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Small cells in focus: chip designers concentrate on power efficiency

Posted on August 19, 2013

Posted on 19 August 2013 by Martha DeGrasse.

Wireless service providers will soon be adding capacity to their networks with small cells powered by 28 nanometer chips that can connect more users than an entire base station once supported. Many of these small cells will be hosted by enterprise customers. While outdoor small cell deployments can be complicated by backhaul challenges and negotiations with municipalities, many carriers are finding that enterprise customers are eager to deploy indoors and use their existing power supplies. For chip designers, this presents a unique challenge as they work to maximize performance and support multiple users with a relatively limited power budget.

“These are typically devices where the entire box consumes less than 10 watts and quite frequently even less than 7 watts,” said Greg Fischer, vice president for carrier access at Broadcom (BRCM). “In order to build a classic enclosure that can thermally deal with the heat dissipation and not be the size of a shoebox sitting on your desk, you need to get the power consumption down significantly.”

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