Many of the newest and highly integrated circuits are extremely complex. To stimulate market acceptance of these chips and reduce payback time for the design effort, semiconductor manufacturers frequently develop a reference design to confirm that the chip fulfills its design intent in an actual application. The reference design is then provided at little or no cost to potential users.
Reference designs allow users to speed up the development process and get to market sooner. One of the potential trade-offs is product differentiation. However, software is among the differentiating factors in many designs, so this still leaves a lot of uniqueness for the reference design user. Also, nothing prevents a user from taking only those portions that they need from the design and substituting other circuitry or building on the reference design. How users obtain the design can require either an active relationship with the supplier or establishing one and agreeing to keep the design confidential.
Here are three reference designs to get hot consumer products into customers’ hands quicker.
Enhanced Color TV Reference Design
Genoa engineers developed ColorPeak multi-primary color technology to improve display technology that is limited today to only 55% of the visible colors based on red, green, and blue (RGB) design methodology. The technology enables displays to provide greater than NTSC color space covering 95% of the range. Implemented in a chip family dubbed Keshet, the top of the line GMP 1026 supports up to six primary colors and a resolution of 1080P and UXGA. Genoa’s reference design allows users to implement this advanced color technology with their display. System performance and therefore differentiation, depends on the display itself and not just the electronic reference design. It took nine months for Genoa to develop the reference design and they estimate that it will save customers as much as six months in their development schedule. Read more about Genoa's ColorPeak technology.
Portable Media Player Reference Design Kit
Freescale Semiconductor’s i.MX21 processor includes an 266 MHz max (133 MHz @ 1.8V) ARM926EJ-S core and additional peripherals designed specifically for several consumer applications. Freescale developed the i.MX21 Portable Media Center Reference Design Kit for customers designing portable media players. The design kit includes the schematic in PDF and OrCAD format, the Gerber files of PCB layout, and Jazz WinCE5.0 board support package. In addition to a complete parts list with a volume cost estimate, the kit has performance data including battery life. Freescale estimates their reference design could save some customers up to one year of design time. The reference design download is free but requires registering with Freescale and accepting a licensing agreement. Read more about Freescale’s i.MX21 Portable Media Player Reference Design.
DVD Recorder Reference Design
LSI Logic developed the DiMeNsion-3 DVD Recorder Solution that includes their Domino 8603 DVD recorder system processor, L3200 optical servo/DSP with integrated AFE, and L2146 and L2150 NTSC/PAL video decoders. The design uses a Unified Memory Architecture (UMA) that eliminates and/or integrates a significant number of components requiring only a single DRAM and FLASH for the entire system. Designed as a low cost solution for full-featured DVD recorders, LSI engineers estimate that component integration and elimination in the design reduces total system costs at the BOM level by up to $20. The design provides several DVD formats, MPEG-4/DivX encoding and decoding, Super Audio CD and DVD-Audio decode, SD-to-HD up-conversion and HD JPEG, YesDVD 2.0 capability, and other features. Read more about LSI Logic’s DiMeNsion-3 DVD Recorder Solution.
For other reference designs, check out these sources.
Texas Instruments DM64x Digital Media Developer's Kit with NTSC Camera
Analog Devices ADV202 JPEG 2000 Video CODEC and Evaluation Tools
AMD Geode LX DB800 Development Board
Intel 815E Digital Set Top Box Reference Design
ST Microelectronics DVB-MHP Reference Design for Digital Set Top Boxes
National Semiconductor Power Reference Design Library
Transmeta Crusoe TM5900 System Development Kit