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Integrated baseband processors enable multimedia functions in low-cost GSM/GPRS phones

13th February 2007
ES Admin

Analog Devices has announced two highly integrated baseband processors designed to enable multimedia functions in low-cost GSM/GPRS cellular phones. The new SoftFone AD6721 reduces the cost and component count of entry-level multimedia phones, and the SoftFone AD6722 adds an integrated image signal processor for cameras up to 3 Megapixels and direct camera interface to eliminate the need for a separate camera coprocessor. Together, the devices bring a wealth of multimedia functionality to low-cost handsets, including both improved image quality and better sound.

These new devices are based on Analog Devices' award-winning RAM-based SoftFone(R) architecture, which for the past seven years has provided handset designers with unparalleled levels of flexibility, power savings and performance. Driven by the success and market acceptance of the SoftFone architecture, SoftFone devices are found in hundreds of GSM/GPRS/EDGE mobile phone models from dozens of manufacturers on networks around the world.

Multimedia functionality is no longer reserved for only high-end, expensive cellular phones, said Christian Kermarrec, vice president, RF and Wireless Systems, Analog Devices, Inc. Lower end handsets are also expected to have camera phone capabilities, MP3 and AAC audio playback for both ring tones and full-track music files. However, handset manufacturers have been limited in their cost-reduction plans by the cost of multimedia coprocessors that have generally been needed in phones with these capabilities. Our new SoftFone products address this by bringing a high level of multimedia functionality and eliminating the coprocessors.

The SoftFone AD6721 (Atlas-2H) and AD6722 (Dione) multimedia baseband processors leverage Analog Devices' DSP technology and an ARM7 TDMI(TM) microcontroller to perform both the communications and audio/video signal processing tasks in media-rich handsets. The AD6722, manufactured in a 90 nm process, includes an integrated ISP and direct interface to cameras (up to three Megapixels) and QVGA displays. The ISP, which provides JPEG encoding and decoding, colour conversion, auto focus sharpness measurement, scaling and overlay control functions, eliminates the need for camera coprocessors and dramatically lowers the cost of low-cost multimedia phones by several dollars.

Both SoftFone devices also include a wide range of peripheral interfaces, including USB; an IrDA(R) transceiver, which brings infra-red capabilities to the handset; an SD/MMC card interface for removable storage; and multiple programmable serial and parallel ports. The analog functions include voiceband codec, stereo audio converters and speaker/headphone amplifiers, and multiple analog audio channels for hands-free speakerphone operation and FM radio connection. The radio interface also provides seamless connection to the company’s award-winning AD6548 Othello-G direct-conversion quad-band GPRS transceiver. The AD6721 and AD6722 also include a complete power management subsystem, consisting of multiple voltage regulators, battery charging control, and direct battery connection.

The AD6721 and AD6722 are software-compatible with previous GSM/GPRS SoftFone baseband processors. Protocol stack and applications software is also available for each device, provided directly by Analog Devices.

The SoftFone AD6721 and AD6722 multimedia baseband chipsets are available now.

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