WIRELESS: Transcede processors serve 3G/4G/LTE mobile infrastructure

Newport Beach, Calif. – The Transcede family of processors newly launched by Mindspeed Technologies, Inc., are highly integrated and cost-effective application-specific SoCs. The new processors are designed to meet the huge increase in basestation diversity and computational complexity engendered by the Mobile Internet's migration from a voice-centric 2G/3G mobile network to a data centric 3G+/4G mobile network. Wireless carriers are upgrading their networks to 3G and 4G so they can meet the growing demands of what IDC recently forecasted will be one billion mobile devices accessing the Internet over the next four years, while working with limited available radio spectrum.

Transcede SoCs integrate 26 programmable processors into a single device, including two ARM Cortex A9 multi-core symmetric multiprocessing (SMP) reduced instruction set computer (RISC) processors, 10 CEVA DSPs, and 10 DSP accelerators. The complete processing needs of single- and multi-sector basestations are supported, using the wideband code-division multiple access (W-CDMA), long term evolution (LTE), LTE time-division duplex (TD-LTE, in China), time-division synchronous code division multiple access (TD-SCDMA, in China), and/or WiMAX air-interface standards.

The new SoCs can deliver three sectors of LTE processing in a single device, while still providing substantial processing headroom, allowing manufactures to deploy their own value-added features as part of an overall Transcede-based solution.

The Transcede family provides the critical structural underpinnings for the rapidly evolving Mobile Internet, which has been called the next great computing cycle capable of delivering 10x growth in user devices, as compared to previous cycles. This new class of silicon will enable the development of a wide range of equipment, some for deploying services to a handful of subscribers and others for serving hundreds or thousands of subscribers.'It replaces today's traditional approach, which combines a complex, expensive and inflexible set of general-purpose digital signal processors (DSPs) plus field programmable gate arrays (FPGAs) and network processing units (NPUs).

The new processors can be used to develop 4G equipment for LTE frequency division duplex (LTE-FDD), TD-LTE, TD-SCDMA, in China, and WiMAX 802.16d, 16e and 16m, as well as 3G W-CDMA NodeB systems. The scalable hardware architecture enables the same software to be used for picocells, microcells and macrocells, as well as future low-cost enterprise femtocell designs once industry standards and product requirements solidify.

The company claims the Transcede family of SoCs is the first to provide such a high level of integration aimed specifically at meeting this increasingly difficult challenge.

“Operators have spent billions on 3G, and are reaping the benefits of increased data revenue,” said Alan Nogee, principal analyst with In-Stat. “Now, they are so worried about not having the fastest wireless network, that they will spend billions more on deploying LTE and WiMAX. These deployments will require all new equipment, rather than retrofitting existing equipment. It will be a major upgrade cycle, spanning the full range of femtocell to macrocell platforms, each of which will need to support multiple complex standards and technologies.”

Manufacturers have re-architected their existing 2G and 3G basestations to support mobile broadband technology field trials, and are now looking at more integrated solutions to help cost- and power-reduce their 3G+ and 4G basestation designs, which currently cost about $1,000 per blade and consume 100 watts of power using multiple DSPs, FPGAs and other components. Transcede family devices can cut power consumption to less than 15 watts for sub-$300 blades, with significantly better performance, lower complexity, simplified programming and scalability, and a smaller footprint. Transcede SoCs will help redefine wireless infrastructure economics during what is expected to be a major basestation upgrade cycle ” one that may be further accelerated as mobile devices rapidly become the remote controls for a variety of exciting new, real-time cloud-based social networking services and e-commerce models.”

Transcede family devices include the very latest Cortex A9 multi-core SMP RISC processors from ARM, coupled with the latest DSP processors from CEVA. The integrated SoC reduces system latency as compared to solutions that split processing between discrete network processors, DSPs and/or FPGAs. Transcede family devices also include built-in hardware accelerators for important fixed functions and integrate other key system features to further reduce system costs.

Software developed on one Transcede device can be ported to other family members across the full range of system platforms, including enterprise femtocell, picocell (indoor and outdoor), microcell and macrocell basestations.

Transcede processing cores are optimized for power efficiency and proven in wireless handset applications. Additionally, built-in power management capabilities clock down processing operations to reduce power consumption during low-traffic periods.

The Transcede family debuts with the T4000, whose processor cores run at 600 MHz with less than 12 W power consumption, typical, and the T4020, with 750 MHz processor cores and typical power consumption less than 15 W. All Transcede family devices are supported by a complete software reference design to accelerate time-to-market schedules.'The reference design includes a Linux board support package, and standard physical-layer (PHY) implementation for LTE, WiMAX and W-CDMA, with associated utilities and test scripts.

The Transcede T4000 and T4020 are available now in sample quantities, with volume production scheduled to begin in the third quarter of 2010.'They are packaged in a 31-millimeter-square high-performance flip-chip ball grid array (HFC-BGA).'Pricing in OEM volumes of 10,000 units is $250 for the T4000 and $300 for the T4020.

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