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Freescale, TI and Cavium lead race to integrate processors for LTE microcells

As mobile service providers build out their networks to keep pace with the wireless data explosion, chipmakers for wireless base station are fielding innovations that integrate the work of several chipsets into one. Within a year, network operators will be able to build micro base stations with a single processor capable of supporting up to 1,200 simultaneous users.

According to a new report released by The Linley Group, three processors announced to date have the capacity to integrate all the functions of a 4G microcell. They are the Cavium (CAVM) Octeon Fusion CNF7280, Freescale’s (FSL) QorIQ Converge B4860 and Texas Instrument’s (TXN) Keystone II TMS320TCI6636. All of these support LTE and LTE-Advanced, as well as multimode operation with 3G equipment. All are scheduled for production next year, with Freescale’s product expected to be the first to ship.

Right now many 4G microcells are portable base stations, used in sports arenas or at other major events that will strain even an LTE network. But as smartphone and tablet users continue to demand more and more data, especially video, operators know they will need denser networks. AT&T (T) is reportedly interested in purchasing up to 100,000 small cell base stations that support LTE, 3G and Wi-Fi.

For the equipment providers like Alcatel-Lucent (ALU), Ericsson (ERIC), Huawei (SHE) and others who make small cell base stations, packing more power into less space is one of the best ways to control costs. These are the customers that will be taking a close look at the integrated base station chips currently heading into production.

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Martha DeGrasse
Martha DeGrasse is the publisher of Network Builder Reports ( At RCR, Martha authored more than 20 in-depth feature reports and more than 2,400 news articles. She also created the Mobile Minute and the 5 Things to Know Today series. Prior to joining RCR Wireless News, Martha produced business and technology news for CNN and Dow Jones in New York and managed the online editorial group at Hoover’s Online before taking a number of years off to be at home when her children were young. Martha is the board president of Austin's Trinity Center and is a member of the Women's Wireless Leadership Forum.

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