Thursday, April 4, 2013

Vendor proprietary ASICs dominate metrocell baseband SoCs

USA: ABI Research expects sales of baseband processors for small cells to follow two distinct roadmaps.

The baseband SoC for the consumer and enterprise femtocell small cell is becoming increasingly targeted at cost-effective, very high-volume equipment, while the baseband SoC for public access or metrocell equipment, which is targeted at a higher price and feature points, will sell in smaller volumes.

The difference in price points is explained by the fact that enterprise and consumer femtocells are, as the name implies, consumer grade and with performance levels much less than their metrocell cousins, less costly components can be used.

Conversely, public access metrocells are ruggedized, often for outdoor use, and come with advanced features which allow them to handle many simultaneous subscribers often in simultaneous multimode 3G/LTE, and increasingly Wi-Fi, at much higher RF power levels than a femtocell.

“We believe the differences between enterprise and consumer small cell equipment and public access small cell equipment are such that the definitions of the SoCs that equip them will diverge with the differing price and performance points bifurcating the market. We have arguably witnessed the first step in this with Broadcom announcing RF transceiver integration on its 3G BCM61630, an industry first for small cell SoCs,” says Nick Marshall, principal analyst.

In the overall small cell market ABI Research estimates that Mindspeed ranks number 1 in small cell baseband market share, followed by Texas Instruments, and Broadcom. However, when public access metrocells are analyzed as a separate category vendor proprietary ASIC solutions attract the top market share, followed by Freescale and Texas Instruments.

“This is because vendors such as Huawei, Ericsson, and Samsung and to some extent, Nokia Siemens Networks, all are using ASICs in their designs, particularly in their picocell and microcell products,” continues Marshall.

Market share by protocol also splits the vendors with number 1 ranked Mindspeed dominating 3G small cells closely followed by Broadcom. The picture changes for LTE with Freescale attracting over 50 percent share followed by Texas Instruments in the number 2 position.

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