I saw a teardown of the new BlackBerry Z10 the other day. It’s pretty typical of smartphones, with a lot of computing capability. The teardown highlighted the major components. The digital stuff, including the cellular baseband processor and the apps processor and associated memory, fits into three packages:
- Samsung K3PE0E000A – Multichip Memory – 2GB Mobile DDR2 SDRAM
- Samsung KLMAG2GE4A – Multichip Memory – 16GB MLC NAND Flash, Controller
- Qualcomm MSM8960 – Snapdragon S4 Baseband/Applications/Graphics Processor
That latter chip, done in 28nM CMOS, includes a pair of >1GHz processors, LTE/3G/2G modem, graphics processor, and a ton of I/O and memory. Lots of different functions, but hey — it’s all digital, right?
The analog componentry, including interfaces to allow humans to use the device, keep the device powered up, and get voice and audio into and out of it takes a few more chips.
- Qualcomm WCD9310 – Audio Codec
- Qualcomm PM8921 – Power Management IC
- ST Microelectronics LIS3DH – MEMS Accelerometer
- STMicroelectronics LSM330DLC – 3D Accelerometer & 3D Gyroscope
- Synaptics Clearpad 3203 – Capacitive Touchscreen Controller
And that partitioning makes sense if you think about it. Funny thing about analog partitioning — the chips tend to use lots of unique processes and make integration hard. And power-management as a stand-alone function makes sense rather than putting all the high-energy switching and heat-generating linear regulators on the same chip as something that might be sensitive to noise, thermal gradients, etc.
But what struck me was the lack of integration in the RF section… all for good reasons, I guess, but just look at what it takes to get the radio part done!
- Qualcomm RTR8600 – GSM/CDMA/W-CDMA/LTE RxD Transceiver + GPS
- Texas Instruments WL1273L – Single-Chip 802.11a/b/g/n WLAN, Bluetooth, and FM
- Inside Secure SECUREAD IC5C633I4- NFC Solution Module
- TriQuint TQP6M9017 – Dual-Band WLAN Module
- RF Micro Devices RF7252 – CDMA/WCDMA BAND 2 Linear Power Amplifier Module
- RF Micro Devices RF7303 – LTE/UMTS/CDMA BAND 3 Linear Power Amplifier Module
- Avago ACPM-5017 – LTE Band XVII Power Amplifier
- Avago ACPM-7051 – Quad-Band GSM/W-CDMA Bands I & V Power Amplifier
- Sony CXM3582UR – SP10T Antenna Switch
The move to direct-conversion promised that RF would finally jump on the Moore’s Law curve by eliminating non-integrated discrete passive SAW and ceramic RF and IF filters in favor of integratable low-pass analog and digital filters. And for the small-signal RF stages, that’s worked out OK. But how will we get all those power amplifiers (and associated passive filter and matching components) integrated or eliminated?