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Chips and Salsa XIV - LTE Chipsets

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In this issue of Signals Ahead we provide results from what continues to be the only independent performance benchmark study of mobile devices and chipsets.  In the most recent round of testing, we went where no one has gone before and looked at the performance of commercially-available LTE devices/chipsets.
We have once again collaborated with Spirent Communications to get access to their 8100 test system and engineering support in order to obtain highly objective results. 

Key Findings

The overall industry has made tremendous strides in the last few years.  When Spirent and SRG started doing these benchmark studies in 2007 the theoretical peak data rate that those chipsets could reach was 3.6Mbps.  In the current round of chipset testing there are numerous instances where multiple chipsets exceeded 70Mbps in a 10MHz radio channel.

Once again the presence of emerging chipsets suppliers is an important trend in the industry, as indicated by the participants in the last round of tests.   Very few of the traditional wireless IC suppliers have commercially available LTE chipsets, however, there were three Asian-based participants in this current round.

There wasn’t an overall dominant performer although a few chipsets had severe problems with certain test scenarios where their performance lagged the top performing solution by a high double-digit percentage.  The demands of the much higher throughput requirements seem to be creating unforeseen bottlenecks that didn’t necessarily exist with HSPA+ chipsets.

There is a clear indication that some chipsets misreport the quality of their radio channel.  Network inefficiencies and lower end user throughput can also occur if the mobile device underestimates its channel conditions. 

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