Irish firm’s chip to power comms on Iridium satellite

10 Mar 2010

Dublin-headquartered chip firm S3 Group has signed a deal to deliver the integrated circuit (IC) technology to power global satellite mobile firm Iridium Corporation’s next-generation services.

The deal sees S3 partner in the design and delivery for Iridium’s recently-announced 9602 full duplex short-burst data (SBD) transceiver.

The deal is the latest in a large number of strategic wins for S3, including mobile TV chips for Siano and set-top box testing services for OEMs planning to deploy Microsoft’s forthcoming Mediaroom TV platform.

The Iridium 9602 is a smaller, lower-cost next-generation SBD transceiver, and is expected to be commercially available in June 2010.

S3 Group provided a full turnkey service to Iridium from feasibility study to the delivery of packaged tested parts. A thorough system analysis by S3 Group enabled a high level of integration resulting in a two-chip transceiver chipset, providing a lower-cost solution compared to previously-used components.

This approach entailed a complex system design which required a large team of S3 Group engineers with expertise in RF, analog and digital design as well as the company’s leading-edge mixed-signal IP portfolio.

“This was a complex system design where we brought our turnkey services capabilities, our partners and our RF, analog and digital IC design skills, to bear,” S3 Group’s director of IC design services James Blair explained.

“Once again we have proven that we can accelerate the time-to-market, reduce costs and increase flexibility for our customers’ products. Iridium’s 9602 satellite transceiver offers global, real-time service combined with the highest value in the industry.”

What the Iridium 9602 does

The Iridium 9602 will serve as a data communications transceiver for a wide range of portable tracking and monitoring devices, leveraging Iridium’s global coverage and low-latency, two-way data links.

Applications for the 9602 will include remote asset tracking and monitoring, such as telemetry from unattended sensors, fleet management and tracking, enterprise logistics and supply chain visibility as well as personal two-way navigation and mapping devices.

This IC design, developed by S3 Group, has enabled Iridium to substantially reduce form factor, power consumption and cost as well as to expedite delivery of products to market.

The IC design also allows Iridium’s value added manufacturers (VAMs) and resellers (VARs) greater flexibility in embedding the 9602 into their products.

“S3 Group delivered a working IC design to us ahead of schedule,” said David Schoen, chief technology officer and vice-president, product development, Iridium.

“Their engineering expertise and skilled program management experience ensured higher levels of cost savings than we anticipated and enabled us to get our 9602 to production and to market faster.”

By John Kennedy

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years