The three new processors--the 6010, 6020 and 6030--are the first in Qualcomm's line of single-chip products. Each contains everything--the modem, radio transceiver, power management, multimedia engine and security features--it takes to make a basic cell phone. Single-chip cell phones, in theory, reduce handset makers' costs, which translates to lower-priced phones for markets where cell phone penetration is very low.
The lineup is a sign of how single-chip design is becoming more attractive to handset makers. Texas Instruments, a major provider of mobile processors, has already announced it has developed a single chip for cell phones, while No. 1 handset maker Nokia has one in development.
Qualcomm's new chips should enable manufacturers to create a less-expensive version of phones using its CDMA 1X standard. (Two years ago, the technology was the power behind state-of-the-art phones, but those handsets have since been supplanted by faster and more processing-heavy models.) The newly released 6020 chips, for instance, support MP3 players, and the 6030 can handle both a camera and a music player.
The chips will likely have more of an impact on the ultimate price of MP3 phones, which cell service providers typically sell for $50 or more. Camera phones have already joined the class of phones that network operators all but give away in exchange for getting people to sign up to a service contract. CDMA 1X operator Verizon Wireless, for example, has sold two camera phones for a total of $50 as part of a Web site special in the United States.
Qualcomm intends to provide samples of the chips before March 2006, it said in a statement on Wednesday. The San Diego-based company did not respond to a request for comment on how much phones using the single chips could cost.