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ST, NXP spin phone chip JV

Jun 27, 2008 — by Eric Brown — from the LinuxDevices Archive — 4 views

STMicroelectronics (STM) and NXP announced a management team for their joint venture (JV) targeting mobile processors. When it launches in the third quarter, ST-NXP Wireless will incorporate both firms' mobile and wireless businesses, which together generated $3 billion in 2007, say the companies.

The new company will be based in STM's home turf of Geneva, Switzerland. Philips spin-off NXP is headquartered in Eindhoven, The Netherlands. The ST-NXP Wireless management team will be as follows:

  • CEO, Alain Dutheil — currently STM's COO
  • CFO, Abhijit Bhattacharya — NXP's financial controller, Multimarket Semiconductors
  • Tommi Uhari (title not listed) — currently STM's EVP/GM, Mobile, Multimedia & Communications
  • Marc Cetto (title not listed) — now NXP's EVP/GM, Mobile & Personal Business

Announced in April, ST-NXP is expected to be the world's third largest wireless semiconductor company at launch, presumably behind TI and Qualcomm. Using wafers fabricated by its parent companies' foundries, it will produce “2G, 2.5G, 3G, multimedia, connectivity, and all future wireless technologies,” the companies say.

Both STM and NXP both offer processors commonly used in the embedded Linux industry, with a particular focus on Linux-based set-top boxes (STBs). They also have a growing presence in the mobile Linux arena. Both are members of the LiMo Foundation, although not of the rival Android/Open Handset Alliance platform. NXP was also a member of the LiPS Forum, which is now being folded into LiMo. In addition, STM is a member of the new Symbian Foundation launched by Nokia to create an open source version of Symbian OS.

STM's Linux-compatible Nomadik processors have been a mainstay in mobile devices for several years. The Nomadik STn8815, for example, offers an ARM926EJ core and delivers a claimed 1000 MIPS (million instructions per second) performance when clocked at 334MHz. In February, STM announced a successor in the Linux-ready STn8820 system-on-chip (SoC). The processor is said to enable mobile devices to record and play HD video, and connect directly to HDTV displays. Based on an ARM11 core, the STn8820 is clockable to 528MHz, and is said to process 720p (1280 x 720) video.

NXP has developed a variety of Linux-compatible wireless chips that will likely fall under the aegis of the new company, including GPS chips and WiFi processors. In the mobile Linux arena, NXP's key new offering is the Nexperia Cellular System Solution 7210 reference design. The design is built around the PNX5221, a highly integrated SoC for GSM/GPRS/EDGE/UMTS mobile handsets. The Nexperia 7210 is powered by an ARM926EJ core and a pair of 16-bit DSPs. NXP was able to use a single core instead of dual processors thanks to the 7210's use of the VirtualLogix VLX-MH virtualization stack, which enables the ARM9 to simultaneously run Linux along with a real-time OS (RTOS) that controls the modem and voice signal processing.

The Nexperia 7210 is part of a sub-$100 3G mobile phone reference design created with French mobile Linux phone stack firm Purple Labs called the Purple Magic (see image at top.) The 7210 has also received support from another LiMo-compliant phone stack, Azingo Mobile, from Azingo.

Stated Alain Dutheil, designated CEO, ST-NXP Wireless, “Our new company will be uniquely positioned to continue and extend customer relationships with the key players in the mobile and wireless industry.”

Due to close in the third quarter, the ST-NXP Wireless deal is said to be subject to regulatory approvals and labor council consultation.

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