MIPI Alliance Enables Smart, Safe, Performance-Enhanced Batteries for Mobile Devices

February 26, 2012 by Jeff Shepard

The MIPI Alliance® announced a battery interface for mobile devices which improves consumer safety, battery performance, lessens the battery’s environmental impact. The robust, scalable and cost efficient single-wire communication interface is the first standard to address these key issues. Mobile device users can now look for smart batteries with longer lifetime, safe, environmentally-friendly battery chemistry as well as increased safety through temperature monitoring and decreased risk of counterfeit products. Plus, members of the mobile device ecosystem – OEMs, chipset suppliers, battery slave IC suppliers and battery pack manufacturers – will benefit from a commonly accepted battery interface that saves design and manufacturing complexity, reduces chipset space and improves cost margins.

According to industry analysts, the mobile device battery industry has expanded to at least 1.5 billion batteries produced per year. However, these batteries use many different, non-standard proprietary battery interfaces. This disparity has placed a significant burden on all members of the ecosystem. As advanced wireless networks including LTE and HSPA+ gain deployment, and smart phone functions require ever increasing processing power, the mobile device battery will become the weakest link in the mobile device. The MIPI battery interface specification will address many of these issues.

"The mobile device battery is a critical component, with significant impact to both the consumer and the mobile device ecosystem," said Joel Huloux, Chairman of the Board of MIPI Alliance. "This industry-leading Battery Interface specification reflects the technical excellence and breadth of our membership. We are excited to see this specification deploy and positively impact the market."

"Consumer safety and end-user experience are the main targets of our products," said Stephan Schaecher, Infineon Technologies’ Marketing Director for the ORIGATM Product Family, the market leading battery and accessory authentication solution. "The new MIPI BIF standard will accelerate the wide-spread adoption of smarter, safer and more efficient batteries for mobile devices."

"Lattice Semiconductor is a strong supporter of MIPI standards and is excited to announce our solution for the BIF specification today," said Kapil Shankar, Corporate Vice President and General Manager, Mobility Business Group at Lattice Semiconductors. "We believe that driving industry standards is the best way to accelerate development and reduce costs. Lattice’s support of BIF expands the areas where our mobile FPGA solutions can provide swift flexibility to designers along with delivering affordable innovation."

"Consumer expectations towards battery performance and safety remain high, calling for new approaches to make the most out of existing and future battery technologies," said Petri Haavisto, Director, Device Architecture at Nokia. "This necessitates advanced feature set from the battery system and respective interface – no such standard exists in the market today. In order to ensure scale, affordability and complete feature set Nokia supports battery interface definition work being run by the MIPI Alliance."

Stewart Bell, Director of Panasonic System LSI Europe, commented, "As a strong supporter of open standards, Panasonic System LSI Europe was proud to be an active contributor to the MIPI Battery Interface Specification. While still supporting low cost batteries, we believe that the BIF specification will enable a new generation of smart batteries providing enhanced safety and performance to mobile terminals."

"BIF is an important advance in battery management for mobile devices and ST-Ericsson is pleased to have contributed to the development of the announced specification," said Alexandre Balmefrezol, Head of Analog System Design at ST-Ericsson. "We plan to implement this new technology in our next generation of energy and power management solutions to enable a better user experience and longer battery life."

The MIPI Battery Interface specification addresses several key issues, including battery life, environmental concerns, high capacity chemistries and consumer safety. Popular smart phones are known to have shorter battery life as they churn through large amounts of data and always-on applications. MIPI’s specification includes unified access to parameters, state monitoring and optimized charging events which improve functionality within the battery, thereby lengthening its life. These capabilities also enable battery pack manufacturers to quickly implement and adopt environmentally-friendly and efficient chemistries for a "greener" battery.

This smart battery technology also enhances consumer safety by supporting advanced authentication and temperature measurement functions. Battery authentication detects potentially dangerous counterfeit products which can harm users. Thanks to this, the mobile device can take the appropriate measures to ensure user safety, including safe, slow-rate charging. Temperature monitoring is vital to insure the battery does not overheat, damaging the device or the person.

Numerous, proprietary battery interfaces create a technology chain of events with far-ranging impact. Mobile device manufacturers usually specify a unique interface for their phone models – and must support and maintain these solutions for each ecosystem member down the line. Consequently, mobile chipset suppliers must support these varied OEM interfaces. Each unique interface requires design support and more chipset silicon - forcing customers to absorb the costs for all interfaces.

Battery slave IC and battery pack IC suppliers face the same scenario – market demands to support every possible interface and resulting in their own proprietary ICs. Finally, battery pack manufacturers must support numerous physically- and electrically-unique battery models for each mobile device manufacturer. This burden lessens the impetus to implement new environmentally-friendly or high capacity chemistries – which would require interface technology changes backwards through the ecosystem.

Having multiple proprietary and competing battery interface solutions in the market lowers volumes for each product and consequently produces higher costs. This is true especially for smart batteries and likely has impacted their lagging adoption rate in the mobile device market despite the clear benefits of smart battery technology.

The MIPI Battery Interface specification has been developed to meet these challenges. Offering a unique, unified solution, the specification is designed to replace all existing proprietary mobile device battery interface solutions and supports both smart and low-cost batteries.

By focusing on a standard interface solution, mobile chipset suppliers can reduce design time and silicon area, passing on these savings to their customers. Battery slave IC and battery pack IC providers can realize the same benefits, eliminating the need for customized products. Battery pack manufactures can quickly implement the latest chemistry advancements without jeopardizing backwards compatibility or requiring single-customer products. And mobile device manufacturers can streamline their product designs while maintaining existing vendor relationships.

The Battery Interface specification is a joint effort among mobile handset suppliers, chipset and battery slave device providers. These members of the Battery Interface Working Group began their efforts in early 2010. Contributors to the specification include: Analog Devices, Infineon Technologies, Intel Corporation, Lattice Semiconductor Corporation, Nokia Corporation, Panasonic Corporation, Qualcomm Incorporated, Research In Motion, Sony Ericsson Mobile Communications, STMicroelectronics, ST-Ericsson, Texas Instruments Incorporated and Toshiba Corporation.