AST SpaceMobile, TSMC tape-out satellite ASIC

AST SpaceMobile, TSMC tape-out satellite ASIC

Technology News |
By Jean-Pierre Joosting

The company building a space-based cellular broadband network accessible directly by everyday smartphones for both commercial and government use, AST SpaceMobile has announced the commencement of the tape-out phase for its satellite ASIC, in collaboration with TSMC.

The cornerstone of AST SpaceMobile’s BlueBird Block 2 program, the AST5000 ASIC implements a novel, custom and low-power architecture developed to enable up to a tenfold improvement in processing bandwidth on each satellite, unlocking opportunities for seamless space-based cellular broadband services worldwide. This significant milestone marks the culmination of over four years of dedicated research, development, and engineering expertise, equivalent to an estimated 150 man-years of intensive work, as well as approximately $45 million of development.

“The commencement of the tape-out process for our ASIC, in collaboration with TSMC and other leaders in the semiconductor industry, is a testament to the unwavering commitment of our talented team,” said Abel Avellan, Chairman and CEO of AST SpaceMobile.

“As we advance towards the orbital launch of our Block 1 BlueBird satellites in the upcoming months, we are simultaneously making steady progress on the technology underlying our Block 2 satellites,” said Abel Avellan, Chairman and CEO of AST SpaceMobile. “This achievement underscores our relentless pursuit of innovation to address the growing demand for global connectivity, With the ASIC at the heart of our Block 2 program, we are a big step closer to ushering in a new era of satellite communications, helping to empower people with reliable connectivity, regardless of their location.”

AST SpaceMobile has achieved 3 Bits/Hz using BlueWalker 3 and has planned capacity of up to 40 MHz per beam on its commercial satellites, which is planned to support 120 Mbps peak data rates. The company’s ASICs and 2,400 square foot BlueBird satellite size are expected to support up to 10,000 MHz of processing bandwidth per satellite in the future to enable the first and only space-based cellular broadband network.

AST SpaceMobile has more than 3,100 patent and patent-pending claims for its technology and operates state-of-the-art, vertically integrated manufacturing and testing facilities in Midland, Texas, which collectively span 185,000 square feet. The company recently secured strategic investment from AT&T, Google and Vodafone, as well as a new contract award with the United States Government through a prime contractor.

AST SpaceMobile has agreements and understandings with more than 40 mobile network operators globally, which have over two billion existing subscribers in total, including Vodafone Group, Rakuten Mobile, AT&T, Bell Canada, Orange, Telefonica, TIM, Saudi Telecom Company, MTN, Zain KSA, Etisalat, Indosat Ooredoo Hutchison, Telkomsel, Smart Communications, Globe Telecom, Millicom, Smartfren, Telecom Argentina, Telstra, Africell, Liberty Latin America and others. Rakuten, American Tower and Bell Canada are also existing investors in AST SpaceMobile.

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