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Combo chip integrates .11n, Bluetooth, FM

Posted: 10 Dec 2008 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:mobile combo chip? Bluetooth 802.11n FM? cellphone chip?

Broadcom Corp. has rolled out a combo chip for mobile devices, which is its first to integrate single-stream 802.11n, Bluetooth, and FM receive and transmit capabilities. The chip is part of an expanding portfolio of wireless combo devices aimed at mobile systems such as cellphones and portable media players.

Separately, the company said it will show at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in January new capabilities for scaling low-resolution video on HDTV sets.

Broadcom said its new wireless chip, BCM4329, is its smallest dual-band Wi-Fi device at 75mm?, and its lowest in power consumption. It can deliver up to 50Mbit/s of TCP throughput for fast data transfers over Wi-Fiabout twice the rate of existing .11g handset chips#8212;and supports FM transmit for streaming music from a handheld device to a car or home stereo.

Future devices' functions
The chip expands Broadcom's existing slate of wireless combo devices. The company has said it will roll out new wireless combo chips every 60 days. Future devices will include functions such as GPS, NFC, Bluetooth-over-Wi-Fi and Wi-Fi peer-to-peer links.

"The combos let OEMs provide a spectrum of capabilities in their handset designs," said Clint Brown, director of business development for embedded WLAN chips at Broadcom.

By 2012, nearly one-third of all wireless devices are expected to use chips that combine support for different wireless links, according to some analysts. In terms of Wi-Fi in cellphones, "we are looking at as much as 10 percent attach rate next year and doubling that by 2012," said Brown.

The BCM4329 includes common memory and power management blocks shared by all three wireless links. It also sports a 2.4GHz power amplifier and low noise amp shared by separate Bluetooth and .11n cores.

At 2.4GHz, the Bluetooth and Wi-Fi blocks also share a common antenna. An external switch chip stands between the combo device and the 2.4GHz antenna to arbitrate Bluetooth and Wi-Fi traffic in both receive and transmit mode.

Brown said Texas Instruments Inc. has a competing device that integrates Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and FM. However, it uses separate power management and power amp chips, he said.

The Broadcom chip, sampling now for production early next year, also supports space time block coding for increased Wi-Fi receiver sensitivity. The company did not immediately disclose the chip's pricing or power consumption levels.

What's hot at CES
Separately, Broadcom said it will demonstrate at the CES in January new technology to convert video from the Internet or from standard-definition DVDs to high-definition on a digital TV display. Bringing typically low resolution Internet video to HDTVs is an increasing focus for TV makers at CES.

The company acquired the digital TV unit of Advanced Micro Devices earlier this year and will demonstrate the capabilities of that group's chips at CES, according to Broadcom.

- Rick Merritt
EE Times

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