Texas Instruments Takes Aim at E-Reader Chip Market

Seeking to claim a generous share of the e-reader chip market, Texas Instruments will try to entice prospective e-reader OEMs with a chip set and software that the company claims will reduce the size and increase the battery life of e-book mobile devices.

Texas Instruments will unveil custom hardware and software Jan. 7 at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas that it claims will reduce the footprint of e-readers by 200 square millimeters and extend their battery life by 50 percent.

TI's TPS6518x EPD (electronic paper display) power management chip replaces about 40 discrete components that are required for any e-book device using E-Ink's electrophoretic display, the company said.

TI has also crafted the software for its 45-nanometer OMAP3621 processor, which eliminates the need for a hardware controller chip from Epson, Freescale Semiconductor, Marvell or Dialog Semiconductor as is required today. The OMAP3621 processor has an integral ARM Cortex-A8 CPU with an Imagination PowerVR3D graphics accelerator on the same chip.

To read about Spring Design's Alex e-reader, debuting at CES, click here.

According to TI, a single charge from a 600-milliamp-hour battery will enable up to 14,800 page turns, compared with 10,000 page turns for the longest lived e-reader battery today. And stand-by power is extended to four weeks, TI said.

TI will begin showing a reference design e-reader that uses its new chip and software to OEMs in a private suite at CES, held Jan. 7 to 10. The chips and software are currently available, but TI estimated that it will not be until the summer of 2010 before the first e-readers are released using its solution.

OEMs will have access to the schematics and software source code of its reference design e-reader, and they can request to borrow an actual TI-branded e-reader during their design phase. However, TI said it has no plans to release its own e-reader design to the public. The reference design also uses TI chips for wireless connectivity, multimedia management, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, FM radio and 3G modem connectivity.