Lattice Semiconductor has recently rolled out a set of innovative devices they call programmable ASSPs (pASSPs) that potentially changes the way we think about the difference between various silicon chip realisations and categorisations.

The idea here is reasonably simple (most good ideas are). We are making a lot of interesting systems featuring image sensors and displays these days, and this involves connecting a variety of diverse components together. The problem is that we often end up with incompatible inputs/outputs or an insufficient number of inputs/outputs.

EEOL 2016MAY23 SENS OPT NT 06 01 Figure 1: (Source: Lattice Semiconductor)

How do we interface these disparate devices? FPGAs offer tremendous flexibility and fast time to market, but if all one's functions are implemented in programmable fabric then you take a hit in terms of power consumption and performance. By comparison, ASICs/ASSPs offer power and performance advantages, but it's incredibly time-consuming and expensive to create a custom device that exactly satisfies one's unique interfacing requirements.

Lattice's solution is the CrossLink family of pASSPs, which combine programmable fabric and programmable I/O for customisation and differentiation with hard, high-performance MIPI D-PHY cores that can satisfy the demanding requirements of today's modern display interface and camera interface protocols.

EEOL 2016MAY23 SENS OPT NT 06 02 Figure 2: (Source: Lattice Semiconductor)

CrossLink pASSPs provide completely customisable video bridges for mobility applications, including camera/display interface and aggregator bridges as illustrated below.

EEOL 2016MAY23 SENS OPT NT 06 03 Figure 3: (Source: Lattice Semiconductor)

CrossLink pASSPs offer what Lattice claims to be the world's fastest MIPI D-PHY bridging IC delivering up to 4K UHD resolution at 12Gb/s bandwidth. In addition to offering the lowest power programmable bridging solution in active mode, these devices also include a build-in sleep mode. CrossLink pASSPs also address the extreme size limitations associated with mobile devices with package sizes as small as 6mm2.

EEOL 2016MAY23 SENS OPT NT 06 04 Figure 4: (Source: Lattice Semiconductor)

In addition to mobile markets and applications, such as wearables, virtual reality headsets, cameras, smartphones, tablets, eBooks, drones...CrossLink pASSPs are also geared for applications in traditional markets including surveillance, handheld equipment, medical equipment and industrial/machine vision systems.

CrossLink evaluation boards are available from Lattice and its distributors (production devices will be available shortly).