Chief Several years ago, Nicholas Negroponte and some colleagues at MIT’s Media Lab set out on a mission to provide one connected laptop to every child in developing countries. The device had to be rugged, simple and fun to use, and above all, inexpensive. Last month Negroponte’s group One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) began mass production of the XO-1, the long-promised “hundred-dollar laptop.” Far from being a cheap toy, the 3-lb. XO has features you could only hope to have in your own notebook. The XO has a built-in video camera (640×480 resolution at 30 FPS); microphone; AC97-compatible audio subsystem; dual capacitance/resistive touchpad; memorycard slot; graphics tablet; game-pad controllers (two sets of four-direction cursor-control keys); and wireless networking (integrated 802.11b/g interface and 802.11s (mesh) networking). It’s also waterproof, dustproof and very rugged. The XO features a 7.5-inch, 1200×900 pixel, TFT screen that can rotate from laptop mode to a tablet configuration for use as an e-book reader. The self-refreshing display has higher resolution (200 DPI) than 95 percent of the laptops on the market today. Two display modes are available: a transmissive, full-color mode, and a reflective, high-resolution black and white mode that is sunlight readable. Both consume very little power: the transmissive mode consumes one watt—about one seventh of the average LCD power consumption in a laptop; the reflective mode consumes a miserly 0.2 watts. The XO comes with LiFePO4 or NiMH batteries; the LiFePO4 battery pack is rated at 22.8 watt-hours, the NiMH at 16.5 watt-hours. One battery charge will power six hours of heavy activity or 24 hours of reading. The batteries are rated for 2,000 charge cycles, which is about 4x better than you’re getting on your notebook; and you can replace them, if need be, for a mere $10. In addition, the XO can be powered by an optional solar panel or a crank, a pedal or a pull-cord—important considerations where power is either unreliable or not available. The XO’s core hardware is unexceptional but capable. The CPU is a 433 MHz AMD Geode LX700 with 64 Kbyte each L1 I and D cache and at least 128 Kbyte L2 cache. Main memory is 256 Mbyte DDR333 DRAM running at 166 MHz. Main storage is 1024 MiB SLC NAND flash, with an MMC/SD expansion card slot. There is no hard drive, no CD-ROM and no DVD drive. The flash drive was dictated by the need for ruggedness, but the lack of more storage does limit what you can do. The XO uses free and open-source software. The OS is built on Red Hat’s Fedora Core 6 version of Linux. Applications include a Web



browser using Firefox’s Xulrunner run-time environment; a simple document viewer based on Evince; the AbiWord word processor, an RSS reader, an e-mail client, chat client, VoIP client; a journal; a multimedia authoring and playback environment; a music composition toolkit, graphics toolkits, games, a shell and a debugger. The real innovation in XO is the networking. The concept here is to always provide the students with a broadband connection to each other, either through the Internet or an ad hoc mesh network. If a Wi-Fi connection is available, the XO automatically connects; if not, it starts or joins a mesh network with neighboring XOs. As far as possible the software avoids being application-oriented, instead the user interface stresses cooperative interaction over the network. Applications are largely wiki-based, meaning every page on the Internet, for example, can become part of a conversational thread with other XO kids, whether they’re in the next room or the next country. This has got to make learning a lot more fun. OLPC designed the XO for “the nearly two billion children in the developing world [who] are inadequately educated, or receive no education at all.” It’s a great educational tool that pushes the envelope in portable design. But most of all it’s an outstanding example of using technology to help your fellow man—an inspiring message in this or any other season. One Laptop Per Child Cambridge, MA. (617) 452-5663. [].

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Don’t miss out on these great products

products for designers 900 MHz Frequency Hopping Radio Targets Wireless Sensor Networks Xecom, Inc. has announced a new version of the XE900SL10, 900 MHz Frequency Hopping radio. The XE900SL10-N targets remote sensor networks by increasing the number of available network nodes, increasing data throughput and providing additional communications options. The XE900SL10-N is aimed at monitoring and process control applications that utilize remotely placed sensors. The first-generation XE900SL10 focused on link reliability and data integrity. The XE900SL10-N simplifies communications for larger sensor networks. The maximum number of nodes supported in a single network increases from 256 to more than 65,000. As before, 256 unique frequency hopping algorithms permit multiple unique networks to coexist, but those networks can now be larger. Link overhead is reduced to increase real data transfer rates up to 3 times. A new broadcast data mode allows a message to be transmitted simultaneously to all other network nodes. The XE900SL10-N continues many of the special features Xecom introduced in the original XE900SL10. These features include SensorOnAir, patent pending, to read remote sensors, multiple power saving modes to prolong battery life, and integrated analog and digital I/O lines for direct connection of sensors. The XE900SL10-N is priced under $30 in 1000-piece quantities. Xecom, Inc., Milpitas, CA. (408) 942-2200. [].

