Chip Integration: Greatest Show on Earth

Qualcomm is now the leading mobile chip company with its Snapdragon line of application processors that integrate a baseband LTE modem and processor. But other companies with chips that integrate the application processor and an LTE baseband modem are now available, notes EE Times.

At CES Qualcomm announced it is sampling its follow-on to the S4 series, with the Snapdragon 800, which includes a quad-core Krait 400 processor. The quad-core Snapdragon 800 uses the Adreno 330 for its GPU and includes an LTE modem built-in, that is capable of category 4 (150-Mbps) speeds. Qualcomm claims it will deliver up to 75 percent better performance than the previous generation , Snapdragon S4 Pro, which is currently found in dozens of devices, including the Samsung Galaxy S III (USA), HTC One X (AT&T), Motorola RAZR M, and Nokia Lumia 920. The new Snapdragon 800 and 600 processors, coming out this summer, pack more performance than their predecessors.

Other chip companies are now offering integrated LTE modems with their CPU. That should lower smartphone cost while increasing performance and battery life.

  • ST-Ericsson, with its NovaThor L8580 ModAp chip, is implemented in 28-nm silicon. The L8580 chip includes a PowerVR SGX544 graphics processor running at 600-MHz and a multimode LTE modem operating at up to 150-Mbits per second. The platform provides connectivity support for Bluetooth, GPS, FM, WiFi Direct, Miracast and NFC aided by the CG2905 and CW1260 chips.
  • Renesas Mobile with its MP6530 chip, is a quad-core big-little processor and a FDD/TDD Class 4 LTE/DC-HSPA+/EDGE/GPRS/GSM modem on a single piece of silicon. It is thought to include a dual-core Cortex-A15 and dual-core Cortex-A7 processors, licensed from ARM. It has less processing power than the big-little Exynos 5 Octa from Samsung – but it includes the multimode modem that extends up to category 4 LTE performance, 150-Mbit per second.
  • Nvidia announced the five-cored Tegra 4, based on the Cortex A15. The Tegra 4, codenamed “Wayne,” requires an optional Icera i500 chip that supports UE category 3 LTE cellular communications with a 100-Mbit per second.
  • Apple’s iPhone 5 uses their own A6 processor, a 1.3 GHz Apple-designed ARMv7 based dual-core CPU. Apple’s A6X, with four graphic cores, is found in the fourth generation iPad. But Apple uses Qualcomm chips like the 9615 Qualcomm modem chip for the LTE connections.
  • Intel is making progress with its development of LTE modems but does not expect to have an integrated LTE modem and application processor until 2014, according to CEO Paul Otellini. Intel’s wireless capabilities are largely derived from the company’s acquisition of the wireless business unit of Infineon (Munich, Germany).

Smartphones that store all your personal data could conceivably dock into cheaper laptop shells to deliver a full computing experience, says Tim Bajarin in PC Magazine.

Affordable, LTE World phones, for the Asian, European and American markets, are likely to require chip integration and support of the 1.8 GHz and 2.6 GHz bands. The first devices may show up at Mobile World Congress, in Barcelona, this February.

China Mobile, the largest mobile carrier in the world with over 722 million subscribers, expects TD-LTE coverage to reach 30%-35% on the Chinese mainland in 2013. They will begin “friendly user” trials of LTE Mi-Fi and other related products in the first half of 2013 with LTE handset trials in the second half of 2013. China Mobile will announce a low cost TD-LTE smartphone in 2015 while the company is working on a global roaming plan for smartphones with TD-LTE and FDD-LTE support.

Posted by Sam Churchill on .

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