In my blog last week, I discussed how Qualcomm seemingly has an unfair advantage in the GPS arena for handsets, as it includes the GPS technology within the baseband chip set. As Tom Forgette, director of development for GPS products at RFMD correctly points out, Qualcomm's gpsOne solution has been most widely deployed in the narrowband CDMA market, thereby leaving the rest of the worldwide standards up for grabs in terms of GPS solutions.
Here's Forgette's complete response:
"It's correct to assume that the price point and solution footprint for GPS in handsets needs to be aggressive, and one way of addressing this is a software-based solution (like our RF8110). With this type of architecture, low cost solutions are possible by leveraging the existing/spare processing power (MIPS) and memory that are available in the application processors of today's smartphones and feature phones of the future."
"Comparing this approach to the gpsOne architecture, one can see some similarities - namely that both solutions need a GPS RF IC that interfaces to an existing device within the phonehence the similar price points and footprint. The main difference is that the gpsOne solution has dedicated logic within the MSM device for GPS processing while the RF8110 architecture uses software along with the spare MIPS and memory of the phone's application processor. Another attractive aspect of the software-based solution is the ability to customize, optimize, and upgrade the solution based on the capabilities of the host platform. It's also important to note that A-GPS is an emerging industry standard, so this capability is not unique to the gpsOne architecture and it is being provided on both CDMA and non-CDMA networks today."
These points are well taken. As with just about any approach, there are tradeoffs to be made. Making the right tradeoffs will be the key to success for your design.