NEWS BRIEFS, February 2002


Intersil and Cisco Working Together on 802.11g Reference Platform


Intersil Corp. and Cisco Systems Inc. are working together to speed the adoption of wireless LAN systems that comply with the 802.11g specifications.  Cisco's backing could accelerate the adoption of 802.11g, the recently adopted spec that extends the data rate capabilities of 2.4-GHz WLAN systems to 54 Mbits/second.  The reference design will allow OEMs to build client adapters, such as network interface cards and PC cards, that work with Cisco's enterprise WLAN access points.  The reference design will include three ICs from Intersil's recently announced 802.11g chip set — a power amplifier, a direct down conversion transceiver, and a base band processor. It will also include Cisco's homegrown 802.11-compliant media-access controller IC.  Further integration of the four ICs in the reference design is under consideration, and the companies are exploring ways to integrate their respective base band and MAC technologies into a single chip.

Motorola Pitches Second-generation 3G Chipset for 2003


Motorola Semiconductor Products Sector has unveiled its chipset for dual-mode wideband-CDMA and GSM handsets.  The company has used its silicon germanium with carbon (SiGe:C) process to build the RF transceiver for its near-zero intermediate-frequency design, combining that with separate base band and ARM-based application processor chips.  The i.300 chipset should go into production for lead customers by the second half of 2003. Unlike the GPRS platform unveiled last year and which was aimed at new entrants to the mobile terminal business, the company plans to sell the i.300 to major handset makers.


The chipset uses a combination of process technologies, including SiGe:C for the transceivers, bipolar for front-end low-noise amplifiers (LNAs) and gallium arsenide for the power amplifiers, as well as straight CMOS for the base band and applications processors.  Concerns have been raised over the quality and strength of the wideband-CDMA signal after it passes through an RF surface-acoustic wave (SAW) filter.  Higher frequencies make the filter more difficult to build and the tight spacing of the filter fingers tends to weaken the signal.  However, Motorola claims that its front-end design can deal with the weakened signal effectively.

Wipro and Austriamicrosystems Sign Bluetooth Chip and Foundry Deal


Wipro Technologies Ltd. of India has announced a chip and silicon foundry partnership with Austriamicrosystems AG of Austria in the Bluetooth arena.  Under the terms, Wipro and Austriamicrosystems will combine their Bluetooth expertise to produce and market chip sets for the emerging Bluetooth wireless market.  The chip sets will be based on Austriamicrosystems' Bluetooth-enabled, radio-frequency (RF) technology with Wipro's base band intellectual-property cores.  The chip sets will be manufactured on a foundry basis within Austriamicrosystems' fabs.  Formerly known as Austria Mikro Systeme International, Austriamicrosystems has an 8-inch, 0.35-micron fab at its headquarters in Unterpremstätten, near Graz.

Fraunhofer Builds 868MHz Transmitter with Amplifier On-chip


A team from the Fraunhofer Institute for Integrated Circuits, based in Erlangen, Germany, has developed a CMOS transmission chip designed for wireless applications that integrates analogue functions, including the oscillator and amplifier.  According to the Institute, the circuits are capable of transmitting data across hundreds of meters at 868MHz, the incoming frequency for license-exempt low-power radio.  The chip contains a programmable frequency synthesizer, an oscillator and an amplifier.  The only external components are a quartz oscillator and a passive loop filter.  Having developed a transmitter, the Institute is now working on a receiver circuit.  The team is also developing chips that operate at GHz frequencies.  The Institute claims that even small companies should be able to use its technology to develop applications such as monitoring consumption of electricity and gas, temperatures within industrial equipment and air pressure in car tires and then transmits the data to a central control.

ASE Develops New Chip Package for Bluetooth, Forms Alliance


Advanced Semiconductor Engineering Inc. (ASE) in Taiwan has announced a new fine-pitch bonding (FPB) packaging technology for use in developing low-cost Bluetooth-enabled integrated circuits.  The company also announced collaboration with Cambridge Silicon Radio Ltd. (CSR) of Cambridge, England, to develop FPB packages for CSR's single-chip Bluetooth devices.  ASE, Taiwan's largest IC-packaging and test house, is providing FPB services in its new plant in Chung Li, near Hsinchu.  ASE's advanced FPB packaging technology features smaller solder balls and a finer pitch than conventional BGA solutions, allowing CSR to develop the industry's smallest single-chip device.  According to the Taipei-based company, ASE's low-cost, high-quality packaging and test solutions will aid in slashing costs to make the $5 goal for Bluetooth a reality

Stratum 3 Timing Generator by 9co


The STSG-200 simple timing signal generator module from 9co is engineered for applications requiring high Stratum 3 timing performance.  This generator operates as either a master or a slave clock generator.  In master mode, designers can control this part using 4 different modes: freerun, lock on external reference 1, lock on external reference 2, and holdover.  As a slave, the module will lock and phase-align to the incoming cross-referenced from the master generator.  The signal generator module accepts 2 external reference clocks and offers 2 outputs.  It is also equipped with an on-board oscillator, which can be used for frequency-offset qualification.  The module is housed in a 2 x 2-in. package.

Qualcomm Demonstrates Wireless Voice Call via 3G UMTS-compliant Handset


Qualcomm has announced the successful public demonstration of a wireless voice call via a third-generation (3G) universal mobile telecommunications system (UMTS)-compliant handset.  The demonstration used a handset equipped with the Qualcomm’s CDMA technologies (QCT) MSM5200(TM) mobile station modem (MSM(TM)) wideband CDMA (WCDMA) chipset and system software.

Texas Instruments to Enable Faster, Smaller, More Power Efficient Chips with New Technology Featuring the Industry's Smallest Transistors


Texas Instruments has announced its next generation 90 nanometer (nm), or 0.09-micron, logic manufacturing process technology featuring transistors as small as 37 nm, a width 2000 times smaller than the thickness of newsprint.  With the ability to pack over 400 million transistors on a single chip, TI's technology will drive cost-effective, system-on-a-chip solutions with unprecedented levels of performance and power savings for TI digital signal processing (DSP), high-performance application specific integrated circuits (ASICs) and Sun Microsystems, Inc.-designed UltraSPARC(R) processor products.


It is the combination of copper, low-k dielectric material, the industry's highest SRAM density and TI's 37 nm transistor that will advance TI's leading edge DSP and Sun Microsystems' UltraSPARC processor products in the 90 nm process.  For instance, low power TI DSP-based devices such as next generation 2.5 and 3G mobile handsets will process voice, video and data two to three times faster without any sacrifices to battery life.  TI products for high-performance applications will experience added performance enhancements, including data rates up to 10-Gbits/second in Internet Infrastructure equipment, a 4-fold increase over today's fully integrated solutions. In addition, the new process will help move UltraSPARC-based system products into the multi-GHz performance domain and will enable chip-multiprocessing (CMP) capabilities while moderating power consumption.