SAN JOSE, Calif. Samsung Electronics is expanding its portfolio of silicon for cellphones at a time when its handset division is tapping a broader set of chip vendors. Specifically, the company is working on basebands for both Long Term Evolution (LTE) and mobile WiMax networks as well as media accelerators.
The company is developing WiMax and LTE chips to lower costs of its handsets and reduce its exposure to patent royalties, according to Young Cho Chi, senior vice president of strategic planning for Samsung's telecom division. "We are also trying to develop competitive multimedia chipsets to support various multimedia functions," said Chi in an email exchange following a presentation in San Francisco in early December.
Samsung is already sampling its mobile WiMax chip set to engineers in and outside the company. The Korean giant wants to be among the first to launch LTE handsets, but it is not yet clear whether it will use its own LTE baseband in its first models.
The company will support both WiMax and LTE for next-generation cellular networks, Chi said in his San Francisco talk. Between the two technologies, WiMax is as much as five years ahead in maturity, but LTE will ultimately be more broadly used, Chi said.
Samsung's handset group used to rely mainly on chips from Qualcomm. But last year it began using chip sets from Broadcom and Infineon as well. The Broadcom and Infineon chips are said to use a software stack from Comneon, a joint venture between Infineon and InterDigital Communications that reportedly does not depend on Qualcomm's patents.
"It looks like the Koreans are revolting against the royalties that Qualcomm has been extracting for some time," said Will Strauss, principal of market watcher Forward Concepts (Tempe, Ariz.) "Both Samsung and LG have long chafed at Qualcomm's royalties," he added.