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Qualcomm unveils small cell SoCs

Posted: 13 Jun 2014     Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Qualcomm  small cell SoC  base station  WiFi  Internet gateway 

Qualcomm has released a line of SoCs to power small cell base stations used in neighbourhoods, homes and small-to-midsized businesses. According to the company, the FSM90xx chips will compete with offerings from various companies including Freescale and TI.

"Data capacity mandated by users is increasing every year exponentially, almost doubling every year," said Puneet Sethi, staff product manager with Qualcomm Atheros. "The industry needs to come up with a solution that meets that challenge and part of that solution is small cells."

The 28nm chip set features a quad-core processor, supports WiFi and Internet gateway functions. The FSM90xx can be paired with Qualcomm RFICs to support LTE and 3G networks. Hardware accelerators built into the chip set help speed up data processing for both radio technologies, added the company.

Sethi said Qualcomm hoped to reduce the bill of materials and footprint for small cells. Qualcomm designed the chips to work collaboratively so a small cell in the home could assist one deployed outside.

Coverage model using small cells

A new coverage model using small cells. (Source: Qualcomm)

The small cell chip is also capable of developing self-organised networks with Qualcomm's UltraSON software that allows for integrated cell connections.

"The small cell is able to scan its environment and detect new neighbours that may be coming up, detect power of a macro cell and make adjustments to its setting to make that cell easier to deploy," Sethi said. "The idea is to make LTE small cells deploy simply."

In partnership with Sprint, Qualcomm tested the cells and connection software at a NASCAR race as an alternative to a more conventional deployment. Qualcomm installed 31 small cell base stations in the garage area of the Phoenix International Raceway to test density limits, measure network performance and identify user impact.

"It was more cost effective and provides 40 times more capacity," Sethi said of the experiment.

The SoCs are expected to sample in 2H14. Qualcomm did not provide dates for mass production.

- Jessica Lipsky
  EE Times

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