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National Semiconductor Introduces New Serial Interface for Portable Devices that Eliminates “Wide Interconnect” Problems

National also Working with Industry Leaders to Forge Consensus on Protocol for Open Industry Standard

Jan 21, 2004

January 21, 2004 – Furthering its commitment to provide mobile handset makers with differentiating analog solutions, National Semiconductor Corporation (NYSE: NSM) today announced the availability of Mobile Pixel Link (MPL) physical layer, the first step in the standardization process for a new serial interface for camera phones and small form factor displays that eliminates power, noise and reliability problems associated with wide parallel interconnects.  In addition to solving immediate design challenges, MPL technology is the foundation of National’s initiative to forge industry consensus on the protocol for a new open standard serial interface for portable devices.  As part of that effort, National is collaborating with mobile industry leaders to develop a standardized interface that guarantees interoperability.

The MPL physical layer builds on National’s leadership in high-speed interface and display technology as the basis for its physical layer.  MPL addresses the industry-wide problem of wide parallel interconnects to image sensors and displays.  National’s MPL reduces power, electromagnetic interference (EMI) and system cost while enhancing reliability and easing mechanical design for mobile products.  It also demonstrates National's commitment to create open-standards for key mobile phone interfaces, which started with the release of National’s PowerWise™ Interface (PWI) open-standard in October 2003. 

“Just as National Semiconductor catalyzed the mobile PC industry in the move to low voltage differential signaling (LVDS) display interfaces in the mid-90’s, we want to provoke the industry to adopt an open standard for serial interfaces for handheld electronics,” said Peter Henry, vice president of the portable power systems group, National Semiconductor.  “We are positioning MPL as an open, royalty-free standard from the outset and we look forward to collaborating with our industry partners to bring it to market.”

The first version of the MPL physical layer is based on an extremely low power, low EMI, single-ended current mode physical layer and straightforward serialization of legacy parallel interfaces.  It solves problems created by having wide, high power, high-EMI video paths within handsets.  It will also allow all handset manufacturers to save money from cable size reductions, especially on expensive flex cables, and reduced IC package and connector sizes.

The MPL physical layer that National announced today is a step toward MPL Level-1, which will be based on the same physical layer and offer an open packetized protocol that allows interoperability among multiple peripheral vendors.  Working with major handset makers, National anticipates completing the MPL Level-1 standard through an ad-hoc consortium or a recognized international standard’s body such as the existing Mobile Industry Processor Interface (MIPI) alliance. More details on Mobile Pixel Link are available at www.national.com/appinfo/mpl.

“As the mobile handset industry matures, component standards will become a key part of cost reduction.  National’s MPL solution helps lower the high interconnect cost within these phones,” said Neil Strother, senior analyst with In-Stat/MDR.  “With this move, National is bringing together a strong set of players to address this problem.”

Industry Leaders Express Support of MPL
National Semiconductor’s MPL initiative has received attention from industry leaders such as Philips, Sony-Ericsson and Wavecom. 

"As one of the leading mobile display module makers, Philips Mobile Display Systems recognizes amongst its customer base a growing demand for a high-speed serial display interface solution such as MPL," said Johan van de Ven, Chief Technology Officer, Philips MDS.  "We support and recognize the need for standardization in this field, e.g. through MIPI.  In this context we are evaluating MPL and appreciate the pioneering role that National Semiconductor is playing in this area of technology."

“With the increasingly rich visual experience available in cellular handsets, demands on the ability to interconnect subcomponents within a phone cheaply, reliably and in a small form factor become more and more of a challenge,” said Kazuaki Takanose, Corporate Vice President, Sony-Ericsson. “MPL looks as though it will give the industry a way of doing this in a standardized way, enabling multiple sourcing.”

“By considerably reducing the number of wires inside the flex cable, the MPL architecture allows us to improve EMI level, power consumption and leads to a more cost effective solution,” said Philippe Béché, Baseband IC Director at Wavecom.  “MPL will help us shorten the integration time of Wavecom solutions in our large number of customer designs.” 

New Products Solve Today’s Problem
To accelerate the adoption of MPL technology, National today also released engineering samples for two products, the LM2501 legacy camera interface and LM2502 legacy CPU-mode display interface ICs.  These new devices utilize the MPL physical layer to reduce the number of interconnect wires in a phone as well as EMI and power problems that handset designers face every day. 

About National Semiconductor
National Semiconductor, the industry's premier analog company, creates high performance analog devices and subsystems. National's leading-edge products include power management circuits, display drivers, audio and operational amplifiers, imaging sensors and data conversion solutions. National's key markets include wireless handsets, displays, PCs, networks and a broad range of portable applications. With headquarters in Santa Clara, California, National reported sales of $1.67 billion for fiscal 2003, which ended May 25, 2003. Additional company and product information is available at www.national.com
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