Friday, January 9, 2009

Samsung Developing LTE and WiMAX Chipsets

Samsung Electronics has announced that they will be developing their own baseband silicon ICs for both for both LTE and mobile WiMAX networks as well as media accelerators. The effort is geared toward to lowering the costs of its handsets and reducing their exposure to IPR royalties, according to Young Cho Chi, senior VP of strategic planning for Samsung's telecom division. The company historically relied on chips from Qualcomm but began diversifying its suppliers last year by moving to Broadcom and Infineon chips which use a software stack from Comneon, a joint venture between Infineon and InterDigital Communications that reportedly does not rely on Qualcomm's patents.

"It looks like the Koreans are revolting against the royalties that Qualcomm has been extracting for some time," said Will Strauss, principal of market watcher Forward Concepts. "Both Samsung and LG have long chafed at Qualcomm's royalties," he added.

Samsung is already sampling its mobile WiMAX chipset to engineers in and outside the company. The Korean giant wants to be among the first to launch LTE handsets, but whether it will use its own LTE baseband in its first models is uncertain.

The company will support both WiMAX and LTE for next-generation cellular networks, Chi said in his San Francisco talk. Between the two technologies, WiMAX is as much as five years ahead in maturity, but LTE will ultimately be more broadly used, Chi said. "We are also trying to develop competitive multimedia chipsets to support various multimedia functions," said Chi in an e-mail exchange following a presentation in San Francisco in early December.

Samsung also plans to develop its own lineup of mobile GPUs in a bid to avoid the increasingly expensive licensing fees associated with using either ATI or other third-party mobile GPU technologies. The company plans to begin production at a newly opened Texas plant with no details on a release timeframe. Samsung also plans to be one of the first handset manufacturers to support LTE, but it has not clarified whether it will use its own chipset in the first handsets scheduled to be available at the end of 2009

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