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Tuesday, January 16, 2007

CSR moves into sat nav for $1 chip

The world's leading maker of Bluetooth chips is moving into the satellite navigation market and is aiming to drive the cost of the chips down to $1!

Cambridge Silicon Radio has bought two satnav technology companies - NordNav Technologies in Norway and Cambridge Positioning Systems - in deals worth $75m.

The aim is to develop products for the Autonomous and Assisted GPS market in cell phones (combining with their Bluetooth chip) in the first half of this year.
The technology they have bought is a software-based architecture that allows an incremental price that falls to less than $1 of the overall BoM when used with CSR's Bluetooth technology. This reduces both the number of processor cycles and the time to first fix, giving a more power efficient overall solution with less than half the processing requirements of alternatives, says the company and take up 80% percent less area than competing hardware. This is why they are touting the $1 figure.
"At $5-$10, current GPS solutions are too expensive and just not practical for mainstream cellphone applications," said Matthew Phillips, senior vice president of CSR's Mobile Handset Connectivity strategic business unit. "There are also performance restrictions in terms of both handset and network that have meant that the technology is not appropriate for the mobile platform. The two acquisitions mean that CSR has removed the barriers for mobile handset makers and operators to provide location based services for the mass market."

CSR had already tried to do something similar with its Unifi range combining Bluetooth and WiFi to branch away from relying totally on the Bluetooth market, but the predicted market for WiFi enabled phones hasn't materialised, and this helps the company's need to diversify.

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