IBM and Mitsubishi Electric Corporation to Develop Low-Power Chips for Next-Generation Cell Phones

Select a topic or year

East Fishkill, NY - 21 May 2001: IBM today announced a technology agreement with Mitsubishi Electric Corporation intended to accelerate the introduction of high-performance, low-power microchips for third-generation (3G) cellular telephones.

Under the multi-year joint development agreement, IBM and Mitsubishi Electric are designing radio frequency integrated circuit (RFIC) chipsets for 3G wireless handsets. The highly-integrated chipsets will be based on Mitsubishi Electric's cellular circuit and system expertise, and manufactured by IBM using its industry-leading silicon germanium (SiGe) communications chip technology. Mitsubishi Electric intends to incorporate the 3G RFICs into its next-generation cellular products.

"Unprecedented demand for increased performance and functionality from wireless communications products is outstripping the capabilities of conventional semiconductor technologies," said Dr. Gary Patton, director of wireless business for IBM Microelectronics. "Our work with Mitsubishi can help speed the introduction of advanced 3G phones fueled by complex chips built with IBM's unique SiGe technology."

The new SiGe chipsets IBM and Mitsubishi Electric are developing include 3G receiver and transmitter parts optimized to efficiently manage high frequency signals while reducing power consumption and overall system cost through high-levels of integration.

Designing 3G RFICs with IBM's SiGe technology allows Mitsubishi Electric to combine multiple chips into complex, integrated parts--significantly reducing the number of chips required by its 3G handsets. In addition, IBM's SiGe technology is expected to help the 3G chipsets consume less power, compared to competitive manufacturing technologies, thereby extending cell phone battery life and talk time.

"Mitsubishi Electric is pleased to be collaborating with IBM to develop and introduce a compelling leadership solution for the emerging 3G cellular market," said Dr. Kenji Itoh, section manager, Next-Generation Radio Terminal Development Department of Mitsubishi Electric Corporation. "We believe that our 3G handsets will be very competitive due to the unique low-power and high-performance attributes of Mitsubishi Electric's circuit and system technologies and IBM's mature SiGe communications technology."

Existing cellular networks are quickly becoming overwhelmed and vendors like Mitsubishi Electric are rapidly developing phones to operate on the forthcoming 3G wireless protocol which will accommodate many new users. IBM's SiGe is uniquely optimized to power complex chips designed to deliver the high frequency performance next-generation cell phones need to operate across the expanded 3G communications spectrum.

Additionally, wireless networks are rapidly evolving from solely voice (or data) communications to an integrated voice/data model. Consequently, next-generation wireless products must handle not only voice communications, but many other advanced features such as e-mail, video conferencing, and Internet access. IBM's SiGe technology can help Mitsubishi Electric meet this goal by enabling circuit designers to incorporate unmatched levels of logic and functions onto a single, high-performance communications chip.

Engineers from Mitsubishi Electric and IBM design teams in Lowell, Mass., and Encinitas, Calif., are actively developing the SiGe-based 3G chipsets. IBM will manufacture the chips at its Burlington, Vt. facility and intends to ship the SiGe chipsets in volume to Mitsubishi Electric in 4Q 2001.