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Small cell SoCs expand network capacity in neighbourhoods

Posted: 13 Jun 2014  Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:small cell  chipset  Wi-Fi 

Qualcomm Inc. revealed the FSM90xx series, small cell chipsets designed to meet the cost targets and performance requirements of neighbourhood and small-to-midsized business segments, vying with other such offerings from vendors including Texas Instruments and Freescale.

"Data capacity mandated by users is increasing every year exponentially, almost doubling every year," Puneet Sethi, staff product manager with Qualcomm Atheros, told EE Times. "The industry needs to come up with a solution that meets that challenge and part of that solution is small cells."

The 28nm chipset features a quad-core processor, supports Wi-Fi and Internet gateway functions. The FSM90xx can be paired with Qualcomm RFICs to support LTE and 3G networks. Hardware accelerators built into the chipset help speed up data processing for both radio technologies.

Sethi said Qualcomm hoped to reduce the bill of materials and footprint for small cells. Qualcomm designed the chips to work collaboratively so a small cell in the home could assist one deployed outside.

Small cell

A new coverage model using small cells. Source: Qualcomm

The small cell chip is also capable of developing self-organised networks with Qualcomm's UltraSON software that allows for integrated cell connections.

"The small cell is able to scan its environment and detect new neighbours that may be coming up, detect power of a macro cell and make adjustments to its setting to make that cell easier to deploy," Sethi said. "The idea is to make LTE small cells deploy simply."

In partnership with Sprint, Qualcomm tested the cells and connection software at a NASCAR race as an alternative to a more conventional deployment. Qualcomm installed 31 small cell base stations in the garage area of the Phoenix International Raceway to test density limits, measure network performance, and identify user impact.

"It was more cost effective and provides 40 times more capacity," Sethi said of the experiment.

The SoCs are expected to sample in the second half of 2014; Qualcomm did not provide dates for mass production.

- Jessica Lipsky
  EE Times





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