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Omap gets break in Moto design win

Posted: 16 Mar 2007 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Omap-Vox? WiMAX chipset? 802.16e mobile WiMAX? 3G handset? Motorola?

Motorola Inc.'s agreement to expand collaboration with Texas Instruments Inc. in several 3G and WiMAX arenas may breathe life into TI's Omap baseband processor family, particularly the Omap-Vox introduced at last year's 3GSM. But news of the agreement prompted some analysts to express concern about its possible impact on Motorola's baseband pacts with Freescale Semiconductor Inc.

The deal, announced in late January, specifies the use of TI cores and design tools in several of Motorola's digital cellular and broadband wireless applications. Specifically, it calls for Motorola to standardize on TI's Omap2, Omap3 and Omap-Vox designs for a variety of 3G and WiMAX products. Motorola will use a customized TI 3G processor for upcoming 3G handsets, using cores from the Omap3 project within TI, as well as custom cores developed jointly by TI and Motorola.

Custom chipsets
TI will develop custom WiMAX chipsets, including both baseband DSP and analog/RF components, for Motorola applications, potentially including Motorola's work with the nationwide Sprint WiMAX rollout in the U.S. TI will also provide process, foundry and design expertise for the WiMAX effort. The chipsets will be implemented in 65nm CMOS and will support voice, data and video over 802.16e mobile WiMAX.

Additional TI products used by Motorola will include the OmapV1035 "eCosto" GSM/GPRS/Edge offerings and the OmapV1030 GSM/GPRS/Edge set.

Will Strauss, president of Forward Concepts Inc., dismissed claims by some financial analysts that TI would falter in baseband handset design wins without the Motorola deal. While STMicroelectronics has displaced TI business within Nokia's and Ericsson's mobile platforms, TI also has supplied baseband chips designed by NTT DoCoMo to six DoCoMo handset partners, Strauss noted.

"The issue is not so much the fortunes of TI" as the fortunes of Omap, he said. "Motorola gave Omap a necessary boost."

Strauss said the use of V1030 and V1035 does not mean that Freescale processors have been designed out of Motorola 3G handsets. Freescale still supplies a significant percentage of GSM/GPRS/Edge chips to Motorola, and close to 100 percent of W-CDMA chips, Strauss said. But "in this game of wildly changing suppliers, Freescale looks like it's coming up with the short end of the stick."

Baseband suppliers jostle for handset sockets. Freescale feels squeeze at Moto, while TI feels heat at Ericsson and Nokia.

Big advantage
Qualcomm Inc. maintains an overwhelming advantage on CDMA chipsets supplied to Motorola, according to Strauss, including analog and RF circuits designed by Qualcomm and fabricated by Freescale. In fact, Qualcomm has convinced most handset manufacturers to purchase its CDMA chips exclusively, despite its pledges in the late 1990s to support an independent CDMA chip supplier business. Strauss said that, outside of Qualcomm, only South Korea-based Eonex Technologies Inc. and U.S.-based Via Telecom Inc. are legitimate CDMA chip suppliers," and Qualcomm maintains more than a 90 percent market share."

"Clearly, the playing field in cellphone chips is in the greatest flux I've encountered since following this market for the past several years," he said.

- Loring Wirbel
EE Times

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