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Satellite radio chipset debuts

Posted: 29 Oct 2003 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:cmos technology? silicon laboratories? radio tuner chipset? cmos synthesizer? tuner ic?

Extending CMOS technology to yet another market, Silicon Laboratories Inc. has unveiled on Oct. 27 a satellite radio tuner chipset designed in CMOS.

Silicon Labs has offered a CMOS synthesizer for satellite radio and is designed into the radios manufactured for the XM Radio satellite radio service. The new two-part chipset adds a tuner IC to the synthesizer to offer the full RF solution to satellite radio makers, said Mark Thompson, a marketing manager at Silicon Labs, based in the U.S.

Thompson said the chipset reduces the component count needed to build a radio by 70 percent and enables much smaller radios. The CMOS parts are less expensive than the bipolar and BiCMOS solutions from competitors, he said. The Si2210 chipset sells for $10.95 in quantities of 10,000.

The Silicon Labs chipset offers radio makers a more highly integrated solution for the RF portion of the radio, said Will Strauss, president of Forward Concepts. The RF solution is matched with digital baseband chips from Agere, ST Microelectronics, and others. Analog Devices Inc. offers a mixer and IF solution for satellite radios, and Maxim sells a downconverter.

"Some of the less-integrated solutions for the RF side are likely to be replaced, as Silicon Labs continues to find markets to apply its CMOS mixed-signal design capabilities," Strauss said.

Satellite radio services offer coast-to-coast digital radio reception, with 100 or more largely commercial-free channels. XM Radio, which started operations 18 months ago, recently said it expects to have 1 million subscribers by the end of this year. The competing service, Sirius, has three satellites in place and is quickly picking up customers. However, each service requires a different radio, which is a headache for vehicle makers.

Strauss said millions of car buyers will consider satellite radio, or terrestrial digital radio, called HD Radio, as they buy cars in late 2004 and 2005.

- David Lammers

EE Times

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