Wireless Technologies Merge On Future ICs

WELLINGBOROUGH, UKThe inclusion of multiple wireless technologies on a single integrated circuit (IC) is becoming increasingly common. Broadcom's recently announced IEEE 802.11n WiFi, Bluetooth, and FM combination has ensured that this issue remains a hot topic. Clearly, the wireless industry is moving at an impressively quick pace. As a result, a lot has changed since IMS Research published its first combination IC report.

The inclusion of IEEE 802.11 wireless local-area networking (WLAN) as an option for Bluetooth high speed has contributed to reduced momentum for Ultra Wideband or UWB (ECMA-386), as evidenced by the loss of support from industry heavyweight Intel and prominent startup WiQuest. Yet the inclusion of IEEE 802.11 into Bluetooth high speed, WiBree into the Bluetooth low-energy specification, and the consolidation experienced in various technology markets (such as GPS) means that certain companieswhich were not previously anticipated to include such technologies in a single ICare more likely to do so in the future.

Lisa Arrowsmith, Research Analyst with IMS, commented, "The combination of such factors means that the future will bring increasingly more chipsets that include several wireless solutions."

The future for ICs with multiple wireless functionality is not straightforward. The crux of the issue is trying to conclude which technologies to integrate to best satisfy the needs of which applications. Technologies with similar attach rates and specification maturity levels appear to be well suited. Yet this is exactly where the difficulties arise regarding the technology combinations in which a company should invest. Given the expansive time that it can take from idea conception to end-device shipment, there is a strong likelihood that these attach rates and specification maturity levels will have changed.

Companies that foresee the future needs of end users and creatively combine technologies into unique ICs could be most successful going forward. In contrast, companies currently designing products for today's users' may miss out on the market for tomorrow's consumers.' This is why it is so important that companies are able to accurately anticipate future customer requirements, technology developments, and market changes.

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