ARM Displays New Graphics Controller
Advanced RISC Machines has announced the VIDC20, a high performance
video controller that consumes very little power (typically 0.3W) and
can directly drive both LCD screens and CRT video systems. The design
has been produced to meet the needs of a wide range of video systems -
from power sensitive portable computers through to desktop multimedia
workstations and from graphics accelerators to games systems. The
versatile device includes programmable display formats capable of
supporting VGA, Super VGA and XGA levels of resolution at up to 16
million colours. Other features include a hardware cursor,
programmable pixel rates and an on-chip sound system.
VIDC20 Offers High Quality Sound and Vision for Multimedia
VIDC20's low power architecture will drive the LCD screen of a portable
computer directly, whilst preserving battery life, using a patented,
16-level grey scale algorithm to give high quality picture rendition.
However VIDC20 is also capable of directly driving a colour CRT,
allowing the same portable computer to use a colour monitor on the desk
without additional components. The power management techniques ensure
that functions not in use, such as the video digital to analogue
converters (DAC) and sound DACs do not consume power. In addition the
on-board palette has been segmented so that only one eighth is enabled
at any one time.
VIDC20 was designed with the needs for higher levels of display
resolution in mind. The chip can be used to generate 1, 2, 4, 8, 16
and 32-bits/pixel formats at data rates of up to 160Mbytes/second. The
on-board 8-bit linear DACs gives a total of 16 million possible colours
at rates of up to 100MHz and drive doubly terminated 75j lines
directly. The inclusion of an on-chip phase comparator, when used with
a voltage controlled oscillator (VCO), allows a single reference clock
to generate all of the frequencies for any display mode. Tudor Brown,
ARM's Engineering Manager, commented: "By understanding how graphics
systems are built we have designed a chip that can be used
cost-effectively in a wide range of applications."
VIDC20 also supports a hardware cursor in all of its modes - high
resolution, interlace and LCD. By offering cursor support on-chip the
designer benefits from higher performance and lower software overhead
resulting in a better "look and feel" for the user. The cursor is 32
pixels wide, an unlimited number of pixels high and can be displayed in
4 colours from its own 28-bit wide palette.
As well as providing a programmable display system the chip also
supports two different sound systems. An on-chip system incorporates
an 8-bit mu-law DAC providing up to eight channels of stereo sound. A
32-bit serial sound interface output enables the connection of external
CD DACs. The on-chip sound system makes the development of powerful
yet low chip-count X-terminal controllers straightforward. For higher
quality multi-media applications requiring both sound and vision the
design provides a straightforward interface.
The design of a product incorporating both high speed digital and
analogue circuitry requires a close relationship between the designer
and the manufacturer. ARM collaborates closely with its semiconductor
partners - VLSI Technology Inc. and GEC Plessey Semiconductors Ltd - on
all phases of the design from specification through to production, to
ensure the smooth transition from development to volume manufacture.
Jeff Hendy, VLSI's Director of New Business Development, said: "Our
close relationship with ARM over the past several years has enabled us
to offer our customers a unique spectrum of solutions based on
performance and flexibility. The introduction of the VIDC20 extends
this spectrum of solutions and delivers to our customers not only high
graphics performance capabilities, but a broad range of graphics
options on a single device as well."
The ARM design approach is to make its products available as both
packaged parts and as ASIC macrocells. VIDC20 was no exception and was
designed using a modular approach to allow different versions to be
created quickly and easily to customer specification. Robin Saxby,
Managing Director of ARM commented: "Our QuickDesignTM approach using
functional building blocks allows us to produce our products very
quickly and easily, giving our customers exactly what they want, when
they want it, without the need for a complete redesign every time a
change is desired. ARM customers can now have the benefits of the
VIDC20 in a library for inclusion in other ARM circuits."
The VIDC20 is available from VLSI Technology in a 128 pin PQFP package.
Budgetary pricing for the part is $36 in 1K quantities.
Advanced RISC Machines (ARM) was formed in 1990 by Acorn Computers,
Apple Computer and VLSI Technology. ARM focuses on high performance,
low cost, low power consumption 32-bit RISC processors for embedded
control, computing, digital single processing and portable
applications. ARM also designs peripherals, supporting software and
hardware tools. ARM has licensed its technology to two semiconductor
product partners, GEC Plessey Semiconductors and VLSI Technology. Both
manufacture and sell ARM products world-wide; ARM also offers design
service, consultancy, feasibility studies, training and supply of
ISSUED BY: Ralph Tuckwell, MMC Group plc, Mitchell House, Montem Road, New
Malden, Surrey KT3 3QW. Tel: (081) 336 1282. Fax: (081) 949 2603.
The above is a Press release from ARM Limited, 28/10/92