Sub $15 BOM Internet Radio CSR has introduced RadioPro, a Wi-Fi Internet radio example design based on the company’s UniFi single-chip Wi-Fi platform. RadioPro provides wireless streaming of Internet radio via Wi-Fi without the need for a PC and supports over 10,000 radio stations through a dedicated Internet radio portal. With a bill of materials (BOM) of less than $15, CSR’s RadioPro is the lowest-cost Internet radio solution available today, and comes with the added advantage of being software upgradeable. Radios using CSR’s RadioPro design will be in shops for Christmas. RadioPro uses CSR’s UniFi-1 chip to connect to a dedicated Internet radio portal through a Wi-Fi access point. Once a station has been selected, RadioPro’s software ensures smooth, reliable and high-quality streamed audio. CSR’s RadioPro also supports “over-the-air” software upgrades, allowing end users to update their products directly with new capabilities as they are made available. Offering ODMs a quick route to market, RadioPro is available free of charge and features all the required hardware design information and software to stream live Internet radio stations. RadioPro’s flexible architecture allows full customization of the user interface and menus through a dedicated Software Development Kit (SDK). RadioPro is based on two low-power chips from CSR: UniFi, CSR’s single-chip Wi-Fi platform and the Multimedia Application Processor (MAP), a highly integrated chip with a RISC processor, a DSP and a stereo codec. The low-power design of RadioPro boasts up to 25 hours of active streaming time running on a 1500 mAH battery, enabling truly portable Internet radio products. CSR (Cambridge Silicon Radio), Richardson, TX. (214) 540-4300. [].

Qualcomm Samples UMTS Chipset Tensilica Enhances Xtensa Configurable Processor Families with New Options, Bridges and Software Tools Tensilica has announced that it has upgraded its two Xtensa configurable processor families (the Xtensa 7 and Xtensa LX2) with new hardware options and software tool enhancements that make it appeal to an even wider audience of SoC (system-on-chip) designers. Highlights of these capabilities include a new, smaller general-purpose register file option, new integer multiplier and divider execution unit options, two new AMBA (Advanced Microcontroller Bus Architecture 3.0) bridge options, as well as an easy-to-use new configuration tool that analyzes source C/C++ code and automatically suggests VLIW (very long instruction word) instruction extensions that lead to 30-60% improvements in general-purpose code performance. These new capabilities provide designers with the most productive configurable processor design environment, with automated features that ensure that each processor design is correct by construction. The five most significant new hardware options introduced by Tensilica include: a 16-entry register file, a relocatable exception vector option, a low-area multiplier, an integer divider, and new AMBA-compatible bridges. All of these enhancements just started shipping with the November 2007 release of Xtensa LX2 and Xtensa 7 processor cores and the Tensilica software development tools. Tensilica Inc., Santa Clara, CA. (408) 986-8000. [].



Qualcomm Incorporated has announced that it will enable a dramatic reduction in the cost of WCDMA (UMTS) mobile broadband handsets with the introduction of Qualcomm’s new cost-effective Mobile Station Modem (MSM) MSM6246 HSDPA and MSM6290 HSUPA chipsets. The products, sampling now, are designed to enable devices that break new price barriers for HSDPA and HSUPA handsets. The two chipsets also feature new power-saving features that will enable better performance and longer battery life, with standby time of more than 37 days. The MSM6246 chipset will support 3.6 Mbit/s HSDPA for advanced services such as high-resolution video downloads and Web 2.0 browsing. The MSM6290 HSUPA chipset supports speeds up to 7.2 Mbits/s on the downlink and 5.76 Mbits/s on the uplink, tapping into the surge in popularity of applications such as social networking and user-generated multimedia sharing. The two products are drop-in replacements for each other, with power management, software and RF compatibility. Both products interface with the RTR6285 single-chip CMOS transceiver. The MSM6246 HSDPA chipset features: • 3 megapixel camera support • QVGA video playback • Integrated Assisted-GPS and high-speed USB support The MSM6290 HSUPA chipset features: • 5 megapixel camera support • WQVGA video playback • Integrated Assisted-GPS, 3D graphics and high-speed USB support In addition, the two products both feature 10 mm x 10 mm package sizes that represent a nearly 50 percent reduction in package footprint from previous-generation baseband solutions. This dramatic size reduction will enable next-generation mobile broadband devices that are fully featured, slim, stylish and powerful in functionality. Qualcomm Incorporated, San Diego, CA. (858) 587-1121. [].

