3G on a chip: great news for the iPhone?

Will Broadcom's new mini-3G chip be added to the Apple iPhone in the future? We hope so

Semiconductor firm Broadcom claims to have developed a device which it says is the "first 3G phone on a chip".

The Broadcom BCM21551 chip, a 65 nanometre CMOS device, features high-speed HSUPA 3G broadband, Bluetooth, an FM radio and FM transmitter. It supports WCDMA 3G and EDGE, with room for a camera with up to 5 megapixels and TV out, The Inquirer says.

Slim 3G HSUPA phones

According to Broadcom, the new 3G chip will make it possible to build very slim 3G HSUPA phones with a very long battery life. It reckons HSUPA - the mobile protocol that offers upload speeds up to 5.76Mbps and download speeds at 7.2Mbps - is the next big thing in communications.

Many mobile operators are investing heavily in the technology, it said. Broadcom also said the 3G chips are likely to reduce the cost of high-end handsets.

"This new 3G solution should place Broadcom squarely at the head of the hyper-competitive 3G chip race," Yossi Cohen, senior vice president and general manager of Broadcom's Mobile Platforms Group, said in a statement.

"We built upon the success of our single-chip EDGE solution and merely eight months later our engineers not only built a single chip HSUPA solution, but also integrated Bluetooth, FM radio, and the next level of multimedia."

The new Broadcom BCM21551 chip should be very good news for Apple, and future generations of its Apple iPhone. If Steve Jobs and company manage to squeeze not just 3G but high-speed 3G into the next version of the Apple iPhone, while still offering decent battery life, we'll be the first to knock on the nearest Apple Store doors.