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Silicon Advances Could Propel China's Nascent 3G Market

A new chip set, dubbed Mars, comes with added firepower for handling multimedia and Web-based applications and will soon be available in China.
TAIPEI, Taiwan — Two companies focused on China’s domestic third-generation mobile standard have made advances this week with silicon platforms badly needed by system vendors to seed the emerging market.

Commit Inc., a Shanghai-based joint venture back by Texas Instruments, DBTel and LG Electronics, is releasing its second-generation TD-SCDMA chip set, dubbed Mars, that comes with added firepower for handling multimedia and Web-based applications.

Mars is a single-chip, dual-core digital baseband with 260-MHz ARM9 and DSP processors, and is integrated with multimedia codecs, including JPEG, MP3, MPEG-4 and H.263.

The company said it hard-wired the major functions of the physical layer communications in order to reduce power consumption. The chip set also provides necessary interfaces to connect to peripherals such as USB, camera, WLAN, IrDA and Bluetooth.

Volume production for Mars is expected later this year and handsets will be available for trials early next year.

This week, LG also released a handset based, in part, on Commit’s first-generation chip set. The phone supports TD-SCDMA, WCDMA and GSM standards, using TD-SCDMA silicon from Commit and WCDMA/GSM silicon from LG. Bird, DBTel and Lenovo are finalizing prototype testing of their own TD-SCDMA handsets based on Commit technology, the company said.

If 3G services are launched in China next year, Commit believes the number of TD-SCDMA subscribers in China will rise from 15 million in 2006 to 200 million in 2009 — or about 30 percent of the total mobile phone market.


On another front, Beijing-based T3G Technology — backed by Philips, Datang Mobile and Samsung Electronics — said its TD-SCDMA chip set had demonstrated HSDPA (High Speed Downlink Packet Access) capability in a high-speed data transmission during interoperability tests with TD-SCDMA infrastructure vendors Datang and ZTE Corp.

The company said it will release commercial-grade, HSDPA-capable TD-SCDMA chip sets and system solutions featuring single-carrier data rate support of up to 2.8 Mbps in the second half of 2006.