Altera Zeros Out Power With New MAX IIZ CPLDs for Portable Applications Expanding its low-power portfolio of programmable logic solutions, Altera Corporation has announced the new, zero-power MAX IIZ CPLD designed specifically to address the power, package and price constraints of the portable applications market. Offering a resource advantage of up to six times the density and three times the I/Os compared to competing traditional macrocell-based CPLDs, MAX IIZ devices allow designers to meet changing functional requirements at the same or lower power while saving board space. Adding zero-power and ultra-small packages to the most popular CPLD series in the industry, the MAX IIZ devices deliver the many benefits of CPLDs—including flexibility, faster time-to-market, and board-level integration—to handsets and other portable applications. MAX IIZ devices are available in densities of 240 and 570 logic elements (LEs). The devices are available in ultra-small MBGA packages with up to 160 I/Os. This increased logic density and greater I/O count allow greater integration of existing functions from other devices, substantially reducing board space and power consumption while lowering overall system costs. Production-qualified MAX IIZ EPM240Z M68 devices will begin shipping in the first quarter of 2008 at $1.25 in high volumes. All MAX IIZ devices will be shipping in production by the second quarter of 2008. Additionally, over 20 MAX IIZ design examples, enabling designers to quickly and cost-effectively create and customize their designs, are available at www. The MAX IIZ demo board will be available by the second quarter of 2008. Altera Corporation, San Jose, CA. (408) 544-7000. [].

New PSoC Evaluation Kit Cypress Semiconductor Corp. has introduced a new evaluation kit for its fast-growing PSoC mixed-signal arrays. The new CY3209 ExpressEVK includes four different PSoC devices and gives designers an easy to use platform to try a multitude of designs. The CY3209 ExpressEVK includes four sections, each of which contains a separate PSoC device. The sections can all be networked together easily via I2C interfaces to test numerous combinations of functions using the PSoC Express visual embedded design tool. The new kit offers hardware, software and design examples to help designers implement a variety of functions, including: • PSoC CapSense capacitive touch interfaces • Wireless communication • “Drag and drop” USB programming • LCD and LED control • Accelerometer, tilt or drop sensing • Voltage monitoring Details of the kit are at The kit is priced at $129.99 and is available for purchase on the “Online Store” at and through authorized distributor partners, including Future, Arrow, Avnet, Digikey, Mouser, P&S, and MSC. Cypress Semiconductor, San Jose, CA. (408) 943-2600. [].



products for designers

Freescale Enters the Touch Panel Market Push buttons are out and touch panels are in for an increasing number of consumer, industrial, medical and automotive designs. Not one to be left out of a burgeoning market, Freescale Semiconductor has introduced a pair of next-generation capacitive sensor controllers and a proximity-sensing software solution that works with hundreds of Freescale microcontrollers (MCUs). Freescale is providing designers with two flexible options: • A choice of rotary and touchpad capacitive sensor controllers combined with full-featured touch-sensing algorithms for complex interface designs that require calibration and multiplexing capabilities • Complimentary proximity sensing software derived from the full-featured algorithm designed to enable easy integration of touch sensing technology into cost-sensitive control applications using Freescale’s 8-bit S08 and 32-bit ColdFire V1 MCUs Complimentary proximity sensing software features include NRE/royalty-free software solution, with source code built on CodeWarrior software; eight electrodes implemented in the code base, with the capability of supporting up to 32 electrodes; use and configuration of any available GPIO pin as an electrode input; programmable sampling period; and a wide variety of hardware options. The suggested resale price for the MPR083 and MPR084 touch sensor controllers in 10,000-piece quantities is $1.07. Freescale Semiconductor, Austin, TX. (800) 521-6274 [].

Low-Power Microcontroller with Complete Signal Chain for Portable Medical Diagnostic Equipments Texas Instruments has introduced a system-on-chip (SoC) microcontroller unit (MCU) that provides a complete signal chain for handheld medical applications, enabling anew level of integration and affordability. The new MSP430FG4270 MCU integrates a comprehensive range of functions needed to design low cost portable medical diagnostic equipment. The generous on-chip memory and a full suite of integrated analog peripherals keep component costs and system space to a minimum in portable applications such as personal blood pressure monitors, spirometers, pulsoximeters and heart rate monitors. The MCU’s power savings and SoC integration can also benefit other types of applications, including analog and digital sensor systems, portable medical devices, digital motor control, remote controls, thermostats, digital timers and handheld meters. To speed time-to-market, MSP430 Development Kits include everything required to complete an entire project, including the IAR Embedded Workbench and Code Composer Studio Essentials Integrated Development Environments (IDEs), a USB debugging and programming interface, and an MSP430-based target board. The new MSP430FG4270 MCU is now available in volume from TI and TI Authorized Distributors. Customers can select a 48-pin SSOP or 48-pin QFN package. Suggested resale pricing for the MSP430FG4270 is $3.78 per unit in quantities of 10,000. Texas Instruments Inc., Dallas, TX. (800) 336-5236. [].

