LTE, 5G & 3GPP IoT Chipset Report June 2020:
GSA continuously tracks the mobile industry and reports on adoption of 3GPP standardised technologies and the expansion of the mobile ecosystem. This report complements the broader Status of the LTE Ecosystem reports based on the GSA GAMBoD devices database (which covers modules as well as end-user devices of multiple types).
The focus of this report is discrete cellular modem chipsets, mobile processors and platforms used in devices with LTE (and 5G) connectivity, and 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 (e.g. some designs from ARM and CEVA).
Chipset vendors use different terms to describe their products. In this report we define three specific types, as follows.
Discrete cellular modem A modem chipset in a single package designed primarily to handle the transfer of data across the air interface. It will contain the transceiver, filters and power amplifier, and handle signal modulation/demodulation, duplexing modes and carrier aggregation. Modem chipsets are often – but not always – built to support specific regional requirements, in different variants (SKUs, or stock-keeping units): we do not systematically track all variants separately. Generally, a cellular modem chipset will not deliver capabilities such as GNSS positioning or powerful processors for applications or graphics.
Mobile processor/platform A chipset that encompasses a cellular modem along with additional processors to deliver more functionality in a single package. Again, region-specific variants may be produced. Our definition includes chipsets described as ‘system on chip’ (SoC), and ‘single chip’ packages, as long as they include RF and modem capabilities. The extent of the additional capabilities varies significantly between models; some, but not all, contain powerful graphics processors for image and video applications. Mobile processors/platforms chipsets may be designed for specific types of devices (such as automotive components, smartphones, tablets or laptops). This category includes chipsets designed for FWA devices (routers, gateways) as well as those for mobile devices.
3GPP IoT chipset A modem or mobile processor/platform designed primarily for use in IoT devices and, in our database, supporting 3GPP IoT-oriented user equipment categories (specifically, LTE Cat-1, Cat-M1 and Cat-NB1/NB2). While capabilities vary, these chipsets do not generally support as full a range of features as other chipsets in our database. Other chipsets may also be used for IoT applications. Note that we do not capture information about uplink/downlink speed separately (3GPP’s user equipment (UE) device category definitions state the relevant maximum data rates). Again, we exclude chipsets without RF and modem capabilities.
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