MaxLinear raises mobile TV chip miniaturization bar

Last month, MaxLinear broke its own record for size and power consumption with the MxL703RM tuner, checking in at two-thirds the size and only 70 percent of the power draw of its predecessor, the MxL7001/MxL7002. The MxL703RM follows on the heels of MaxLinear's July announcement of a partnership with Hauppauge Digital to develop an ATSC minicard for netbooks.

Measuring only 1.57mm by 1.57mm in dimension, the MxL703RM is aimed at the ISDB-T 1 seg mobile TV markets in Japan, Brazil and, most recently, Argentina. Designed for use in mobile phones, personal navigation devices, PCs and automotive applications, the MxL703RM consumes less than 50mW of power, increasing battery life and reducing heat dissipation.

The MxL703RM also boasts improvements in noise figure, blocker performance and maximum input power-handling. The tuner shrinks board footprint and BOM costs by eliminating the need for an external low-noise and intermediate-frequency amplifiers. Also included with the MxL703RM is MaxLinear’s tuner-to-demodulator digital interface, DigIQ digital IF, which eliminates the need for an analog-to-digital converter in the demodulator and further reduces cost and complexity.

Assuming that consumers won't buy bigger phones or plug in more often just to watch mobile TV has been a winning strategy for the 4-year-old privately held fabless semiconductor company.

Even before introducing its silicon mobile TV tuner in 2007, MaxLinear was a pioneer in digital CMOS process technology and, according to MaxLinear director of marketing Stefan Szasz, one of the first to implement an RF chip in a completely digital process. "The biggest benefit is that a significantly lower-power device can be made at a lower price,” he says. "With consumer devices, power requirements are becoming more and more critical."