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Breeding smart multimedia for a mobile world

Posted: 16 Sep 2004     Print Version  Bookmark and Share

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Wireless Systems Group

Freescale Semiconductor Inc.

Wireless communications has

givenmillionsofpeoplearound

the world the freedom to com-

municate with one another,

anytime,anywhere--makingthe

handheld computing market

one of the fastest growing seg-

mentsinthecomputerindustry.

More and more people are real-

izing the need to have a

phonebook, scheduler, to-do

list,memosketchpadandcalcu-

latorfunctionalitiesinthepalm

of their hand while on the go.

Combined with wireless tech-

nology for e-mail and Internet

access,handheldcomputersare

becoming the productivity tool

ofchoiceforthemobileworker.

In addition to e-mail and or-

ganizer functionality, today's

PDAs have added many multi-

media features, such as MP3

players, video playback and

digitalimaging.Thesefullmul-

timedia devices often require

colordisplays,touchpaneluser

interface, portability with long

battery life, connections to PCs

and access to communication

networks, both wired and wire-

less. With the exciting mix of

peripherals and features, the

i.MX family supports the di-

verse requirements of highly

integrated appliances and pro-

vides extremely low power con-

sumption for extended battery

life.

Therapidadventofpowerful

wirelessservices,suchasbroad-

bandInternetaccess,videocap-

ture and live video streaming,

requires small handheld de-

vices, such as PDA, smart

phone, portable media player,

mobile gaming and digital still

camera to provide the commu-

nications and infotainment

functions.

It is therefore critical that

today's designers have the

hardware and software that can

quickly be developed into

products to support these new

services.

Smart tech for smart devices

The i.MX family of applications

processor is designed for use in

smart phones, PDAs, mobile

entertainment and many other

mobile wireless applications. It

is designed to offer low power

consumption with real-world

power performance and a high

degree of integration to reduce

design time significantly.

Meanwhile, the i.MX21 is

more suitable for multimedia

applications. The i.MX family

of applications processors is

part of Freescale's i.250 and

i.300 Innovative Convergence

Platform.

The smart-phone architec-

ture includes two subsystems:

mobileradiosolutionandappli-

cationssubsystem.Theapplica-

tion subsystem mainly includes

thei.MXapplicationsprocessor

based on ARM9 that features:

7 Open platform

7 Multimedia acceleration

7 Highly integrated peripheral

set

7 Optimized power consump-

tion/performance.

The i.MX family of applica-

tions processor provides the

OS, application and media pro-

cessing functionality for the

smart phone. Based on the

ARM9 core with media accel-

eration, the i.MX family fea-

tures high-level on-chip inte-

gration and low-power system

designswithacoremediaaccel-

eration engine for multimedia

applications.

Rich peripheral support en-

ables platform connectivity

with full-color LCD display,

USBandexpansionoverMMC/

SD and other emerging storage

standards.

The i.MX21 family is fo-

cusedontherobustmultimedia

applications,withhigherlevels

of video and graphics capabili-

ties,plug-and-playconnectivity

and added security features.

Key features

CPU complex

7 ARM926EJ-S (16KB I-cache,

16KB D-cache)

7 ARM Jazelle technology for

Java acceleration

7 16-channel DMA

7 16bit/32bit SDRAM

controller

Breeding smart multimedia for a mobile world

Human interface

7 16bit/18bit color LCD

controller up to VGA

7 Smart panels support

Connectivity

7 4x UARTs, IrDA

(MIR and FIR)

7 USB On-The-Go

(two-host port)

Expansion

7 DualslotMMCandSD/SDIO

card interface

7 PCMCIA support

Multimedia

7 MPEG-4 and H.263 encode/

decode acceleration

7 High-speed CMOS sensor

I/F and I2

C

7 External bus master I/F

Special functions

7 Built-in security

7 NAND flash controller

Performance

7 CPU complex: 266MHz

to 350MHz

7 System: 133MHz @ 1.8V

Technology

7 289 ball, 0.65mm

pitch MAPBGA

7 0.135m

Enhanced features

The i.MX21 is the first applica-

tions processor with a built-in,

low-power enhanced multime-

dia accelerator (eMMA) hard-

ware block that consists of an

MPEG-4 and H.263 encoder/

decoder and image pre- and

post-processing stages. The

eMMA solves the problems of

high MIPS requirement for

video encode/decode opera-

tions in mobile and wireless ap-

plications. Tight integration

andmemorypipeliningcoupled

with AHB master mode opera-

tion ensures minimal system

loading. To further offload the

CPU, live video stream data en-

ters the eMMA module directly

throughaninternalprivatedata

interface.

