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Freescale plans basestation-on-chip

June 28, 2010 // R. Colin Johnson

Freescale plans basestation-on-chip

Freescale Semiconductor plans to best its embedded communications competitors not just by depending on raw computing speed for its processors but by reaching the higher integration levels needed to put a "basestation on a chip," according to Lisa Su, senior vice president and general manager for networking and multimedia.

Speaking at the recent Freescale Technology Forum (FTF), held June 21-24 in Orlando, Fla., Su claimed Freescale had already captured the market share lead in embedded communications processors, at 25.6 percent, putting it just ahead of Intel Corp., which recently pledged a renewed effort to increase its embedded market share.

"Today Freescale is certainly No. 1 in the wireless space—in communications processors and embedded MPUs," said Su. "We are also No. 1 in e-reader processors and No. 2 in programmable DSPs, but we are confident that our market share will grow in the future because we are especially strong in LTE [Long Term Evolution for 4G]."

Su credited Freescale's strength in LTE retrofits and embedded communications processors to its transition from 90-nanometer to 45-nanometer process technology, skipping the 65-nm node. The shift had been "painful" at times but was "definitely worth the effort" in retrospect, Su said. She also predicted Freescale would claim a leadership position in moving beyond 45 nm to the "next node" in process technology but declined to say whether that would be 32 nm or some intermediate level.

She was clear, however, on Freescale's intent to move to higher levels of integration, saying it would look to leapfrog competitors by putting all the elements needed for future basestastions onto a single chip. The move would pioneer the ultrasmall form factors needed for the expected explosion in femtocell basestations after LTE's debut in 2011, Su said.

Also at FTF, Freescale announced its move to a 64-bit architecture for the QorIQ family with its e5500 Power core, which analysts claimed is faster than competitive cores from Cavium and NetLogic but still slightly behind Intel's Xeon in raw performance.



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