LTE Chips from Qualcomm, Nvidia, Altair, Broadcom & Marvell

Posted by Sam Churchill on

Qualcomm has announced its Snapdragon 200 and 400 processors aimed at mid-tier and entry-level smartphones. Expected in handsets later this year, the Snapdragon 200 and 400 balance the high-end 600 and 800 processors introduced in January.

  • The Snapdragon 200 is the most affordable quad-core 1.4GHz chip. It supports improved battery life and “robust connectivity” for entry-level devices. The chip supports multi-SIM functionality, CDMA multimode and UMTS modem options, HD video playback and a camera of up to 8 megapixels.
  • The Snapdragon 400 is available in two options, a dual-core (up to 1.7GHz per core) and quad-core (up to 1.4GHz per core) iterations. Standard features for the 400 series include an Adreno 305 GPU, support for modern cellular radios, and 1080p HD video playback and capture. Like the Snapdragon 200 series, the processor supports dual SIM cards as well as Miracast functionality and up to 13.5-megapixel cameras. Qualcomm anticipates seeing the new chipsets in smartphones and tablets later this year. It supports TD-SCDMA, DC-HSPA+, 1 x Advanced and CDMA.
  • The Snapdragon 600 processor, announced earlier this year at CES, features faster CPUs, higher performance graphics, and lower power usage. is one of the first smartphones to use the Snapdragon 600 processor. Both the LG Optimus G Pro, a 5.5″ phablet and The HTC One, a 4.7″ Android phone, announced this week, use Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 600 processor.
  • The Snapdragon 800 Processors will enable mobile devices like tablets with cutting edge feature set that includes a Quad Core Krait 400 CPU—speeds up to 2.3 GHz, per core, Adreno 330 GPU which offers a 2 times better compute performance than Adreno 320.

Qualcomm’s new RF360 Front End Solution hopes to end LTE band fragmentation by putting 40 bands into one chipset. Qualcomm’s family of chips improve RF performance and support all cellular models (LTE-FDD, LTE-TDD, WCDMA, EV-DO, CDMA 1x, TD-SCDMA, and GSM/EDGE).

“By combining the new RF front end chipsets with Qualcomm Snapdragon all-in-one mobile processors and Gobi LTE modems, Qualcomm Technologies can supply OEMs with a comprehensive, optimized, system-level LTE solution that is truly global,” explained Qualcomm in a press release. OEM products featuring the complete Qualcomm RF360 Solution are anticipated to be launched in the second half of 2013.

The newly announced Tegra 4 uses a separate, standalone LTE chipset, the fifth-generation NVIDIA Icera i500 processor. By contrast, many of Qualcomm’s Snapdragon chips integrate LTE into a single chip.

Nvidia’s newly announced Tegra 4i Chip will also integrate the Icera i500 modem on-die. It will support 8 primary bands and both 2×2 MIMO and 4×4 MIMO transmission modes on LTE. NVIDIA says the chip won’t be available for a year.

Altair Semiconductor announced the launch of a new family of LTE Advanced chipsets that can be used for USB dongles, mobile hotspots, and smartphones. It includes two new baseband processors – the FourGee 800 and FourGee 3802 – and a new radio chip – the FourGee 6300. It uses Altair’s 3rd generation software defined radio architecture, and is software upgradable to future Release-11.

Broadcom claims it has the industry’s smallest 4G LTE-Advanced modem. The BCM21892 is said to support LTE FDD and TDD, LTE-Advanced with carrier aggregation, HSPA+, TD-SCDMA and EDGE/GSM. It also supports Band 41 TD-LTE, used by Clearwire, China Mobile and Softbank.

Broadcom also says it’s invented a chip that can tell your phone where you are all the time without quickly draining your battery. The BCM47521 chip, which will be demonstrated at Mobile World Congress next week, should make it easier to use apps that react to the user’s location. That could include tools that mute an employee’s ringer when they enter the office, send a text message when a child leaves school grounds, or tell a retailer when a loyal shopper is near a store.

Marvell announced the PXA1088, a highly integrated quad-core application and communications mobile System-on-Chip (SoC) this week that supports all global broadband standards, enabling seamless global roaming. It incorporates a quad-core ARM Cortex-A7 with Marvell’s WCDMA and TD-SCDMA modem technology to provide a low-cost 3G platform for both smartphones and tablets.

Marvell announced the availability of LTE TDD/FDD capability on its quad-core platform with support for 5-mode cellular modems, including LTE TDD and FDD, High Speed Packet Access Plus (HSPA+), Time division High Speed Packet Access Plus (TD-HSPA+) and Enhanced Data for GSM Environment (EDGE). Marvell expects commercial products based on this platform to be available this year.

Arstechnica explains that CPU and modem chips for smartphones have different requirements from those designed for tablets.

Smartphones are far more compact and power constrained. Smartphone SoCs are limited to around 1W, both by batteries and by thermal dissipation, and a cellular modem is an absolute necessity. For the cost sensitive-models that make up the vast majority of the market, the modem is integrated into the SoC itself. That’s Qualcomm’s strength.

In contrast, the power budget for tablet SoCs is much greater, up to 4W for a passively cooled device and as high as 7-8W for systems with fans. This alone means there is a much wider range of tablet designs than smartphones.

Posted by Sam Churchill on Thursday, February 21st, 2013 at 6:34 am .

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