SAN JOSE, Calif. At the Embedded Systems Conference here this week, Motorola Inc. expanded its efforts in the merchant cellular-phone chip business by rolling out a new radio-frequency (RF) device for multi-band handsets.
Built around a high-speed BiCMOS process, the new MC13760 is an intermediate frequency (IF) chip designed for handsets, based on several analog and digital standards, such as Advanced Mobile Phone Services (AMPS), Digital Cellular System (DCS), Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM), and time-division multiple access (TDMA).
The product represents the company's latest thrust in the merchant wireless-chip market. For years, Motorola has developed chips for its own handset lines, but the ICs were primarily designed for captive purposes.
More recently, Mototola has been pushing its cell-phone chips on the merchant market, including its digital baseband controllers, RF devices, and other products. "Our merchant chip business is growing," said Behrooz Abdi, general manager of the company's RF/IF Division, located in Tempe, Ariz.
Like most RF-chip makers, Motorola has experienced strong demand for these types of products. Earlier this year, for example, there were select shortages of RF chips in the market, due to huge OEM demand in the handset market.
At present, however, the supply/demand situation in the RF market is in balance, Abdi said. "The demand is pretty strong, but we're not on allocation," he said.
To meet anticipated demand for RF devices in the future, Motorola has been expanding its fab capacity. Recently, the company converted its 4-inch gallium arsenide (GaAs) fab into a 6-inch facility, thereby increasing its overall capacity for these types of devices by more than three-fold.
It has also expanded the capacity in its own BiCMOS-based fabs. And last August, the company struck a deal to license its RF BiCMOS process technology to Atmel Corp. As part of the terms, Atmel will be able to make and sell RF ICs and cores based on Motorola's advanced RF BiCMOS technology.
"Even though we have our own fabs, people are now looking for a second-source of RF devices," Abdi said.
On the device side, Motorola rolled out its latest merchant cell-phone chip. The MC13760 is an IF-based block that features several components on the same device, including fractional-N synthesizers, a re-configurable zero IF receiver, A/D converters, a direct launch digital modulator, and others.
The 2.75-volt device interfaces directly to the company's line of baseband processors. Housed in a 104-pin BGA package, the device is priced at $10.75 each in quantities of 10,000. The chip is sampling, with production slated for mid-October.