Alliance launched to promote chip standards

Chip designer Arm and mobile phone company Nokia have teamed up with semiconductor manufacturers STMicroelectronics (STM) and...

Chip designer Arm  and mobile phone company Nokia have teamed up with semiconductor manufacturers STMicroelectronics (STM) and Texas Instruments to form an alliance that could help suppliers bring new types of mobile devices to market more quickly.

The Mobile Industry Processor Interface (MIPI) Alliance, established as an incorporated non-profit entity, will work to define and promote open standards for processors used in handsets and other products.

It is open to other mobile phone, hardware and software suppliers interested in helping define key mobile application building blocks for wireless products.

The alliance comes in response to the broad interest in the Open Mobile Application Processor Interfaces (OMAPI) initiative, launched in December by STM and Texas Instruments. 

The initiative set out to improve how multimedia applications look and run on GPRS and 3G mobile phones as well as PDAs and other portable devices.

The alliance could also help deflect challenges by Intel and Microsoft, two powerful players in the PC sector, to expand their presence in the fast-growing market for mobile devices.

"The more members who join this alliance, the better, because there will be other camps, and one of them could include Intel and Microsoft," said Alan Brown, an analyst at Gartner. "Intel, in particular, will want to support its own technology in this area."

The MIPI Alliance aims to complement existing standards bodies, such as the Open Mobile Alliance (OMA) and the 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP), the founding members said. While OMA focuses on services and 3GPP on air interfaces, MIPI will concentrate on microprocessors, peripherals and software interfaces.

As part of the alliance, the four founding members will establish 10 working groups to develop specifications in key areas such as camera and display and system control.

Standards are needed to avoid interoperability problems that can occur from the wide range of mobile phones, networks and software used to provide advanced services, such as picture and video messaging, as well as interactive gaming, according to the founding members.

Nokia views the MIPI Alliance as an "excellent forum" to speed up development and time to market for mobile multimedia devices by defining open standards, Jari Pasanen, vice-president of Nokia's mobile phone division, said.

Nokia and other hardware manufacturers will be able to deploy interoperable building blocks faster and at a lower cost, he added.

John Blau writes for IDG News Service

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