Electronic Design

Inside The Industry: Portable Communications

Finding The Right Pathway To Wireless And Consumer Electronics Convergence

The wireless industry is at a critical juncture. Though voice communication remains key for now, consumer demand is leading design engineers down a new path: the convergence of wireless and consumer electronics. These products will combine voice-communication and data-access features that will offer seamless communications, unparalleled entertainment, mobile office capabilities for enterprise applications, and secure transactions on a high-performance wireless device.

First, the industry must take integration to a substantially higher level. Dual microprocessors and multiple DSPs integrated onto one chip will eliminate the need for an external applications processor and companion chips to drive multimedia features (e.g., video and gaming applications). With one microprocessor optimized for multimode modems and time-critical functions, and the second available as a closely coupled, general-purpose processor, these chips will power computing-intensive devices that deliver top multimedia functionality.

For end users, this translates into incredibly powerful "on demand" data processing and capabilities on a single wireless device. The architecture also allows for integrated hardware security mechanisms that ensure modem integrity and protection of value-added content. Moreover, it makes possible faster, lower-cost memory subsystems that effectively address the performance needs of operations-driven applications.

Beyond vast improvements in existing applications, these chips will redefine the use of wireless by driving the development of new embedded applications. Already in the works are video-on-demand, high-performance 3D gaming, and position location technology, as well as Bluetooth and 802.11 wireless connectivity. A high-speed, serial Mobile Display Digital Interface (MDDI) optimizes the interconnection between the chip set and the LCD panel or digital-camera sensor.

The stunning array of new wireless devices, applications, and services will fundamentally shift the way we use mobile wireless technology. The pinnacle will be full integration and convergence as consumers use wireless devices for traditionally wired tasks. Like the PC several years ago, it will change the way people use wireless devices and the way they live their lives.

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