The chip battle for both baseband processors and application processors (APU) was intriguing. Bob Rango, executive vice president of mobile and wireless with Broadcom (BRCM) was kind enough to spend a few minutes chatting with me at the company’s booth. He was getting ready to head up to Finland to rally the troops at the company’s baseband processor operations, which it acquired from Japanese firm Renesas Electronics in October. Remember that this operation used to be the internal baseband business of Nokia (NOK), which at one time, as Rango points out, powered half the phones in the world, at Nokia’s peak.
“Carriers all know this baseband, it’s already been qualified,” he said, speaking to the advantages of the business. Plus, “Compare our Cat4 versus competitors is 25% lower power and and 25% smaller die size,” he points out, referring to the current generation of LTE baseband in carrier networks.
On display in the booth, a less-expensive version of Samsung Electronics‘s (005930KS) Galaxy S4 with that baseband, the “M320″ integrated APU-baseband. It’s as good as the year-ago S4, but cheaper and with more compact electronics. Just fine, because the S4 is now yesterday’s news, with the debut of the S5 on Monday, which arrives around the world on April 11th.
Broadcom also was showing off a reference model, really a mock-up of its chips on a circuit board, that vendors and developers can use to prepare for the company’s forthcoming “category 6″ baseband chip. It looked rather cool, and as a working phone, it would be fun to imagine carrying the gigantic device around town as some sort retro phone thing. The phone kit was running through a Nokia-Siemens Networks Cat6 LTE base station, which is a sizable and also fun-looking bit of gear.