Parthus Technologies of the Irish Republic has added mobile comms to its range of licensable technology platforms.
It claims its MobiStream platform is the most power-efficient digital baseband architecture available for the GSM General Packet Radio Service (GPRS), writes Peter Clarke of EETimes.
Parthus says the move also marks a key step on the route to a platform-of-platforms approach to system design, codenamed Valhalla, that will guide the company's future combination offerings.
Parthus licenses hardware and software intellectual property (IP) as platforms which address application areas. Valhalla aims to promote the reusability of IP blocks among multiple licensees and allow fast iteration of system-on-chip designs.
Parthus' established offerings are InfoStream, based around the ARM920 risc processor and covering mobile computing; Media-Stream, aimed at streaming applications such as MP3; BlueStream for Bluetooth connectivity; and NavStream for satellite positioning.
The MobiStream platform addresses the GSM mobile comms standard as well as the GPRS protocol. GPRS provides packet-switching and improves data rates to and from GSM handsets.
Kevin Fielding, chief operating officer, said: "Right now, customers are often taking one of our solutions. The real opportunity is whenyou start bringing multiple platforms together. Valhalla is the overall rules of the road on how to do this. It's intended to make [the process] more plug-and-play for the next applications."
Fielding says details of the Valhalla approach are still being worked on, but it will include gen-eric rules about media and data handling, a guiding preference for CMOS over more exotic process technologies to promote re-use, and a system-level structure for software architecture: "The key challenge in Valhalla is the software architecture."
Fielding adds that, being a platform which is itself composed of platforms of reusable IP blocks, "Valhalla is doubly abstract, but it's vital to make sure these things work together".
Parthus has a roadmap for convergence that includes a plan to gradually combine its platforms. By the time 0.13µm process technology is generally available, it should be possible to include the digital parts of all Parthus' offerings on a single baseband chip.
One combination is InfoStream with MobiStream and MediaStream to produce a multimedia-capable smartphone baseband platform. Similarly the combination of Info-Stream with NavStream and BlueStream is being used on a location-aware handheld computer design called BlueHound, due in the second quarter of 2002.
Illustrating the multi-platform approach, Parthus says that 3Com will be its lead customer for MobiStream as part of a licensing deal announced last month.
MobiStream, like other Parthus platforms, is designed to work with a risc processor core from ARM Holdings. MobiStream also includes a software interface called the Generic Target Interface that allows the use of G.23 protocol stacks from Germany's Condat Datensysteme to help provide the GPRS functionality.
Peter Clarke is European correspondent for US sister newspaper EETimes.