CEVA: 'software GPS can generate 30% cost reduction'

GPS Business News interviewed with Richard Kingston, director of marketing at CEVA about the announcement made yesterday to integrate software GPS in its DSP designs.

Richard Kingston
Richard Kingston
GPS Business News: Our readers are not very familiar with CEVA, can you briefly introduce your company?
Richard Kingston: CEVA is an IP company that specializes in the design of DSP cores and multimedia software and licenses this technology to semiconductor companies that manufacture chipsets. Most of our customers are in the mobile industry, they manufacture cellular basebands and multimedia SoCs using our design. Companies such as Infineon and Broadcom use our DSP design to compete with companies such as Texas Instruments that have their own in-house DSP.

CEVA was born as a spin off from a company called DSP Group in 2002. In 2007, CEVA's IP was shipped in over 225 million devices. We also have some experience in GPS. About 18 months ago we spun off a GPS company called GloNav - which has just been acquired by NXP. At that time we were not really successful in selling GPS integrated into our product offering because customers were looking for standalone GPS. This is why we decided to spin off GloNav. However now the market trend is moving the other way: requiring more integration of GPS technologies into silicon to reduce cost.

GPS BN: This week you are announcing an agreement with a Chinese company called HuaXun Microelectronics which is developing GPS technologies: can you give us some details about this partnership?
RK: Yes, we have partnered to develop a software-based GPS solution for the CEVA-X family of DSP cores and the MM2000 portable multimedia platform. With this solution we are targeting cell phones, portable multimedia players and portable navigation devices. This software-based approach to GPS will enable our licensees to add GPS capability to their baseband and multimedia System on Chips without any hardware modifications or increase in die size.

source: CEVA
source: CEVA
GPS BN: What is the difference with a “hardware” GPS approach?
RK: Traditional GPS solutions require a dedicated GPS processor to perform the intensive GPS computations. In contrast, HuaXun's software-based GPS solution eliminates the need for a separate GPS engine. Instead, we leverage the performance of the CEVA-X DSP core to handle the GPS computations. In order to build a full GPS-enabled phone, a manufacturer will only need to add an antenna and a RF front-end to the baseband. Crucially, existing licensees of our CEVA-X DSP cores can add GPS capability to the chipset without the need for a silicon re-spin. There are many advantages to this solution: lower die size and cost, quicker time-to-market for existing designs and the flexibility to fine tune GPS performance for target applications. But cost reduction is probably the main driver here. We think this solution can generate 30% cost reduction for manufacturers in comparison to a standalone GPS chipset.

GPS BN: And who might be your potential customers for these solutions?
RK: At the moment our CEVA DSP core designs are present in about 13% percent of mobile phones. Furthermore, there has been a big change in 2007: Nokia decided to end its long term exclusive relationship with Texas Instruments and started to work with Infineon and Broadcom for the supply of cellular baseband processor technology. It happens that both companies are our customers. In addition, we have many customers in USA, Europe and Asia that also design chips for mobile phones using our DSP cores. By end of 2009, we estimate that CEVA technology can be in 30-50% of all mobile phones worldwide. Any of these companies are potential customers for software-based GPS integrated on a CEVA DSP.

GPS BN: and in what kind of phones can we find your CEVA-X DSP core product?
RK: This is a design that is dedicated to high end phones: for example you can find it in all HSDPA phones from Sony Ericsson or in the same kind of 3.5G phones from LG and Sharp.

GPS BN: Thank you very much.
RK: My pleasure.

Tuesday, March 11th 2008

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