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Picochip announces volume shipments of PC333 basestation-on-a-chip

CTIA WIRELESS, ORLANDO, US & BATH, UK – 21 MARCH 2011 – Picochip has announced that it has commenced volume production of the PC333, the industry’s most advanced basestation-on-a-chip solution. The PC333 is the only SoC currently available for the new breed of ‘small cell’ and ‘metro cell’ basestations, which are re-defining the fundamental architecture of mobile networks.

Integrating an optimized silicon implementation and proven, robust software into a complete system, the PC333 has enabled Picochip to take small cells beyond the home and into the mainstream network. The PC333 is being deployed now by carriers in Europe, America and Asia - making Picochip the only company currently shipping a small-cell basestation-on-a-chip. This new approach delivers capacity and coverage exactly where operators need it; in areas where deploying a macrocell would be impractical or too expensive, and in busy city centres, train stations and business districts.

In particular, small cells allow carriers to serve the rapidly growing demand for data services. Operators face explosive growth in data traffic (doubling every year according to Cisco, with a 1000X increase by 2020): Optimized small cell basestations use femtocell technology and SoCs to increase data capacity cost-effectively.

“Carriers urgently need more capacity,” commented Caroline Gabriel, Research Director of Rethink Research. “Operator-deployed small-cells enabled with femto technology benefit from the economies of scale gained from the residential femtocell market, field-proven modems and plug-and-play provisioning to reduce both CapEx and OpEx. With its market position Picochip can leverage both residential femtocell volume and its field-proven PHY to make that happen.”

The launch last year of the PC333 led to a major shake-up in the telecom semiconductor industry, with rival chip makers scrambling to announce competing basestation-on-a-chip devices.

“The PC333 is more than just hardware, more than just a scaled-down macrocell, and more than just slideware,” said Rupert Baines, VP Marketing at Picochip. “Femto technology and Picochip silicon has brought the $40bn wireless infrastructure market to the brink of a disruptive change. I’m expecting the same kind of fallout in the basestation industry as there was in the computer industry thirty years ago, as people move from in-house solutions to optimized SoCs and open-market software. And, as happened in the computer market, companies that fail to embrace the changes get left behind.”

Expressly designed for high-performance small cell (metro cell, picocell) applications, the PC333 has a higher specification than any other femtocell chip today. It supports up to 32 simultaneous channels in a single device, and two devices can be cascaded to make a 64-channel system. Picochip’s smartSignaling(TM) technology allows the PC333 basestation-on-a-chip to support a dramatically larger number of connected smartphones. The PC333 is the only femtocell chip to support Release 8 HSPA+ (42Mbps downlink, 11 Mbps uplink), Local Area Basestation (LABS) performance, together with features including soft handover, receive diversity and MIMO. The PC333 can operate as a femtocell, with integrated RNC and Iuh interface, or as a classical picocell with Iub interface; in both cases it uses Picochip’s field-proven, robust PHY. The product runs on a 700MHz ARM chip with TrustZone and variety of specialized hardware features for security. It sampled to lead customers in 3Q2010 and is now generally available.

The device is part of the industry’s widest range of SoCs for small-cell access points. These range from optimized devices for high-volume, cost-sensitive residential applications, that enable new form factors such as USB femtocells, through enterprise-grade high-performance products, to fully-featured public access basestation devices. Picochip has shipped more than a million devices in its basestation-on-a-chip family, making it one of the most widely deployed technologies in wireless networks.

Additional information about all Chrontel products can be found on the web at

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