Intel Kills 2250 WiMax Chip  

Intel today told its customers that it will stop manufacturing the WiMax Connection 2250 chip (pdf) and the WiMax Connection 2300R radio chip (pdf), reports TG Daily. The news came via a product change notification sent out by the company, announcing an unusually quick phase-out. Final orders were taken today (June 5).

Intel has been among the top-3 investors in Clearwire, the WiMax carrier in the U.S. The company has a significant role in pushing WiMax to the consumers. But WiMAX chip companies Beceem and Sequans have become the overwhelming favorite for use in consumer client devices. Intel has also invested in Beceem.

In a phone call with TG Daily, Intel said that the company will not drop its WiMax chip production, but focus on more recent WiMax chips, the Echo Peak chipset (the Intel WiMAX/WiFi 5150 and 5350), instead. Instead of shipping RF chipsets, like Beceem and Sequans, Intel has focused on delivering platforms encompassing both processing and multimedia capabilities with combined WiFi/WiMAX connectivity on small PCIe Mini Express Cards that slip into Centrino laptops.

According to, four leading WiMAX semiconductor companies - Beceem, Sequans, GCT and Wavesat- presented their outlook for 4G networks and related silicon at the May 13th IEEE Communications Society panel session entitled, “Semiconductor Evolution to 4G: Mobile WiMAX, LTE, and other 4G technologies.”

Lars Johnsson of Beceem expressed what seemed to be a consensus view of the four semiconductor company panelists: “Wireless is the hard part, silicon is the easy part.” The basic premise is that the algorithms needed to achieve good performance on an OFDMA based wireless broadband link is more difficult then designing the silicon for that same link- especially when the end point is in motion. The broadband wireless design challenge starts with constantly changing signal strength and it gets more difficult once the terminal starts moving.

Some of the wireless design issues Lars identified were: signal tracking (to improve performance under all conditions), channel estimation (allows for better decoding), high-speed mobility, hand-off (from one base station to another), maximum likelihood receiver (improves receiver sensitivity), interference detection, and noise cancellation.

Ambroise Popper of Sequans stated that many core silicon functional blocks, now used in WiMAX (IEEE 802.16e-2005) can be leveraged for 4G: the OFDM modulator/demodulator, FEC, Channel estimation, and MIMO processing. Sequans plans to facilitate a smooth evolution to 4G for WiMAX network operators. They plan to develop and offer converged dual-mode IC’s for backwards compatibility with Mobile WiMAX devices. Those components will fully support the existing 802.16e and either 802.16m or LTE (dependent on market demand). They see efficient low-power implementation and radio performance as key differentiators between 4G and Mobile WiMAX/802.16e.

Meanwhile, Intel is investing $43 million in Japanese WiMax provider UQ Communications, which plans to cover 90 percent of Japan by 2012. It will formally launch the service on July 1, in Tokyo’s 23 wards, Yokohama and Kawasaki, and the Tokyo International Airport. UQ Communications is also backed by KDDI, Japan’s number two cellular carrier, JR East, the major railway operator in Eastern Japan, Kyocera, Daiwa Securities and Tokyo Mitsubishi Bank.

Taiwan’s Vmax is one of 30 WiMAX technologies and service providers worldwide receiving Intel investment. Vmax will primarily sell data cards or MIDs to users in Taiwan.

Only a handful of WiMAX-enabled mobile phones are on display at Computex this week, and some are prototypes such as one running chips by MediaTek, Taiwan’s biggest handset chipmaker. Global Mobile Corp is showcasing handsets supporting WiMAX technology including a dual-mode smartphone, code named MAX 4G, from HTC, the biggest maker of handsets running Windows Mobile. HTC has shipped the MAX 4G to Russia’s WiMAX operator Yota, which launched the services in Moscow and St Petersburg on Monday.

In Taiwan, Global Mobile Corp is set to launch its service next quarter, followed by Vee Telecom Multimedia and the nation’s No. 3 mobile carrier, Far EasTone Telecommunications, by the end of this year.

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