Overcome power, size and cost when developing optimized '4G' chipsets for handhelds
By Eran Eshed, Altair SemiconductorApril 23, 2008 -- mobilehandsetdesignline.com
The combination of broadband and mobility promises to revolutionize the wireless Internet user-experience in a similar manner that such broadband technologies as DSL and cable modems transformed the wired Internet. Mobile WiMAX and 3GPP LTE (Long Term Evolution), or "4G" technologies, are expected to lead this mobile broadband revolution--the former is already in early deployment stages with the latter following on its heels.
The tools that will drive this revolution--and the demand for the services that are expected to entice consumers to pay an extra thirty or forty dollars a month--will be personal, handheld portable or mobile devices. This represents a true paradigm shift from the traditional laptop and hotspot combination to an anywhere personalized handheld device. Apple's iPhone is but a mere glimpse into the types of devices consumers can expect to see launching and driving the adoption of these advanced broadband services on-the-go.
Chipsets for integration into handheld devices have always represented the state-of-the-art in terms of semiconductor power consumption, form factors and integration levels. Among those three categories, power consumption reduction is arguably the most significant challenge faced by handset and handheld device manufacturers because its impact on battery time and subsequently on user experience is direct and immediate. The bad news for these manufacturers is that 4G chipsets that receive and transmit wideband signals and employ advanced smart antenna techniques such as MIMO (Multiple In Multiple Out), require dramatically higher processing power compared to traditional cellular technologies. The implications of this high processing requirement are micro-processors and DSPs (digital signal processors) that have to be clocked at much higher frequencies--a fact that has a linear effect on the power consumption. The good news for innovative chip companies is that a large power-consumption capability vacuum was created by this shift from narrowband to broadband mobility, and those companies that manage to overcome these challenges will have established a strong and sustainable competitive advantage.
This article will discuss the dimensions that should be addressed by 4G chip developers to minimize the power consumption, size and cost of their solutions.
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