contributed by Jim Morrison, Product Manager
The Broadcom BCM4329 has won the wireless socket in tablets, smartphones, and connected devices from manufacturers like Samsung, Apple, HTC, and Motorola. Top end stuff too: EVO 4G, iPad and iPad 2, iPhone, Xoom, Galaxy S, Atrix . . . the list goes on. . .
and on . . .
and on . . .
We have seen the BCM4329 in 18 unique teardowns over the last few months on smartphones and tablets. In Q4 2010, this device was probably in at least 50 million consumer devices – and that is a very conservative number based on a quick look at the shipment data of some of the top phones. In fact, it has become so popular, we now see it being dual-sourced from two foundries, and pre-fabbed in modules from companies like Murata.
This device has truly been a success story for Broadcom. I can envision a Raiders of the Lost Ark image here, where there is a warehouse stacked to the ceiling with BCM4329s. It features 802.11 a/b/g/n BT 2.1 and FM, all in a 36.14 mm² die. By combining all the key wireless features, it helps companies reduce the BOM for electronics manufacturers.
And then along comes the Playbook (the subject of a recent teardown), with RIM pushing the chipsets in an entirely new direction when compared to many of the other tablets and smartphones we have seen on the market of late. They have built a very solid foundation with the devices they have chosen.
As has been widely reported, Texas Instruments (TI) is the overwhelming dominant device manufacturer in the Playbook, scoring 8 out of the 20 devices we identified and catalogued. One of these devices was the WiLink 7.0, part number WL1283. This WiLink 7.0 is aimed squarely at displacing products like the BCM4329. Additional features of the TI part include Bluetooth 3.0, Bluetooth low energy (BLE) support, and GPS.
Broadcom BCM 4329 and TI WL1283 packages (not to scale)
BLE is not new to TI; they have offered it for a while now as a stand-alone chip in the ChipCon CC2540. So it will be interesting, as we compare the layout and design of the single chip solution CC2540 BLE with the integrated BLE block on the WiLink 7.0.
One of the impressive features of this device is that, despite both the TI and Broadcom devices being manufactured at the same 65 nm process generation, the TI WiLink measures 16% smaller, or 5.35 mm x 5.65 mm (30.23 mm2) and 6.50 m x 5.56 mm (36.14 mm2), respectively. This should allow for more die per wafer and contribute to cost advantages.
Broadcom BCM 4329 and TI WL1283 Die (approximately to scale)
The TI WiLink has all the makings of becoming a very disruptive radio device, so stay tuned for more information. We have parts on order ,and we will get them into the lab and start taking a closer look to compare the Broadcom die with the TI WiLink part and the TI CC2540 BLE devices.
Reports available on devices described in this article:
TI CC2540 Functional Analysis Report – coming soon. Register to receive updates on our Analog/RF Design Mailing List.