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Tiny chip will put Beidou system on phones

2014-11-28 08:46 Shanghai Daily Web Editor: Qin Dexing

A Shanghai technology company has produced a tiny chip that could put China's Beidou Navigation Satellite System and the US-developed Global Positioning System on everyone's smartphone in the future.

Previously, chips using the Beidou system were too large and power hungry for practical use.

Shanghai Science and Technology Commission have been promoting civilian use of the Beidou system since 2010 and have supported local hi-tech companies in the research and production of Beidou chips.

Shanghai Beiga Satellite Technology Co announced its 40-nanometer chip (a nanometer is a billionth of a meter) at a conference in the city on promoting civilian use of the military technology.

"The 40nm chip is the most popular size in current smartphones and we only spent over a year to catch up with global leading technology," said Wang Yongping, general manger of Shanghai Beiga. "With both GPS and Beidou in one chip, the function of smartphones will be better."

Wang said the company had cooperated with smartphone manufacturer ZTE and there had been "satisfactory" results of trials involving 50 phones.

However, Gu Wenjun, a semiconductor analyst with IHS, a US-based research firm, said: "The domestic navigation chip is still in its infancy stage in the domestic market with many players. The industry will still need development and intergration.

Domestic firms, including ZTE and Meizu, are using the chip in some of their latest phones and Wang said ZTE is expected to go into mass production of smartphones with the new chip next year.

Overseas firms, including Qualcomm Inc and Samsung, will also launch some models to feature the Beidou system.

The chips will also be suitable for use in tablet computers and wearable equipment including the latest smartwatches.

"We are also studying to perfect the Beidou-based vehicle navigation system by reducing the margin of error from 10 meters to one meter, which means the system will be able to guide drivers to the exact lane rather than just the right road in future," Wang said.

China launched the first satellite for the Beidou system in 2000, and a preliminary version of the system has been used in traffic control, weather forecasting and disaster relief work on a trial basis since 2003.

Beidou now consists of 16 satellites, with another 40 satellites to be launched over the next 10 years, by which time the system will cover the world. The system has been providing services for Asia-Pacific users since 2012.

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