Sunday, Nov 09, 2003
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By Anand Parthasarathy
When it is unveiled, within a year, the chip is expected to be the first ever product where the analogue, digital and radio frequency building blocks are integrated on the same matchbox-sized slab of silicon.
As a result, new-generation cellular mobile phones based on the chip were expected to be smaller, cheaper and less power-hungry, said Gilles Delfassy, senior vice-president for world-wide wireless terminals business at the Dallas headquarters of TI.
Today's mobile phones include two chips one containing all the analogue elements (also known as base-band) and the other containing the radio frequency circuits. It has so far been a case of `the twain shall never meet' because the two circuits tend to interfere with each other's signals.
However, TI's Bangalore-based development team has succeeded in realising the "digital radio processing" functions on the same type of silicon as the other circuit and memory functions in effect removing the last technical hurdle to creating a one-chip mobile phone.
The first "reference designs" to emerge will bring the technology to the GSM (Global Systems Mobile) type of mobile phone. A separate single-chip solution will address the CDMA (Code Division Multiple Access) phone. Both mobile standards are being used in India, one for national roaming, the other for Wireless Local Loop (WLL) or limited roaming applications.
Leading international mobile handset makers are already working closely with TI so that compellingly-priced commercial products based on the single-chip design can be rolled out by 2005, Mr. Delfassy added.
Indian engineers at TI as well as its development partners like Wipro and Sasken have also contributed to another key mobile phone building block, OMAP, an in-house buzzword for technology that creates `smart phones' to carry both voice and multimedia data.
Further down the road, TI is working to launch a cell-phone that incorporates navigation and Position-sensing information, based on the satellite-backed Global Positioning System (GPS).
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