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TI claims femtocell design wins

Posted: 03 Dec 2008     Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:DSP  femtocell  SoC  3GPP 

Design wins
At this week's U.S Femtocells conference in Dallas, Texas, TI will be pushing its TCI6484 DSP and software solution for early entrants into the market. The part has been designed for use in a wide range of wireless applications and will thus have huge economies of scale, suggests Alt, especially next year when it will be made in volume using a 65nm process.

Observers will be surprised at TI's claim to have won 50 per cent of the slots in currently deployed home femtocell base stations. picoChip Designs for instance, which is one of the major players in the field, claims its silicon is in many of the OEMs supplying operators with units.

picoChip and others—such as RadioFrame, Percello and Design Art Networks—developing silicon for the nascent femtocells business, have from the start followed a somewhat different approach to TI, developing optimised SoCs as the processor of choice.

Alt stressed TI's DSPs support all major 2G/3G and 4G solutions including GSM, CDMA, W-CDMA, TD-SCDMA, WiMAX and LTE, and that the TCI6484 offers both MAC and PHY processing without external ASICs or FPGAs. The programmable device allows for field firmware upgrades. TI is also working with leading femtocell software company Continuous Computing to port its L2/L3 software stack to the TCI6484.

Asked about the viability of including the analogue elements into a digital SoC targeting femtocells, Alt suggested: "This is certainly technically possible. Practically, however, one may end up in having a two chip solution, one integrating analogue and the other all the digital content. The reason for having two devices is cost. I do believe it will be cheaper to have analogue and digital in separate chips."

Analysts are also wary of the timescales involved in rolling out commercial femtocells. Earlier this year Heavy Reading conducted a survey of 111 service provider professionals, primarily in technical, network planning, or strategy roles, to ascertain their views on femtocell technology and potential deployment strategies.

"We'll see some early launches in 2009, but the critical period will be the second-half of 2010 and into 2011. 38 per cent of respondents said that they planned to launch services by the end of 2010, and 33 per cent said their commercial femtocell launches were scheduled for 2011 or later.

"Operators are positive on femtocell for coverage extension and advanced applications, but these timescales show that operators have yet to iron out in their deployment strategies, from the business case to technical issues like interference management, standardisation, service provisioning, and OSS/BSS integration," noted Gabriel Brown, senior analyst at Heavy Reading.

- John Walko
EE Times Europe

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