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MIPI Alliance rolls out audio interface for mobile devices


The MIPI Alliance, an international organization that develops interface specifications for mobile and mobile-influenced industries, today introduced MIPI SoundWire, a new audio interface for amplifiers, microphones and audio codecs used in smartphones, tablets, mobile PCs and other devices.

MIPI SoundWire consolidates many of the key attributes available in existing mobile and PC-industry audio interfaces and introduces a comprehensive interface and scalable architecture that can be used to transport audio and control data for audio peripherals. Companies can apply the specification as needed to best fit their particular systems integration requirements. More than 25 companies from across the audio technology ecosystem—including audio peripheral, electronic design automation and silicon vendors as well as OEMs—took part in developing MIPI SoundWire.

“We are very pleased that so many companies participated in this effort. Thanks to the broad-based involvement in the process, we are able to bring MIPI SoundWire to the market as a groundbreaking and very mature specification that meets the industry’s immediate, evolving and diverse needs,” said Joel Huloux, chairman of the board of MIPI Alliance. “The process also spurred many companies to join the MIPI Alliance. We appreciate their interest in MIPI SoundWire, their membership and their active engagement in the working group.”

The ratification of MIPI SoundWire by the MIPI Alliance is now underway and scheduled for completion by year-end 2014. Products based on MIPI SoundWire are already in development and IP, silicon components and test tools based on the specification are expected to become commercially available also by year-end 2014.

While MIPI SoundWire is undergoing ratification, the MIPI Alliance is introducing its key features and implementation benefits. MIPI SoundWire is a hardware interface and transport protocol. It offers a scalable, low complexity, low power, low latency, 2-pin (clock and data) multidrop bus that allows for the transfer of multiple audio streams and embedded controls/commands. Companies can apply the specification to add intelligence to audio peripherals, increase the number of peripherals attached to a link and optimize their implementations without compromising product cost, pin count, power consumption, software complexity, or key audio metrics. MIPI SoundWire provides built-in synchronization capabilities and optional multilane extensions and it supports PCM and PDM, multichannel data, isochronous and asynchronous modes.

Broadened capabilities and implementation flexibility offered by the new specification are expected to help designers accelerate time to market with new audio systems. MIPI SoundWire can support the use of more advanced amplifiers and microphones. It can be used to optimize speaker protection, microphone power and performance, noise cancellation, and always-listening audio input. It is expected to enable new use cases not present in previous specifications. It has been designed, as well, to help enable technology convergence between device segments.

“The boundaries between mobile phones, tablets and PCs are converging but until now, standardized audio interfaces have been specific to the individual market segments,” said Mohamad El-Hage, vice chair of the MIPI Alliance Low Speed Multipoint Link Working Group. “The fragmentation has made it very challenging for firms to scale their product designs for use across segments. MIPI SoundWire was developed to provide a common interface to overcome this challenge.”