IBM and Mitsubishi Electric to develop chips for cell phones

IBM has linked up with Mitsubishi Electric Corporation to develop a new range of ICs for third-generation (3G) cellular telephones.

Under the terms of a multi-year joint development agreement, the two companies will develop radio frequency integrated circuit (RFIC) chipsets for 3G wireless handsets. The chipsets will be based on Mitsubishi Electric’s cellular circuit and system expertise, and will be manufactured by IBM using its silicon germanium (SiGe) communications chip technology. Mitsubishi Electric intends to incorporate the 3G RFICs into its next-generation cellular products.

The new SiGe chipsets include 3G receivers and transmitters. Designing 3G RFICs with IBM’s SiGe technology allows Mitsubishi Electric to combine multiple chips into integrated parts – significantly reducing the number of chips required by its 3G handsets. In addition, IBM’s SiGe technology is expected to help the 3G chipsets consume less power, thereby extending cell phone battery life and talk time.

Engineers from Mitsubishi Electric and IBM design teams in Lowell, MA, and Encinitas, CA, are actively developing the SiGe-based 3G chipsets. IBM will manufacture the chips at its Burlington, VT facility and intends to ship the SiGe chipsets in volume to Mitsubishi Electric in 4Q 2001.