NXP Semiconductors' programmable vector processor
enables mobile devices to support multi-mode and multi-standard platforms as well as providing flexibility for emerging telecom standards.
Described by NXP as a software-defined radio (SDR) solution, the Embedded Vector Processor (EVP) should help solve the integration, flexibility and standards issues of mobile communications, particularly during the transition from 3G to 4G.
EVP breaks down the RF portion of the design into three classes based on data rates.
For example, the low-end would include a combination RF chip dealing with Near-Field Communication, Bluetooth, Zigbee, Wibree and UWB. The middle-tier is a reconfigurable RF channel for cellular communications. For high data rates, a reconfigurable RF channel for high-bandwidth applications such as Wi-Fi, WiMax and LTE is proposed.
The solution is implemented using a highly parallel Embedded Vector Processor (EVP) to provide the computational resources for programmable modem functionality. This programmable vector processor complements classical DSP and ARM cores.
EVP will be available this year for embedding into ICs and will be included in several NXP products to be released in the 2008/2009 timeframe.
"As we progress from 3G to 4G, and as the combinations of wireless communication channels become infinite, the piecemeal addition of these modules onto the system-chip becomes unsustainable," said Rene Penning de Vries, CTO of NXP Semiconductors.
"Not only will the aggregate size of the required modules become difficult to accommodate, their combined power consumption will threaten battery life, and the increased silicon content will adversely impact product cost."
Addressing end-users' demands to be continuously connected in the best possible way creates the requirement to support multiple standards (GSM, Edge, UMTS, HSDPA, Bluetooth, WiMax, UWB, FM, Wifi, NFC, etc) on a single mobile phone.
Not only do extra frequencies and standards have to be accommodated but MIMO antennas for broadband applications have also to be included. This convergence means that each handset holds an increasing number of radio components and antennas which in turn creates serious issues with regards to size, coexistence and power consumption. This is what NXP calls the "Porcupine Problem," in reference to the spiky composition of all of the various antennas added to the system design.
More information is available at Embedded vector processor is one way to tune software-defined radios.