Feature Article

June 23, 2009

TI Targets Residential, Enterprise Femtocells with New DSPs

A U.S.-based company today announced that it’s poised to introduce a pair of new, feature-rich digital signal processors that are expected to help femtocell equipment makers bring their goods to market more quickly.
Officials at Texas Instruments Incorporated say their two new DSPs – the TCI6485 and TCI6489 – using a software reference design from mimoOn and Continuous Computing, will help OEMs develop femtocell products that increasingly are in demand, as consumers seek more robust wireless connectivity to do things like stream video files, play games and share music.
Originally known as an “Access Point Base Station,” a femtocell is a small cellular bas station, typically designed for use in residential or small business environments, that connects to the service provider’s network through broadband. Generally speaking, a femtocell allows service providers to extend service coverage indoors.
During a briefing last week, the company’s strategic marketing manager for wireless infrastructure, Debbie Greenstreet, told MobilityTechzone that, supported by her company’s DSPs, femtocells could emerge as an evolutionary step for 3G and 4G wireless technologies, providing better coverage, faster data rates, lower network costs and the ability to deliver advanced services.
“The main benefit here is that we’re able to get a lot of functionality onto a single device,” Greenstreet said. “It’s a multi-core processor, but a single device.”
“What we’re announcing is that we’re offing two new devices that are specifically optimized for the femtocell space – in this case, the HSPA, 3G, WCMA space,” she continued. “The emergence of the 3G market is key. That seems to be the next sweet spot with respect to femtocell applications. With iPhones, smartphones and more and more 3G solutions coming out, mobile video demand is more challenging, and these operators need ways to manage that, to manage the backhaul and support customers with their applications.”
Here’s a big picture from TI of femtocells’ role in a network:
In this case, the TCI6485 includes two high-performance 850MHz C64x+ DSP cores delivering 1.7 GHz of overall performance for residential femtocell applications, and the TCI6489 has three 850MHz C64x DSPs delivering 2.55 GHz of performance for enterprise or “super femto” applications. (The TCI6485 likely would serve residential needs, supporting up to eight users, while the TCI6489 would serve enterprises, supporting up to 32 users.)
Importantly, each DSP works with all major 2G/3G and 4G systems, including GSM, CDMA, WCDMA, TD-SCDMA, WiMAX and LTE, and is code-compatible with other TI DSPs for the wireless infrastructure market, where any previous investments in macro or pico base stations can be reused.
The new TCI6489 three-core DSP and TCI6485 dual-core DSP will allow femtocell OEMs to use a single device for Layer 1, 2 and 3 processing, reducing the overall bill of materials by eliminating the requirement for a separate microprocessor. Also, optimized for enterprise femtocell applications, the TCI6489 includes three 850 MHz cores, four lanes of Antenna Interface to connect to the analog front end, 3MB of L2 memory and dedicated accelerators for chip rate and forward error correction processing.

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Michael Dinan is a contributing editor for MobilityTechzone, covering news in the IP communications, call center and customer relationship management industries. To read more of Michael's articles, please visit his columnist page.

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