LONDON – Will Strauss, president and principal analyst with Forward Concepts Inc. (Tempe, Arizona) has listed 11 LTE chip developers after Apple's interim CEO Tim Cook said that LTE chips involve too many "compromises in design."
The vendors Strauss lists are: Altair, Broadcom, Cavium Networks, Intel, MediaTek, NTT Docomo (through Fujitsu, Panasonic and Renesas), Qualcomm, Renesas Mobile, Samsung, Sequans and ST-Ericsson. However, Icera Inc. (Bristol, England) is a notable omission.
According to Strauss, the LTE leaders are Qualcomm and Samsung, who are both shipping LTE chips. However, the equipment that uses these chips is compromised, said Strauss.
Qualcomm's MDM9600 is used inside HTC's Thunderbolt handset but alongside a Snapdragon MSM8655 which is combination application processor and CDMA modem. As a result the handset has a short battery life. Samsung's LTE baseband is used in the Craft handset but does not support voice over LTE, only data, according to Strauss.
Struass also refers to the Sequans, whose SQN3000 series modems shipped in small quantities in May 2010 for use in dongles.
Altair and NTT Docomo LTE chips are involved in trials while Cavium and Renesas Mobile chips are sampling. Thereafter the pecking order for sampling is ST-Ericsson (2Q11), Intel (3Q11) and then Broadcom and MediaTek, both expected to sample in 1Q12, according to Strauss.
Strauss did not include Icera Inc., which describes its soft-modem architecture as an LTE game-changer. The Espresso 410 is based on the 40-nm Livanto ICE8061 baseband and the 130-nm ICE8261 RF IC and is targeted at enabling early multimode LTE devices. Icera states that it began sampling in January 2011.
A second omission is Genasic Design Systems Ltd. (Risely, England), a privately-held RF design company formed in 2009, that has announced the availability of a 65-nm CMOS transceiver IC for HSPA and LTE applications. The company also offers design services and claims to have completed a number of LTE designs.
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