Hosted by Alix Paultre, the Tinker's Toolbox is the Advantage Design Group's web-based interview show where we talk about the latest technology, components, and design issues for the electronic design engineering community.
In this episode we talk to Brian Glinsman from Texas Instruments about metro, pico and enterprise small cell base stations. We'll also talk about TI’s new small cell SoCs that are enabled with production-ready software and with a mix of processing elements including radio accelerators, network and security coprocessors, combined fixed-and floating-point digital signal processors (DSPs) and an ARM® RISC processor.
Here is a link to the podcast in case the play button is not visible: TI Interview 
Here is the press release on the product family:
Texas Instruments unveiled the TMS320TCI6612 and TMS320TCI6614, presented as the industry’s most comprehensive System-on-Chips (SoCs) for developers of metro, pico and enterprise small cell base stations. TI’s new small cell SoCs are enabled with production ready software and are the highest performing devices available for small cells. Based on TI’s innovative KeyStone multicore architecture, these scalable SoCs encompass a mix of processing elements including radio accelerators, network and security coprocessors, combined fixed-and floating-point digital signal processors (DSPs) and an ARM® RISC processor, providing the ideal foundation for layers 1, 2 and 3 and transport processing for high performance small cell base stations.
“Intelligent small cells are the future of public-space mobile data, but their self-organizing capabilities and high traffic environments place huge demands on processing power,” said Chris Gilbert, CEO, Ubiquisys. “TI’s small cell solution combines dual-mode 3G/LTE flexibility with massive processing power, and harnesses their unparalleled expertise in powering macro networks. We found a true roadmap partner in TI, not just a silicon vendor.”
Delivering a comprehensive solution for faster development time
The TCI6612 and TCI6614 SoCs leverage TI’s broad resources to bring the most comprehensive portfolio of processing, software and complimentary support devices to small cell developers. The devices are powered by an all-inclusive software suite, based on TI’s field-proven wireless application specific libraries, and a full portfolio of complementary analog products such as data converters, RF products, power management, clocks and amplifiers, which complete the integrated solution for small cell developers, reducing system cost and development time. The TCI6612 and TCI6614’s processing elements include two or four TMS320C66x fixed- and floating-point DSP cores, as well as a power efficient ARM Cortex™-A8 RISC processor. The ARM core is typically used for control plane processing. The remaining base station functions, including all baseband and packet processing, are handled by the DSP cores coupled with configurable wireless, network and security coprocessors.
“As the mobile market continues to grow, the underlying infrastructure is experiencing greater pressures associated with form factor, performance and power consumption,” said Ian Drew, executive vice president of marketing, ARM. “Texas Instruments’ use of the ARM Cortex-A8 provides new levels of energy efficiency and higher performance to the small cell base station market.”
The TCI6612 and TCI6614 SoCs are code compatible with TI’s entire KeyStone multicore portfolio, as well the TMS320C64x DSP generation, ensuring all previous software investments made by TI customers can be reused. This flexibility allows base station manufacturers to develop a wide portfolio of products at a lower cost, lower power, and in less time than with competing solutions.
Unleashing big performance for small cells
The TCI6612 and TCI6614 SoCs deliver an ideal mix of features for the development of high performance small cell base stations, including:
• Full LTE and HSPA+ data rate support
• Programmable capacity for spectrum optimization
• Enhanced coverage with high data rate mobility
TI’s long-standing history and success in the base station market empowers small cell developers to handle large amounts of data traffic with unmatched ease. The TCI6612 and TCI6614 SoCs feature network coprocessors which offload the processing of intensive functions typically performed by DSPs. This frees up MIPs for differentiating features, such as advanced interference cancellation and management techniques, which reduce noise on wireless networks. With TI’s new SoCs developers can differentiate their products and come closer than ever before to the boundary of Shannon’s Law which defines the limits of wireless data capacity. The result is increased spectral efficiency and higher data rates for operators and a more satisfying user experience. Until today, this kind of performance was beyond the reach of small cell base station manufacturers.
“It’s heartening to see that TI doesn’t view reaching the limits of Shannon’s Law as “fait accompli,” said Stéphane Téral, principal analyst of mobile and FMC infrastructure, Infonetics Research. “With their new small cell SoCs, TI has shown again the ability of the KeyStone architecture to unleash processing power for the issues operators care about. Spectral efficiency matters as much in small cells as in macro cells. TI just gets it.”
Easing operators’ migration with dual-mode support
For operators, simultaneous dual-mode support enables parallel execution of two standards supporting deployments such as WCDMA and LTE in a single base station. This allows them to efficiently support 3G to 4G migration and lower CAPEX/OPEX costs by eliminating the need for equipment dedicated to each standard and the need to perform physical upgrades in the field. In addition, the TCI6612 and TCI6614 SoCs are pin and software compatible, offering manufacturers complete flexibility in designing simultaneous dual-mode and multistandard base stations supporting all major 2G, 3G and 4G systems including GSM, CDMA, WCDMA, TD-SCDMA, WiMAX, FDD-LTE and TDD-LTE.
TI’s KeyStone Multicore Architecture
Texas Instruments’ KeyStone multicore architecture is the platform for true multicore innovation, offering developers a robust portfolio of high performance, low-power multicore devices. Unleashing breakthrough performance, the Keystone architecture is the foundation upon which TI’s new TMS320C66x DSP generation was developed. KeyStone differs from any other multicore architecture as it has the capacity to provide full processing capability to every core in a multicore device. KeyStone-based devices are optimized for high performance markets including wireless base stations, mission critical, test and automation, medical imaging and high performance computing. Learn more at www.ti.com/c66multicore .