Chipset Report – January 2021
In the past year, the market for cellular modem chipsets has evolved quickly, with 5G chipsets in particular becoming more widely available. In fact, the number of discrete 5G modems more than doubled in 2020 and the number of 5G processors/platforms grew nine-fold! At the same time, the choice of LTE and 3GPP IoT chipsets has also continued to expand.
GSA’s online GAMBoD database now includes the ability to search for chipsets and selected features by company and by chipsets type. This paper highlights the current state of the cellular modem chipset market based on the data in the database.
The focus of this report is discrete cellular modem chipsets, as well as mobile processors, SoCs and platforms (only those containing modems) used in devices with LTE (and 5G) connectivity, plus chipsets designed for devices using 3GPP-defined IoT technologies.
Note that we do not collate information on separate baseband processors, DSP chips or separate RF front-end transceivers, nor silicon designed primarily for base stations used as network infrastructure. However, we do include chipsets designed for enterprise and residential small cells and FWA applications, as these can be considered devices (femtocells are included in the GAMBoD database). Nor do we track reference designs for complete platforms or discrete components where the vendor is not involved beyond creation of IP for licensing.
5G silicon status:
There is an increasing choice of chipsets for 5G devices, with products commercially available from Hi-Silicon (Huawei), Mediatek, Qualcomm, Samsung and Tsinghua Unigroup (UNISOC, and formerly Spreadtrum).
All five players have been expanding their product ranges.
By January 2021, GSA had identified 29 commercially available 5G mobile processors/platforms and 11 commercially available discrete 5G modems from the five semi-conductor companies mentioned above. In addition, GSA had identified one pre-commercial 5G modem and three pre-commercial 5G processors/platforms.
A full list of commercially available and pre-commercial 5G mobile processors/platforms and discrete 5G modems is available in GSA’s GAMBoD database, updated in January 2021.
A clear market trend has been the recent rise in the number of mobile processors/platforms, using the available 5G modems.
LTE silicon status:
Excluding the 5G-capable chipsets that are also capable of supporting LTE, GSA has recorded 19 commercially available discrete cellular LTE modem chipsets from five vendors: Hi-Silicon, Qualcomm, Samsung, Sanechips (formerly ZTE Microelectronics) and Tsinghua Unigroup (UNISOC, and formerly Spreadtrum). Other modems are produced but these are integrated with other processors in mobile platforms.
Commercially launched LTE mobile processors/platforms comprise the largest category of chipsets in the GSA database; we have counted 178 (other than those specifically designed for IoT applications and excluding those capable of 5G) from 11 vendors: GCT, Hi-Silicon, Innofidei, Leadcore, MediaTek, Qualcomm, Samsung, Sequans, Sony Semiconductor Israel (formerly Altair Semiconductor), Tsinghua Unigroup (UNISOC, and formerly Spreadtrum) and Xiaomi.
A number of other mobile processors/platforms from GCT, Qualcomm and Tsinghua Unigroup (UNISOC, and formerly Spreadtrum) are still at the pre-commercial stage and not included in our analysis.
Chipset Report – January 2021
© GSA 2021
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