The newly developed 8HP and the 8WL chips deliver a twofold performance improvement over the previous generation, IBM claimed. This offers a cost reduction for mobile consumer products, and enables high-bandwidth mobile communications.
SiGe, which allows for low-power, high-performance and high-frequency chips, is often used in mobile phones and cordless handsets. The technology was unveiled in 1989 and the first chips arrived in 1995.
The latest IBM SiGe technology uses a 130-nanometre production process. Current computer processors such as the Intel Pentium use 90-nanometre technology.
The use of smaller technology makes it cheaper to produce the Pentium, but the performance gains in SiGE makes up for the difference, according to Fred Zieber, president at semiconductor analyst firm Pathfinder Research.
IBM claimed that chips using its SiGe technology could enable the creation of tuneable radios inside mobile devices. A tuneable radio switches frequencies to access different wireless networks, for instance moving from a cellular to a Wi-Fi or GPS network.
Another possible application is in emergency safety systems for cars. The technology could allow manufacturers to deploy small radar-like sensors in the car's bumpers to detect any fast approaching objects and adjust the speed accordingly.
Such an application requires a high-frequency chip that could not previously have been made in a cost effective way, said Zieber.
Although he described the new technology as a logical path in its evolution, Zieber said that it is a big step.
"This is a necessary step for certain applications that are not out there yet, where you need something that is very fast and not expensive. SiGe fits the bill for that," he told vnunet.com.
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