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Silicon Vendors Help to Shrink Mobile Gadgets

A new study by ABI Research has found that by 2011, 32 percent of all Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, NFC, WiMedia, GPS, and FM Radio IC shipments will be integrated products that are either incorporated into a connectivity package combining two or more solutions, or will be integrated with a host processor or baseband processor.

The report also found that the two equipment sectors most likely to see the majority of integration activity will be cellular handsets and mobile computing. However, over time, I'm confident that all consumer electronics gadgets will benefit from this new integration.

Research director Stuart Carlaw says that "We are on the cusp of a high level of integration activity, as silicon vendors look to add value to their offerings, diversify, and differentiate themselves in what are increasingly competitive markets."

He goes on to add, "Precedents for integration activity can be seen in Broadcom's recent announcement of its BCM4325, which incorporates Bluetooth, FM radio and Wi-Fi in a single IC, as well as in CSR's purchase of NordNav and Cambridge Positioning Systems in order to realize the goal of producing a combined GPS/Bluetooth IC."

Integration is a vital tool that silicon vendors will use to maintain margins in markets where OEMs continue to squeeze every last cent out of their suppliers. It also allows vendors to meet ever stricter OEM requirements for power saving and board space. There is a distinct possibility that the trend towards integration will significantly alter the competitive semiconductor supplier landscape.

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