Keysight Technologies recently signed an agreement with the Chinese wireless chip maker Spreadtrum Communications to develop tests for current and future generations of mobile chips. The companies made the announcement earlier this week at Mobile World Congress trade show in Barcelona.
As part of the deal, the companies will establish a research facility in China focused on the development of radio frequency and conformance tests for wireless chips. The engineers at the new facility will work on “highly integrated, power-efficient chipsets with customizable software,” said Leo Li, Spreadtrum's chief executive, in a statement.
The research will target Spreadtrum’s 2G through 4G chips, but both companies plan to expand the relationship to new products, like multiple-input multiple-output (MIMO) radios, a major component of fifth-generation, or 5G, wireless technology. Spreadtrum and Keysight engineers will also work on wideband DPD, VoLTE, and VoWi-Fi tests.
In recent years, China’s government has invested aggressively in the country’s native chip industry, as it seeks to reduce its dependence on foreign parts for everything from smartphones to televisions. According to China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, the country imported more than $231 billion of chips in 2014.
The Chinese government has devoted over $170 billion to advance the country’s chip industry, according to estimates from research firm McKinsey and Company. The plan, according to China’s National IC Industry Development Outline, is to transform China into the world's leading chip supplier by 2030.
Ron Nersesian, Keysight’s president and chief executive, said that the deal would give the company a better understanding of China’s chip industry and its testing needs. Doing so will allow the company “to lead the technology exploration of China’s fabless customers,” he added. The firm has already sent engineers to Shanghai to get started on the new facility, which is expected to open in May.