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TI loads A-GPS, Bluetooth, ULP, FM on one chip

Posted: 02 Apr 2008 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:A-GPS chip? Bluetooth? FM capability? GPS integration?

Anticipating that by 2011 30 percent of cellphones will have GPS capability and 70 percent will have Bluetooth, Texas Instruments Inc. is launching at this week's CTIA wireless conference NaviLink 6.0, said to the first chip to integrate A-GPS, Bluetooth 2.1 and ultralow-power technologies (ex-Wibree), as well as FM receive and transmit capability.

The 65nm chip, designated the NL5500, is the latest instantiation of TI's Digital RF Processing (DRP), a technology intended to enable the low-cost, low-power integration of multiple radios in a single chip when the attach rates for those radios gets to a certain level. With IMS Research now putting that number at 30 percent, TI has clearly decided now's the time for the inclusion of A-GPS.

"GPS is breaking out of the E911 market with the arrival of Google maps [and other location-based applications]," said Amir Faintuch, director of business marketing and product management for TI's mobile connectivity solutions division.

To meet the increasing demand and the integration requirements therein, TI is taking the same Bluetooth 2.1/ULP/FM technology from its WiLink6.0 1271/3 and BlueLink7.0 BL6450 chips and integrating that with the A-GPS function of its NaviLink 5.0 (NL5350) chip to create the single-chip implementation.

GPS integration issues
According to Faintuch, the A-GPS front end has a sensitivity of -162dBm, leading to a time to first fix (TTFF) of 1s. This he compares favorably to the typical GPS front end which said has a sensitivity in the range of -154dBm and a TTFF of 10s. Given such low sensitivity levels, interference among the co-located radios are real issues.

However, Faintuch said that those issues were addressed using good isolation as well as time- and frequency-deviation techniques. To further improve A-GPS performance, Faintuch said the designers also added more acquisition and tracking channels.

All told, Faintuch said the chip reduces board space by 40 percent, power by 50 percent and is suited to handsets priced in the $70 to $100 range. Handsets with the chip are expected by 2H 09. So armed, consumers can simultaneously perform navigation, have a conversation using a Bluetooth headset and transmit an MP3 file to the car radio using the FM transmit capability

- Patrick Mannion
Wireless Net DesignLine

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