August 30, 2012
By Martha DeGrasse
Altair Semiconductor says Verizon Wireless has certified its 4G LTE chipset directly, instead of certifying individual devices that use the chip. “This is a strategic milestone,” says Eran Eshed, co-founder of Israel’s Altair. (Eran Eshed joins RCR today at 1:00pm CST on our RCR Mobilist series on youtube.)
By skipping a step in the certification process, Verizon should be able to significantly increase time-to-market for LTE devices built with the Altair chip. Altair predicts that tablets and M2M devices will be major applications for the chipset, called the FourGee-3100/6202. The chip covers all frequencies in the 700-2700MHz range. The company says its proprietary software defined radio processor increases performance without a commensurate increase in power consumption.
“This is good news for Altair, as the company can’t sell its chips without being certified with carriers,” says analyst Linley Gwennap of The Linley Group. “The next step, however, is for Altair to get a design win with a device manufacturer, which apparently it hasn’t yet, since it certified without one. With Qualcomm shipping its second-generation LTE chip and major suppliers such as Intel, Marvell, and ST-Ericsson already sampling LTE chips, the window of opportunity for small LTE companies such as Altair may be closing.”
Founded in 2005 by former Texas Instruments executives, Altair is now completely focused on 4G LTE chipsets. The company makes baseband processors, multi-band RF transceivers for both FDD and TDD bands and reference hardware and product level protocol stack software. Altair says it currently has 15 customers worldwide.