Intel and Ubiquisys put Atom in a base station
Combining Atom with a femtocell aims to create 'edge clouds' for wide range of data tasks and applications
Published: 25 May, 2011
The partnership with Intel does not conflict with Ubiquisys' deal with TI, since the larger firm is not bringing basebands and RF to the party, and will support the lower level platforms adopted by its new friend (Ubiquisys uses TI's system-on-chip for its new metrocell while it has worked with both Picochip and Broadcom/Percello for its indoor femtocells). Intel's Infineon Wireless arm has not, as yet anyway, taken an interest in the femto space.
Jointly developed products will be sold via Ubiquisys usual channels and OEM partners, but also by Intel, which is always seeking a greater role in the carriers' networks and devices. The first products are likely to use Atom but the agreement allows for the larger Xeon processors to be introduced if applications require that level of performance, a swap that Franks says would be simple to achieve.
There is a certain irony in putting so much processing power and intelligence into a beefed-up femtocell, when the trend in macrocells is to commoditize the base station and put the intelligence into the core or gateway. Franks speculates that the pressures on backhaul may reverse that pattern even in larger cells, in some scenarios, but also denies that this move will destroy the economics of bringing the consumer femtocell outdoors. Although the base cost of a complex metrocell will clearly be well above that of a residential or even an enterprise femto, in terms of opex the savings are similar in all environments, he argues. In particular, small localized cells can use low cost backhaul; they are self-organizing to reduce or eliminate RF planning; power consumption is low; and management is simpler and more DSL-like than conventional cellular methods.
"This is the future of small cells - not just miniature base stations but powerful computing platforms bringing the IP cloud as close as possible to mobile users and machines," said Ubiquisys CEO Chris Gilbert in a statement.
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