October 24, 2016

Seoul, Korea

Single-Wire Connectivity Pioneer Powers Up the Future for Billions of Devices, Links to Past of 100-Year-Old Standard

GMK, a fabless semiconductor startup company based in Korea, announced the world’s first single-wire connectivity chipset solution for smart devices, GMK’s proprietary Power and Data Communication Interface (GPCI). This chipset solution enables the 3.5mm audio jack to perform power transfer and digital data communication similar to USB, while providing legacy analog audio compatibility. Notwithstanding Apple’s (NASDAQ:AAPL) announcement to eliminate audio jack ports, the annual world-wide billion unit market for handsets and mobile devices overwhelmingly continues to support the 3.5 mm audio jack standard.  

GMK’s (GPCI) solution consists of a pair of chipsets, a Master IC (GNA101) for host devices such as mobile phones and a Slave IC (GNA102) for smart accessories such as active audio devices. In smartphone applications, the Master IC uses the microphone line for single-wire connectivity to communicate power and digital data with the Slave IC located in active accessories. A GPCII-enabled audio jack can provide power up to 200mA with a transfer rate of 1Mbps. Power and digital data transfer rates are completely optimized for digital voice transfer, remote-control key events, or any kind of data exchanges between the Host and Slave Device. 

To provide backward compatibility for legacy analog devices, GPCI provides device identification and authentication process before power supplying and data communication. When the legacy analog audio device is plugged into 3.5mm audio jack, Master IC switches the communication channel to set the audio path to traditional analog mode.

By leveraging high performance speech CODEC, GPCI delivers a high quality digital voice transmission from earphone (Slave Device) to smartphone (Host Device) through an analog microphone line, while minimizing cable noise or latency issues.  Audio devices with the standard USB port require big and costly inductors to reduce noise interference caused by the high voltage swing of USB connections. GPCI chipset communication is characterized by very low peak-to-peak voltage swing over the power line. This enables minimal noise interference on the audio line or circuit, providing a simple and low cost active accessory connection.

“GPCI may shift the paradigm of 100-years-old audio jack from single-purpose audio port to multi-purpose communication port. It can redefine the mobile accessory market and related eco system with enhanced audio jack.” said Tom Chiu, a partner of Enspire Capital.

As a single-wire connectivity solution, GPCI has many diverse applications, with Active Noise Cancelling (ANC) earphone for smartphone as the initial entry market.  Today, utilizing an ANC earphone with a smartphone audio jack requires a large battery pack for power and digital data communication. A wired ANC earphone with a USB or lightning port cannot be used when the smartphone is charging.

“Apart from eliminating the ability for simultaneous charging and listening, Lightning or USB usage poses many other challenges for audio devices. For example, because Lightning or USB port requires external digital components like DAC or amplifiers, audio device manufacturing costs are driven much higher compared to analog devices.  In addition, power consumption is very high not only at audio playback time, but also during standby plugin time. Those challenges are critical for USB accessory OEM makers as well as for users. GMK’s GPCI provides an elegant low-cost, low-power solution to these challenges,” said James Hwang, CEO of GMK.

GMK is currently actively promoting GPCI to Android phone OEM/ODM manufacturers and active accessory manufacturers with a fully working prototype consisting of a Nexus phone and ANC earphone. Upgrading devices with 3.5mm audio jacks to use GNA101 and GNA102 requires only a few weeks of integration by OEM manufacturers.

“This innovative solution developed by GMK will likely greatly extend the lifetime of the venerable audio-jack standard by providing new key capabilities. This will be music to the ears of the OEM manufacturers producing over a billion Android phones every year,” said Lance Bell, CEO of LGB, LLC.

About GMK:

GMK is a fabless semiconductor startup company that provides analog and digital mixed IC and related software platform. Based on a proprietary patent portfolio, GMK is creating single-wire connectivity markets starting with smartphones and smart accessories, to IoT and wearables, on through to automotive and smart factory.

For more information, please visit www.gmkay.com