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Picochip ships base station-on-a-chip solutions

Posted: 24 Mar 2011     Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:base station  SoC  mobile  networks 

Picochip says its PC333 SoC, a base station-on-a-chip solution for 'small cell' and 'metro cell' base stations has now started volume production.

The base station-on-a-chip combines silicon implementation and software into a complete system that takes small cells beyond the home and into the mainstream network. The PC333, which is deployed by carriers in Europe, America and Asia, is said to deliver capacity and coverage exactly where operators need it; in areas where deploying a macrocell would be impractical or too expensive.

Small cells allow carriers to serve the rapidly growing demand for data services as operators face explosive growth in data traffic (doubling every year according to Cisco, with a 1,000x increase by 2020) because they use femtocell technology and SoCs to increase data capacity cost-effectively.

"Carriers urgently need more capacity," commented Caroline Gabriel, research director, Rethink Research. "Operator-deployed small-cells enabled with femto technology benefit from the economies of scale gained from the residential femtocell market, field-proven modems and plug-and-play provisioning to reduce both CapEx and OpEx. With its market position Picochip can leverage both residential femtocell volume and its field-proven PHY to make that happen."

The launch of the PC333 in 2010 led to a shake-up in the telecom semiconductor industry, with chipmakers scrambling to announce competing base station-on-a-chip devices.

Designed for small cell applications, the PC333 supports up to 32 simultaneous channels in a single device, and two devices can be cascaded to make a 64-channel system. The company's smartSignalling technology allows it to support a large number of connected smart phones. It supports Release 8 HSPA+ (42Mbit/s downlink, 11 Mbit/s uplink), Local Area base station (LABS) performance, together with features including soft handover, receive diversity and MIMO. It can operate as a femtocell, with integrated RNC and Iuh interface, or as a classical picocell with Iub interface; in both cases it uses Picochip's PHY. The product runs on a 700MHz ARM chip with TrustZone and variety of specialised hardware features for security. It sampled to lead customers in Q3 2010 and is now generally available.

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