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Navigation SoC combines GPS and Galileo tracking

Jun 10, 2009 — by Eric Brown — from the LinuxDevices Archive — 8 views

SiRF Technology is shipping a Linux-compatible navigation system-on-chip (SoC) that integrates a application processor and a “location engine” equipped with both GPS and Galileo satellite tracking. The “SiRFatlasIV” is billed as a lower-cost version of SiRF's SiRFprima SoC, offering the same 500MHz ARM11 core and hardware-accelerated 3D graphics, says SiRF.

Available now in volume, and already being incorporated in a variety of systems (see list below), the SiRFatlasIV is a more affordable version of the high-end, Linux-ready SiRFprima SoC announced in Feb. 2008. The SiRFatlasIV shares the same location engine as its predecessor, but is designed to minimize bill of materials (BOM) and overall system cost by integrating more peripheral functions onto a single chip, says SiRF.

The company was not clear on the differences in functionality between the two platforms, saying only that the new SoC offers a “multifunction feature set more optimized for entry level systems.” Offering “twice the memory bandwidth of current entry-level systems,” according to SiRF, the SiRFatlasIV is designed for high-volume navigation and location-aware products.

The SiRFatlasIV's 500MHz ARM11 core is equipped with a vector floating point unit, and supported with a 64-bit system bus and high-speed memory controller for DDR 400/Mobile-DDR 333 memory. An integrated video post processing accelerator handles video rendering and display, supporting mobile digital TV standards including TDMB, DVB-H, and CMMB. It is unclear whether this is the same Imagination Technologies PowerVR MVED1 accelerator chip used on the SiRFprima. The earlier SoC was also equipped with a PowerVR MBX core for 3D graphics.

The SiRFatlasIV's integrated NAND and SD controller supports both single and multi-layer cell (SLC/MLC) flash memory, says the company. Other SoC features are said to include an LCD touch-screen controller, 10-bit ADC, video input, and high-speed USB 2.0 PHY.

A global satellite engine

The SoC's 64-channel, multi-satellite system location engine is said to be the same as the SiRFprima's engine, which was claimed to be one of the first that works with both American GPS and European Galileo satellite networks. The engine offers high sensitivity and supports more than one million correlators, claims SiRF. In addition, the engine improves time to first fix (TTFF) in “tough environments”, and offers -161-dBm simultaneous tracking of GPS and Galileo satellites. The engine is also touted for its “intelligent sharing of system memory” for enhanced tracking accuracy and navigation.

The SiRFatlasIV's GPS core, meanwhile, supports lower-cost patch antennas and less-expensive 2.5 ppm crystal oscillators “without impacting performance,” claims the company. Overall, the SoC is said to measure 12 x 12mm, with a 1.1mm height. It is packaged in a 292-ball grid array (TFBGA) with 0.65mm pitch.

According to SiFT, its SiRFatlasIV is already being used in a number of products, most of which currently appear to support Windows CE instead of Linux. The full list includes Asus International/Unihan Technology, Binatone Electronics, CiRex Technology, Foxconn Technology, Globalsat Technology, Maylong and Maylong's GPS for Dummies, Navigon AG, NDrive Navigation Systems, Nextar, Wistron, and YF International.

Stated Kanwar Chadha, founder and VP of marketing for SiRF, “We believe multifunction, location-centric consumer devices are best served by multifunction location silicon and software platforms. The compelling cost/performance benefits of our SiRFatlasIV solution enable our customers to profitably address these high-volume consumer markets.”


The SiRFatlasIV is already fully production-qualified and available in high volumes, supporting both Linux and Windows CE platforms, says SiRF. More information should eventually become available at SiRF's site, here.

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