Broadcom introduces 3G on chip

Chipmaker says it has integrated several 3G technologies onto a single chip, which could help cell phone makers design more compact devices with much longer battery lives.

Chipmaker Broadcom said Monday that it has developed a new processor that integrates all key 3G cellular and mobile technologies onto a single chip.

The processor that operates at extremely low powers will enable cell phone makers to build new 3G phones in more compact form factors with very long battery lives at a fraction of what it costs today, the company said.

The new 3G "Phone on a Chip" supports the four next-generation cellular technologies used throughout the world: HSUPA (High-Speed Uplink Packet Access), HSDPA (High-Speed Downlink Packet Access), WCDMA (Wideband Code Division Multiple Access), and EDGE (enhanced data for GSM evolution). It also can transmit and receive FM radio for playing music on a car stereo. And it supports Bluetooth technology and processing capability for a 5-megapixel camera.

Broadcom claims it is at least a year ahead of competitors, such as Texas Instruments and Qualcomm, in terms of integrating so much functionality into a single chip. The company also said the chip is already available to a select group of Broadcom customers.

In 2006, Broadcom had only about 1.4 percent of the cell phone chip market. By contrast, TI and Qualcomm each had about 20 percent of the 2006 mobile phone chip market, according to iSuppli.

The new chip could help boost Broadcom's market share against these competitors, especially in Asia where operators are rolling out faster networks much more quickly than they are here in the U.S. market. Broadcom has been aggressively trying to get a greater share of the cell phone market for the past few years. And as a result, the company has been embroiled in a series of legal fights with rival Qualcomm.

Broadcom won an important battle earlier this year, when the U.S. government banned Qualcomm and its partners from importing devices that use Qualcomm's 3G technology, because part of the technology has been found to infringe on patents held by Broadcom.

 

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