Cambridge, UK and Cambridge, Mass., USA: To support picoChip’s reference design for the 3G femtocell market, Cambridge Consultants developed a basestation radio based on a consumer-grade handset component. The radio extends picoChip’s reference design for a 3G home basestation, giving developers a low-cost implementation for a global market that’s expected to grow to 100 million units per annum within the next few years.

Femtocell products make it possible for cellular operators to counter the competitive technologies of UMA (Universal Mobile Access) and VoWiFi (voiceover- WiFi). It also has the added advantage of allowing customers to use their existing standard cellular handsets.

The HSDPA/HSUPA-compatible WCDMA design breaks new ground by adapting an IC created for low-cost/high-volume handset applications to implement the high-specification basestation radio. It’s combined with an architectural split that exploits the very high computational performance available in the picoArray DSP device to perform the baseband and system control functions.

The resulting 3G home basestation design requires just these two major ICs, resulting in a bill of materials that meets the aggressive cost targets needed for this mass application. Alternative implementations can require more expensive carrierclass radio components, combined with processing cores based on both DSP and FPGA technologies.

The 3G basestation design supports HSDPA and HSUPA (high speed downlink packet access and uplink packet access) data rates of 7Mbits/s and 2Mbits/s, respectively.

PicoChip awarded the design contract to Cambridge Consultants due to the company’s experience in designing radios for highly cost-sensitive markets, such as 2G, ZigBee, DECT, and Bluetooth.

Primer tool strives to make development fun

Geneva, Switzerland: What’s dubbed as a self-contained, entertaining, and low-cost development package, the STM32 Primer for the STM32 Flash microcontroller family is based on the ARM Cortex M3 core.

Developed by STMicroelectronics, the STM32 handheld evaluation and development tool is designed to provide a fun and easy introduction to the features of the STM32. Its compact, stylised circular design, including a window through which you can see the STM32, is matched with sample applications. They include two games, access to a dedicated on-line community for sharing resources and experiences, as well as a RIDE7 integrated development environment.

New fab to produce power devices

Ishikawa, Japan: Toshiba Corp. and Kaga Toshiba Electronics Corp. opened the doors to a semiconductor production fab based on 200mm wafers at Kaga Toshiba, a consolidated subsidiary of Toshiba. The fab will concentrate on the production of power devices.

The fab is expected to ramp up to 60,000 wafers a month, and capacity may be further expanded to meet market growth. Toshiba Group’s semiconductor business covers three major product areas: system LSIs, memories, and discrete devices. Kaga Toshiba operates as a key Toshiba Group facility for discrete devices, carrying out product development and front- and back-end processes for small-signal devices and power devices.

VMETRO acquires Micro Memory

Buckinghamshire, England: VMETRO recently acquired 100% of the shares of Micro Memory. Micro Memory, a privately held company with headquarters in Chatsworth, Calif., USA, has provided board-level products for streaming signal and image processing, real-time data acquisition, memory nodes, and Enterprise Network Storage for over 30 years. VMETRO offers products that range from embedded computing and data recording to storage and protocol analysers.

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