PARIS— Freescale Semiconductor Inc. has joined forces with Nokia and Symbian to offer later this year a 3G handset reference design. It will run Nokia’s S60 software on Symbian operating system, using Freescale’s single core modem.
Elektrobit Group Plc, a Finnish company specialized in wireless technology design and testing, is implementing this reference design.
Elektrobit is separately developing a 3G S60 “reference phone” running on Symbian OS, scheduled for introduction in the second quarter of 2007. The reference phone will be pre-tested for full type approval and interoperability testing.
With the shipment of a new reference design, Thierry Cammal, Freescale’s general manager EMEA, Wireless & Mobile Systems Solutions, said: “OEMs can quickly turn out 3G S60 phones based on Symbian OS – targeted at a mass market.”
Cammal added: “The power of this announcement is the use of a mature, well-validated single core modem to which all the protocol stacks, operating system and user interface are already ported.”
Freescale’s MXC300-30 3G platform, featured with a shared memory approach and single core modem design, uses the combination of StarCore SC140 DSP running the entire communication engine stack, and ARM1136. The companies will be highlighting the 3G platform and reference design at the 3GSM World Congress which takes place from February 13 to 16 in Barcelona, Spain.
Cammal estimated that OEMs, using the new reference design, can ship to operators a 3G phone at a cost “less than $150.”
Freescale worked on a 3G phone based on S60 using the company’s dual core chip solution several years ago, but “it was more or less a prototype targeted at a high-end smart phone market,” explained Cammal.
The new collaboration with Nokia and Symbian represents Freescale’s eagerness to accelerate the development of S60 phones addressing the mid-tier 3G market segment.
Freescale is also hoping for “opening a dialogue” with Nokia, whose handset implementations have to date been tightly partnered with Texas Instruments. Freescale’s Cammal, however, quickly added that Freescale has nothing to announce publicly on any further relationship with Nokia.
Cammal observed that the market transition to mobile phones based on open operating systems – such as those by Symbian, Linux and Microsoft – rather than those on a proprietary real-time kernel is an irreversible trend. He estimated that the market share for open OS phones will jump to 50 percent in 2007, from 13 percent in 2005. 60 percent of those open OS phones in 2005 were S60-based phones, he added.
Cammal also noted that Linux is emerging but “it’s not yet completely done, because there is no application suites.”
With the emergence of a pre-tested new reference phone, Elektrobit and Freescale claimed that handset vendors can produce a 3G phone in less than nine months compared to the current 3G development cycles which can range up to 18 months.