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TI, Freescale battle over base station SoCs

Posted: 15 Nov 2010     Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:DSP  floating point  base station  MIMO 

Texas Instruments Inc. and Freescale Semiconductor are battling over base station SoCs for dominance in the emerging cellular base station market. The companies have stepped up efforts by introducing novel DSP cores, accelerators and microprocessors that will enable flexible and powerful 3G and LTE/4G base stations.

Beyond cost, power consumption and performance, the battle of next-generation communications SoCs is expected to focus on how to run complex algorithms like MIMO multiple antenna processing�critical in broadband wireless networks�in new chips.

TI has chosen to put both floating point and fixed point math in every core of its new DSP, hoping to achieve the high accuracy demanded by MIMO applications. On the other hand, Freescale plans to do it in the company's accelerator block called MAPLE (Multi Accelerator Platform Engine), which uses a floating point engine inside.

TI debuted the TMS320C66x DSP and four new scalable C667x devices, all produced using TSMC's 40nm process. TI claims to offer "the industry's first 10GHz DSP," combining eight of its new DSPs, running at 1.25GHz each.

TI is breaking new ground by integrating both fixed point and floating point math in one core. Using the new DSP cores, TI is also launching a four-core communications SoC, targeting both the 3G and LTE/4G markets. While defending its dominance in the legacy wireless standards-based base station market, TI is eager to demonstrate that the new SoC can lead the emerging 4G base station market—where Freescale has significantly stepped up the game over the last 18 months.

TI's new communications SoC is designed to "simultaneously transmit and receive 3G and 4G data on the same silicon, with no additional ASIC or FPGA needed," said Brian Glinsman, GM, communications infrastructure, DSP systems group at TI.

TI, obviously, isn't alone in throwing new technologies at growing challenges in the cellular network market.

Freescale is also about to introduce a DSP-based product that "doubles the performance, while offering specific acceleration IPs designed to increase throughput," according to Lisa Su, senior VP and general manager, networking and multimedia, Freescale. Su adds that the company has "quite a few tricks in the bag—including advancements in the accelerator side and the microprocessor side."

Will Strauss, president of Forward Concepts observed, "Although Freescale doesn't have the market size of TI, they have introduced some very novel acceleration technology to augment their DSP chips, and have displaced TI in some base station design-ins."

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