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Comsys aims licensable core at 3G voice services

Posted: 07 Oct 2002 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Comsys? litecore? 3g ip core? wcdma ip core? 3g phone?

Gambling that the killer app for 3G remains voice, not multimedia, Comsys Communications & Signal Processing Ltd has unveiled a licensable IP core for lower cost, lower power W-CDMA "chip-rate" baseband processing.

Optimized for voice applications and unveiled at the UMTS-Mobile Internet Conference, the company's LiteCore "enables handset vendors to launch a 3G phone with realistic bit rate, at reduced cost and reduced power consumption," said Doron Elinav, director of product management at Comsys. The solution runs at a data rate of up to 128Kbps and is "primarily designed for voice services," he said.

The core, a piece of logic hardware, is designed to work with a third-party DSP as a complete solution for W-CDMA baseband processing. Unlike today's commercially available W-CDMA chipsets, Elinav said, "we developed a new architecture whereby 90 percent of the W-CDMA baseband processing tasks can be done on a DSP, rather than a big piece of dedicated hardware, thus reducing the size of a necessary dedicated logic by half."

More specifically, a DSP can now handle most W-CDMA baseband processing, including rake receiver functions. Competitors typically handle that on dedicated hardware with 800,000 to 1 million gates, Comsys said. LiteCore, with only 50,000 gates, performs the rest of the baseband processing functions, Elinav said.

Platform in works

Comsys is developing a platform by using DSP Group's Palm DSP core as a companion DSP to work with LiteCore. But the LiteCore solution is not married to DSP Group's Palm core, Elinav said. "The LiteCore will feature a generic interface so that any other DSP core - that of StarCore or Adelante - can be plugged in," he said. Porting the code originally developed for Palm to another DSP "typically takes four to five months," he added.

Will Strauss, president of market research firm Forward Concepts said, "Comsys is probably the first to offer the hardwired 'chip-rate' DSP logic as licensable IP, which, as they say, can be used with any other DSP/RISC handset chip platform."

Others, however, questioned how really unique Comsys' architectural approach might be. The focus on voice may be the unique element, said Herman Beke, chief marketing officer at Adelante Technologies.

Adelante, for example, has been working on lower power consumption co-processors - such as those for rake receivers, turbo code and speech recognition - as licensable IP. Calling Comsys' design optimized for 2.8G rather than 3G applications, Beke said it makes sense only "if your assumption is right."

CDMA/W-CDMA handsets, using spread-spectrum technology, require rake receivers that execute DSP algorithms at a much higher rate, known as the chip rate, than conventional DSP cores can handle, according to Strauss. "Since the rake receiver DSP algorithms are invariant and there is no need for the flexibility of a conventional DSP core, the rake receivers can be cast in hardwired logic," he said.

Anticipating that 80 percent to 90 percent of 3G calls will be voice-based rather than video messaging or other multimedia applications, Comsys decided on a voice-centric approach to cut the power consumption of a handset. "We are not trying to get our solution designed into a data card for a laptop computer, or into a high-end smart phone. This is for a low-cost 3G phone whose main application is voice."

- Junko Yoshida

EE Times

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