Tuesday, November 11, 2008

New processor could cut future smartphone costs

Sandbridge Technologies plans to announce that its new baseband processor for cell phones, the SB3500, is being shipped to cell phone manufacturers around the world. The original article gets a little wordy and technical, but basically instead of using four separate chips for a phone’s 3G wireless connectivity, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and GPS, manufacturers will be able to put these functions onto a single chip. And guess what? Less hardware usually equals lower prices.

“Because we allow manufacturers to pack more functionality into a single chip, we can reduce the cost of those phones by about 15 percent,” said Tanuj Raja, vice president of business development for Sandbridge.

The fact that this chip is software-programmable also means that when new technologies like 4G wireless are introduced, cell phone makers can react quickly and get devices out the door much faster. Hopefully, these lower manufacturing costs will be passed onto us, or at the very least, manufacturers will add more functionality without jacking up the prices.

Although Sandbridge competitors like Texas Instruments and NXP Semiconductors have tried to develop similar processors, they have either been unable to produce a chip that can process fast enough or the chips consume too much power and aren’t suitable for mobile devices. Score one for Sandbridge!

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