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Manufacturing/Services / Semiconductors / Integrated Circuits / Software & CAD

Picochip Delivers Technology for Base Station

February 7, 2011
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Picochip announced the first in its next generation of picoXcell™ femtocell chips, the PC3008. The new device is optimized for high-volume cost-sensitive consumer applications and maintains Picochip’s leadership in this market as carrier deployments are accelerating.

The PC3008 is the first in the PC30xx family of devices, Picochip’s third generation of femtocell (Home NodeB) devices, following the market-creating PC202 and the industry-standard PC3xx series. It supports eight users with Release 7 HSPA+ (21 Mbps downlink, 5 Mbps uplink), and embodies Picochip’s field-proven robust PHY, already approved by many operators, reducing the risks and time-to-market for system developers. It is manufactured using 40 nm process technology and features a fast (950 MHz) ARM11 processor with TrustZone®. Compared to previous SoCs it enhances security functions and increases integration, reducing external component count and hence bill-of-materials (BOM). It also includes optimized support for next generation low-cost and low-power femtocell radios.

The PC3008 integrates the key components of a 3G femtocell into an a QFN package just 12 mm (0.5") square, enabling OEMs to produce smaller and more cost-effective femtocells. As a demonstration of the low power, small size and integration that PC30xx series devices will enable, Picochip shared an example of an HSPA+ femtocell in a USB dongle – the world’s smallest 3G base station.

“The rise of the femtocell is causing a fundamental rethink in the way we build, run and use mobile networks,” commented Picochip CEO Nigel Toon. “Picochip’s technology is in the vast majority of femtocells deployed today, driving and enabling that change. With the PC3008 and the forthcoming devices we are extending our leadership: As well as an industry-leading silicon design, we have invested heavily in system test to guarantee the most robust PHY available and the most complete reference design.”

“In 2010 we saw 17 operators offer femtocells commercially, with over 1 million units shipped. That is expected to accelerate swiftly going forward in 2011,” said Aditya Kaul, Practice Director, Mobile Networks at ABI Research. “Residential femtocells form the largest segment of deployments so far and is expected to remain the dominant market going forward. With smaller form factors and reducing costs, the integration of femtocells with home gateways becomes much more likely. Although we have seen increasing competition in the femtocell silicon market, Picochip remains in a strong position for the UMTS/HSPA femtocell segment and the new USB form factor is proof that they continue to innovate, push the boundaries and drive carriers to adopt femtocells much more aggressively going forward.”

According to ABI’s most recent report, there were 1.3 million femtocells shipped in 2010, rising to 70.2 million in 2015, a 154 percent CAGR.

Picochip is delivering the widest portfolio of femtocell technologies, from residential to the 64-user systems for enterprise and public access. The PC302 is the industry standard for cost-sensitive residential systems (3GPP Home NodeB), the same application as the forthcoming PC3008. The more powerful PC323 supports 24 users, receive diversity and MIMO and is being used in enterprise femtocell systems being deployed by carriers this year, while the PC333 is the highest-specification femtocell chip on the market, with up to 64 users and meeting the 3GPP Local Area Base station standard (LABS).

As well as the device itself, Picochip offers complete reference designs including hardware platforms, radio designs, together with manufacturing support and complete protocol stack. The availability of ultra-small femtocells will allow operators to easily develop HSPA+ home-base station capabilities to appliances such as residential gateways, cable modems and set-top boxes. The development builds on Picochip’s optimized range of silicon and software products for high-volume manufacturers of residential HSPA+ femtocells, which deliver best-in-class system power budget, and have reduced the total component cost of a 3G femtocell to significantly less than $50.

The PC3008 will be shipping in volume by end of the year. Other devices in the PC3xxx family will be announced later this year.

Separately, Picochip is showing the world’s first over-the-air demo of an LTE femtocell (Home eNodeB, Local Area NodeB). Developed with Continuous Computing, this has been shortlisted for the GSMA Awards in the ’Breakthrough technology’ category.

These products and demonstrations will be on Picochip’s stand at Mobile World Congress 2011, Hall 1, stand 1D56.


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