RealTime IT News

Broadcom Boasts Bluetooth Chip

Lest it be pushed aside for all the attention Wi-Fi technology garners, Bluetooth continues to be supported by the likes of Broadcom Corp., who Tuesday unveiled a chip product powered by the short-wave wireless technology.

The Irvine, Calif. chipmaker introduced Broadcom BCM2013, which integrates Broadcom's Bluetooth radio together with a baseband specifically designed for the Bluetooth headset market.

Broadcom claims the BCM2013's baseband offers increased audio purity, power conservation and lower retail price-points than other purpose Bluetooth devices simply can't match. The BCM2013 enables wireless headsets to provide audio quality akin to their wired brethren. With a headset powered with BCM2013, mobile phone users can wirelessly connect to their phone handset, carrying on conversations while leaving their hands free for other tasks.

And, like many of the newer chips made to power wireless gadgets, the new chip is made to consume less power; the BCM2013 supports multiple battery chemistries. Broadcom has demonstrated reference designs built on the BCM2013 with talk-times exceeding 10 hours using a 190mAh Li-Ion battery.

Like other wireless-oriented vendors, Broadcom is banking on the notion that consumers are fed up with wires and are calling upon hardware makers to make wireless-capable devices -- even simple cell phones.

"Wireless headsets offer a better customer experience than wired headsets, all other factors being equal. Most wired headset customers have had the annoying experience of getting tangled up in their headset wire," said Gordon Burk, Director of Marketing for Bluetooth Headsets at Broadcom.

Research from Cahners In-Stat/MDR bears this out. The firm said Bluetooth chipset shipments were on schedule to reach or surpass 13 million in 2001, despite the tough economy.

"Activity has moved forward in the mobile phone, notebook PC, and adapter space, with specialty adapters just beginning to show up for Personal Digital Assistants (PDAs)," said Joyce Putscher, a director with In-Stat. "Once people are educated on what the benefits are, demand will rise for products that include Bluetooth connectivity, as long as prices of products are reasonable. The challenge lies in getting the message across, and being able to educate the general public correctly in a variety of ways and channels."

Though far faster than Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, or 802.11 technologies are generally far more expensive at this point. Those who support Bluetooth for devices point this out to no end.

A BCM2013-based evaluation kit, the BCM92013EV, and a reference design, the BCM92013RD, are available to help OEM customers accelerate their introduction of headset products to market. Headset manufacturers should be able to design a complete headset for less than $18, which includes, the battery, speaker, microphone, plastics and everything contained in the reference design, including the BCM2013 chip.

BCM2013 samples are available now and volume production is scheduled to begin in March 2002.