Munich, Germany and Barcelona, Spain – February 13, 2006 – The latest chip from Infineon Technologies AG (FSE/NYSE: IFX) reduces the number of electronic components in a basic mobile phone from about 100 to fewer than 50. In addition to providing the user the basic ability to make telephone calls and send and receive SMS (Short Message Service) messages, it also supports playback of polyphonic ringtones. Infineon’s E-GOLDvoice™ single-chip solution combines a baseband processor, radio frequency transceiver, power management unit and RAM in a footprint measuring just 8 mm x 8 mm, achieving a new record level of silicon integration for mobile communications. Until now, these components were several separate chips that occupied roughly double the area of the E-GOLDvoice chip.
The E-GOLDvoice chip is the heart of Infineon’s second generation platform for ultra low-cost handsets, ULC2. This platform can lower the bill-of-material costs for an ultra low-cost mobile phone by approximately 20 percent, from about US $20 using a currently available Infineon platform to below US $16. Included in these costs are the complete telephone with all its electronic components, printed circuit board, connectors, casing with keypad and display, all software components, rechargeable batteries, charger, packaging, and operating manual.
E-GOLDvoice, the most highly integrated GSM chip available today, shrinks the space required for the electronics in a mobile handset to just four square centimeters. This extends Infineon’s lead in shrinking the chip size and component requirements for GSM phones. The company introduced a first-generation platform in 2005 that fits into a mere nine square centimeters and is due to appear in ultra low-cost handsets in the middle of 2006.
Market estimates for ultra low-cost handsets
According to the latest research from the U.S. market research company Strategy Analytics, the cellular industry is on course for 2.5 billion subscribers by the end of 2006, and 3.5 billion by the end of 2010 (Report, "Worldwide Cellular User Forecasts, 2005-2010”, January 2006). While many people want to be able to communicate on the move, they may not be as interested in technical gadgetry, such as a camera function, mobile games, Internet browser, or recording and playing back video sequences. There is a growing demand for inexpensive, easy-to-use handsets with SMS functionality, offering ringtones and wallpapers the user can download individually.
According to Strategy Analytics, more than 150 million ultra low-cost handsets costing less than US $40 wholesale are expected to be sold worldwide in 2010.
Technical details on E-GOLDvoice and ULC2 reference platform
The E-GOLDvoice chip includes the baseband processor, the radio frequency (RF) transceiver, RAM memory, and the entire power management unit for the mobile phone. It supports playback of polyphonic ringtones and, with its state-of-the-art mobile radio software, provides support for AMR (Adaptive Multi Rate) and SAIC (Single Antenna Interference Cancellation). AMR is a voice codec for audio data compression with which voice and sounds can be recorded and replayed, and the voice quality can be adapted to the utilization of the radio cell. SAIC reduces disturbed voice connections and, at the same time, increases the utilization of the radio cell. AMR and SAIC enable the network operator to optimize the network running costs while also providing outstanding voice quality.
Infineon’s ULC2 reference platform for ultra low-cost handsets conforming to the GSM900/1800 and GSM850/1900 standards includes all the electronic hardware and software components necessary for a mobile phone: E-GOLDvoice, other RF components, flash memory, operating system, hardware drivers, and GSM protocol stack with a reference MMI (Man-Machine Interface) for easy, intuitive use of SMS and telephone functions. The platform provides a broad range of development, production and service tools. In addition to a large number of Western languages, it also supports Arabic, Chinese and Hindi. One advantage of the tools is that local customization of languages, fonts and icons can be done after the production process when the phone has reached its target market. This helps the mobile phone vendors optimize their logistics costs.
The ULC2 platform supports monochrome and color displays and enables downloading of ringtones and images from the Internet. Inexpensive, commercially available rechargeable batteries, such as nickel metal hydride (NiMH) AAA cells, can be used for powering the handset. Using today’s typical mobile phone batteries, these ultra low-cost handsets will have a standby time of more than ten days, with talk time stretching to more than four hours.
Availability of E-GOLDvoice and ULC2
Samples of the E-GOLDvoice chip in a 189-pin leadfree package are expected to be available in mid-2006. The ULC2 platform is scheduled to be available at the end of 2006.
You can find further information on Infineon’s products for mobile communications at: