If you want to have a good grasp of the underlying trends in the industry, you could do worse than keep an eye on picoChip, an innovative wireless solutions provider from Bath, England. I look at them and see three things: WiMax, software-defined radio, and Asia. (I can hear company's officials insisting: "And 3G/UMTS, too.") picoChip has just entered a development partnership with South Korea's Electronics and Telecommunications Research Institute (ETRI) to work on software-defined radio for WCDMA/HSDPA and WiMax. South Korean companies have been walking point for several broadband and wireless technologies. Relying in part on gear from Israeli company Runcom, South Korean providers will soon launch national WiBro service (WiBro is the Korean version of mobile WiMax). ETRI had a major role in drafting the WiBro specification.
For its part picoChip will contribute its know-how in semiconductors. The picoArray architecture is a massively parallel array of 308 processors with a unique communications architecture, and the company says this arrangement solves many of the difficulties typically associated with massive parallelism. The design delivers the power and cost efficiency of ASIC, the processing performance of FPGA and computational density of a dedicated IC, but with the ease of use and programmability of DSP (well, high-end DSP).
Note that the company also offers complete, standard-compliant reference designs for UMTS (including HSDPA and upgradeable to HSUPA) and WiMax/WiBro (802.16d upgradeable to 802.16e).
For more on picoChip latest development agreement:
- see this report
PLUS: This is picoChip's second major Asian venture. Back in June the company signed a development partnership agreement with WTI-BUPT (Wireless Technology Innovation Institute, Beijing University of Posts and Telecommunications). WTI-BUPT would use picoChip's WiMax reference designs and PC102 processor, and the two organizations would cooperate in developing commercial WiMax systems for the Chinese market. WTI-BUPT will also be investigating TD-SCDMA implementations for 3G based on picoChip technologies. Release
ALSO: See this useful discussion of the direction of wireless IC technology evolution.