Qualcomm sets up R&D center in Singapore

update U.S. chip designer and supplier establishes its first integrated circuit design and engineering R&D center in Southeast Asia as part of wider move to climb up value chain and capture Asian market potential.

update SINGAPORE--American chip designer and supplier, Qualcomm, has established an integrated circuit (IC) design and engineering R&D center in Singapore. This move expands its presence in the island-state, first established in 2000, and is aimed at better tapping expertise and integrating with the rest of its supply chain in the region, according to company executives.

At a media briefing here Thursday, James Lederer, Qualcomm's executive vice president and general manager of CDMA technologies, said its existing facility here had been tweaked to focus on chipset design and development including analog and power design, mixed signal design, digital design, mask layout design, and pre- and post-silicon verification.

Lederer noted that this builds on the company's existing presence in Singapore. "Qualcomm set up its chipset distribution center in 2000, and in 2008, established its first test development center outside the United States, enabling Singapore to become the company's development hub for the Asia Pacific region," he said.

"It's moving up the chain from an engineering perspective. Having the facility here allowed us to have round-the-clock coverage. For example, what we do in San Diego 12 hours a day, we can use the backend of that day to continue in Singapore," Lederer added.

When asked, Qualcomm declined to give specifics on its staff deployment or investments it would make in the R&D center. The company would only reveal that it planned to expand its existing facility and was looking to hire more "high skilled" engineers.

Monitoring LTE fragmentation
At the sidelines of the briefing, ZDNet Asia asked if Qualcomm was concerned over what appeared to be an increasingly fragmented LTE landscape. John Stefanac, the company's vice president and president of Southeast Asia and Pacific, replied it was keeping a close eye on the situation.

The mobile chipset maker was "actively promoting the harmonization" of frequencies but, ultimately, the problem would be dependent on OEMs (original equipment manufacturers) to address.

Stefanac said: "Today, there's something like 43 different LTE bands, there is going to be some level of fragmentization." He said Qualcomm was the only company with a chip that could support all 43 different LTE bands, but pointed out that there was "a difference between what the chip can support and what the OEM will implement".

"The gaining factor is not the chip, but the [radio frequency] that the OEMs choose to activate," he added.