Altair facilitating the transformation of LTE from a premium feature to a mass market one
Altair Semiconductor recently announced that its FourGee-3100/6202 chipset was selected to connect the new HP Chromebook 11.6” LTE to the Verizon Wireless 4G LTE network. LteWorld interviewed Eran Eshed, co-founder and VP of Marketing and Business Development, about Altair Semiconductor's LTE offerings and future roadmap.
Can you give us an update on Altair Semiconductor's current focused areas in the LTE domain?
Altair’s focus has not changed since we started our LTE chipset development in 2006 – introduce high performance, affordable LTE-only semiconductors which would enable the connectivity of any computing, consumer, or M2M device to the Internet/cloud. We view the migration from 3G to 4G networks as a discontinuity in the evolution of wireless networks, somewhat similar to the migration from wired narrowband analog modems to broadband Cable/DSL – however at a much larger magnitude. To fuel this revolution, significantly lower cost 4G semiconductors are required than the semiconductors offered today by large multimode suppliers; this is what we do at Altair: facilitate the transformation of LTE from a premium feature to a mass market one.
HP, Google recently selected Altair Semiconductor for LTE Chromebook, what does Altair expect from it?
The integration of our technology in such a product is a very strong endorsement of our product. The process of getting designed into this platform has obviously not been simple, and we had to demonstrate best-in-class performance, stability, power consumption and quality to have been selected. This recent win joins our previous win with the Verizon Wireless Ellipsis 7 tablet and is part of an emerging trend of integrating 4G-only connectivity as opposed to 3G+4G in order to lower the cost and simplify/shorten time to market for such products. Since Altair is the single-mode LTE market leader today, we do expect to capitalize on this trend and grow our business.
Tell us more about the chipset being used in the LTE Chromebook.
The chipset in this device is our FourGee-3100/6202. This is a baseband/RF combo chipset that we have been shipping in the market for over 2 years in volume. It is a very flexible chipset supporting all variants of LTE globally, i.e. both FDD and TDD LTE in any frequency band between 700-2700MHz. In other words, this chipset is a true world-solution enabling roaming and operation in any market. This chipset had been certified by the largest LTE operators in the world, including Softbank in Japan, China Mobile, Megafone/Yota in Russia, Vodafone Germany, Reliance in India, and of course, Verizon Wireless.
Does Altair Semiconductor plan to release multi-mode LTE chipsets as well in near future?
We are not planning on doing so at this point. We believe the trend of migrating away from older 3G networks will increase over time, and other than smartphones most data-centric applications will migrate to LTE-only in the coming 3-4 years. This is where our market focus is; this is where our value is. This is a huge market for us, especially considering the extent of the “Internet of Things” that is starting to emerge and the potential of unit shipments it holds.
What is Altair Semiconductor's current LTE market reach and growth plans?
Altair has a very wide deployment and carrier approval footprint. Our device partners are shipping products in the US, Brazil, Germany, Russia, Japan, China and India to name a few, and there are multiple carrier trials and pre-deployments in progress. We have recently launched a new chipset, which is the industry’s most advanced single mode LTE chipset in terms of features and performance, and which we believe will extend our leadership position in the market in the coming 2-3 years.
As operators have already started embracing LTE-Advanced, what is Altair Semiconductor's road map for LTE-Advanced?
Our newly announced FourGee-3800/6300 is an LTE-A capable chipset supporting advanced features such as Carrier Aggregation (CA), Voice over LTE (VoLTE) and Interference Cancellation. One of the most powerful features of this chipset is its Software Defined Radio (SDR) based architecture, which enables a high degree of flexibility in introducing new and advanced features without requiring costly silicon re-spins, while keeping the power consumption very low and the die size (translating into cost) very small. We are already working on 2015/16 products, which will further enhance the capabilities of our portfolio and maintain our leadership position in this space.