GENEVA ( ChipWire) -- Qualcomm Inc. is preparing a dedicated chip set that will support Wideband-CDMA. The company is also in discussions concerning intellectual property (IP) that would allow the company to include GSM circuits within chip sets for multi-mode handsets.
At Telecom 99 here, Qualcomm, of San Diego, announced its intention to develop the MSM5100 chip set to support the 1X and 3X forms of multi-carrier (MC) CDMA, and to develop the MSM5200 chip set with support for direct sequence Wideband-CDMA (Code-Division Multiple Access).
Wideband-CDMA, otherwise known the Direct Sequence form of the frequency domain duplex third-generation (3G) mobile communications, is likely to be deployed in Europe and Japan as an alternative to the multi-carrier form of CDMA, also known as cdma2000, which is also supported by Qualcomm.
The MSM5100 is an upgrade to the MSM5000, which only supports the 1X mode. The MSM5000 is set to begin fields trials in South Korea in the first quarter of 2000, with commercial production to follow those trials.
Qualcomm was at the center of a dispute over intellectual property earlier this year concerning patents held by Qualcomm and L.M. Ericsson. The dispute, which risked derailing standards-setting procedures, was settled when both companies agreed to share their intellectual property with others using the standards, and with Ericsson agreeing to buy Qualcomm's infrastructure business (see March 25 story).
Qualcomm executives gave few details and no timetables for the MSM5100 and MSM5200. Johan Lodenius, vice president of marketing and product management for CDMA technologies at Qualcomm, said the chips will be complete RF-to-baseband solutions accompanied by appropriate suites of software. The baseband chips will be based on ARM Ltd. processor cores and Qualcomm's digital signal processor (DSP) circuits, Lodenius said. The MSM5000 made use of an ARM7 core, but Lodenius declined to say whether the MSM5100 or MSM5200, which will be aimed at 3G terminals, would use more advanced cores from ARM.
"We will use future versions of the ARM. We have agreements with ARM. We will use ARM9 and ARM10 when it is advantageous to us," Lodenius said.
"We make heavy use of the DSP circuits in our solutions and we can off-load a lot of the work there," he said. "For example, speaker-independent voice recognition can be supported in the DSP without much impact on the processor."
Lodenius stressed that the MSM5100 and MSM5200 were being designed to a common platform. "It's not a question of when we put the chips out. It's a question of what the market wants," he said.
CDMA 1X terminals are due to be deployed towards the end of next year, creating a demand for MSM5000 silicon. MSM5100 and MSM5200 could be expected to follow later.
Lodenius would not say whether Qualcomm will produce versions of the chip sets re-optimized for use in basestations. "We will remain in basestations. But we can do things differently in basestations because the constraints are different. So basestation versions may evolve differently," he said.
Also at Telecom 99, Qualcomm said it was looking at integrating GSM Global System for Mobile communications) circuitry into future chip sets to better support the design of multi-mode terminals.
"We have to work with GSM," said Irwin Jacobs, chairman and CEO of Qualcomm. "We've been having such discussions. It's mainly a matter of intellectual property and timing rather than technology," he said.