Altair Tosses Its Chips Into the WiMax Ring

When it comes to semiconductor news, it can be hard to judge how much of it is hype and how much will actually come to pass. But Altair Semiconductor, which is now sampling chips, has some cool attributes worth noting, especially for those interested in 4G mobile networks. First off, the chip it’s launching today — to deliver Mobile WiMax — is really small, just 7mm.

That means it can fit into a cell phone rather than a PC card, which where most people think of using mobile WiMax. Unnamed handset manufacturers are sampling the chip, according to Eran Eshed, Altair’s co-founder and VP of marketing. And although size is only part of the equation in the mobile device field, it’s an important one. The chip is also power-efficient: It allegedly consumes just a third of the power of other mobile WiMax chips, although that remains to be seen.

The other cool aspect of the Altair base design is it can work with all OFDM-based standards, including LTE. The company will demonstrate an LTE chip in 2008, according to Eshed. Most interesting is that a single chip could be engineered to work on both standards should anyone desire to offer that type of dual-mode card or device. It will compete against Sequans, Intel and other chip manufacturers also targeting the WiMax market.