Que Sera Sera, icera!

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Aha, here goes..


So let me add one more company to the already long-list of suitors that I have put up in this forum. Welcome icera semiconductors!

It is almost as if the company gels with the Apple brand rightaway with the latter's trade-mark 'i'! Jokes apart, icera has been talking for a while about having the industry-best HSDPA solution. And now they claim that an independent industry evaluation has come up with the same conclusion. They are indicated to be better than QualComm's next generation MSM7200. What is more, their Livanto® wireless soft modem, as the name indicates is completely software-centric. This is again something that Apple will like since they can then potentially look at designing a universal solution which does not need a different base-band chip for different regions. And that is not all, they offer dual-mode 2G/3G capabilities currently making them a ripe candidate fo V2. Their claims about lower power consumption is also a great plus.

This being said, icera only offers a 3GPP solution. So Apple, if they want to enter the CDMA2000 evolution path, would currently have to look beyond icera, presumably QualComm. But nothing prevents icera, with a guarantee from Apple, to license the CDMA IP from QualComm and develop their own solution using the know-hows from their WCDMA development. The second draw-back of course is the lack of an integrated Wi-Fi and GPS chipset. Another fine-point is that the performance demonstrated is for a two-antenna solution while Apple V2 is likely to be a one-antenna solution. So after all, their best-performing modem may not be compatible with Apple's plans. Nonetheless, they seem to have the capabilities to switch to the other receiver which should serve the iPhone's purpose. Also, my point is that if the solution is feasible for Apple (I mention feasibility because I am not sure if icera will have the economy of scales to match the bigger bidders in the pricing wars), the latter is more likely to retain the flexibility of a software upgrade for other softwares while also obtaining cheap Wi-Fi and GPS licenses from either their existing customers or their cut-throat competitors.

It seems that icera has something unique to sell. They may be rightly positioned to supply base-band capabilities to a lot of the smart-phones of the future. Most notably, a contract from Apple can make this UK-based soft-radio company the next hot property in wireless.

Posted by Vijay Nagarajan at 12:16 AM  


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