I²C Controlled 4-Output Synchronous Step-Down DC/DC Converter Fits 2 x 600 mA & 2 x 400 mA Independent Converter in 3 mm x 3 mm QFN Linear Technology announces the LTC3562, a quad-channel, high-efficiency, 2.25 MHz, synchronous buck converter that can deliver dual 600 mA and dual 400 mA continuous outputs from a 3 mm x 3 mm QFN package. Using a constant frequency current mode architecture, the LTC3562 operates from an input voltage range of 2.7V to 5.5V, making it ideal for single cell Li-Ion/polymer, or multicell alkaline/NiCad/NiMH applications. The LTC3562 has two channels (600 mA and 400 mA) that allow the output voltage to be adjusted by programming the feedback voltages between 425 mV and 800 mV in 25 mV increments. The other two channels (600 mA and 400 mA) feature fixed outputs that can be programmed between 600 mV and 3.775V in 25 mV steps programming is done an I2C interface. This level of independent output voltage control makes the LTC3562 ideal for managing multiple supply rails. Its 2.25 MHz switching frequency enables the utilization of tiny, low-cost ceramic capacitors and inductors less than a 1 mm in height. This, combined with a 3 mm x 3 mm QFN package, provides a very compact quad output solution for handheld and other dense board applications. The LTC3562EUD is available from stock in a 20-lead 3 mm x 3 mm QFN package. Pricing starts at $3.50 each in 1,000-piece quantities. Linear Technology, Milpitas, CA. (408) 432-1900. [].

Advanced Verification Technologies Added to Cadence Invisive Enterprise Cadence Design Systems, Inc. has announced that fundamental new technologies have been integrated into the Cadence Incisive Enterprise verification family, which enable engineering teams to address increasingly complex chip design for products such as multi-mode cell phones, gaming consoles and HD-DVD players. Incisive technologies now offer support for the newly developed Open Verification Methodology (OVM), a powerful new aspect-oriented generation engine, and the second generation of Cadence transaction-based acceleration (TBA) with native support of multiple testbench languages and numerous productivity enhancements. The new aspect-oriented generation engine leverages aspect-oriented programming (AOP) architected testbenches to improve performance and scalability. These major enhancements to the Cadence Incisive Specman, Incisive Enterprise Simulator, and the Incisive Palladium and Xtreme hardware acceleration/emulation systems are in addition to numerous productivity enhancements. Incisive Enterprise Simulator 6.2, Incisive Specman 6.2 and TBA 2.0 enabled Incisive Palladium and Incisive Xtreme are currently available. Cadence Design Systems Inc, San Jose, CA. (408) 943-1234. [].



More Flash Memory for Tiny Digital Signal Controllers Microchip Technology Inc. has announced an expansion of its low pin count 16-bit Digital Signal Controller (DSC) portfolio with the addition of three dsPIC33F General Purpose Family members and three dsPIC33F Motor Control/Power Conversion Family DSCs, which offer increased memory options for a range of applications including smart sensor processing, advanced motor control, lighting and power inverters. The new General Purpose DSCs feature 16 or 32 Kbytes of flash memory with 28- or 44-pin packages and provide a pin- and code-compatible migration path for PIC24 microcontrollers. The devices also feature an on-chip Analog-to-Digital-Converter (ADC), with up to 1.1 Msps, and serial interfaces such as I2C, SPI and UART. These DSCs are expected to be popular for a variety of embedded applications where high performance and small footprint are key requirements. The three dsPIC33F Motor Control Family DSCs add a motor-control PWM with two independent clock sources for advanced motor control or inverter algorithms—as well as active power factor correction—using a single DSC. This on-chip PWM peripheral is also designed for power-conversion and lighting applications. They also include a quadrature encoder interface for sensor-based motor applications. These devices provide an excellent platform for advanced motor control algorithms, such as Field-Oriented Control (FOC)—bringing the next level of high performance, low noise and power efficiency to motor control applications. (Microchip’s FOC source code can be downloaded for free, via Application Note AN1078, at Both the General Purpose and Motor Control DSCs also feature Peripheral Pin Select, which allows designers to remap digital I/O to optimize Untitled-4 board layout—enabling smaller boards, less noise and the use of a lower pin count DSC. Additional key features include the following: Both Families: • 40 MIPS performance in 6x6 mm packages • 32 or 16 Kbytes of flash and 2 Kbytes of RAM • 1 UART, 1 SPI and 1 I2C Port dsPIC33FJ32GP General Purpose Family: • ADC w/ up to 13 channels, and user-selectable 10-bit or 12-bit mode (10-bit mode enables simultaneous sampling, eliminating lag time between samples) dsPIC33FJ32MC Motor Control/ Power Conversion Family: •ADC w/ up to 9 channels, and user-selectable 10-bit or 12-bit mode (10-bit mode enables simultaneous sampling, eliminating lag time between samples) The dsPIC33FJ32GP and dsPIC33FJ32MC families consist of three members each, which are all available today for general sampling and volume production with prices starting at $2.51 and $2.47 each, respectively, in 10,000-unit quantities. The dsPIC33FJ32GP202 and dsPIC33FJ32MC202 are available in 28-pin SDIP, SOIC and QFN packages. The dsPIC33FJ32GP204, dsPIC33FJ32MC204, dsPIC33FJ16GP304 and dsPIC33FJ16MC304 are all available in 44-pin TQFP and QFN packages.


