PicoChip Unveils LTE Reference Design

Picochip and mimoOn unveiled today a jointly developed family of long-term evolution (LTE) base station reference designs, which scale from tiny femtocells to multi-sector macrocells. The new system will be demonstrated at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona next week.

The announcement follows recent news of LTE's standardization progress at the 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) organization as well as recent demonstrations from Ericsson AB (Nasdaq: ERIC) and Nokia Networks . The next-generation mobile broadband air interface is bound to steal a lot of the spotlight at next week's industry extravaganza in Spain. (See LTE Specs on Track, LTE Claims Standards Progress, NSN Shows Off LTE, and Ericsson Demos LTE.)

The new LTE base station reference designs are supported on the same common hardware platforms -- the picoChip PHY and the Wintegra Inc. MAC -- as picoChip's WiMax products. Both time division duplex (TDD) and frequency division duplex (FDD) modes are supported.

While WiMax is typically pitted against LTE, enabling the capability of running both air interfaces on the same hardware platform makes sense, according to picoChip's vice president of marketing Rupert Baines.

"A lot of people who are doing WiMax, can now start doing LTE," says Baines. "There are an awful lot of people who want to do both."

And the technologies have a lot in common. Both WiMax and LTE are based on OFDMA in the downlink, and both have an all-IP architecture along with multiple input multiple output (MIMO) and adaptive antenna systems (AAS).

"The WiMax world is very open and competitive," says Baines. "With a reference design like this, we're enabling that same situation to happen in the LTE space." For vendors committed to both WiMax and LTE, the ability to run the new reference design on the same platform will ultimately cut product development costs.

"We're really slashing development time, time to market, and development costs hugely," says Baines.

He says that OEMs, partners, and customers were already "setting off down this path," but he could not name them.

— Michelle Donegan, European Editor, Unstrung

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