Marvell Works with Memory, Cellular Partner

Sunnyvale, Calif.-based Marvell Technology Group has a new chip and a new deal, both targeting putting Wi-Fi into phones.

The chip is the 88W8385, which the company says is the first 802.11a/b/g chip to embed a CPU and on-chip memory—suitable for products with no external CPU (like a laptop or PDA). The silicon will be targeted at consumer electronics and phones, from video to VoIP to simple digital cordless. It can come in a package as small as 9mm square.

That chip, now sampling to customers, is one that Marvell could be providing to new partner Freescale Semiconductor to provide the Wi-Fi aspect to be found in the Freescale’s cellular handset platforms for 2.5G (i.250 GSM/GPRS), 3G (i.300 for GSM/UMTS) and the i.MX/DragonBall platform for PDAs and smartphones.

“Companies like Motorola and other third parties can take our chipsets (including a baseband and application processor and power management and the radio) and wrap plastic around it to create their own phone,” says Kurt Southworth, technical business manager for Freescale. The application processor, which also handles the human interface with the screen and keyboard, also integrates with the Marvell Wi-Fi chips.

“This is significant because companies that want Wi-Fi in their phones, they have to do quite a bit of work, in both software development and picking chips,” says Benjamin Niu from Marvell, product line manger for Embedded WLAN Products. “With Freescale, we did all that work for the customers up front.”
The two companies are not announcing any customers yet. Freescale says this is really a business case being made for the future, with the expectation that actual products won’t appear until 2006 at the earliest.

“The concept is there, but the market is just coming,” says Maria Bruby, spokesperson for Freescale.

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