SAN BRUNO, Calif. -- IPWireless Inc. here has teamed with Flextronics Semiconductor Inc. to develop a new 0.13-micron system-on-chip IC with up to 3.5 million gates to reduce the size of high-speed wireless broadband modems to a PC card format for communicates over 3G cellular networks.
Three-year-old IPWireless is currently using a 0.18-micron ASIC chip with 1.7 million gates in its wireless 3G broadband systems to support two-way transmissions up to 9 megabit per second. The wireless broadband connection is being promoted as an alternative to cable modems and digital subscriber line (DSL) connections, said Jon Hambidge, senior director of marketing at the San Bruno company.
The current ASIC chip replaced an implementation with field-programmable gate arrays (FPGAs) and was jointly developed with Philips Semiconductors.
The new 3.5 million-gate SoC device will enable IPWireless to reduce its pocket-sized wireless modems to a PCMCIA ca rd or a small local area network (LAN) box, Hambidge said. The IPWireless system uses the UMTS TD-CDMA standards to support voice and data transmissions around the world.
The new SoC chip will contain all of the digital functions of IPWireless' 3G system. For the next nine months, however, the company will continue to sell its current design using the Philips ASIC solution. During that timeframe, the wireless broadband market is expected to grow from its infancy. "There's the potential for millions of units [per year]," Hambide told SBN. "It is a question of how quickly you get market traction."
And market traction is exactly what IPWireless is aiming for with its new design project at Flextronics Semiconductor, which was formed by electronics systems contract manufacturer Flextronics International Ltd. after it acquired Dii Semiconductor several years ago.
"We offer the first TD-CDMA [Time Division-Code Division Multiple Access hybrid system] for the TDD standards for wideband CDMA," Hamb idge said. The product currently works in two spectrum ranges--the MMDS spectrums in the U.S. with 2.5-to-2.7 GHz, and the IMT-2000 1.9 GHz frequency in the rest of the world.
"Within the bounds of the standards have developed sophisticated signal processing technology and other techniques, which require us to do our own custom designs," said the marketing vice president. "Our first version of the modem was based on FPGAs and was probably three times the size of the current ASIC-based product."