By Howard Li, QuickLogic
June 20, 2007 -- pldesignline.com
Mobile device designers face a critical question: what functionality should be incorporated in their next-generation designs? Answering this question while simultaneously addressing the market needs of rapid development, lowest cost, and long battery life presents a major challenge. The advent of customer specific standard products is helping designers maximize their design options while minimizing cost and effort.
Because next-generation mobile devices will likely assume a central role in consumer electronics, serving both as a personal device and as key core elements in a full-featured home entertainment and communications system, they must provide many connectivity options. Further, the functions of the portable media player, digital camera/camcorder, game system, and enhanced mobile phone with web browsing and PDA capabilities are converging into a single mobile device. To enable all these features, the solutions that designers need require a variety of interfaces, including high-capacity storage, WLAN and Bluetooth, GPS and the like. However, the exact mix of functions that the market will demand is difficult to predict.
Mobile device developers are therefore faced with a major challenge. To succeed in a rapidly changing market their designs must be flexible with a high degree of design reuse or they will take too long in development and miss market opportunities. At the same time, the designs will have to achieve the lowest possible cost, so developers cannot hedge their bets by including functions solely for future expansion. Further, the device must offer high performance and yet still enable long battery life.
The ideal design approach for mobile devices, therefore, is one that offers high-integration, design flexibility, ease of implementation and low-power. Unfortunately, conventional design approaches, which include the use of ASICs and ASSPs (application specific standard products), processor-based software implementations and programmable logic, all tend to fall short in one or more of these areas. As a result, designers have had to resort to making tradeoffs.
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