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Freescale develops smart meter, two-way radio SoCs

Posted: 13 Dec 2010     Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:SoC  radios  smart meters 

Freescale Semiconductor Inc.'s spin-off from Motorola in 2004 resulted in Freescale's Cellular Products Group bringing in most of the base band IP from Motorola and hiring cellular software gurus to take the place of those who stayed on with Motorola.

Since announcing in early 2009 that it was exiting the cellular platform business, Freescale has begun targeting wireless applications that require long battery life combined with low cost. Now the downsized Cellular Products division is making SoCs targeted at two-way radios and smart meters while finalizing the IP for a new breed of software-configurable multi-mode cellular base bands.

"We believe that the IP we developed for our original Cellular Products Group has unique features that make it more flexible than competing solutions," said David Patterson, VP and GM of the Cellular Products division�with a 125 member staff downsized from the 2,000 employed by the former Cellular Products Group. "Our IP combines scalability with small die size and low power consumption."

Freescale's Cellular Products division supports Motorola�s and RIM�s "push to talk" phones in big markets like Nextel, but it has retargeted its base band and RF expertise in 2010 and beyond at SoCs. Separate "Ruby" and "Amber" base band IP efforts, along with its extensive IP for making all-CMOS radio transceivers in the range of 50MHz to 2.6GHz using orthogonal frequency-division multiplexing (OFDM), enable Freescale to produce specialised SoCs for two-way radios, wireless medical monitors, smart meter market and multi-model handsets.

Freescale's Ruby technology harnesses a vector processing architecture that the company claims can be scaled to support multiple communication protocol requirements. Ruby enables very low power SoCs for everything from handsets to basestations, according to Freescale. For instance, for a two-way radio or a GSM handset you need two Arithmetic Units (AU), while a 3G or TD-SCDMA handset requires 8 or 16 AUs, an LTE handset will require 16 AUs, and a femto or pico-cells might require 16 or 32 AUs, respectively, while a full base station might need 32 or 64 AUs.

"We believe that our Ruby vector processing architecture enables the ultimate in integration�offering much smaller dies sizes for our SoCs, which lowers costs compared to other vendors," said Patterson.

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