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TI, ST Propose New Wireless Standard: OMAPI

Two mobile chipmakers Thursday proposed a new wireless standard to improve how multimedia looks and runs on 2.5G and 3G mobile phones, PDAs and other mobile devices.

Executives with Dallas-based Texas Instruments and Geneva, Switzerland-based STMicroelectronics jointly introduced Open Mobile Application Processor Interfaces (OMAPI) as its proposition for a new wireless standard. The platform is based on TI's popular OMAP standard but adds on a specific set of software and hardware interfaces defining common application peripherals especially where multimedia is concerned.

"We believe that this is for the general good of the wireless Internet market," ST Corporate VP and General Manager Aldo Romano said during a conference call. "In the end what we are trying to do is simplify and increase the speed of development and the value add of wireless."

ST and TI also intend to invite companies such as operating system (OS) vendors, middleware vendors, software application developers, hardware peripheral manufacturers and other industry players to embrace the new standard.

Both companies intend to develop their own application processors in compliance with the new standard and introduce OMAPI-compliant products in 2003. ST will soon launch its family of multimedia application processors complying with the OMAPI Standard. TI will support a range of OMAPI Standard compliant products, building on the current available OMAP processors.

While neither company could acknowledge a similar competing standard, OMAPI is expected to go head-to-head with current mobile chip products such as Intel XScale. That microarchitecture surrounds the core with instruction and data memory management units; instruction, data, and mini-data caches; write, fill, pend, and branch target buffers; power management, performance monitoring, debug, and JTAG units; coprocessor interface; 32K caches; MMUs; BTB; MAC coprocessor; and core memory bus.

TI's OMAP family includes a dual-core applications processor that consists of a TMS320C55x DSP or C55x DSP plus a TI-enhanced ARM925 microprocessor. Also targeted at wireless solutions, the OMAP710 device is a single chip that combines a TI DSP-based GSM/GPRS modem baseband subsystem. The chipset powers most of TI's smartphones.

As part of the first phase of the initiative, ST and TI developed common software and hardware interfaces to maximize application software re-use and accelerate the design cycle, resulting in rapid innovation and faster time to market for wireless manufacturers.

With OMAPI, TI and ST say software developers will have a common and standard set of hardware interfaces to write applications that will significantly reduce development resources, allowing them to deliver products to market faster and improve market potential as a result of having applications that run on multiple platforms.

The companies say the initiative also will be beneficial for OS vendors because it will let them to define common software APIs and device drivers for different application processors, maximizing re-use and commonality in the OS port.

Moving ahead, the companies said they will expand the initiative to encompass additional levels of commonality and standardization including applications, multimedia and OS support, security features, and the alignment of software development tool chains.

"By creating this new, open standard for interfaces to application processors and peripheral components supported by multiple vendors, we are simplifying both software and hardware development. It is a significant step towards our shared vision of a truly interoperable mobile multimedia world where the end user can access any service on any network using any kind of mobile terminal," said Romano.