Feeds

China's 3G 'wonderchip' primed and ready

Sponsored by Beijing, nurtured in Sunnyvale

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

Chinese engineers headquartered in the heart of Silicon Valley have produced a dual band mobile phone chip that's sure to cause more heated debate when trade delegations from the two superpowers next meet.

Spreadtrum Communications says it already has contracts from four manufacturers for its 'superchip' - as the state news agency calls it - based on its own TD-SCDMA 3G air interface. China has encouraged development of this standard, an alternative to both the WCDMA specification used in European and Japanese 3G networks and Qualcomm's CDMA2000, hoping to nurture the domestic market. It also has another reason for seeing TD-SCDMA prosper: it hopes to bypass the complicated royalty agreement that 3G chip makers must pay.

Ironically, much of the engineering for the chip was carried out by Spreadtrum's Sunnyvale office, in the heart of California's Silicon Valley.

But China is deadly serious about its home grown innovation. In a gritted-teeth compromise declared by the United States Trade Departement after trade talks in April, the Chinese pledged not to steer government-awarded 3G contracts to TD-SCDMA suppliers. But rejoicing Stateside was short-lived. A fortnight later the PRC's MII - the Chinese Ministry of Information Industry - was again touting the cost savings from the Spreadtrum superchip. Reports suggest that by favoring its own manufacturers and bypassing royalties it can produce phones a third cheaper than foreign rivals and save the country $10bn in import costs.

What's not in dispute is that it's the PRC's first homegrown chipset; the silicon was helped along by investment from MII. Spreadtrum says Lenovo, Amoi Electronics, Hisense Electric and the Ningbo Bird Company have agreed to use the 3G chip.

The trade dispute is sure to be watched with interest far beyond the world of cellular semiconductor companies. When Western "technological superiority" is based on the licensing of intellectual property, and when China refuses to play ball, advocating its own better and cheaper technology, what do companies that want access to the burgeoning Chinese market do? Grin and bear it, and lobby like ferrets, we reckon. ®

Related stories

China snubs US with 3G phone 'wonderchip'
US trade pressure kills China's home-grown tech
China agrees to drop WAPI wireless sec spec
Trade Wars II: China shuns Qualcomm – no CDMA tax!
EU frets over China's 3G plan
Gang of Four set W-CDMA royalty cap
Patent fees weigh down 3G uptake

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

More from The Register

next story
YOU are the threat: True confessions of real-life sysadmins
Who will save the systems from the men and women who save the systems from you?
Download alert: Nearly ALL top 100 Android, iOS paid apps hacked
Attack of the Clones? Yeah, but much, much scarier – report
Broadband sellers in the UK are UP TO no good, says Which?
Speedy network claims only apply to 10% of customers
Virgin Media struck dumb by NATIONWIDE packet loss balls-up
Turning it off and on again fixes glitch 12 HOURS LATER
Ofcom snatches 700MHz off digital telly, hands it to mobile data providers
Hungry mobe'n'slab-waving Blighty swallows spectrum
Fujitsu CTO: We'll be 3D-printing tech execs in 15 years
Fleshy techie disses network neutrality, helmet-less motorcyclists
Facebook, working on Facebook at Work, works on Facebook. At Work
You don't want your cat or drunk pics at the office
prev story

Whitepapers

Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Internet Security Threat Report 2014
An overview and analysis of the year in global threat activity: identify, analyze, and provide commentary on emerging trends in the dynamic threat landscape.
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.