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QUALCOMM Unveils New 3G CDMA Technologies

QUALCOMM Inc., an early developer of the Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA) technology that has become a standard throughout wireless communications today, took center stage on Tuesday at CTIA Wireless 2001 in Las Vegas as it showed off an array of new technologies that will likely serve as the foundation of many 3G wireless networks in the coming years.

The San Diego, Calif.-based wireless communication company used the conference spotlight to push its cdma2000 as the standard 3G version of CDMA, intended as a seamless migration path that economically supports upgrades to 3G features and services within existing spectrum allocations for both cellular and PCS operators.

CDMA -- now a standard maintained by the CDMA Development Group -- is a spread spectrum technology allowing each channel to use the full available spectrum by encoding each transmission with a pseudo-random digital sequence. As opposed to Time Division Multiple Access (TDMA), CDMA technology was first used by the Allies to get messages through German jamming during World War II. Ironically, it has now evolved into one of the technologies that will be at the heart of the 3G wireless revolution.

QUALCOMM raised the curtain on its new family of CDMA Mobile Station Modem (MSM) integrated circuits and system software: the MSM6xxx.

QUALCOMM CDMA Technologies (QCT) said it developed the family of products to support key multimode, multiband 2G and 3G wireless technologies and to enable true wireless global roaming.

The whole MSM6xxx family features QCT's new radioOne direct RF-to-broadband conversion technology, intended to cut the total number of radio components in half and thus creating savings in handset bill-of-materials (BOM).

"QCT's new MSMxxx family of integrated circuits and system software will enable an entire range of handsets that will easily allow manufacturers to address market-specific needs for a wide variety of product tiers, and to offer their customers new services and true global roaming capabilities," said Don Schrock, president of QCT.

Each product in the MSM6xxx family:

  • Incorporates various features of QCT's Wireless Internet Launchpad suite -- including gpsOne position location capabilities featuring SnapTrack technology, Bluetooth connectivity capabilities, UMTS Subscriber Identity Module (SIM), Removable Universal Identity Module (R-UIM), and multimedia features such as Qtunes audio decoders (with support for MP3) and CMX software for MIDI, text and graphics-based multimedia applications
  • Interfaces to QCT's Mobile Station Processor (MSP) family of application processors to provide support for a variety of applications including streaming video over PacketVideo's PVPlayer MPEG-4 streaming media decoder
  • Interfaces with QCT's radioOne Zero Intermediate Frequency (ZIF) or direct conversion architecture, which converts incoming RF signals directly to or from baseband analog signals and thus eliminates the need for large IF Surface Acoustic Wave (SAW) filters and additional IF circuitry
  • Supports the Binary Runtime Environment for Wireless (BREW) applications platform.

The product family currently has seven members, each addressing different market requirements for pricing, features and global roaming capabilities.

The MSM6000 solution -- announced on March 12 -- is an entry-priced 3G cdma2000 1x integrated circuit and system software which optimizes BOM, making 3G cdma2000 1x handsets equal or lower in price than standard handsets built on the competing GSM standard. QUALCOMM said it allows manufacturers to rapidly design new entry-level handsets for the 3G market while still leveraging the traffic capacity benefits cdma2000 has over GSM, which uses Time Division Multiple Access (TDMA) technology to divide frequencies into time slots, allowing a single frequency to support multiple data channels. MSM6000 supports voice and basic data capabilities as well as two-way SMS. QUALCOMM said it anticipates sample shipments in early calendar 2002 and production quantities in second quarter of calendar 2002.

The MSM6050 is QUALCOMM's mid-tier cdma2000 1x solution. It adds improved processing power, radioOne architecture, gpsOne position location capabilities and key Wireless Internet Launchpad multimedia features to the features offered in MSM5105. It supports IS-2000, with up to 153 kbps in the forward link, and the QDSP4000 architecture supports vocoders and other audio entertainment applications. QUALCOMM anticipates sample shipments in the first half of calendar 2002.

The next step up is MSM6100, which builds on MSM5100 with improved processing power, radioOne architecture, Wireless Internet Launchpad multimedia including Bluetooth and MMC, and position location features. It supports IS-2000, enabling data rates up to 307 kbps on both the forward and reverse links, as well as simultaneous voice and data. Like the MSM6050, it supports vocoders and other audio and entertainment applications, but it also includes a Java accelerator. It is expected to ship in the second half of calendar 2002.

The MSM6200 solution is QCT's 2G Wideband CDMA (WCDMA) integrated circuit and system software with GSM and GPRS. It supports data rates up to 384 kbps and sample shipments are expected in the first half of calendar 2002.

The MSM6300 supports 3G cdma2000 1x and GSM/GPRS. It supports data rates up to 307 kbps and sample shipments are expected in the first half of calendar 2002.

The MSM6500 supports cdma2000 1x and cdma2000 1xEV for high-speed data, enabling peak rate transmission speeds up to 2.4 mbps. It also supports GSM/GPRS. QUALCOMM anticipates sample shipments in 2003.

Finally, the MSM6600 solution supports 3G cdma2000 1x, WCDMA, and GSM/GPRS. Sample shipments are expected in 2003.