Cell phones can do a lot more: Broadcom

CIOL Bureau
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BANGALORE, INDIA: Broadcom, recently launched a mobile connectivity solution, the BCM4325 chip, which combines Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and FM functionality into a single 65nm silicon die. With this, the company aims to significantly reducing the board space and power consumption typically required to add all three wireless features to mobile devices.


Robert A. Rango, Group Vice-President, Mobile & Wireless, Broadcom, talks about the significance of the launch and Broadcom’s role in shaping the future of wired and wireless communication in a telephonic interview. Excerpts:

CIOL: What are some of the advantages of Broadcom’s the latest product, the BCM4325?

Robert A. Rango: It is the only chip of its kind in production, three discrete radios in one chip. There is a lot of interest among cell phone companies around for smart phones and feature phones. We have already shipped over a million units. The chip is implemented in the latest process technology 65nm CMOS technology. So, some of the benefits are because of 65nm.


What we have done by way of design is we have reduced the size, cost and power to build a cell phone. The phone can do a lot more, there is WiFi, it gets faster. It makes a difference because it is smaller, uses lower power, battery from the current generation of products.

It is 50 percent smaller and consumes less power by 25-45 percent. The cost is lower by 30 percent which help reduce the overall cost of the product.

CIOL: WiFi is gaining significant ground. Will Ultra Wide Band (UWB) share the same space?


RAR: WiFi is a very well distributed mature technology with good access points and with 802.11 n standard, although acceptance is 25 percent, it is taking off. It is a stable technology and delivers promise of higher speeds. WiFi extends the promise to do higer bit rates not possible with UWB, still in development, not brought to the masses.

CIOL: The latest 802.11 n standard has not really taken off. What’s the catch?

RAR: It is officially standard. Currently, most of the retail products in router and PCs require 2/2 spatial strain that improves the performance considerationa but, at a higher cost. But, in a 1/1 configuration it does not increase the cost. If the technology is applied to a PC it is 2/1, is its is applied to a mobile phone it can be 1/1. So, it is in mobile phones that it will get adopted faster because the cost is closer to 11g.


In the PC retail, by about the holiday season, 25-30 percent of the total sales will be 11n.

CIOL: What is the impact on digital appliances and seamless multimedia connectivity?

RAR: There is a standard, the DLNA which allows different devices to allow WiFi to transfer media to and from devices to cell phones. We are making sure that all our products are DLNA compatible. Sony, Samsung have all adopted DLNA. (expect to ) see a lot of sharing of information. There will be more manufacturers in the next 12 to 24 months.


CIOL: Which are some of the technologies impacting enterprises in a big way?

RAR: Technologies that will impact enterprises are VoIP and Ethernet. Enterprises today are buying Ethernet switching equipment. Broadcom has a very strong offering Ethernet switches and Ethernet files.

A small percentage of enterprises have adopted WiFi because of security concerns. So WiFi in the enterprise will be a huge trend.  


CIOL: Despite the slowdown in the chip sector, Broadcom has been posting very healthy growth. What are the drivers? 

RAR: The third quarter will be even better. Lot of wireless devices are spurring growth. The wireless business is the fastest growing business of Broadcom.

CIOL: How do you view competition from Intel?


RAR: Intel only focuses on one technology, WiFi only for the PC. We develop WiFi, Bluetooth, FM for all large companies. Intel has no chip for cell phones. Also, printers and routers are now becoming WiFi compatible and Intel has no presence in that market segment.

CIOL: What is the Bangalore team working on?

RAR: Broadcom has a significant engineering team in Bangalore. They are working in the wireless area, mostly IC design and software development for wireless chips as well as Ethernet and broadband for set-top boxes.