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The New Chips Are As Good As The SiRFstar III

by diane 2010-02-27 04:00

People are anxious about buying a unit without the SiRFstar III chip. Let’s review some newer chipsets.

Up until couple of years ago, the SiRFstar III chipset was the gold standard for GPS receivers. Before this chip, reception in mountainous terrain and in other challenging conditions was often hit or miss. Manufacturers had to use the SiRFstar III or risk being ignored by the market. Then manufacturers began looking for high-sensitivity chipset alternatives, usually turning to MediaTek or STMicroelectronics.

These new chips are basically as good as the SiRF III. All high-sensitivity chipsets can pull in weaker satellite signals, which mean shorter time to first fix and an improved ability to hold the satellite lock in difficult environments, but this can also result in more multipath reception errors. The firmware for these new chipsets was far from mature when first introduced; it is much more difficult to fine tune firmware for high-sensitivity chipsets. IMHO, with succeeding generations of firmware, units with the new chipsets are now nearly as good as SiRFstar III models, with some of the remaining minor differences coming from the lack of a quad-helix antenna on most new models.


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