MIPI specifications are used by all the leading chipset vendors and have helped the mobile industry in consolidating the integration approaches and developing high-level designs. Every smartphone on the market today has at least one MIPI specification. Today going beyond mobile, MIPI is developing specifications that can be fit into any industry or product. To get a glimpse of this Ankita KS from EFY Group had an interaction with Peter Lefkin, managing director, MIPI Alliance. Excerpts follow.
Q. What are the new MIPI specifications that have been released in the past one year?
A. 2018 has been a busy year and we have released 11 specifications. Perhaps I’ll highlight a few of our recent activities. The main ones are MIPI I3C Basic, MIPI Touch and MIPI A-PHY. Some of the other specifications released this year include updates to our widely adopted camera and display interfaces (MIPI CSI-2 and DSI-2, respectively), as well as UniPro, RFFE and two debug specifications.
Q. How different is MIPI I3C basic from the already existing MIPI I3C?
A. MIPI I3C Basic is a reduced-feature version of MIPI I3C that will be made available for implementation without a MIPI membership. MIPI I3C provides a welcome update to the I2C technology that has been widely adopted over the past 35 years. The MIPI I3C Basic version will support greater adoption and interoperability, strengthen the ecosystem and provide for a richer development environment.
Q. What exactly does MIPI Touch and MIPI A-PHY do?
A. MIPI Touch is a systems-level solution that ties together several key MIPI Alliance specifications used for touch, sensor and software integration. It provides conveniences and new market opportunities for companies and developers.
MIPI A-PHY is currently under development and expected to be completed in late 2019. It’s a longer reach physical layer (up to 15m) that is targeted for ADS, ADAS and other surround sensor applications in automotive, as well as other applications. This specification optimizes wiring, cost and weight requirements, as high-speed data, control data and optional power share the same physical wiring.
Q. What are the challenges with respect to sensors in autonomous driving?
A. Autonomous driving has different levels of autonomy, and it’s all about vision and sensing the environment around the car. The camera sensors also need to pair with lidar and radar technology to able to fully sense the surroundings. It’s then complicated by the fact that this requires a lot of processing power, and the sensors are collecting enormous amounts of data. The real challenge comes in being able to process that data.
Q. What is new in display specifications?
A. Display specifications in mobile are relatively stable but there is a whole set of discussions going on regarding augmented, virtual reality and heads-up displays. This is driving much of the need in the future for higher speeds. Also, in autonomous driving, there will be many displays around the car, and there will be electronic mirrors. All the data generated will need to be processed and moved around the car. That is where MIPI comes in and will provide the physical interface. MIPI is also working with many chip vendors on augmented and virtual reality.
Q. How is MIPI gearing up for 5G?
A. When it comes to 5G, or any other technology for that matter, we look at it from the perspective of what it does to the devices. Because 5G is also one of the functionalities that the network provides, it is only as good as the device you use to connect to it. 5G is predominantly about higher speed, and again, the devices must be capable to do that. We already have the major specifications of camera, sensor, and display ready to meet the 5G requirements. We are also already starting to see the introduction of 5G devices using MIPI specifications.
Q. How do you see the Indian market adapting towards these new specifications?
A. MIPI is a global organization, with no barriers or geography. The interesting thing about India is that the standardisation has driven down cost and raised the quality of specifications. This facilitates developers and start-ups in India to have a robust ecosystem into which they can tap into. Whether they are a test lab, IP provider or a device vendor, with MIPI they have something that they can take in. We have several members who have recently started companies based on MIPI specifications. It is also not limited in terms of application areas — I’m constantly surprised to learn where MIPI has been implemented. We put the technology out there, and companies now can implement on top of that.
Q. What are the steps that developers should follow while developing a standard?
A. First, it’s important to define what you are going to do. One important question to ask is, should we do this? Just because you can do something, you need not do it. Check to make sure the need and support are there and making sure that it fits into the current ecosystem. At MIPI, we have advisors who find out where standardisation is needed and what the requirements are, and then we start working on developing those standards.
Q. What is the future roadmap for MIPI?
A. We will continue our focus on mobile. We have realised over 15 years in the industry that if we do it right for mobile, it usually fits the purpose for other applications as well. It is interesting now because we are getting new requirements from other industries such as automotive, wearables, augmented reality, IoT and many more. The key here is that mobile specifications are very specific and lightweight, and they easily fit the purpose. You can then add more to these specifications to suit the other industry requirements.
Q. What would be your advice to senior decision makers and leaders on motivating their teams?
A. Leaders should be aware of who they are and how their teams work. Being in an organisation with a lot of project management and deadlines, we try to manage a clear roadmap to make sure that we deliver on time. A good leader should promote teamwork and trust his or her team. It is about letting the team do what they do best and trying not to get in the way or be a bottleneck for decisions. The trick is assembling the right team, providing the framework and letting them figure out the issues at the working group level. It is also about setting priorities and understanding that you cannot do everything. You should focus only on what you can commit to.