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Low-end handsets will soon have smartphone features

Posted: 09 Feb 2007 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Texas Instruments? Bluetooth? WLAN? low-end cellphone? smartphone?

Texas Instruments Inc. announced this week an IC that will offer WLAN, Bluetooth, and FM transmitter/receiver technology on a single chip and said its goal is to get the capabilities to the mass market. That means people with lower-end cellphones could take advantage of the latest wireless technologies, not only those using expensive smartphones.

The company's announcement came a week after Broadcom announced a similar triple-threat chip.

The new offerings include two products. WiLink 6.0 combines WLAN, Bluetooth, and FM, and supports the IEEE draft 802.11n standard to improve wireless coverage and reception. Once embedded into cell phones, the chip will enable people to share large files such as video and photos between cell phones and other WLAN-enabled devices, including laptops, digital cameras, and gaming consoles.

BlueLink 7.0 is the latest version of the chipmaker's Bluetooth single-chip family that combines Bluetooth and FM. With the new FM capability, people can listen to MP3 files stored on their cell phones on any FM receiver, even those in car stereos.

TI claims it has solved interference issues that often occur because WLANs and Bluetooth technology both use the 2.4GHz frequency. That can cause problems, especially when the two technologies are present and close together in a mobile device. Instead of connecting Bluetooth and WLAN technologies through external pins, the single chip contains all the interfaces on one Media Access Control layer.

Now TI is set on getting the chips into lower-end cellphones. The mainstream mobile device market is primarily driven by cost, often dictated by the types of features and capabilities that are embedded into the devices. It won't cost extra for device makers to embed the WiLink or BlueLink chips into cell phones since they contain all the technologies on a single chip, says Faintuch. "These cost benefits should help drive these features to the mass market," he says.

TI won't disclose the names of mobile device makers that plan to use its chips, but says it's "highly engaged" with several. Cellphones with the chips are expected to debut next year.

- Elena Malykhina
EE Times

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