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Quad-core SoC, LTE slug it out in the mobile arena

Posted: 01 Mar 2013 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:LTE? quad-core? smartphones? modem?

LTE modem differences?
Marvell, which went through an arduous certification process with its previous LTE modem chip, is now claiming that the company is winning some LTE design-wins with global OEMs, including ZTE. Weili Dai, Marvell's co-founder, told EE Times that the company expects products based on Marvell's single-chip LTE/apps processor platform to go on sale this year.

That said, Nvidia's LTE modem, i500, appears definitely keeping up with its competitors' solutions.

In his blog, Nvidia's Carmack wrote: "The i410 is now certified for use on AT&T's LTE multi-mode network and is a testament to the capabilities of the soft modem architecture. It's been an ideal foundation for the i500, our second-generation LTE modem, which has more than five times the computational capacity of its predecessor." Nvidia's i500 has been designed for "global LTE multi-mode deployment" designed to serve high-end and mainstream devices globally, wrote Carmack.

Strauss is impressed with Nvidia's modem chip, largely because it "took Nvidia only 20 months" after Nvidia acquired Icera to deliver this combined application processor/advance modem product. He added, "Of course, Icera had been offering modems since 2005 and had an aggressive start-up culture and advanced wireless design talent. Meanwhile Nvidia had deeper pockets and an equally aggressive culture."

Nvidia's i500 multi-mode modem based on a 28nm process is paired with its own 65nm RF transceiver (multi-band FDD & TDD LTE/HSPA+/EDGE and TD-SCDMA) with RX diversity.

It's important to note, however, that Nvidia's i500 modem is introduced with LTE Cat 3 capability (100 Mbit/s DL), not Cat 4. But Nvidia claims that it is software upgradeable to LTE Cat 4 with carrier aggregation (150 Mbit/s DL). Strauss observed, "It is perhaps the only LTE modem capable of software upgradeability (over the air, no less); so it really is a software-defined radio."

According to Marvell, at MWC 2013, Marvell's LTE solution will be used in ZTE's first dual radio dual standby LTE smartphone demonstration. Marvell's LTE platform will support both TD-SCDMA and dual-radio dual standby LTE voice solution, in addition to a Circuit Switched Fallback (CSFB) voice solution.

- Junko Yoshida
??EE Times

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