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Integrated smart phone CPUs on the rise

Posted: 20 Oct 2010     Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:base band  processors  smart phone  market 

Base band-integrated applications processors are fast on the rise in the smart phone market and may run the market. The market research firm said that the chips, which accounted for 28 per cent of the total applications processors shipped to smart phones in 2007, accounted for 70 per cent in unit terms in 1H 2010.

The two different partitions cover two different market approaches: base band-integrated applications processors serve a broad market with a cost competitive solution while stand-alone applications processors tend to serve high-performance devices with support for the latest features. This is because software and its supporting application processors can develop faster than broadband modem requirements.

Base band integration can result in performance penalties and reduce the flexibility of an applications processor, tying it to a particular air interface. However, Qualcomm and ST-Ericsson are responding to this challenge and attempting to provide leading-edge performance in base band-integrated chips.

"Qualcomm is driving the base band-integrated applications processor market and is also closing the performance gap against stand-alone vendors such as Texas Instruments, Nvidia and Samsung," said analyst Sravan Kundojjala in a statement. "By our estimates, Qualcomm's smart phone applications processor unit shipment share increased from just 3 per cent in 2007 to 19 per cent in first half 2010."

Stuart Robinson, director of the Handset Component technologies service, said that smart phone OEMs are also divided on this issue with Nokia, RIM and HTC preferring integration while Apple, Samsung and Motorola prefer to use stand-alone applications processors.

- Peter Clarke
EE Times

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