The wireless segment in the country has assumed large proportion in terms of importance, R&D and investment. Somshubhro Pal Choudhury, managing director, Analog Devices India, speaks to TelecomTiger about the technological challenges after the adven of LTE and the company’s future role. Excerpts:
Q. How challenging is it to design applications and products for the telecom sector, where technology is changing so fast?
A. At Analog Devices, we thrive in innovation. A testimony to this fact is that we invest approximately 20 per cent of our overall revenue into our R&D efforts on an annual basis. The percentage of R&D investment is even higher for the telecom sector where we have forward invested over the last several years. Analog Devices plays in the wireless and wired segment. In the wireless segment we are a significant part of the wireless Base stations - anywhere between the antenna and the main base station processor, the entire signal chain both for receive and transmit are likely to be ADI solutions. With coming of LTE, base stations are getting smaller, more compact in size and the power consumption requirement is an order of magnitude lower than what it used to be. Hence, we are doing a lot of more integration, entire receive and transmit signal chains rolled into a single chip which previously was using multiple chips.
In the wired segment, we are in high and medium end routers, switches and optical networking used in core and edge networks, data centers and enterprises. We offer latest generations of high speed interconnect solutions in cross point switches, multiplexers and de-multiplexers. We offer power sequencers, hot swap controllers, high-end clocking solutions for the above wired networking equipment. These are several top end technologies we are working on which address the ever changing needs of the telecom product portfolio.
Q. Tell us about some innovations for your telecom companies. How can they improve on the existing offering and prepare for newer opportunities and services?
A. In wired segment, our innovations are in the high speed segment. Move towards higher capacities on optical modules (40G/100G) poses higher signal integrity challenges on the backplane (moving from 6.25G to 12.5G and going upto 28G in the future). ADI offers high performance digital MUXes/Crosspoints upto 12.5G with retimers today. We provide a series of solutions for power sequencers, with an innovativeblack box function that helps record on field performance, enabling us to debug failures and enhance reliability. Using our hot swap controllers, you can plug in and plug out the line-cards in and out of the router chassis, without the need to power down the entire system, very similar to releasing an automobile clutch. We recently acquired a company called ’MultiGig’ that provide high end accurate clocking solutions for the whole spectrum of our telecom customers. Trend is also towards accurate power monitoring and control on a system as well as sub-system or module level. Analog Device’s Digital power controller products allow implementation of complex power topologies offering higher efficiencies and advanced telemetry.
In the wireless segment we see a couple of emerging trends. The immediate requirement is to make the base stations smaller, compact and less power consuming. Latest trend is incorporating all the components on transmit and receive signal chains on a single chip. Our aim is to reduce the overall size and power consumption and we are looking at bringing out more of these integrated transceivers. Also for greater coverage as you increase the power of the RF transceivers, it is necessary to ensure linearity which implies non distortion of the broadcast signal. We have 2x2 MIMO single chip transceivers that operate at an extremely wide frequency band which is an important feature of some of the new and upcoming solutions in Software Defined Radio (SDR) where the radio needs to operate in multiple frequencies, all controlled by software. Lastly, besides the lower power and the compact size; the higher channel bandwidth in a given frequency is also very important. We augment our integrated transceiver parts with matched ‘Integrated PMU’ (power management units).This in brief are some of our innovations in this space that ensure maximizing channel bandwidth in a given frequency.
Q. Who are your clients and how do you look at your future growth?
A. Globally, our clients are all the top system manufacturers of telecom equipment; be it wired, or wireless. From a future growth standpoint, we will continue to work with them in the fast moving telecom equipment sector. Be it the shift from 3G to LTE, going from macro base stations to smaller size base stations, from lower to a higher and higher bandwidth and packing in more channels on a given line card, we will continue to provide higher speed and performance, lower power and continue reducing the overall size for the generations of products to come. Increasing data traffic in the mobile network with more video being streamed and social networking apps is putting higher demand on the networking equipment at the access side, and not just the core network.
From an India standpoint, we have a diverse group of customers in the telecom sector. We have large multi-national companies, Indian design houses and Indian original equipment manufacturers designing in India. Apart from the telecom equipment sector, the Indian Defense companies and defense labs also use our chips for providing communication solutions for the military, air force and navy.
Q. How do you look at forthcoming trends and technological innovations?
A. We are on a constant lookout for forthcoming trends and technological innovations that address requirements from an operator’s standpoint and the key solutions they need. These insights are gained from our conversations with our network equipment vendor customers and the operators, globally.