The post-processor per-

forms deblock, dering, image

resize and color space conver-

sion functions on the input im-

age data. These functions pro-

vide flexibility to meet various

RGB and YUV formats for dis-Figure 1: Hardware block consists of MPEG-4 and H.263 encoder/decoder and image pre- and post-processing stages.

Connectivity

External

Memory interface

CPU complex

ARM926 CPU

I-cache

System control

Standard system I/O

Human interface

Multimedia I/F

Multimedia accelerator

Expansion

Internal

2 x CSPI

2 x MMC/SD

SDRAMC

EIM/BMI

NANDF controller

Pre- and post-

processing

Video acceleratorPCMCIA

4 x UARTs

USB-OTG/host

1-Wire

IrDA

2 x SSI

I2C

D-cache MMU

Internal control Bus control Memory control

DMASecurity control

JTAG

Bootstrap

Clock management

3 x timers

PWM

WD timer

RTC

GPIO

LCD controller

smart LCD

Keypad I/F

Camera I/F

play. Besides working in tan-

demwiththedecodersub-block

in the eMMA, the post-proces-

sor can also be used by software

decoders (other than MPEG4)

to touch up the final output be-

fore display. The sub-blocks

that perform deblock, dering,

resize and color space conver-

sion operations can be selec-

tively bypassed through soft-

ware configuration.

The image preprocessor

block performs color space

conversion and image resizing

for a viewfinder display. Also,

it handles data formatting for

the video encoder and for

still images which can be fed

to a hardware- or software-

based video encoder or image

compressor.

The preprocessor has two

mediaI/Opathsandcanaccept

input from system memory or

from a dedicated data bus con-

nected to CMOS sensor inter-

face (CSI) module. It can pro-

vide frame rate control of the

live video stream from the

CMOS sensor interface module

to adjust for different process-

ing load conditions. The

preprocessor's two output

channels output RGB data for

displayoflocalcameraviewand

image data for compression by

the hardware encoder or a soft-

ware encoder (still image or

video encode).

Optimized for secure mo-

bile communications and

transactions, the i.MX21 ad-

dresses consumers' concerns

about M-commerce, carriers'

concerns with cloning, con-

figuration protection and theft

of services as well as content

providers' concerns regarding

digital rights management.

The applications processor in-

cludes a security framework

comprising of hardware and

software elements that enable

the fundamental crypto-

graphic blocks required for a

wide range of security services

and applications. Specific se-

curity system elements en-

abled in the i.MX21 include a

high-assurance boot, security

controller, hash accelerator

and memory management.

The high assurance boot

comprises three elements, in-

cluding public key infrastruc-

ture, a hash function and a com-

ponent that enables the digital

signaturecalculation.Thehigh-

assurance boot permits the

flashed code to be verified for

integrity before being loaded by

the mobile device.

The SHA-1 hash accelerator

isemployedtoprovideahashor

message digest for large

memory spaces. It also sup-

ports the digital signature pro-

cess required for authentica-

tion and non-repudiation. The

security control module in-

cludes a secure RAM module

and security monitor.

ThesecureRAMmodulehas

a number of elements, prima-

rily a 168bit secret key and

3DES encryption, used to pre-

pare sensitive data (passwords

and credit card numbers) for

storage in on-chip RAM or off-

chip non-volatile memory. On-

chip data is stored in RAM that

can be cleared to prevent unau-

thorized access; while off-chip

dataisstoredinencryptedform

using a secure encryption key.

In addition, it provides tempo-

rary on-chip storage of de-

crypted results for real time

use.

The security monitor com-

prises system monitor func-

tions and support tasks used to

ensure secure modes are estab-

lished and maintained in the

processor. The security moni-

tor detects any transactions

from a secure to insecure state.

It also initiates the clearing of

the secure RAM when any such

transactions are detected.

Thei.MX21hastwoseparate

LCD controllers that support

both standard and smart LCD

panels. A standard LCD panel

has no built-in memory and re-

quires an external controller to

send display data at a fixed rate.

Such panels typically support

high refresh rates suitable for

graphics, games and video ap-

plications. The LCD controller

in the i.MX21 is an AHB master

and can transfer display data

from the SDRAM.

Smart panels have built-in

memory and a display control-

ler. An advantage of the built-

in memory and controller is

thattherefreshfunctionisdone

by the local LCD controller and

onlydatathatischanginghasto

be updated, thus offering a re-

duced transfer rate and lower

power operation.

Both LCD controllers in

i.MX21 provide glueless con-

nection to external gray-scale

or color LCD panels.

The video input port in

i.MX21 supports a direct inter-

face to commonly available

CMOS sensors. Together with

other system resources (DMA

and hardware preprocessor),

viewfinder functions can be

achieved with extremely low

CPU MIPS and system-power

consumption.

