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Chip Design: Article

Atheros Creates First Single-Chip Cellular Solution

Produces World's Most Integrated Chip For Handsets

Atheros Communications, a leading developer of advanced wireless solutions, today announced the company's first cellular solution, the Atheros AR1900. In a single chip, the AR1900 implements a complete cellular transceiver, baseband, application processor, audio paths, power management, and keypad, display and USB interfaces. Through this high level of integration coupled with the addition of new industry leading features, the AR1900 enables industry-leading performance at a price that is designed to fuel further market growth. The AR1900 is the first product to leverage a platform of innovative technologies developed by Atheros over the last year, including audio, voice, low-power battery operation and novel RF architectures.

The AR1900 is the world's first single-chip solution for PHS (Personal Handyphone System), which is widely deployed in China, Japan, Taiwan and other countries. PHS, or Personal Access System (PAS) as it is known in China, is an advanced digital TDMA-TDD technology operating at 1.9 GHz providing high-quality voice, advanced data services, and long battery life. The growth of PHS in China has been driven by its favorable infrastructure cost and voice tariff structure, which is less than half that of other cellular technologies. Forward Concepts estimates that shipments of PHS/PAS handsets to the China market grew an estimated 90% in 2004 to 30.8 million units and predicts that market to grow by another 70% in 2005 to 50 million units.

"PHS has experienced remarkable growth in China since its introduction in the late 1990's and accounted for almost 20% of the cellular market in 2004 or over 68 million subscribers," said Will Strauss, president of Forward Concepts. "We anticipate the market to continue its strong growth trend and expect low-cost, high-performance solutions, such as that offered by Atheros, to further fuel adoption."

"We have expanded our core competencies to include audio, voice and power management," said Craig Barratt, president and chief executive officer of Atheros Communications. "We can now deliver solutions for broader handheld and voice markets, with PHS as the first target. These capabilities, combined with our world-class digital CMOS Radio-on-a-Chip (RoC) expertise, enable us to bring to market the most highly integrated, low power, and cost-effective wireless solutions - within the shortest design cycle."

The AR1900 integrates a complete handset solution, including 1.9 GHz transceiver, baseband, protocol control block, application processor, voice coder and analog paths, polyphonic ring-tone generator, power management, and LCD, keypad and USB interfaces, into a single piece of silicon. It is implemented in a standard digital CMOS process; the innovative single-chip design reduces the cost of PHS handsets by 30 percent compared to multiple chip solutions. The AR1900 boasts several technology innovations for PHS. Its state-of-the-art fractional-N synthesizer allows for seamless handover between base stations. It supports the PIAFS mode of operation, which allows for data transfer at 64 kbps. The AR1900 also supports connection to up to three other PHS devices, allowing it to be used for indoor infrastructure equipment. It implements aggressive clock gating and other power reduction features to maximize battery life.

The AR1900 is the latest in a string of Atheros accomplishments in single-chip integration achieved through its RoC methodology. Atheros introduced the world's first single-chip 802.11g client solution in January 2004, the world's first single-chip 802.11a/b/g client solution in October 2004, and the world's first single-chip 802.11g access point solution in December 2004.

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