picoChip today launched the PC7300, a complete femtocell hardware reference design that is said to combine the industry’s lowest system costs and power consumption with the fastest possible time to market. Based on the field-proven PC3xx picoXcell family of femtocell devices, the PC7300 cuts bill of materials (BoM) costs to under $50 and requires less than 5W total power, making it the only femtocell solution on the market today capable of being integrated into gateway devices.

Optimized for high-volume manufacture, the PC7300 is based on open industry standards, allowing developers to choose from a wide range of picoChip and third-party stack software offerings, while simultaneously enabling fast and easy production of residential femtocells to meet rapidly growing market demand. The PC7300 is available now, reducing the total component cost of a 3G femtocell – including the picoXcell baseband device, memory, radio and PA, interface and power subsystems and PCB – to less than $50.

“picoChip has the widest range of complete, field proven femtocell solutions, with devices from cost-effective residential to the highest performance systems for enterprise & public access,” remarked Rupert Baines, picoChip’s VP of Marketing. “The market has reached a level of maturity and growth that means ODMs need a complete hardware reference design optimized to address the key factors of cost and power. With the PC7300, picoChip is helping developers to deliver the lowest cost, complete femtocell products and to bring them to market as quickly as possible. Our partners can base their product on the proven, manufacturable, low-cost platform to implement their own, picoChip or third party software, and focus their effort on product differentiation.”

Baines continued, “Femtocells are addressing an increasingly wide range of applications, from coverage problems to solving the ‘data deluge’ with mobile offload. As such, forward-looking manufacturers are now looking at options of integrating value-added femtocell functions into other devices such as home gateways and the PC7300 is ideal for these opportunities. In the future, we see a variety of form-factors emerging for femtocells – for instance approaches like USB – and we will have reference designs to support those too.”

In optimizing the PC7300 for high-volume ODM production, picoChip has incorporated a full manufacturing test solution. picoChip and Agilent recently announced a collaboration to deliver rapid calibration and verification testing capabilities for original design manufacturers (ODMs) and contract manufacturers (CMs). The jointly developed test solution is based on picoChip’s picoXcell semiconductors and PC6201 software and Agilent’s N7310A chipset software.

The new PC7300 hardware reference design forms part of the industry’s most complete range of femtocell access point solutions, a range that draws on the industry-leading, low-cost picoChip PC302 processor for residential systems, the PC312 and PC313 for SMEs and high-end consumer femtocells, and the enterprise grade PC323.

The PC7300 integrates all of the hardware required to implement a four or eight-user residential femtocell, from antenna to backhaul. It includes the PCB and associated schematics and layout, populated with a picoXcell baseband processor, memory, RF circuitry and passive components. The board includes an external MII / Ethernet interface, and optionally features software GPS, integrated NTP and software USIM. With its very low requirement for additional components and small footprint, the PC7300 provides a very cost-effective and complete residential femtocell solution.

Analysts say that the global femtocell market is growing rapidly, and predict this growth to continue. For example, Dell'Oro recently published a report forecasting that revenues from femtocell deployments worldwide will generate $4 billion by 2014, ushered in by a significant increase of shipments next year with an inflection point in 2012. Shipments should reach 62 million in 2014, the firm said, and more than 80 percent of the femtocells shipped will be WCDMA. According to the Femto Forum, 17 operators have deployed femtocells, with a further five committed to future launches, bringing the total to 22.

picoChip is the industry’s leading supplier of femtocell technology and silicon, shipping in volume for use on multiple carriers’ networks. The company’s picoXcell SoCs crystallize five years’ experience in the field; its picoArray(TM) programmable wireless processors are class-leading, flexible, programmable solutions for any wireless standard, including GSM, HSPA, TD-SCDMA, WiMAX, cdma2000, LTE and LTE-Advanced. Over the last 18 months the company has grown into the leading provider of femtocell technology with its chips in the majority of today's commercially available femtocells. picoChip is the only femtocell chip company shipping to multiple carrier deployments in high volume, and announced in June it had passed the milestone of one-million chips shipped.

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