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SigmaTel OK’s bid from Freescale, pushes ref design for PNDs

LONDON — Shareholders of SigmaTel (Austin, TX) have approved the acquisition of the analog IC specialist and the deal, valued at about $110 million, is expected to close by the end of April.

Freescale announced its bid in February as part of a strategy to secure complementary analog ICs as it diversifies into more consumer electronics segments.

At the same time, SigmaTel has introduced a version of its STMP37xx processor reference design targeted at the portable navigation GPS market, which it says enables sub-$99 portable navigation devices (PNDs).

Dubbed the STMP3738, the tightly integrated SoC eliminates up to 12 previously-discreet ICs typically found in PND devices. The device supports WinCE5, WinCE6 and Linux operating systems.

Glen Burchers, director of marketing at SigmaTel, told EE Times the first PNDs using the processor are expected to be available by the end of the year, but declined to specify which ODM or OEM is already designing in the part.

“The PND market is growing at a tremendous pace at the moment, and now is a good time to enter the sector with a part that offers major performance improvements at lower costs because of the level of integration we have achieved with our mixed signal expertise,” Burchers added.

He said the bill of materials (BOM) for a typical PND can be reduced by 15 percent and board space by nearly a third using the 3738, without sacrificing performance. “This is crucial, since there is great pressure on PND retail prices, and thus on designers of the navigation devices,” said Burchers.

Based on the 90-nm STMP3700 family, which uses a 360 MHz ARM9 processor coupled with on-chip audio and power management functions, the device integrates the analog functions on the same silicon die as the processor. The power management functions, typically spread across several analog ICs, are also integrated into the STMP3738 to achieve the cost savings.

The STMP3738 supports popular GPS solutions including those from Broadcom, SiRF and NXP.

“We are impressed with the integration level and performance of SigmaTel's STMP3738,” commented Kevin Strong, director of product marketing for GPS products at NXP Semiconductors.”

The processor is said to be compatible with all popular map application software and map databases.

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