In every modern Synaptics touch or TDDI chip, there lurks a mythical beast revered throughout history for its undying fierceness. It was born out of stone, fire and human ingenuity, molded at the hand of Federico Faggin, Synaptics’ co-founder and first CEO.
The legendary Chimera microprocessor, much like the Greek mythological figure from which it takes its name, combines many different parts to create one magical, undefeatable whole. Its purpose was, and still is, to pull together multiple processes into one centralized solution, and to do so with power and efficiency.
The story starts in 1996, when Synaptics created its first all-in-one touch controller. The goal was to integrate touch analog circuits, a microprocessor for running firmware, and program and data memories all into a single silicon chip. Finding a commercial core with the immense strength and small stature needed to perform our job proved difficult. So, a crazy alternative was put into action.
Creating a processor from scratch seemed like a foolhardy task, but we had inspiration – Faggin had built several noteworthy microprocessors in his time, including the Intel 4004, the world’s first microprocessor chip.
Nine months after the conception of the plan, we had created our first integrated touch chip, called the T1004 (which has a processor still shipping in today’s T1007!). Eventually, we embarked on a more scalable design. We christened that final product with the “Chimera” moniker, after the mythological beast of Greek lore.
Chimera 1.0 was smaller and cheaper than the standard alternative, yet proved to be much more adept at the intricate control functions that encompass Synaptics firmware. As the touch world continues to move from simple profile sensors to multi-touch transcapacitive imagers (plus proximity, gloves, In-Cell, Single-Layer, and so on), our firmware’s needs have consequently grown and changed in character, and Chimera has evolved to match them.
We’re proud of what we created almost 20 years ago, and the Chimera monster has stood the test of time thus far. So, what is next? Bringing more scalability and better power management to larger memories is a natural fit for our current chip road map.
Beyond that: Chimera is all ours, so we can adapt it to meet the market’s every demand.
As they say, heroes are remembered, but legends never die.
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