With 3G, we’ve seen mobile devices delivering the Internet, data services, video and all sorts of interesting stuff combined with voice calls and text messages. But all of these 3G solutions have been layered on top a network that was originally designed for voice traffic. LTE is the industry’s first end-to-end Internet Protocol (IP) data network and with it, mobile device users will experience the benefits of a mobile broadband connection for the first time. Mobile broadband offers data rates and responsiveness similar to that provided by today’s high-speed home broadband, cable or corporate network connections, opening up new opportunities for mobile applications. And these capabilities should continue to operate seamlessly when mobile users are on the move; that is while traveling at high speed in a car or on a train (or on a bicycle if like me you live in Cambridge).
I can only imagine some of the application possibilities this will open up. Obviously we’ll all be watching a lot of video but what else? Well, for example, we could have an augmented reality where looking through a smartphone or tablet will display the scene in front of its camera overlaid with lots of information about what is being viewed. Of course the phone already knows its location and orientation and would transmit this to Internet services that send back augmentation information in real time. It could be a star map, a street scene describing all the shops, or images of cafes and clubs showing who’s inside; assuming your friends are sharing their locations with you. It’s potentially a whole new era of social and business networking, people, places and things and I expect these ‘things’ will all have their own identification on the Internet as well. Applications like this will be running on another ARM powered chip in the phone, the applications processor, using software and powerful operating systems like Android, and I forsee these applications and users generating an insatiable demand for more data. Kerry McGuire Balanza highlights some of these applications in her blog about Verizon’s 4G LTE network from this year’s CES.
However, the new LTE baseband chips require huge amounts of processing power to deliver this amount of data for the application. This is of course where ARM comes in. LTE is a highly complex communications standard operating at very high speed, and it would not even be feasible without using the latest silicon technologies to build these baseband chips. ARM’s Cortex processors are implemented within silicon chips to form powerful computing engines capable of managing LTE communications, often in a multi-processor configuration. In particular, it is the ARM Cortex-R real-time processors that are best suited to this task as they combine high levels of performance with the responsiveness necessary to react to the constantly changing characteristics of a mobile LTE communications channel.
So, here in Barcelona, I’m discussing ARM’s new Cortex-R5 and Cortex-R7 processors with our silicon partners and talking about how their exciting features and extreme levels of performance will support LTE and LTE-Advanced at maximum data rates. Inside the ARM Connected Community, the Partners share information with me about their projects and the new ARM Powered chips they intend to bring to market; building on their current market success across the ARM Partnership.
We can see this sucess right across the mobile industry because ARM’s real-time processors are powering just about every 4G and LTE data modem being used today around the world, and I believe they’re also inside most of the latest 3G HSPA+ data modems as well. So when your mobile operator launches a new high data-rate 3G or 4G service, you will almost certainly be getting a data modem built around an ARM Powered baseband chip using one or maybe even two of our Cortex-R real-time processors.
Chris Turner, Product Marketing Manager, Processor Division, ARM, Chris works at ARM in the Processor Division's product marketing group where he manages the Cortex-R real-time processors. These processors deliver the enabling technology that runs communications inside mobile handsets and tablets - supporting the applications processor. If you just subscribed to an HSPA or LTE data service then you're almost certainly using a USB modem stick powered by these ARM Cortex-R processors. And, you'll find these same processors in just about every high performance hard disk drive, under the hood in automotive electronics and embedded in various other consumer and industrial applications. So, yes, you guessed it, he's into technology, knows his way around the semiconductor industry, understands computing, loves his job and never ceases to be amazed by the products and services that ARM delivers to users. Enjoy!
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