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Single-chip phone heads for handset market

Posted: 01 Sep 2006 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:single-chip GSM phone? Si4901? S14905? monolithic integrated circuit? on-chip digitally-controlled crystal oscillator?

Silicon Laboratories Inc. has developed a single-chip GSM phone aimed at the ultralow-cost handset market. The Si4901 combines the power-management unit, ARM controller, battery interface and charging circuitry, digital baseband, analog baseband and RF transceiver functionality into a monolithic IC.

The chip requires only 50 complementary components, mainly passive devices, to complete the BOM for the modem portion of GSM cellphones. The entire phone BOM could be in the $16 range for phones using the Si4901, the company estimated.

The chip can be used on a 5.3cm?, four-layer PCB rather than the normal six-layer board, which the company claimed is a first for chips aimed at low-cost phones. Also, 2Mbits of SRAM on the Si4901 eliminates the need for external SRAM. An on-chip, digitally-controlled crystal oscillator helps reduce costs by making it possible to use an external, low-cost crystal resonator instead of a voltage-controlled, temperature-compensated crystal oscillator.

Silicon Labs took a system perspective when designing the chip, looking at ways to reduce system cost without sacrificing performance, said Dan Rabinovitsj, a VP at the company. The chip can be adapted to available software protocol stacks, operating systems and applications frameworks.

The Si4901 is a cost-reduced derivative of a similar product, the Si4905, introduced last year. The Si4901 is currently sampling in a 10-by-10mm plastic BGA package. Pricing depends on volumes. An evaluation platform is available now for $5,000.

- David Lammers
EE Times

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