2/7/07 2:57:41 PM



Microchip Technology Inc., Chandler, AZ. (480) 792-7200. [].

embeddedcommad_14v.indd 1

DECEMBER11/13/06 2007 5:55:59 47 PM

second opinion Designing Energy-Efficient Consumer Electronics by Devadas Varma, Chairman and Founder, Calypto Design Systems

The migration of electronics from technology centers to consumer markets has undeniably changed the world we live in. But, putting “consumer” into consumer electronics is not just about picking the right application. Take the cell phone, for example. Consumers want mobile phones that are full functioned yet lightweight and small enough to comfortably fit into a pocket. Consumers won’t put up with products that become so hot they cause discomfort when held to the ear or quickly exhaust a battery, leaving the user disconnected from the world. Clearly, consumer requirements make energy efficiency the most critical design consideration for today’s mobile products. Minimizing energy consumption can’t be a second thought. Designers must seek out all opportunities to reduce energy to achieve their design goals. This starts at the beginning of a project with a comprehensive plan and includes optimizing energy consumption early in the design process where there is greater potential savings and more flexibility in implementation. However, optimizing energy efficiency presents a unique set of challenges. Energy consumption is the result of a number of factors. The most important factors include: device operating voltage, clock frequency of processors, nodal capacitances that need to be charged and discharged as well as the rate at which states changeor, the toggle rate. To 48


understand the effect of voltages and capacitances, the design needs to be at a low level of abstraction, otherwise known as the transistor level. On the other hand, frequencies and toggle rates are best dealt with at a high level of abstractions––register transfer level (RTL) and above. This presents a dilemma. To meaningfully reduce the energy consumption of a device, the design has to be optimized across all relevant parameters, which means that optimizing for energy should be addressed at multiple levels of abstraction. Frequency, voltage and capacitance are hardware artifacts, whereas the toggle rate predominantly results from the application functionality and design implementation. This includes the software driving the device and takes into account that energy-efficient software and hardware have to be well matched. On the hardware side, most designers optimize power at the RT level, which is a good compromise since it is halfway between the abstraction level seen by the device software and the transistor level that accurately depicts the effect of voltages and capacitances. Power-aware RTL design in combination with logic synthesis can automatically introduce some power optimizations. More so, feedback from initial logic synthesis or power analysis tools can be used to guide engineering design efforts to further reduce power. However, working at the combinational RT level is not optimal. Greater energy efficiencies are possible by changing sequential behavior of the RTL code. Sequential optimizations include shutting off redundant writes, reducing the frequency of operations while increasing parallelism to maintain throughput and disabling pipeline stages when the results are not being used in subsequent calculations. Sequential analysis of RTL code is an emerging methodology that identifies micro-architectural optimizations to lower an electronic circuit’s energy consumption. For example, analyzing the reads and writes to memory may reveal a pattern of sequential accesses. In this case, it can be more energy efficient to read multiple locations in a single access and buffer the results locally. Another example of sequential analysis to improve energy efficiency is the identification of unused computations. When it is determined that an output is not used, the logic that calculates that value in the previous cycle can be disabled. This saves the register toggles as well as toggles in the logic driven by those registers.

second opinion Sequential optimizations reduce the toggle rate of the hardware while maintaining functionality. While sequential clock gating introduces a small amount of additional logic for the enable condition, the energy consumed by this logic is small compared to what’s saved from gating larger regions of logic over multiple cycles. While experienced engineers intuitively know how and when to implement sequential clock gating, enable conditions can become very complex. As a consequence of being difficult to manually identify and implement, traditional design flows only apply sequential clock gating when absolutely required to meet design power goals. As consumer requirements continue to push technology, energy consumption rises and the need for sequential clock gating becomes more acute. Moreover, there are now tools that can automatically generate sequential clock gating, providing consistently better results in less time than the error-prone, time-consuming manual methods. Today’s cell phones have many modes of operations beyond just making and receiving calls. These devices also play video games or music and display video, or just stay in standby. Tradeoffs need to be made between function, the speed at which the device operates and battery life. Many of these “modes” can be characterized and optimized in software, increasing the importance of software optimizations for energy-efficient systems. By following a methodology and providing software hooks in the hardware, software developers can control

