ABI Research Teardown: Huawei (HiSilicon) HSPA Chipset Found in E173s USB Modem; Coming to a Handset Near You Soon?

New York, New York - July 19, 2011

Two 3G (WCDMA) dongle form-factor mobile broadband modems from Huawei – the E173s and the E173u – are currently shipping to global markets. Their form factor, colors, features, and even the model numbers (both sold as E173), are identical but most of the internal components are different. The widely-distributed E173u uses a common Qualcomm chipset, while the E173s, which is available in only a few markets including Romania, South America, and now the UK, uses a Huawei internal (HiSilicon) chipset. The only common suppliers for key components are Triquint for 2G Pas and Hynix for memory.

According to vice president of engineering James Mielke, “Although these modems are indistinguishable from the outside, the internals could not be more different. The core chipsets  come from two different manufacturers. The E173u, the commoner of the two devices, has at its heart the Qualcomm MSM6290 HSPA chipset. The E173s, however, uses Huawei’s own HiSilicon HSPA chipset, a fact which Huawei would apparently prefer to keep somewhat ‘under the radar’.”

The E173s was released late in 2010 but since then other Huawei modems have included this chipset. So the question is: what portion of Huawei’s modems and handsets will shift to its internal solutions?  The Huawei baseband does not use as high a shrink process technology as the Qualcomm, but the Huawei chip is considerably less expensive and that may be the driving force.

“Huawei is one of the few remaining vertically-integrated companies in the mobile space,” notes Mielke. “Will it succeed where Motorola, Nokia, Siemens, and others have failed? Like Huawei, they had diverse capabilities, but they have seen their conglomerates dismantled. The comparison between these identically-named modems may give some clues to Huawei’s plans.”

ABI Research’s “Huawei E173s Teardown and “Huawei E173u Teardown offer details of product assembly, PC boards, component  process technology, packaging  and die sizes, including details on  RF, baseband, power management, sensors, PA, Bluetooth, WiLAN, GPS, and more. They include complete teardowns, including high resolution photos of each of the chips, unique board shots, cost information, and board area data.

Both are analyzed in the firm’s Mobile Device Teardown Service.

ABI Research provides in-depth analysis and quantitative forecasting of trends in global connectivity and other emerging technologies. From offices in North America, Europe and Asia, ABI Research’s worldwide team of experts advises thousands of decision makers through 40+ research and advisory services. Est. 1990. For more information visit www.abiresearch.com, or call +1.516.624.2500.


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