Leveraging GF’s 22FDX® FD-SOI technology, GlobalFoundries and Verisilicon are developing IP to enable a complete cellular modem module on a single chip, including integrated baseband, power management, RF radio and front-end module combining both Narrowband IoT (NB-IoT) and LTE-M capabilities. (Read the full press release here.) The new approach is expected to deliver significant improvements in power, area, and cost compared to current offerings.
The companies say this will be the industry’s first single-chip IoT solution for next-generation Low Power Wide Area (LPWA) networks. LPWA technology takes advantage of the existing LTE spectrum and mobile infrastructure, but focuses on delivering ultra-low power, extended range, and much lower data rates for devices that transmit small amounts of infrequent data, such as connected water and gas meters.
The two leading LPWA connectivity standards are LTE-M, which is expected to get traction in the U.S. market, and NB-IoT, which is gaining ground in Europe and Asia. For example, the Chinese government has targeted NB-IoT for nationwide deployment over the coming year. The combination of these two technologies is expected to push cellular M2M module shipments to nearly half a billion by 2021, according to ABI Research.
“Integrated with RF and PA on GF 22FDX, the baseband and protocol stack are being implemented on our energy efficient and programmable ZSPnano that is optimized for control and data flow with powerful low latency, single cycle instructions for signal processing,” said Wayne Dai, VeriSilicon Chairman, President and CEO. “GF’s new 300 mm fab for FDX in Chengdu and IP platforms such as this single chip solution for integrated NB-IoT and LTE-M, will have significant impact on China IoT and AIoT (AI of Things) industries.”
GF and VeriSilicon expect to tape out a test chip based on the integrated solution, with silicon validation in Q4 2017. The companies plan to pursue carrier certification in mid-2018.