Mobile

Broadcom unveils a four-way radio chip to slash the costs of NFC

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More than 1 million Android mobile devices are shipping each week with a technology called near-field communications (NFC), which allows you to tap your phone to another a device and transfer data instantly.

But that’s not fast enough for chip maker Broadcom. Today, the Irvine, Calif.-based company said it is introducing a new chip at the upcoming 2013 International Consumer Electronics Show that lowers the cost of NFC. It does so by packing the NFC capability within a chip that has a total of four radios, including Bluetooth, FM radio, Wi-Fi, and NFC. By packing several features together, Broadcom is able to reduce the overall price of every feature on the chip.

NFC is a short-range technology that allows someone to tap a phone with an NFC chip against another device with an NFC chip and establish a data link. You could, for instance, transfer a video from a smartphone to a tablet in an instant by tapping them together lightly.

The new Broadcom chip will be available in early 2013. NFC will enable new applications such as mobile payments, which are expected to grow from $4.2 billion in completed transactions in 2012 to $100 billion in 2016, according to ABI Research. John Devlin, an analyst at market researcher ABI, said, “We predict that over three and a half billion NFC-enabled devices will ship over the next five years, opening up huge market opportunities for companies like Broadcom. As a leader in wireless combination technology and with strong existing OEM relationships, Broadcom is well positioned to capitalize on this growth in smartphones and other consumer electronic devices.”

Broadcom also launched a single-card solution that combines its 5G Wi-Fi chip with a stand-alone NFC chip. NFC is expected to be used in game controllers (it’s currently used in the Nintendo Wii U tablet), TVs, remote controls, computer keyboards, mice, headsets, printers and more. One cool use is tapping a smartphone on a TV to transfer a video to the TV.

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