PARIS – The silence has been deafening.
Renesas Mobile Corp. has been keeping a low profile for months, fueling concerns about the future of its mobile chip products. Those concerns have been heightened by the financial turmoil at its parent company, Renesas Electronics.
For now, Renesas Mobile is still standing.
The mobile vendor is still armed with its home-grown LTE modem chip, fully certified by AT&T and NTT Docomo.
Describing it as “the best quality multistandard LTE modem that exists in the market -- after Qualcomm,” Manfred Schlett (left), Renesas Mobile’s vice president of sales and marketing, stressed that the company is focused on “the global LTE chip market.” Renesas has the LTE products with “maturity and cost structure ready for in intense competition,” Schlett insisted during an exclusive interview with EE Times here this week.
There is still one catch: Its customers have yet to roll out their new smartphones based on the Renesas LTE modem. As long as these products are not on the market, “we have little to talk about,” Schlett acknowledged, adding "LTE [design-in] opportunities are still quite limited."
It's been a tough year for Renesas Mobile and other mobile chip vendors. Unless their chips are designed into either Samsung’s Galaxy S3 or Apple’s iPhones, they have no other volume sockets to pursue.
Despite a booming smartphone market, the industry has fewer mobile-handset OEMs. Domination by Apple and Samsung at the expense of Nokia and Research in Motion has dramatically narrowed the field for chip vendors looking for design-in opportunities -- with the exception of Samsung and Qualcomm.
Renesas Mobile's chips, capable of Category 4 LTE modem with 150 Mbps of throughput, will be ready for volume LTE smartphones in 2014. While there have been many claims about emerging LTE chip solutions, those with LTE modem chips already certified by leading carriers remain limited. Samsung may be cornering the Korean LTE market, but “we have yet to see their LTE solutions in the market beyond Korea,” observed Schlett.
Following a single-chip, dual-core, ARM A9-based apps processor combined with its LTE-3G modem, Renesas Mobile is preparing to announce by the end of the year a quad-core, single-chip multi-standard LTE modem/apps processor based on dual ARM A15 and dual A7 cores.
Here's more from our interview with Renesas Mobile's Manfred Schlett:
EE Times: What products does Renesas Mobile have for the mobile market?
Schlett: We have both a modem-only product and a single-chip apps processor/LTE-3G modem. Our LTE modem chip has been already certified by AT&T and NTT Docomo.
EE Times: How long does the certification usually take?
Schlett: Usually it takes about six to nine months for every carrier to do a general certification on modem chips. Once your modem chip is designed into a handset, that handset, then, needs to go through another six- to nine-month certification process… Some carriers like T-Mobile/Deutsche Telecom initiate the certification process only after a modem chip is already designed into a handset.