New Wireless Chips Reduce Power Consumption in Mobile Devices

ParkerVision introduces a new high-efficiency wireless technology as Transmeta weighs its exit from the market.

ParkerVision Inc., of Jacksonville, Fla., this month announced a new line of efficient, high-performance, low-cost wireless chips.

The new design extends the companys patented digital radio frequency transceiver technology called D2D (Direct2Data) to power amplifiers, the devices that boost the power of RF signals so that they reach their intended destination. RF amplifiers are used in cell phones, cordless phones, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and VOIP products and applications.

In an analysts call last week, ParkerVision CEO Jeff Parker explained that power, consumed by heat loss, is a key challenge to manufacturers of mobile and wireless devices. 802.11g devices typically run at 5 percent efficiency and 802.11b devices typically run in the 8 to 9 percent efficiency range. "This means that 95 percent of all the power it takes to run those circuits goes up in heat. It does not come out the antenna in any usable purpose," Parker said.

Claiming a 50 to 80 percent reduction in power consumption with the new D2D technology, Parker said his company, which produces chips and component products, is working with OEMs and others "up and down the supply chain" that focus on high-volume applications. "This is a semiconductor technology and we will thrive on high volume wins," he said.

ParkerVision demonstrated a complete digital home wireless system alongside a cordless phone with a two-mile open-field range at the International Consumer Electronics Show earlier this month. Parker expects the technology will also find a home in CDMA (Code Division Multiple Access), EvDO (Evolution Data Optimized), GSM (Global System for Mobile Communications), UMTS (Universal Mobile Telecommuncations System) and VOIP phones, as well as 802.11b/g/n, multimode and Bluetooth products.

"One challenge with 3G phones," Parker said, "is that consumers trade performance for talk time. We can show designers how to get their talk times right back to what consumers are looking for or even beyond."

As ParkerVision was showcasing the technology to analysts, rival chip maker Transmeta Corp. appeared poised to cede the wireless market to volume chip makers such as Intel Corp. and Advanced Micro Devices Inc. and instead focus its energies on licensing its technology.

/zimages/6/28571.gifClick here to read more about Transmetas plans.

Both companies entered the wireless market in the late 1990s with designs for energy-efficient wireless chips. ParkerVision trained its efforts on the transmitter and amplifier. Transmeta focused on integrated security and the ability to dynamically control voltage and frequency.

Parker cited market statistics from ABI Research of Oyster Bay, N.Y., which project that the sale of RF power amplifiers will reach nearly 1.5 billion this year and could grow by 18 percent year-over-year in the near future.

That growth, which includes sales of power amplifiers to the booming mobile device market, could cushion ParkerVision from a fate similar to Transmetas. Where Transmeta focused largely on digital computing products such as notebooks, tablets, thin clients, blade servers and embedded solutions, Parker Vision is maneuvering to drive its chips into the mobile world where analog technology is still widely used.

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