MIPI Alliance Gives Members First Access to MIPI I3C Interface Specification for Sensor Applications

New Specification Unifies Traditional Approaches for Sensor Integration in a Single, High-Performing Interface for Mobile, IoT and Automotive System Designs

PISCATAWAY, N.J. — (BUSINESS WIRE) — August 2, 2016 — The MIPI® Alliance, an international organization that develops interface specifications for mobile and connected-device industries, has announced its 270 members now have early access to MIPI I3CSM, a forthcoming sensor interface specification that allows for the development and advancement of innovative designs in the mobile, Internet of Things (IoT) and automotive markets.

“The proliferation of sensors calls for a core sensor integration technology solution like MIPI I3C that gives developers unprecedented potential to design new products,” said Joel Huloux, Chairman of the Board of MIPI Alliance. “We expect MIPI I3C’s integration benefits will find broad market acceptance and help companies cost effectively meet the increasing demand for sensor-enriched products.”

A 2015 Semico Research report states “On the end market side, IoT owes its life to the smartphone market, and how smartphones have become a personal gateway for the majority of people on the planet.”

“The number of connected intelligent devices will reach an installed base of 36 billion units by 2020, representing a significant increase in the total sensor market,” said Richard Wawrzyniak, principal analyst, ASIC & SoC, Semico Research Corp. “The growth in connected devices and the abundance of sensors in these devices will benefit from a unified, easy-to-use sensor interface such as MIPI I3C.”

MIPI I3C solves the engineering community’s pressing need for a convenient chip-to-chip interface that alleviates the challenges of integrating sensors in product designs.

MIPI Alliance members can download MIPI I3C to review and begin developing designs based on the specification. To encourage early adoption of the specification in the sensor and device manufacturing ecosystems, MIPI Alliance invites new members to join the organization with prorated membership fees through December 2016.

MIPI I3C Specification Highlights

MIPI I3C is groundbreaking because it incorporates and advances the available I2C, SPI and UART interfaces into a consolidated specification, and at the same time provides backwards compatibility with most types of I2C devices. The new approach makes it easier for both device manufacturers and software developers to add more sensors to devices and combine multiple sensors from different vendors in products while reducing component and implementation costs. The specification also improves performance and power efficiency and provides sensor management capabilities not previously available.

“MIPI I3C was developed with tremendous collaboration and dedication from companies across the mobile, sensor and other industries who share common goals for innovation,” said Ken Foust, chair of the MIPI Alliance Sensor Working Group. “The contributions of so many stakeholders underscore the interest, need and demand in the marketplace for a new solution. On behalf of MIPI Alliance, I’d like to thank everyone who participated in this important work.”

Key MIPI I3C features:

  • Uses a 2-wire interface, which drastically reduces pin count and signal paths and facilitates incorporation of more sensors in a device. MIPI I3C can also be used as a sideband interface to other high-speed interfaces, a function previously provided by I2C and SPI, to further reduce pin count.
  • On a standard CMOS I/O, MIPI I3C supports a minimum data rate of 10 Mbps with options for high-data-rate modes, offering a substantial leap in performance and power efficiency compared to previous options. It uses one-eighth the power compared to I2C, for example, while providing 100 times the bandwidth.
  • Supports In-Band Interrupt (IBI) capability that enables the devices present on the 2-wire MIPI I3C bus to issue interrupts without using extra I/O pins signals. The I2C and SPI interfaces typically require out-of-band signals to implement interrupt functionality.
  • Provides synchronous and asynchronous time stamping to improve the accuracy of applications that use signals from various sensors over time. The time control improves the coordination of individual sensors, such as gyros and accelerometers, enabling them to work better together while substantially decreasing the energy required to operate the various devices.
  • Enables sensors to work in an always-on manner, even if other components in a device are asleep, while operating at very low power to minimize impact on battery life. It enables always-on sensors to accumulate (batch) data and transmit it quickly, when needed, to minimize energy consumption.
  • Enables controlled migration from I2C by allowing most types of I2C devices to co-exist with the I3C devices on the same bus, as well as enabling newly designed I3C devices to work on existing legacy I2C busses.

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