Fundamental changes are sweeping the cellular industry, affecting base-station design. Smartphone users are consuming ever increasing amounts of wireless data. To address this demand, operators are upgrading their networks to support LTE and soon LTE Advanced. They are also deploying small-cell base stations to increase network capacity in congested areas and femtocells to extend coverage in sparsely covered areas.
Their revenues are not increasing commensurately with bandwidth demand, however. Thus their budgets are being squeezed—new equipment must cost less than old equipment. This trend in turn squeezes base-station OEMs. Fortunately for them, the perpetually increased transistor budget granted by the onward march of Moore’s Law and the scaling down of base stations has enabled semiconductor suppliers to develop processors integrating major baseband-processing functions in a single chip.
The market for base-station processors has suddenly become crowded, with more than a half-dozen chip companies offering products. Each differs in important ways. A Guide to Processors for Wireless Base Stations brings clarity to the market, discussing trends, detailing available base-station processors, and drawing conclusions about which chip vendors are best positioned and which of their products are best suited to operators’ needs.
The report begins with an overview of 3G (UMTS) and 4G (LTE) technology, highlighting the aspects of the cellular network, underlying technology, and relevant semiconductor technologies that most affect the design and capabilities of base-station processors. The subsequent chapter discusses the major technological and business trends affecting the market for base-station processors, providing insight into how the market will develop for this new class of product.
Following these introductory chapters, the report delivers a complete chapter on each of five major suppliers of base-station processors: Cavium, Freescale, Mindspeed, Texas Instruments, and Qualcomm. An additional chapter covers Broadcom, Design Art Networks, and Octasic. For each company, we provide a synopsis of their business, detail the key features of their products, and draw conclusions about their standing in the competitive landscape and the types of designs for which their offerings are best suited. For the primary five suppliers, we also discuss the internal architecture of their processors, system-design considerations, and their likely product roadmap.
We then dedicate a chapter to detailed head-to-head comparisons of many of the available base-station processors. The report concludes with our outlook for the leading vendors.
Covered product lines include Cavium’s Octeon Fusion, Freescale’s QorIQ Qonverge, Mindspeed’s Transcede and Picochip PC3000, TI’s KeyStone and KeyStone II, Qualcomm’s FSM, Broadcom’s Aquilo, Design Art’s DAN3400, and Octasic’s OCT2224W.
As the leading analysts covering high-performance digital communications chips, The Linley Group has the expertise to deliver a comprehensive look at the chips handling baseband processing in cellular base stations.
Coauthors Joseph Byrne and Tom Halfhill use their broad experience in communications semiconductors and embedded processors to deliver the technical and strategic information you need to make informed business decisions.
What This Report Covers:
Our coverage includes commercially available semiconductor chips designed to implement the core baseband-processing functions of a cel-lular base station. These chips are application-specific products—they have practical use only in base stations. Our coverage focuses on inte-grated base-station processors, which handle both Layer 1 and Layer 2 functions by integrating both DSP and CPU cores. Furthermore, we focus on application-specific standard products (ASSPs): off-the-shelf chips available to any OEM. Major OEMs alternatively use application-specific integrated circuits (ASICs), which are custom chips designed by or for a single OEM. We focus on products for 3GPP-family systems including WCDMA/HSPA (3G) and LTE (4G).
This report is written for:
- Engineers who need to select processors to design 3G and 4G (LTE) base stations
- Marketing and engineering staff at companies that sell base-station processors, design services, or software that runs on base stations
- Technology professionals who want an introduction to cellular base-station technology
- Financial analysts who desire a detailed analysis and comparison of base-station processor vendors and their chances of success
- Press and public-relations professionals who need to get up to speed on base-station technology