STMicroelectronics is re-vamping its wireless business

Paul Boughton

STMicroelectronics is re-vamping its wireless business after it agreed with Ericsson to close the ST-Ericsson joint venture. Following the move ST has made other deals to booth its wireless business.

ST is taking on existing ST-Ericsson products other than LTE multimode thin modems, certain assembly and test facilities and 950 employees, and had already taken back application processor designers.

Ericsson will take on the design, development and sales of the LTE multimode thin modem products, including 2G, 3G and 4G multimode devices, along with 1800 staff. The formal transfer of the relevant parts of ST-Ericsson to the parent companies is expected to be completed during the third quarter of 2013.

The products coming over are complementary to ST’s focus on the wireless semiconductor market, such as system-optimised analogue mixed signal and power management devices, high quality, low-power audio and video enhancements and energy harvesting solutions, and the closure is expected to cost ST $350 million to $450 million, less than originally forecast.

As a result ST has signed a licensing deal with Quantenna Communications
giving ST the ability to integrate Quantenna IP into its broad array of systems-on-chips.

The deal also gives Quantenna the ability to use the entire ecosystem of ST’s entertainment, networking and security products.

“Wi-Fi is becoming a crucial connectivity technology for a wide range of products where ST is a leading semiconductor supplier,” said Gianluca Bertino, Executive Vice President and General Manager Digital Convergence Group, STMicroelectronics. “Integrating Quantenna’s best-in-class 802.11ac technology, including the 4x4 configuration as well as other MIMO configurations like 3x3 and 2x2, into our products will enable us to further expand our leadership position in several market segments.”

The two companies have started joint engineering integration efforts and the first ST products incorporating Quantenna Wi-Fi are expected to be introduced next year.

“We are proud to work with a top semiconductor company like ST,” said Dr. Sam Heidari, Chief Executive Officer of Quantenna. “This licensing agreement opens a new chapter in Quantenna’s strategy and enables us to position ourselves into new markets as well as leverage ST’s exceptional customer and geographical diversity.”

ST is also providing a Near-Field-Communication (NFC) Controller for a new Android-based smartphone from NEC CASIO Mobile Communications. The G’zOne CA-201L smartphone is initially targeted to the operator LGU+ in Korea.

ST’s NFC controller IC supports all NFC use cases, and can coordinate multiple NFC secure apps stored in several secure locations, such as the SWP -SIM2 and SWP-microSD Card or Embedded Secure Element. The corresponding NFC software stack from Stollmann E+V in Germany, running on the terminal host, supports all Google Android versions, including the latest Jelly Bean operating system.

“With the growing interest in mobile payment schemes, including NFC capabilities and a compatible Secure Element on our new phones was an important feature,” said Yoshifumi Sakaguchi, General Manager, Common Platform Development Division at NEC CASIO Mobile Communications. “The ease of integration, excellent performance, and power profile of the ST NFC controller and secure element made it an excellent choice for our G’zOne CA-201L smartphone.”

The RF unit design can decrease the overall system bill-of-materials and therefore minimise the PCB area required for integration. The devices meet the latest requirements in RF performance, ensuring optimal NFC user experiences and shortening time-to-market necessary for various application qualifications.

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