Feeds

Infineon unleashes 4G chip

Chalk one up for LTE

Gartner critical capabilities for enterprise endpoint backup

German chipmaker Infineon Technologies is sampling a new multi-standard transceiver chip sure to heat up the ongoing 4G contest between LTE and WiMAX.

Thanks to a push from companies like Intel, Sprint, Clearwire, Google, and others, the WiMAX (Worldwide Interoperability for Microwave Access) standard has already hit the airwaves. But Infineon's new SMARTi LU chip supports LTE (Long-Term Evolution), the still-incubating standard backed by AT&T, Verizon, Ericsson, NTT DoCoMo, and others. According to Infineon, when the chip is incorporated into mobile devices, it will support speeds of "up to 150 Mbps downlink, 50 Mbps uplink."

While these speeds may sound impressive, remember that accurate estimates of wireless-connectivity speeds are just that: estimates. Variables include the distance from a transmission tower, whether and how fast the receiver is moving, and other factors.

That said, whether based on WiMAX or LTE, 4G devices will be noticeably faster than 3G devices. Possibly up to one hundred times as fast, according to some estimates. Your mileage may - will - vary.

Touted by Infineon VP Stefan Wolff as "the world’s first single chip 2G/3G/LTE RF transceiver," the SMARTi LU supports not only LTE FDD class 4, but an additional alphabet soup of standards, including HSPA+, HSPA, WCDMA and GSM/GPRS/EDGE.

The SMARTi LU's 2G/3G/4G interoperability is key, seeing as how it will be years until telecoms upgrade to LTE - or its rival WiMAX - throughout the covered world. The upgrade will be expensive. Very expensive.

Last year, for example, when Sprint and Clearwire merged their WiMAX efforts, Intel, Google, Comcast, Time Warner, and Bright House Networks agreed to invest $3.2bn in the new combined company.

And that was just a drop in the 4G bucket. So far, Clearwire WiMAX has debuted in just two American cities.

Last week, ABI Research opined that "by 2013 operators will spend over $8.6 billion on LTE base station infrastructure alone" - and that doesn't include planned LTE investments by China Mobile, which are sure to be vast.

One year ago, analysts at WiMAXDay projected that $30bn would be spent on WiMAX development in 2008 alone - but during the year the growing Meltdown caused companies such as Alcatel-Lucent to cut back on WiMAX spending. Nortel did the same - but their recent bankruptcy filing may make that move moot.

And so the announcement of Infineon's SMARTi LU comes at an interesting time, when telecoms are tightening their belts, battening down their hatches, keeping their powder dry, and otherwise cliché-ing themselves into investment stasis.

It's an open question as to who will loosen their wallets first, LTE or WiMAX supporters. Perhaps the availability of a hot new chip will give the LTE camp a boost.

But no matter what proponents of either camp may say, we're a long way from a decision in the LTE versus WiMAX smackdown. Even after factoring in his company's pro-WiMAX prejudice, we tend to agree with an Intel rep with the marvelous name of Tolis Papathanassiou who predicted at last year's Intel Developer Forum that WiMAX and LTE would soon have comparable user bases. Papathanassiou's estimate was approximately 100 million worldwide subscribers apiece by 2015.

That number may be high if the Meldown keeps melting investment capital - or low if the ship of commerce rights itself sooner rather than later. But the LTE/WiMAX duel will continue for some years to come.

Even though the SMARTi LU does appear to be one fine chip. ®

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
6 Obvious Reasons Why Facebook Will Ban This Article (Thank God)
Clampdown on clickbait ... and El Reg is OK with this
So, Apple won't sell cheap kit? Prepare the iOS garden wall WRECKING BALL
It can throw the low cost race if it looks to the cloud
EE accused of silencing customer gripes on social media pages
Hello. HELLO. Can EVERYTHING EVERYWHERE HEAR ME?!
Time Warner Cable customers SQUEAL as US network goes offline
A rude awakening: North Americans greeted with outage drama
Shoot-em-up: Sony Online Entertainment hit by 'large scale DDoS attack'
Games disrupted as firm struggles to control network
BT customers face broadband and landline price hikes
Poor punters won't be affected, telecoms giant claims
Broadband slow and expensive? Blame Telstra says CloudFlare
Won't peer, will gouge for Internet transit
prev story

Whitepapers

Best practices for enterprise data
Discussing how technology providers have innovated in order to solve new challenges, creating a new framework for enterprise data.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Advanced data protection for your virtualized environments
Find a natural fit for optimizing protection for the often resource-constrained data protection process found in virtual environments.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
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?