Lucent ready with all-silicon chip for wireless

Lucent Technologies Inc. has created what it calls the first all-silicon chip designed specially for the receivers in base stations that collect radio signals from wireless devices, the company announced Wednesday.

The chip, which was developed in its Bell Laboratory, could end up reducing the size and cost of wireless base stations, Lucent said in a statement. Base stations currently use 10 to 20 chips which are made of gallium arsenide, a semiconducting material more expensive than silicon, Lucent said.

Gallium arsenide is used in building semiconductors for telecommunications switches, satellite network equipment and devices such as mobile phones. Gallium arsenide chips promise higher performance for lower power than silicon-based chips but in the past have proved harder to manufacture reliably.

Using the new Lucent chips, base stations would only require three chips, Lucent said. Furthermore, the silicon chips are 100 times smaller than the gallium arsenide-based technology as well as 10 to 100 times less expensive to produce, Lucent said.

The reduced size of the silicon-base chips allows for smaller base stations, which provides more flexibility in where stations are located, Lucent said. Additionally, the Bell Labs are looking at ways to combine a base-station radio receiver and digital signal processor onto one chip with the all-silicon fabrication approach, Lucent said.

The all-silicon radio receivers will work with "all major mobile wireless standards," including the up-coming and much anticipated 3G (third-generation) mobile standards, Lucent said.

Lucent did not specify when it thought the all-silicon chips or radio receivers will hit the market.

Lucent Technologies, based in Murray Hill, New Jersey, can be reached at +1-908-582-5800 or on the Internet at http://www.lucent.com/.

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