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Icera moves HSPA modem to 65-nm

BRISTOL, England — Icera Inc., a fabless semiconductor startup that has developed the Livanto wireless modem chipset supporting high-speed packet access (HSPA), has announced the customer sampling of the second-generation of the chipset.

The ICE8040 is based on a migration to a 65-nm CMOS process, also from Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. Ltd. and Nigel Toon, vice president of marketing at Icera, said he expects Icera to be in volume production in July 2008.

Icera's first-generation device was based on a 90-nm CMOS also from TSMC.
The Livanto ICE8040 chipset supports Icera's Adaptive Wireless software modem to deliver Category 8 HSDPA at up to 7.2-Mbps and Category 6 HSUPA at up to 5.76-Mbps with dual antenna receive diversity. The chipset also provides full 2G/3G support including GSM, GPRS, EDGE and WCDMA and a compressed mode handover between 2G and 3G networks.

The chipset includes a multiband RF CMOS transceiver, the ICE8215, formerly the SW3215 from Sirific Wireless, implemented in a 130-nm CMOS from TSMC. Icera announced the acquisition of Sirific last month. The chipset also includes a power managerment IC, the ICE8145, implemented in a 180-nm CMOS from Chartered Semiconductor. Icera had previously worked with Dialog Semiconductor plc on power management.

The ICE8040 baseband package includes both the 65-nm digital part and a 130-nm mixed-signal IC developed for Icera's first generation Livanto by ChipIdea Microelectronics SA, which was acquired by MIPS Technologies Inc.

“The migration brings higher performance at lower power consumption and lower cost,” said Toon. Icera's sales have so far focused on card modems. The ICE8040 chipset power consumption is low to meet the battery life demands in handsets and Mobile Internet Devices (MIDs). Complete system standby power in 3G idle mode can be less than 1-mA, Icera said. The chipset provides full voice support including all 2G and 3G voice codecs plus acoustic echo cancellation and noise suppression capabilities.

To accompany the Livanto ICE8040 Icera has also announced the Espesso 300 reference design for mobile broadband devices such as USB dongles and PCI minicard modules for laptops and MIDs.

Espresso 300 includes hardware, PCB layout, firmware, drivers, host software support and a software development kit. Espresso can be configured with three different grades of Adaptive Wireless firmware; lite, standard and advanced. It also comes with voice codecs to allow integration in an HSPA smartphone.

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