not only the function of the design but also the speed and sleep modes within the system. Energy-efficient software design is much like writing highly optimized compilers. Power efficiency techniques similar to reordering instructions, exploiting system architectures and application-specific optimization can improve energy efficiency. The consumer electronics market demands energy-efficient mobile devices. Today, these requirements are met with comprehensive plans that address both software and hardware early in the design process. For hardware, sequential analysis and clock gating give designers a powerful tool to improve energy efficiency. Going forward, consumers will require ultra-powerefficient devices. Designers will be challenged to add more functionality in yet smaller packages, with longer battery life. Devadas Varma is Chairman and founder of Calypto. Previously he was a founder and managing director of Caltos Capital and was CTO of Ambit Design Systems, a Cadence Fellow and a vice president and CTO of the Ambit Group of Cadence. Varma received a B.S. in Electrical Engineering at Indian Institute of Technology India, a M.S. in electrical engineering at the University of Maryland and a Ph.D. in Electrical and Computer Engineering at Drexel University. He has several patents and published papers in the area of logic synthesis. Calypto Design Systems, Santa Clara, CA. (408) 850-2300. [].



ceo interview Sanjay Srivastava Denali december 2007

Right after choosing a CPU for a new design, the next thing most designers then turn to is the memory subsystem. With a wide—and rapidly evolving—range of choices between memory types, interfaces and devices, there is a lot to sort through. Denali Software sits right at this decision point, providing models for simulating and verifying most memory devices; verification IP for validating compliance with complex interface protocols; NAND flash management software; and memory controller IP for PCI Express, DDR-SDRAM and flash. Portable Design sat down with Denali’s CEO Sanjay Srivastava, as well as Brian Gardner, Denali’s VP for IP Products, and Marc Greenberg, Technical Marketing Manager, to discuss the ins and outs of memory modeling and management in portable designs. Portable Design: You’ve been quoted as saying that the main bottleneck for all electronic system designs is the “growing disparity between the data bandwidth needs of processing elements and the ability of the memory elements to deliver that bandwidth.” What can designers of portable products do to address the memory bottleneck issue? Brian: You can try to put the memory either very close to or in the same package as an SoC. You might also think about putting more types of memory together than you might in a PC. You have a lot more low-power modes than do notebook designers. Marc: In a PC, memory controllers are actually pretty dumb; they’re not designed for power control. In the portable device, of course, you want to be using the low-power modes that are avail-



able to you, and you need a controller that’s smart enough to do that. At the same time, you want to optimize the bandwidth of the traffic that’s going through the memory controller, because anytime you have inefficient traffic conditions coming to the controller, then you have the situation where the memory’s on and you’re burning power but you’re not transferring any data. So having a smart memory controller can actually increase your bandwidth and decrease the overall amount of power used doing data transfers.

Portable Design: Higher speed usually translates to higher power, a major concern in portable products. Are the highest-speed memories such as DDR3 and QDR really applicable in these designs? Brian: Higher speed does mean higher power. But in a portable device what you care about is conserving energy. If you can move a file in half the time but with 50% more power, you’re still ahead in terms of energy. Generally the faster devices are lower voltage. You can move a file with less energy using DDRII compared to DDRI. It’s all about battery life, and battery life is about energy. Portable Design: Portable systems are moving to higher-speed serial interfaces. What high-speed memory interfaces do you think are most likely to move into the portable domain, and what will be the challenges in going to higher speeds? Sanjay: There are at least a couple of different interfaces being promoted. We’re pretty proud of LP-DDRII, but the next generation is starting to see early adoption of high-speed serial interfaces. Brian: In telco line cards and backplanes, where data has to travel considerable distances, you have to worry about the clock and data getting out of sync with each other. But in cell phones there isn’t as much advantage in serialization, since the distances are small. Sanjay: In our product roadmap serial isn’t there, but we’re keeping an eye on it. Portable Design: With MMAV (Memory Modeler - Advanced Verification) SOMAs (Specification of Modeling Architecture) you’ve provided a widely used solution for modeling and simulating memory. Do you see a move among other IP providers to standardize modeling for other system components that might bring a smooth ESL design flow closer to fruition? Sanjay: From a component modeling perspective I think that the CPU vendors have done a pretty good job; ARM, for one, has a sophisticated modeling methodology. But there are a couple of challenges. For a lot of our customers, memory subsystems can be the most critical part of the design. You can do a lot of system-level analysis with a system model that is just the CPU and memory sub-

