Broadcom Targets Cars, Home Networking, Mobile Platforms at CES

The chip maker's new products include SoCs to help with navigation in connected vehicles and for high-end routers in the home.


Broadcom officials are using CES 2016 to unveil new chip offerings that touch on everything from connected cars to mobile platforms to home networking.

Among the new products company officials announced this week during the show in Las Vegas was the BCM89774 wireless connectivity chip that uses Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) technology to bring better location and positioning capabilities to vehicles while driving down the power consumption and bill-of-materials costs for automakers.

Broadcom is one of a number of chip makers at CES that are putting efforts behind the growing automotive technology space. Nvidia this week introduced the Drive PX 2, its latest platform designed to help accelerate the development of self-driving cars. In addition, Qualcomm unveiled its Snapdragon 820A family of 64-bit ARM-based systems-on-a-chip (SoCs) aimed at everything from navigation to infotainment systems.

Like Qualcomm's offering, Broadcom's BCM98774 is integrating components onto the same piece of silicon to help lower power consumption and costs for carmakers. In Broadcom's case, the company is integrating the sensor hub and CPU onto a single chip. Features of the new SoC—which is currently sampling—include a low-power mode for emergency service and theft-tracking applications, and simultaneous reception of such navigation satellites as U.S. GPS, European GAL, Japanese QZSS, Russian GLONASS and Chinese BDS, according to officials.

Other capabilities include support for global Satellite Based Augmentation System (SBAS) and high-end acquisition, tracking sensitivity and time-to-first-fix features.

Also at CES, Broadcom introduced the BCM43012, a low-power combination chip for both mobile platforms and accessories that supports both WiFi and Bluetooth connectivity. The new SoC provides up to three times the battery life of Broadcom's previous combo chips, and lets system and device makers integrate WiFi into platforms that traditionally have used only Bluetooth due to battery size or power issues, officials said.

With the BCM43012, the WiFi uses 80 percent less power than most Bluetooth offerings currently on the market, which will enable OEMs to offer new or improved devices that can use WiFi. In addition, integrated WiFi enables accessories—such as wearable devices—to more easily connect directly to the cloud without having to use a smartphone as an intermediary device, officials said.

The new SoC, which is sampling with some device makers, includes integrated 28-nanometer dual-band 802.11n and Bluetooth 4.2, integrated power amplifiers, low-noise amplifiers and power management units, and low power in sleep and active states for both WiFi and Bluetooth.

In addition, Broadcom rolled out a new near-field communication (NFC) controller that is aimed at mobile payment and transit applications that officials said bring greater transaction range, improved security and faster transaction speeds than other offerings. It's also smaller than competitive products, which will enable system makers to integrate the BCM20979 and its NFC capabilities into smaller mobile and wearable devices.

The chip, which is sampling with customers, also includes what officials are calling the Virtual Execution Environment (VEE), which cuts the time for host-card emulation (HCE) transactions in half and improves security, they said.

"By incorporating new features like VEE and driving down the overall solution footprint, we're making it easier for our customers to accelerate adoption of this technology into smartphones as well as emerging device categories like smart watches," Dino Bekis, vice president of product marketing of wireless connectivity combos at Broadcom, said in a statement.

For home networking, Broadcom this week announced the BCM4908, a 64-bit quad-core chip for high-end routers. The chip—which also is sampling—includes a 1.8GHz ARM-based CPU and Broadcom's Runner network packet processor, which enables the chip to deliver more than 5G-bps of system data throughput without taking away from the CPU performance. It also offers a 2.5G-bit Ethernet PHY interface to support faster speeds coming into the home from Google Fiber and Comcast 2G-bps connectivity.

"By increasing the CPU performance and adding advanced features, we're enabling OEMs to build more powerful home routers that address the increased bandwidth requirements needed to support the continued consumption of high-bandwidth content, growing demand for UltraHD as well as the growing emergence of more IoT and smart home applications," Manny Patel, director of marketing for wireless connectivity at Broadcom, said in a statement.

The new offerings come as Broadcom continues the process of being bought by Avago Technologies for about $37 billion, a deal that is expected to close this quarter.