The eMMA's video encoder/

decoder features provide good

imageandvideoquality.Devices

with the i.MX21 are capable of

long video playback time with

exceptional video quality (high

frame rates and large screen

resolution support). For ex-

ample, the i.MX21 offers CIF

30fps video encode/decode,

sending a secure transaction

while playing an MP3 or video-

onferencing at 15fps with a 35

percent to 65 percent reduction

in power consumption.

It also provides flexibility

for software implementation

of other video encoders, such

as PacketVideo, RealNetworks

and Windows Media Player.

Hardware code addresses the

I/O bottleneck and helps to re-

duce power consumption, en-

abling greater device mobility.

The i.MX21 provides an ex-

ceptional video experience via

special video decode/encode

features and the ultimate 2D/

3D experience, through a bus

master interface to external

graphics chips. High-perfor-

mance graphics support starts

with a solid rendering engine

based on the ARM926EJ-S core

and the i.MX21's LI cache.

Therefore, end-users can ob-

tain a great experience watch-

ing video and running graph-

ics-intensive applications such

as 3D gaming.

The i.MX21 elevates overall

system performance through a

bus master interface that re-

duces the overhead to external

multimedia co-processors.

Advanced graphics software

standard APIs, such as Mobile

Java 3D and OpenGL-ES, as

well as 3D software engines,

such as Superscape, HI Corp.

and Fathammer, can also be

supported.

All the robust features won't

doyoumuchgoodifyourdevice

cannot go the distance. The

i.MX21 enables power-aware

and power-optimized multime-

Figure 2: Tight integration, memory pipelining and advanced high-performance bus

master mode operation ensure minimal system loading.

IP bus

Sensor

data

from CSI

AHB bus

IP bus interface

Bus arbitration

Video

encoder

Video

decoder

Postprocessing Preprocessing

Post-processor

Current/

reference

frame

MPEG4

decoder

Deblock Dering

Image

resize

Color

conversion

RGB

display

buffer

Current/

reference

frame

Figure 3: Post-processor performs deblock, dering, image resize and color space conversion functions on the input image data.

dia applications through effec-

tive system clock distribution,

lowcurrentleakagecontroland

frequency change on the fly.

The cryptographic building

blocks employed in the i.MX21

laythefoundationthatsupports

the complete gambit of security

services and applications rang-

ing from the protection of intel-

lectualpropertytosecuredhigh-

value transactions required by

enterprises worldwide. Hence,

consumers can be confident in

the security of banking and

payment transactions, voice

streaming and more.

The i.MX21 provides a dedi-

cated OTG port for an external

OTG transceiver. Consumers

areabletoconnecttheirmobile

devices directly to peripherals,

such as printers, keyboards or

mice, without having to con-

necttoaPCenvironment.Ithas

two USB hosts to work with

other PC peripherals without

PC involvement, providing

ease of connectivity to smart

handheld devices while con-

sumers are on the go. It is a less

expensive solution than an ex-

ternal module.

The i.MX21 enables smart

Figure 4: Preprocessor accepts input from system memory or from a dedicated data bus connected to CMOS sensor interface module.

Preprocessor

CMOS

sensor

interface

Frame

buffer

(RGB/YUV)

Main

resize

Color space

conversion

Second

resize

Optional data paths using standard CMOS sensors

YUV

4:2:2

4:2:0

4:4:4

RGB

display

buffer

System memory

Compression

or video

encode

Viewfinder

LCD displays that save battery

life and help eliminate the need

for users to constantly recharge

their devices. A traditional or

"dumb" LCD requires a sepa-

rate controller and memory for

buffering the image. This, in

turn, means that the "dumb"

display must be constantly re-

freshed, as it cannot identify if

an image has changed or not--

eatingawayatperformanceand

batterylife.Byenablingasmart

LCD display with its own con-

troller and memory integrated,

the display can analyze when

and if an image has changed--

thus, only refreshing when the

image changes and ultimately

saving battery life.

The smart power manage-

ment enables wireless device

users to benefit from high-per-

formancefunctionalitywithex-

tended runtimes. Three power

modesinthei.MX21--run,doze

and stop--and an advanced

power management architec-

ture, such as effective system

clock distribution, low current

leakage control and frequency

change on the fly, let users fo-

cus on what is important,

rather than recharging their

devices.

Metrowerks' CodeWarrior

Development System--ARM

Architectures for i.MX offers a

fully integrated development

environment to design, debug

and deploy solutions for

handheld devices, all from one

GUI. Moreover, the company

has formed the i.Alliance

third-party program that al-

lows the members to promote

their products based on

ARM technology for the i.MX

Family.





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