updated 10:35 pm EST, Thu January 15, 2009
Infineon SMARTi LU Chip
Infineon yesterday quietly introduced a new transceiver chip that may dictate the future of the iPhone and other handsets. The SMARTi LU is touted as the first single-chip radio to include the new Long Term Evolution (LTE) standard for 4G Internet access and does so through a smaller, 65 nanometer assembly process that keeps the design small. It also includes the advanced HSPA+ standard for 3G as well as legacy support for 2G-era EDGE data and GSM calling.
A baseband interface is also built-in, the company notes.
The advancement would let future smartphones and other portables download information as quickly as 150Mbps in ideal conditions and upload at 50Mbps, or roughly 100 times the bandwidth of most recent 3G connections. HSPA+ would also let devices on more near-term network upgrades connect at up to 21Mbps (potentially 42Mbps) without the significant changes that LTE requires.
Infineon doesn't outline a release schedule but says it will already have samples and tests available at the Mobile World Congress show, which starts in February.
While its suitability is uncertain at this early stage, SMARTi LU potentially sets the groundwork for future iPhones. Since launch, the handset line has used Infineon transceivers. Although a recent rumor suggests Apple may switch to Broadcom, the latter has yet to introduce more than a basic HSPA radio and currently presents a limited upgrade path. Carriers in the US and abroad are expected to quickly adopt faster cellular data within the next two years, with HSPA+ launching on AT&T this year and LTE appearing on Bell, Telus, Verizon, Vodafone and other carriers in 2010.