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Next-gen smartphones drive silicon integration

Posted: 26 Apr 2011     Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:silicon integration  lower-cost smartphones  dual-core mobile processors  quad-core mobile processors 

An inaugural presentation at the Linley Tech Mobile Conference in San Jose, California recognised silicon integration as the key differentiator in smartphones in the coming years with smartphones growing to 60 crore units in 2014, driven by expansion in low-cost handsets.

"The next 300 million [30 crore] smartphones will come from feature phone replacements," said Linley Gwennap, principal of The Linley Group, organiser of the event. "The pressure for smartphone designers will be in reducing systems cost to meet this growing demand for lower-cost smartphones and silicon integration is a key," Gwennap said.

Much of the integration will come from combining application and base band processors. By 2014 nearly 70 per cent of all smartphones will use such integrated chips, up from 40 per cent in 2010, Gwennap predicted.

Such chips will be key as designers try to hit prices as low as Rs.4,566.21 ($100) for smartphones sold in emerging markets. Meanwhile, "the percentage of the market you can address with stand-alone application and base band processors is slowly diminishing" to about 80 to 100 million [8 � 10 crore] units a year, Gwennap said.

"We totally believe most of the growth will come from integrated processors," said Raj Talluri, a senior Qualcomm manager at the event. "We did some analysis of the smartphone tiers and found greater than 50 per cent of the market is for handsets costing less than $150 [Rs.6,849.32]—and that segment is growing."

"When you get into that class the BoM doesn't support stand-alone apps and modem processors," Talluri added.

LG, Motorola and Samsung are among the largest feature phone vendors and thus best positioned for the next round of smartphone growth. Qualcomm and Marvell led the move to integrated application and base band processors and along with Broadcom and ST Ericsson own the pieces required for next-generation integrated chips, Gwennap said.

Qualcomm is shifting from a four- to a three-chip smartphone set in 2012 with separate devices for digital, RF and analogue, he added. However many integrated chips may actually use multiple die in a package.

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