The companies plan to develop intellectual property that could enable a complete cellular modem on a single chip, including integrated baseband, power management, RF radio and front-end supporting both Narrowband IoT (NB-IoT) and LTE-M capabilities. The approach matches VeriSilicon's silicon-platform-as-service business model.
Globalfoundries (Santa Clara, Calif.) and VeriSilicon (Shanghai, China) are developing a suite of IP cores to allow Verisilicon customers to make their own selections and trade-offs. The integration is expected to deliver chips with at a fifth the size and a fifth the power consumption of 40nm implementations.
Modem ICs produced by the platform are expected to be suitable for applications that will rely on low-power wide area (LPWA) radio in smart homes, smart cities and smart industrial applications. The two LPWA standards take advantage of the existing LTE spectrum and mobile infrastructure, but focus on delivering extended range and low power for devices that transmit small amounts of infrequent data, such as connected water and gas meters.
Globalfoundries and VeriSilicon expect to tape out a test chip based on the integrated solution, with silicon validation in 4Q17 and pursue carrier certification in mid-2018.
LTE-M is expected to gain popularity in the US market while NB-IoT is gaining ground in Europe and Asia, Globalfoundries asserts. And in particular, the Chinese government has targeted NB-IoT for nationwide deployment over the coming year. The combination of these two technologies is expected to push cellular M2M module shipments to nearly half a billion by 2021, according to ABI Research.
Next: What Wayne Dai says