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PMC-Sierra debuts in wireless chip market for client systems

Posted: 19 Sep 2007 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:WiMAX? wireless chip market? client systems?

PMC-Sierra Inc. has officially entered the market for wireless chips in client-side systems with last Monday's release of an integrated RF device for WiMAX. The culmination of a design process that took two and a half years, the part marks what the company hopes will be the first of many wireless chips for consumer devices.

"This is a whole new direction for PMC in wireless mobile," said Tom Sun, general manager of the new broadband wireless division at PMC-Sierra.

PMC has had a presence in wireless base stations for some time, but never in client systems before. The new Wizard RF chip aims for design wins in customer premises equipment that terminates WiMAX traffic.

"We think chips for cellular handsets are an overcrowded market, but WiMAX is a good entry point for us," said Sun. "RFICs in particular have been an ugly stepsister in the WiMAX ecosystem, something no one has really been talking about but is a key component."

PMC believes it is providing a more integrated part than its competition because the single-chip PM8800 includes up to two transmitters and receivers supporting WiMAX Wave 2 MIMO, as well as beam-forming features. It also includes a DCXO and transmitter baluns. The chip supports 20MHz channels and both analog and digital in-phase Quadrature interfaces to baseband chips.

PMC is initially linking to a WiMAX baseband chip from Sequans but will support other vendors' parts in the future. "They have good market traction," said Sun.

The chip supports frequency bands of 2.3-2.7GHz and 3.3-3.8GHz. As many as 2.4 billion potential subscribers are now covered by licenses to spectrum in these bands, according to the WiMAX Forum. "The ducks are lined up, and the spectrum has been awarded," Sun said.

PMC will also consider a future version of the chip supporting 700MHz. The 700MHz bands are being considered for WiMAX both in the United States and India.

The chip consumes about 250mW per channel. In receive mode, it dissipates about 450mW using two receivers. The 180nm part is sampling now and will be in production early next year for less than $10.

PMC faces a handful of competitors in this space, including Analog Devices Inc., Maxim Integrated Products and NXP.

- Rick Merritt
EE Times

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