Small cells

Rumor: Qualcomm Prepping Femto Proto for MWC

Qualcomm Inc. (Nasdaq: QCOM) is likely to show an early take on its 3G femtocell chipset at the Mobile World Congress show in Barcelona this February.

The CDMA chip pioneers are expected to show off an emulator that simulates the multi-standard 3G chipset, a source tells Unstrung. The San Diego, Calif.-based company will likely use a field programmable gate array (FPGA) chipset to simulate the finished product. (See Qualcomm Firms Up Femto Plans.)

Unstrung is expecting that the chipset will “tape-out” in the summer; this is the last stage of the design before the chip is sent to the foundry to be manufactured. Qualcomm has said previously that it expects to have samples of the chipset ready by the second half of the year.

Qualcomm is planning to deliver one of the first femtocell chipsets (if not the first) that integrates radio and baseband controller elements on to one piece of silicon. Home basestation silicon vendors currently supply the RF element or the baseband but not both.

Qualcomm's planned 3G femto chip should provide a smaller and more power-efficient product for vendors looking to build a second wave of 3G femtocells late in 2010 and on into 2011.

— Dan Jones, Site Editor, Unstrung

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