Nokia adds Broadcom to 5G chip supplier roster

Nokia flagged a new collaboration with US-based Broadcom as part of ongoing efforts by the Finnish vendor to resolve 5G product problems that have threatened its ability to compete in the 5G market.

Nokia has already brought in chipmaker Marvell and formed a new deal with Intel. It has now announced a collaboration with Broadcom on the development of products, including new system-on-chip (SoC) processors, to expand its ReefShark chipset portfolio for 5G products.

As highlighted by Tommi Uitto, president of mobile networks at Nokia, Broadcom's application-specific integrated circuit (ASIC) capability will allow the vendor "to deliver a high performance and serve our customers' needs as the demand for 5G services increases," although without revealing when 5G equipment with Broadcom products would be available on the market. Nokia emphasized that using custom silicon solutions in ReefShark products would help reduce the total cost of ownership.

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Nokia has been trying to address problems brought about by its earlier decision to use 5G products based heavily on field-programmable gate arrays (FPGAs) as opposed to ASICs. Although FPGAs were deemed to be more flexible, they are more expensive than ASICs. Furthermore, Nokia was let down by one of its FPGA suppliers – which some analysts have identified as Intel.

The vendor is now attempting to resolve the issue by moving to SoC-based products, including those from Intel. According to Nokia's last earnings report, 17% of its 5G equipment had custom chips in the first quarter of 2020, up from about 10% at the end of 2019. The vendor is said to be aiming to have the custom chips in more than 35% of its 5G shipments by the end of 2020, and 100% by the end of 2022.

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— Anne Morris, contributing editor, special to Light Reading

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