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Freescale enters small-cell base stations market

Posted: 01 Sep 2011 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:small-cell? base stations? picocells? femto cells?

Meanwhile, Abhi Dugar, research manager at IDC, noted, "Operators will be stuck with supporting multimode networks for a while so small base stations will be part of their network architecture for LTE and 3G networks." Asked about key requirements operators are imposing upon small cells, he explained, "They are around multimode support, more integration to reduce BoM cost, lower power consumption, ability to source from multiple ODMs/OEMs, ease of installation/use at customer premise, minimal field support."

When asked to compare small-cell base station SoCs from TI and Freescale, the Linley Group's Byrne noted, "TI is targeting small-cell stations for the enterprise and larger." Meanwhile, "Freescale targets these with the PSC9132 but also targets residential femto with the PSC9130 and PSC9131."

In Byrne's opinion, "The closest comparison is between Freescale's PSC9132 and the TI's TCI6612. An important difference is that the Freescale part requires 40 percent less power. Freescale's chip (PSC9132), however, supports only LTE Category 4 (150Mbit/s/75Mbit/s), compared with LTE Category 5 (300Mbit/s/150Mbit/s) supported by the TI chip."

Many variables make the network architecture debate more complex. One of the issues is how to strike a balance between a throughput and a number of users supported by a small-cell base station. "It's because it all depends on the use case scenarios," said Scott Aylor, director and general manager of Freescale's wireless access division.

One of TI's small-cell base station SoCs,TCI6614, for example, features quad C66x DSP cores and ARM Cortex-A8 and offers simultaneous dual mode, meaning that it can run two standards at the same time C LTE and WCDMA. That chip can support 128 users, according to TI.

Compared to that, Freescale's PSC9132 supports only 64 users. Asked about that difference, Freescale's Aylor noted: "We can absolutely support 128 users in our picocell SoC. But it all depends on the specific traffic patterns and the use case." He added, "We are quoting more realistic numbers based on a typical use case scenario."

It turns out that a YouTube download, the sort of activity often blamed for congestion on the wireless network, doesn't necessarily restrict the number of users a small-cell base station can support. Aylor explained, "Bigger packet applications like YouTube video are actually easy to deal with. Sure, big packets require a lot of data, but it is a simpler operation. It's not signaling intensive."

In contrast, GPS/Google Map search on a smart phone does not require a lot of data, but it creates heavy signaling stress on a base station, said Freescale's Aylor. "Functions like 'scheduling' can be better handled by a processor core in our SoC, rather than a DSP," he added.

QorIQ Qonverge processors

Freescale has made the most of its knowledge of the wireless market and extensive IP portfolio to develop the new SoCs. The QorIQ Qonverge processors are built on market-tested Power Architecture cores, programmable StarCore DSP technology and baseband hardware acceleration engines already deployed in multiple LTE macrocell base stations around the world.

Leveraging StarCore SC3850 DSP and Power Architecture e500 MPU cores, "the new QorIQ Qonverge SoCs are distinguished by offloading Layer 2 processing and above to MPU cores instead of DSP cores, delivering significant efficiency advantages," according to Freescale.

- Junko Yoshida
??EE Times


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