system. But if you are integrating 100 pieces of IP and waiting for all of them to supply a model, you can be waiting a very long time. I believe that the critical path from a modeling perspective will be the memory subsystem and the CPU, and that is more or less of a power problem. But being able to model the entire chip—especially if you’re getting IP from all over the place—well, that’s a ways off. Portable Design: Databahn provides a configurable, programmable interface to DDR and NAND flash memories. Can someone who is designing a system with a programmable processor easily interface those design tools with yours to enable easy modeling of a complete system? Sanjay: There are meaningful integration points—for example, on-chip buses, like AMBA and AHB—where you can generate different configurations from both sides and integrate at that point. It’s not very convenient having to generate the RTL from two different environments, but it does come together. Portable Design: Flash memory technology has been evolving quickly. How do you stay ahead of that? Marc: There’s a huge amount of innovation going on in the flash area right now. So we try to stay light on our feet and adapt to those changes as quickly as possible and be able to produce models of those parts as soon as they become available as well as IP that hooks up to those parts; we’re doing both. Sanjay: For us the fascinating thing has been solving issues with multilevel cells through controllers and software. We hide the complexity of handling multilevel cells through our technology. We are also tracking other next-generation memory technologies like phase change memory (PCM). Portable Design: How do you see the market for low-power memories evolving over the next 3-5 years? What applications and technologies will drive those changes? Marc: I see the next big thing that’s coming as LP-DDRII. This is the consumer memory part that I think we’ve all been waiting for. Everyone who was using DDRI, II and III, which were all designed for use in PCs, now has access to LP-DDRII, which was designed for use in portable consumer applications. I think that’s really exciting for anyone who’s designing such a device. The specs are still under discussion at JEDEC. There is no LPDDRII part that you can buy today, but I expect that there will be sometime in 2008. That’s the schedule for the SDRAM; the flash parts should be out a little bit later in the year. One of the great promises of LP-DDRII is being able to have SDRAM and flash on the same bus. You’ll also have lower voltage CMOS-type switching on the I/Os, which saves you huge amounts of power. It’s also lower voltage than DDRII and has a number of

power saving modes. Portable Design: How do you see the semiconductor IP market evolving over the next few years? What changes are under way, and how will they shake out? Sanjay: When you compare the semiconductor IP industry with semiconductors and EDA, we have been growing at a much faster pace. The first phase was driven by ARM; and then there were physical libraries. But we really started going with interfaces like DDRII and PCI Express. By now the market and the leaders are established. As for how things might change, I think there is a lot of room for improvement in terms of reducing the total cost of ownership of IP for our customers, which means standards for how you accept IP, how you model IP and how you do performance analysis on it. So overall I think there’s a lot of room for standardization and innovation to reduce the friction and really get to the next level of growth for IP. In terms of reducing the friction, part of the responsibility belongs to the EDA industry and part of it to the IP industry. The question is, “Do you want to support a standard that may lead to rapid deployment—and possible commoditization farther down the road—or stick with a proprietary implementation to try to get high margins?” You need to find a way to differentiate your product within those standards so that your differentiation doesn’t become a cost to the customer. In terms of outsourcing, there’s still a big transition that needs to happen. But just about any large semiconductor company you talk to, the question has changed from “if” to “when.” Denali Software, Inc., Palo Alto, CA. (650) 461-7200. []. To hear or download the full interview, check out





a coalition for cots solutions

The MOUNTAIN VIEW ALLIANCE Specification Development Organizations (SDO) and Special Interest Groups (SIG) coordinate efforts to enable COTS environment in telecom and wireless infrastructure


Mountain View Alliance - the name alone may conjure a vision of Silicon Valley executives sitting around an oversized redwood conference table preparing a forward looking statement for the upcoming year. Actually, for those unfamiliar with it, the Mountain View Alliance (MVA) is a loose coalition of nine (9) Specication Development Organizations (SDO) and Special Interest Groups (SIG) who have a common interest in accelerating the development of modular, commercial-offthe-shelf (COTS) equipment adoption in the communications market. The MVA announced its formation in June 2005 with a primary objective to promote real-life interoperability. Founded by three representatives from leading open specication organizations: PICMG, the Service Availability Forum, and the Optical Internetworking Forum - originally called the Network Processing Forum, the alliance members work to coordinate their efforts and facilitate communications aiming to avoid gaps, overlaps and inconsistencies that may lead to technical conict. The MVA acts as a clearing house for com-



munication among its members; individual issues are usually resolved by bilateral interaction between member organizations. On the marketing side, the MVA‘s role is coordinating efforts and messages between groups to accelerate the growth of the commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) ecosystem for open communications platforms. “This alliance is best understood as a classic example of the whole being stronger than the sum of the parts”, said Russ Dietz in 2005, chairman of the Network Processing Forum. Joe Pavlat, president of PICMG had this to say, “the efforts of the Mountain View Alliance recognize that users are now looking at the ‘overall solution’ and this requires closer cooperation between our respective organizations” Today’s nine member organizations of the MVA represent over 1,000 total companies. The organization’s specications and documents address most of the elements of the stack for Telecom equipment.

Tom Williams, Editor-in-Chief of RTC interviews Rob Davidson, PICMG

Tom Williams: How did the Mountain View Alliance form?

