STM, Ericsson to codevelop Bluetooth chips

STMicroelectronics NV and the mobile communications division of LM Ericsson Telephone said yesterday they will jointly develop highly integrated chips for Bluetooth products that will be based on Ericsson's Bluetooth core architecture.

The deal, for which financial details were not provided, will push the adoption of products that use Bluetooth, the companies said. Bluetooth is a wireless standard that allows multiple devices to communicate using low-level radio frequencies. Ericsson is a founding member of the Bluetooth Special Interest Group, which now includes more than 1,200 vendors.

Bluetooth interoperability testing has been going on this week in Los Angeles, and products using the standard are expected to be released next year.

Samples of chips produced by the STMicroelectronics and Ericsson partnership will be available in the middle of next year, said Carol Brown, a spokeswoman for STMicroelectronics. The chip architecture will be used in PCs, PDAs (personal digital assistants), cellular phones and "in any (products) that require local, wireless communication," Brown said.

Precisely when products make it to market using the codeveloped chip will depend on equipment manufacturers and on how quickly the Bluetooth market develops in general. Prices for Bluetooth products are expected to mirror current pricing for the products in question, ranging from a few hundred dollars for PDAs up to thousands of dollars for PCs.

Although an exact price range can't be known until the products are ready for market, Brown said that "they will be competitive."

The deal with Ericsson was particularly appealing because "they are the inventor (of Bluetooth). They're the most advanced," Brown said.

Ericsson design teams in Sweden, the Netherlands and the UK and STMicroelectronics teams in France and Italy will work on the joint project, she said.

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