Today, mobile multimedia generally means images and sound. The basic design elements for mobile multimedia comprise an imaging chip and its encoding and compression circuitry, a display and its driving circuitry, possibly some storage, an interface to the rest of the system, and the logic needed to make all elements work together.
At last the mobile industry is developing interconnect standards to extend opportunities beyond today’s limited number of phone makers and vertically integrated electronics manufacturers. Standards will signal a new phase in the mobile business, making hardware architectures less proprietary and accelerating the de-verticalization in the industry. Moreover, standards will mean less risk to innovation. Once these hardware interfaces become stabilized, there will be more competition and greater product variety. Mobile multimedia need not be limited to cell phones even though they are the most volume-constrained of all mobile products (see figure).
A Look At The Imaging Subsystem
To explore mobile multimedia design, consider how a camera subsystem might be integrated with existing cell-phone designs (see figure). Today, imagers and displays, along with associated hardware drivers and memory, are all available off-the-shelf. Memory is also available as IP ready for integration into an ASIC. Designing multimedia into a product such as a cell phone or other product poses a challenge. These elements must be combined and glued together into an optimized unit that can be added as simply as possible to existing baseband technology.
Particularly in the current environment of evolving standards, the design team must be up to the task. Camera modules are difficult to get running artifact-free; the smallest amount of power-supply noise is unacceptable; clocks must be stable, with low jitter; and the camera must match the display. Team leaders require prior experience to get all components working in harmony.