Should Broadcom’s new LTE-Advanced modem make Qualcomm start worrying?

February 12, 2013
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    Broadcom is a company that doesn’t make a lot of headlines because their chips usually don’t get used in high end devices. Today however, they dropped a bombshell. The company has just announced a brand new 28 nanometer modem called the BCM21892. Boring name aside, it’s said to be 35% smaller than anything currently being pumped out by Qualcomm. It also supports damn near every wireless standard under the sun, including “LTE FDD and TDD, LTE-Advanced with carrier aggregation, HSPA+, TD-SCDMA and EDGE/GSM.”

    Now all of this sounds great, right? Small problem. Samples are only now starting to go out, and production isn’t expected to happen until 2014. By that time Qualcomm’s MDM9x25 will be in millions of smartphones. What is the MDM9x25? It’s basically the BCM21892, except that it was announced in February 2012. No one’s memory stretches that far back, sadly.

    So which companies are going to use the BCM21892? Handset makers who are already familiar with Qualcomm will probably have little reason to even consider using Broadcom’s modem, but don’t take that as an admission of defeat. Any competition is good competition, and Qualcomm needs some pressure put on them to keep their standards high.

    Is there any good news in today’s announcement from Broadcom? Yes. Broadcom has finally figured out how to make an advanced modem. The modem itself isn’t interesting, but the first system on chip Broadcom announces that integrates this modem will definitly be something that’ll turn some heads. When exactly would such a chip be announced? The world’s largest mobile convention is in two weeks, so it’s not that hard to guess.

    But again, what will Qualcomm announce at the show? What will NVIDIA? Will Intel blow people’s heads? So many unanswered questions here. We hope to be able to get some answers for you in a few short weeks.

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