Qualcomm releases multi-mode 3G, LTE and Wi-Fi chips for small cells

Qualcomm (NASDAQ:QCOM) this week removed the wraps from its FSM99xx family of 28 nanometer chips that integrate 3G and LTE for use in small cells.

The chipsets, actually unveiled by the wholly owned Qualcomm Technologies subsidiary, support concurrent 3G and LTE operation or dual-carrier LTE with carrier aggregation in pico, metro and enterprise small cells. They also support 802.11ac/n Wi-Fi capabilities.

The Qualcomm FSM99xx chips, which incorporate modem technology gained through Qualcomm's acquisition of DesignArt Networks last August, are expected to sample in the second half of 2013. They are the first small cell chips from Qualcomm to include LTE connectivity.

"The key aspect of this chip is that it is a complete commercial-grade PHY. It's entirely done at 28 nanometers. It's a single piece of silicon, a fully integrated SoC, which contains a digital front end. To our knowledge, no one else has done that," said Nick Karter, vice president of business development and product management at Qualcomm Atheros.

"There's a lot of naked silicon out there," he said, referring to DSP platforms. "But you still have to develop the modem on the platform. What we're providing is the complete PHY modem," Karter reiterated.

The Qualcomm FSM99xx chips use Qualcomm's quad core Krait mobile processors, which are designed to consume half the power of other processors, and also feature RF linearization techniques to reduce power amplifier (PA) power consumption. Reducing the power needs of the PA is especially important because amplifiers can consume more than half of a small cell's power budget.

"We expect to get a 2-3 dB gain out of the PA, which is basically cutting the power consumption in half," said Karter.

In other news this week, Qualcomm touted the traction of Qualcomm Atheros' Vive-branded 802.11ac Wi-Fi chips in OEM devices across both mobile and networking segments. The vendor said its one-stream 802.11ac solution is now providing mobile platforms with more than 300 Mbps UDP and TCP throughput, which exceeds by three times the performance of previous 11n solutions. Vive network platforms, available in both two and three-stream options, offer up to 866 Mbps and 1.3 Gbps data rates, respectively.

For more:
- see this Qualcomm release and this release

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