At the previous developers conference in 2014 everything was on FPGAs (field-programmable gate arrays). Now there is a lot of buzz about ASICs (application-specific integrated circuits) which were developed by Project Ara team. Marti Bolivar talks about how this transition will affect the software.
One of the things about the ASICs that should be covered is a native UniPro AP (application processor). “Under native UniPro AP I mean that the UniPro AP block is embedded on the same die with the multicore SoC (system on chip).”
“This is the picture of the block diagram. If you’ve ever seen a mobile SoC block diagram, you know that it’s usually a lot more complex. And this simplicity is really enabled by UniPro. You’ve got a variety of AP blocks that you need (for graphics, RAM, storage, etc.). Also you see CSI-3, UFS, a couple of bridges, which we will talk about later, and general-purpose CPorts. That’s it. That’s the simplicity of the UniPro.”
“We have also got in development CSI-3 based cameras and UFS based storage devices.”
“Lets talk about bridge ASICs that we have today in this room. One of them is for integration with existing lower throughput protocols that you’re going to be familiar with as a mobile developer. You can see UART, SPI, etc. very normal set of protocols and UniPro protocol. Those protocols are bridged with Cortex-M3 microcontroller that is also on the die. It intermediates UniPro traffic with other protocols for existing or legacy chipsets. That bridge enables bluetooth, cell network, GPS, WiFI and many other things that you would expect to have on the phone.”
“Another ASIC that we’ve developed is specialized for camera and dispaly traffic. This is kind of a special case. You can see at the top right of the slide the CSI-2 and DSI-1, which are existing extremely common camera and display protocols in the mobile world. This ASIC enables us to tunnel camera and display traffic over UniPro entirely in hardware. You get the microcontroller out of the way, so these protocols can make their way through with minimum latency. There is also a variety of common protocols. And you see the addition of the USB protocol, purpose of which is to allow an AP, that’s connected to this bridge ASIC, to communicate with a variety of other CPorts (connection ports) through this USB interface.”