Here is what a friend of mine Jayan John has to say (reposted with permission) on a discussion on various processor variants today in Cellphone business.
The relevant debate may not be “standalone baseband processors” vs”SOC", but whether or not SOC is the best option...
Why? Quote: “Convergence in the industry of computing capabilities and communication protocols has resulted in the development of devices with enhanced functionalities and capabilities. Providing a range of functions at a low cost while maintaining the reliability and compatibility of existing systems and devices is a major challenge today. As devices become more complex with numerous features, it is of prime importance to find out ways to extract more power from the batteries". With this in mind, choosing the right level of integration is a difficult decision.
To make this interesting… Read Texas Instruments vs Philips back in 2005 (http://www.eetimes.com/news/latest/showArticle.jhtml?articleID=159901628). In this interesting debate facts appear to tip the scales in favor of SIP…
Comparison of SiP and SoC:
1. Flexibility: One of the key advantages of an SiP when compared to an SoC, is the high degree of flexibility that it provides for a design house. The ability of an SiP to combine from multiple semiconductor technologies and reuse intellectual property (IP) from multiple sources.
2. Development Time: Short development time/ time to market is achieved more quickly in SiP than SoC.
3. Development Cost: An SoC can typically take $4-5 million to develop, with advanced SoC designs costing $30 million. Such high costs are justifiable only if volumes are high and if the life cycle of the product is long.
4. Device Cost: When compared to an SiP, an SoC typically has a considerably lower device cost.
5. Functionality: The demand for increased functionality in portable devices such as cell phones, PDAs, and so on has driven the electronics industry to develop package solutions that can meet such requirements. Cell phone original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) could not keep pace with exponential demand for their products, and decided to integrate multiple active and passive components into an SiP, rather than investing in additional manufacturing lines.
6. Technical complexity: Integration of an IC function in a SoC requires multiple layers and results in an increased die size. Mixed signal processing complexity in SoC is also a concern.
SoC is a viable option when the product life cycle is long and there is time and money. When there is enough volume for the product, sometimes, an SoC approach can be much less expensive than an SiP approach, but it depends on whether one is able to recover the nonrecurring engineering (NRE) costs and afford the time, as changes in the market for new products and features happen so quickly.
SiP, on the other hand, is best suited for products where time to market, flexibility, functionality, and cost are extremely important. The ability to combine multiple semiconductor technologies and use IP from different companies is viewed as one of the primary advantages of using SiP. Currently, applications such as cell phones, PDAs, and wireless products are driving the growth of the technology
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