Aylor said Freescale expects the first commercial deployments of small cell base stations featuring its silicon to occur in the fourth quarter. He said interest is strongest in the U.S., Japan and South Korea, the three regions were Long Term Evolution (LTE) is being deployed most aggressively.
The different regions are showing interest in different types of small cells, Aylor said. In the U.S., interest is strong in metrocells, while Japan mostly favors femtocells and South Korea mostly pico cells, he said.
In densely populated downtown Tokyo, where it's all about users per square meter, deploying a large number of femtocells, which support only eight to 16 users, makes sense, Aylor said. But in the U.S., a large and spacious country, carriers was "bigger" small cells like metrocells, which can support hundreds of users, he said.
"There is a whole set of use cases and requirements where the base station needs to operate more like a macrocell, but with a smaller footprint."
In some areas, carriers could actually deploy a large number of small cells in lieu of marcocells, Aylor said, though he acknowledged that such a set up would create complicated network management challenges.
According to Will Strauss, principal analyst with Forward Concepts Inc., Freescale has a significant advantage over competitors, including TI, in base station SoCs: Freescale is the only chip vendor that has its own LTE PHY software. "Everyone else has to go to a third party," Strauss said. They [Freescale] spent a lot of money developing it internally."
Freescale's B4420 SoC integrates two dual-threaded Power Architecture e6500 processor cores running at 1.6 GHz and two StarCore DSP SC3900 flexible vector processor cores running at 1.2 GHz, according to Freescale. The device also features Freescale's Multi-Accelerator Platform Engine for Baseband for Layer-1 acceleration, and accelerators for Layer-2 and transport processing, according to the company.
The B4420 shares a common architecture and is software-compatible with the other members of the QorIQ Qonverge portfolio, according to Freescale. It's also package- and pin-compatible with the QorIQ Qonverge B4860, the SoC targeted for macrocells, Freescale said.
The B4420 devices are expected to sample during the third quarter, Freescale said.