One-chip mobiles 'in three years' years away

One-chip mobiles ‘in three years’ years away
Steve Bush The single-chip mobile phone is only three years away, according to US phone chip maker CommQuest. “We will have samples of the chip at the end of 2000 and expect production a year later,” said Marilyn Jordan, spokesman for CommQuest. A popular industry view is that the one chip phone is further off still. The penalty of having a two-chip solution – a CMOS baseband processor and a RF section made on a high speed analogue process – is seen as a small price to pay compared to the cost of developing one process that combines both sections. CommQuest was bought by IBM earlier this year with the goal of adding CommQuest’s phone chip expertise to IBM’s advanced process capability. “There will be two stages to the development,” said Jordan. “First we will produce the whole RF section, including the output devices, in silicon germanium. This product should sample next year. The second phase will be to add the baseband processor using SOI [silicon-on-insulator] technology.” SOI chip construction prevents the noise generated by the digital baseband processing from getting into the RF section. Both SiGe and SOI are complex processes, however. Does Jordan believe that CommQuest’s solution can undercut a two-chip one? “Absolutely,” he said, “the total cost of the phone, which includes integration and testing, will be lower.” Jordan was speaking at the launch of his company’s TriBand Chipset, a two-chip phone GSM chipset which covers 900MHz, 1.8GHz and 1.9GHz.

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