By Junko Yoshida and Patrick Mannion, EET
What began last December as an agreement between
Texas Instruments and STMicroelectronics to standardize interfaces
for application processors targeting 2.5G and 3G mobile phones has
grown into a broader industry consortium called the Mobile Industry
Processor Interface (MIPI) Alliance that now includes ARM Ltd. and
The group said it intends to gather industry input for
standardizing processor hardware and software interfaces to
functions such as memory, displays, and multimedia devices. The
overall goal will be simplifying and accelerating the design of
"application rich" mobile devices.
The expanded alliance is needed because "challenges to
standardize such interfaces are so huge and complex, as
voice-centric mobile phones become camera phones or PDAs," said Kari
Tuutti, VP of communications at Nokia Mobile Phones.
The scope of the work involved in the expanded MIPI is "very much
a continuation of OMAPI (Open Mobile Application Processor
Interfaces) initiative" founded by TI and ST, Tuutti said.
Richard Chesson, ST's director of marketing for multimedia
platforms, said OMAPI's structure didn't allow input from others.
"Instead, we took the original specifications defined under OMAPI,
changed the name to MIPI and opened it up as a non-profit
organization along the lines of the Bluetooth SIG," Chesson said.
With the addition of Nokia, the world largest mobile handset
vendor, and ARM, which controls the basic processor architecture in
handsets, the alliance is expected to "simplify the development and
speed up the process of introducing integrated products, such as
camera phones," Tuutti said.
The group hopes to attract the participation of component
suppliers, OS developers, other mobile device manufacturers, and
camera display suppliers, Chesson said.
According to Chesson, MIPI also fits in between the Open
Multimedia Alliance, which defines services and applications, and
the Third-Generation (3G) Partnership Project for 3G cellular
networks, which defines physical layer specifications.
MIPI promoters are positioning the new consortium as the industry
group that will define microprocessors, peripherals, and software
interfaces in multimedia-rich mobile devices.
The group expects to unveil the first version of the
specification, MIPI 1.0, by the end of 2003. It will form 10 working
groups to develop specifications in areas such as camera and display
interface, software abstraction, communications interface, and
Membership cost from $5,000 to $50,000, "depending on the level
of engagement," said Oliver Gunasekara, ARM's director of wireless
technology. "We spent a lot of time making sure the intellectual
property rights are clear," he added.
"The market has 10 to 12 major applications-processor
architectures, four major operating systems and numerous suppliers
of components, such as LCDs, peripherals, modems, and memory," said
Gunasekara. "It is just creating headaches for everyone involved and
taking our attention away from our value-add."
With MIPI, he added, "companies will find it easier to
mix-and-match components to shorten the time to market while letting
them focus on what they do best."