The Mountain View Alliance started in 2005 when Henry Turko of the SA Forum contacted other organizations to explore ways of working more closely together. At that time, PICMG and SAForum were already coordinating their efforts around the HPI management interface and we felt it was time to explore coordination between other organizations. I think we all felt that this type of coordination was needed

What type of coordination does it do?

We like to call the MVA a clearing house for information. Members discuss what their organizations are doing and if that generates interest, we nd the relevant contacts in each organization so they can pursue the issue directly. The MVA also provides an excellent entry point for organizations wanting to establish connections in this space. A good example is the TM Forum that recently joined; they want to extend the work they do in system management further down the telecom platform stack and the MVA is the perfect place to start.

What organizations constitute the MVA?

Currently, the Mountain View Alliance member organizations are the Communications Platforms Trade Association (CP-TA), the Linux Foundation (LF), Open Communication Architecture Forum (OCAF), Optical Internetworking Forum (OIF), PICMG, RapidIO, SCOPE Alliance, the Service Availability Forum (SA Forum), and the TM Forum..

What are MVA’s main activities?

Aside from the clearing house activities, the MVA has produced white papers, and a coordinated calendar of events for the industry on

our web site. The most signicant activity the group has established, is the the MVA Communications Ecosystem Conference (MVACEC). This event extends the principle that end results are best achieved by bilateral relationships to the individual level; it brings together companies and individuals from the ecosystem of suppliers and customers who are interested in advancing the adoption of open specication COTS base products. There are many events that focus on some of the individual technologies such as AdvancedTCA, but we felt that we needed to step up and initiate an event that focused on the overall stack. We began this with a joint meeting of PICMG and the SA Forum in 2006 that grew into the rst MVACEC in 2007.



The MVA agship event brings together members of the entire communications industry. Launched in February 2007, this event is a conference and exhibition program that includes CTOs from established and new Network Equipment Providers as well as leaders of the vendors, system integrators and service providers. It is open to anyone interested in the development of the COTS ecosystem. It is the one event to get the bigger picture with technical and business developments. Eric Heikkila, Director of Embedded Hardware & Systems at VDC, a research rm that tracks this space recently said: “Adopting ATCA and COTS based systems is such a major change for the NEPs that it is paramount

that marketing and sales efforts should be aimed at the ofce of the CTO where these decisions are ultimately made”. The MVACEC is the event where these inuential people will gather to give their views and gather information on the latest developments. 2008 promises to have an excellent program which was compiled by the talented technical chairs: Timo Jokiaho from Nokia Siemens Networks, Magnus Karlson from Ericsson, Mark Kent from BT, and Paul Steinberg from Motorola. They are attracting top notch keynotes and panelists and have selected technical presentations from a large number of submissions. Jorge Magalhaes, Motorola’s Director of Marketing, Embedded Communications Computing remarked about the 2007 MVACEC, “We were most impressed by the broad spectrum of service providers, network equipment providers and communications vendors represented by both the speakers and on the associated panels. There was a high level of engagement in the breakout sessions, which signicantly contributed to the overall experience.” Mountain View Alliance

The Mountain View Alliance puts you in the driver’s seat! Now you can become part of this fast-paced 2-day conference March 11th -12th 2008. Take your place in the design and evolution of commercial-off-the-shelf implementations in the telecommunication and wireless infrastructure. Set your plans to include this dynamic event that brings companies and individuals together from the entire COTS ecosystem.







as the COTS market was beginning to mature and those who were building complete systems were using documents from multiple organizations. At the same time these organizations were interested in accelerating the adoption of their documents and felt that the combined story was stronger than the individual messages. We all agreed that the time was right for this organization.

The RTC Group is a media services company specializing in bringing companies and their products to a focused group of electronic and computer manufacturers. RTC is proud of its track record of blazing new trails in search of marketing value for our clients. Portable Design magazine is the newest addition to RTC Group’s collection of publications.

Event Calendar 01/07-10/08

AIAA Aerospace Sciences Meeting & Exhibit Reno, NV 01/19-24/08

SPIE Photonics West San Jose, CA 01/22/08

Real-Time & Embedded Computing Conference Santa Clara, CA 01/23-25/08

Internet Telephony East Conference & Expo Miami, FL 01/29-31/08

Electronics West Anaheim, CA 02/05-07/08

AFCEA West 2008

advertiser index Altera Corporation





5 Intersil Corporation



Linx Technologies, Inc


Mouser Electronic


MVACEC National Semiconductor



San Diego, CA 02/08-10/08

So. California Linux Expo Los Angeles, CA 02/12/08

Real-Time & Embedded Computing Conference Atlanta, GA

Real-Time & Embedded Computing Conference


Rogers Corporation




Xilinx, Inc.



Mountain View Alliance Comms. Ecosystem Conference San Francisco, CA If you wish to have your industry event listed, contact Sally Bixby with The RTC Group at



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