SiRFstarIV GPS receiver cuts fix times, reduces power

The latest SiRFstar chipset has broken free, and it's promising increased accuracy, lower power consumption, faster fixes and better integration with other positioning sensors; in short, everything you'd hope for from what stands a fair chance of being stuffed inside your next PND, laptop or smartphone.  The SiRFstar IV's star feature is SiRFaware, its ability to maintain "better-than-hot-start" location awareness with only 50-500 microamperes of current.

SiRFaware means that devices using the SiRFstar IV chipset can quickly offer accurate positioning – such as in mapping or augmented reality apps - without either requiring a lengthy pause for location accuracy or the usual workaround of having the GPS receiver be constantly powered on.  SiRFstar IV also has twice the search capacity of the SiRFstar III, for improved accuracy and reduced fix-time, together with active blocking of jamming elements such as RF radios.

It can also be linked to MEMs sensors, such as accelerometers, to improve positioning, especially when indoors or out of sight of satellites.  The SiRFstar IV will first be offered in the SiRFstar IV GSD4t, a GPS receiver for smartphones and other mobile devices, with 2.5x less power draw than the SiRFstar III.  Production quantities of the GSD4t chipset are expected from October this year.

Press Release:

CSR Debuts Breakthrough SiRFstarIV Location-Aware Architecture

SiRFaware Technology Delivers Continuous Location Awareness without Compromising Battery Life

CAMBRIDGE, England & SAN JOSE, Calif., July 28, 2009 — CSR plc., a leading provider of GPS-powered location platforms, today launched its breakthrough SiRFstarIV™ location-aware architecture with exclusive SiRFaware™ self-assisted, micro-power GPS technology that enables consumer devices to always be location aware – without draining batteries and without requiring network aiding. CSR today also introduced its first SiRFstarIV-based product, the GSD4t receiver, which offers a superior solution for enabling mobile phones and other space- and power-constrained devices to have the robust, always-available geo-awareness consumers are demanding.

"I am very pleased that we are able to launch such a major, breakthrough technology so soon after our merger with SiRF," said Joep van Beurden, CEO of CSR. "Today's announcement significantly strengthens our GPS product offerings and our location technology portfolio."

The essence of the SiRFstarIV breakthrough is its ability to continually maintain "better-than-hot-start" conditions in the GPS receiver for fast location fixes without having to be kept fully turned on all the time and draining precious battery power. Until now, designers of mobile devices were forced to completely turn off GPS receivers when not in use to conserve power, causing annoying start-up delays when a location application needed to get a new location fix quickly. Through a fusion of multiple innovations, the unique SiRFaware technology overcomes this barrier with or without network aiding while consuming only 50-500 microamperes of current.

"With consumers expecting reliable location services everywhere, we had to rewrite the traditional rule book on GPS architectures and create a new, low-energy way to maintain continuous location awareness without draining the device battery or requiring network assistance," said Kanwar Chadha, chief marketing officer for CSR and founder of SiRF. "With SiRFstarIV and our unique SiRFaware technology, we have developed an architecture that will not only significantly improve the consumer experience when navigating with smartphones, but also enable consumer devices to maintain continuous location awareness."

According to Chadha, people count on using their mobile phones and other mobile consumer devices just about everywhere, and expect pretty much the same of these devices' location functionality, and this was a critical consideration while developing the SiRFstarIV architecture. As a result, SiRFstarIV GPS receivers are more compatible with how consumers actually use these kinds of products, delivering a superior user experience by enabling handsets and other mobile devices to always get a fast location fix without significantly impacting battery life. SiRFstarIV's unique blend of high performance and low energy location-awareness modes opens the door to the more widespread use of GPS in digital still cameras and camcorders, hand-held games and a wide variety of portable consumer electronics devices.

The SiRFstarIV Architecture

The SiRFstarIV architecture core is comprised of a high-performance GPS location engine, smart location sensor interface, adaptive micro-power manager and active jammer remover, which together deliver:

* Twice the search capacity of the industry proven SiRFstarIII™ architecture, resulting in enhanced sensitivity, reduced time-to-fix and improved positional accuracy

* Advanced micro-power management and integrated switched-mode regulation that maintains hot-start conditions with minimal energy (50-500 microamperes)

* Intelligent MEMs sensor support (for accelerometers and other sensors) that improves the location experience, enabling greater contextual awareness, more sophisticated energy management and enhanced indoor positional accuracy

* Advanced DSP technology that actively searches for jammers and removes them prior to correlation for maximum GPS performance and design troubleshooting

SiRFstarIV GSD4t

The first implementation of the SiRFstarIV architecture, the GSD4t host-based platform, is optimized for mobile phones and other space and power-sensitive consumer devices. The GSD4t receiver provides industry leading performance, with navigation to -160 dBm, tracking to -163 dBm and excellent pass margins for E911 and 3GPP. It can maintain its full rated -160-dBm acquisition sensitivity without network assistance. A low-power champion, the GSD4t receiver requires only 8 mW in 1-Hz TricklePower mode – two and a half times less than the industry benchmark SiRFstarIII.

SiRFstarIV GSD4t features such as active jamming removal, single-SAW design, an on-chip LNA, fail-safe I/O, integrated switchers, single supply voltage, simple RF matching and small size and packaging also make SiRF's GPS receivers easier for designers to use and integrate into their products.

"Radio frequency interference within a portable consumer product, such as from embedded Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and mobile radios, as well as LCD screens, can easily inhibit GPS performance, and often does not become apparent until shortly before the product is due to go into production. This can easily add months of delay until the issue is resolved," said Dave Huntingford, director of product management for CSR's handset business unit. "Our unique active jammer removal not only solves this issue, but can pinpoint for designers much earlier in the development process the precise strength and source of these interfering signals, enabling them to be contained in the design phase rather than in later, more costly test phases."

Available in a 42-ball, 0.4-mm pitch wafer level chip scale package (WLCSP), the GSD4t offers low integration and BOM costs and fast time-to-market, combining RF receiver, baseband, switcher and low-current LDOs on a single chip, and requiring only six to eight external passive components and a single SAW to provide a complete solution that occupies less than 20 square millimeters, including switcher parts.

Availability and Pricing

The SiRF GSD4t host-based GPS receiver is available now in sample quantities, with production quantities planned for October. Please contact your CSR sales representatives for pricing information.

About CSR

CSR is a leading provider of multifunction connectivity and location platforms. CSR's technology portfolio includes Bluetooth, GPS, FM, Wi-Fi (IEEE802.11), UWB, NFC and other technologies to enable silicon platforms that incorporate fully integrated radio, baseband and microcontroller elements.

CSR's Connectivity Centre is designed to enhance the user experience with mainstream mobile devices by intelligent integration of multiple wireless connectivity and location-awareness technologies. CSR's Location Platforms are complemented by wireless connectivity and multimedia capabilities for high-volume mobile consumer devices and commercial applications.

CSR's technology has been adopted by market leaders into a wide range of mobile consumer devices such as mobile phones, automobile navigation and telematics systems, portable navigation devices (PNDs), wireless headsets, mobile computers, mobile internet devices, GPS recreational devices, digital cameras, mobile gaming, plus a wide range of personal and commercial tracking applications.

CSR and SiRF merged on June 26, 2009, and SiRF Technology Holdings, Inc. became a member of the CSR group of companies.  

[via NaviGadget]