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The ever-present mobile phone continues to connect, entertain, organize, and occasionally annoy, but to be sure the technology never stands still. In the battle to deliver big things in small packages, Sendo of the UK has rolled out the Sendo X, which — in a departure from many other so-called smartphones — has been designed to maintain a very conventional phone appearance, despite the host of upscale features.
As with every digital cell phone, analog content continues to play a key role, providing for charge management, localized regulation, lighting, and of course the critical link—a cellular radio.
Across the board, component suppliers are under the gun to deliver more integrated solutions to their customers as a means to cut costs and to simplify board-level assembly.
In the Sendo X, we find traditional single-chip—but smaller scale—power management devices from TI, Fairchild, and Torex. Additionally the design contains a much more complex analog ASIC from TI (#TWL3012) which integrates Analog Baseband (the bridge between the analog and digital worlds of the RF section and DSP) and other functions such as system power management, audio subsystems, and battery control.
In the mixed world of analog device requirements however, integration sometimes comes in the form of modules over monolithic solutions. Case in point, the three major components of the Sendo X radio all utilize solutions which combine multiple components under one roof to reduce external complexity while blending disparate component technologies.
The GSM transceiver package from Silicon Labs (#Si4206) is actually a three-chip solution which combines separate devices for RF frequency generation, transceiver, and radio interface into an individual package. Likewise the RF power amplifier module from RFMD joins a pair of GaAs amp components with a CMOS power controller and handful of discrete components.
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Lastly a module from Murata integrates individual RF PIN diodes for band and transmit/ receive switching with two filters to keep signals cleaned up, spectrally speaking. Simple to assemble but complex on the inside, these modules provide flexibility to mix-and-match dissimilar components into a solution which optimizes on several fronts. It might be hidden from view until dissection takes place but these little parts bring analog subsystems to OEMS, and end products to consumers. Think of it as the Analog Underground— not a bad name for a band come to think of it.
David Carey is President of Portelligent. The Austin, Texas company produces teardown reports and related industry research on Wireless, Mobile, and Personal Electronics. (www.teardown.com)