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Nokia Taps Marvell For 5G Silicon Boost

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Nokia teamed with semiconductor company Marvell Technology Group to develop new custom chipsets for its 5G radio products, pressing ahead with a realignment of its silicon strategy in a bid to regain lost momentum and cut costs.

The collaboration will combine Nokia’s wireless technology with Marvell’s multi-core Arm processor platforms to create a new generation of the Finnish vendor’s ReefShark chipsets, which will be used in its AirScale radio products to help reduce size and power consumption, while boosting capacity and performance.

Their focus will be on standalone and non-standalone versions of 5G.

Nokia’s president of Mobile Networks, Tommi Uitto said adopting Marvell’s silicon technology “is a critical step to better serve our customers’ needs,” noting “infrastructure and components must evolve rapidly” as operators flesh out their 5G plans.

Silicon transition

The deal comes as Nokia shifts away from its original strategy of using field programmable gate arrays (FPGAs) rather than customer silicon in its early 5G products.

Though the choice was meant to provide increased flexibility and a time-to-market advantage, outgoing CEO Rajeev Suri admitted on the company’s Q3 2019 earnings call it proved costly due to higher expenses associated with the arrays.

On its Q4 2019 call, Suri noted it would take time for the benefits of the transition from FPGAs to custom silicon to show up in the company’s earnings reports, noting “typically about a six-month lag when a new cost-optimised product is shipped and when it starts to impact the financials”.   –Mobile World Live

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