SAN JOSE, Calif. Seeking to reshape the mobile market, Cypress Semiconductor Corp. is pushing for a new peripherals conceptor even a standard architecturefor feature-rich and other handhelds.
As part of that effort, Cypress will roll out a dedicated peripherals controller that promises to download files from a handset to a PC faster than solutions from competing companies. The controller, dubbed the West Bridge Antioch, is said to boost the transfer rates for complex data and media files from a handset to a PC via a Universal Serial Bus (USB) link at speeds up to 480 Mbits/second. Antioch is said to download 100 MP3 files in less than five minutes, compared with more than an hour for rival parts.
Based on what Cypress calls its Simultaneous Link to Independent Multimedia architecture, Antioch offloads many of the data and memory transfer functions from the host or application processor in a system at maximum efficiencywithout disturbing any of the functions within the system itself.
At present, many feature-rich cell phones consist of discrete peripheral controller and USB functions in a system. In contrast, Cypress' Antioch part integrates many of the peripheral controller functionssuch as USB, mass storage, memory interface and otherson the same chip for handsets and other handhelds.
This kind of integration is seen in today's PC-based chip sets. With Antioch, Cypress hopes to bring the PC-based standard chip set architecture into the cellphone marketat least on the peripherals side of the equation, said Alakesh Chetia, business director for Cypress' West Bridge business unit. "We're trying to bring a new architectural concept in the [cellphone] world," Chetia said.
For now, it is unclearor even unlikelythat Cypress can drive a new standard architecture in cell phones, analysts said. Much of the standardization, of course, depends on multiple factors, including the adoption rate of key OEMs, they added.
Cypress declined to comment on its customers, but the chip maker said it equates Antioch to the separate north bridge and south bridge of a PC chip set. There, the microprocessor works in conjunction with a chip set or core logic device. Typically, the chip set has two componentsthe north bridge and south bridgethat handle memory interface and peripheral functions, respectively. Antioch, in effect, combines many of the same functions of a traditional north/south bridge chip set, but this time it's for a cell phone, said Alan Brown, an analyst with Gartner Dataquest.
"This innovation claims significant improvement in speeding up memory transfers to and from phone peripherals," he said. "It is comparable to the north and south bridge in the PC, releasing some of the power of the phone CPU for other tasks. Its benefits will be welcomed by most media phone users, provided the price penalty is not too high."