January 28, 2006

What is SiRF Star III chipset?

We have had a few users asking What is the SiRF Star III chipset, and why is it so important? Well, the SiRF Star III chipset is a pretty big innovation in the GPS world, as it is a dramatically better performance for getting a GPS signal from satellites and getting you a location on your GPS. The 3 key advantages of the SiRF star III chipset are 1) Faster fix times, 2) High sensitivity for better locking of satellite signals in tough areas like under dense foliage or in urban canyons of sky scrapers, and 3) Low power drain for longer battery life.

SiRF star III Chipset Faster Fix Times
When a GPS is turned on, it needs to figure out where it is by pulling down signals from several satellites before it can triangulate and figure out where you are. Sometimes this can be faster if the GPS has been recently used because they can quickly figure out that they "We were just here yesterday, and so things look the same, so I must be in the same place." These are called "warm starts" when they have a head start on their position. Cold starts on the other hand take a lot longer because the GPS can't rely on where it recently was to help figure out where it is now - this could happen if you turn the GPS on a few hundred miles from where it last was on, or if it's been off for a long time. The SiRF star III chipset has a fast time to fix on your location because it has more correlators than other chipsets and so it can figure out where you are faster.

SiRF star III Chipset High Sensitivity

The SiRF star III chipset is reportedly better at holding a signal in low signal areas, like under dense tree cover or where you can’t see a lot of the sky clearly, like when you are traveling in a downtown area where there are a lot of sky scrapers. SiRF cites that the chipset can track signals down to -159 dBm, and has 200,000 correlators, which by comparison some other chipsets had only a few thousand. Garmin recently upgraded their ForeRunner line to include a couple of improvements to enhance the reception because the original models were sometimes losing satellite reception in these tough areas. The Forerunner 201 series had the satellite receiver along the forearm that didn’t always face the sky when you were using it – like when you were running. The new Forerunner has the GPS satellite receiver mounted on the wrist bone so that in a normal running stance the antenna faces the sky. They also upgraded to the SiRF star III chipset in the model that will help with this issue.

SiRF star III Chipset Longer Battery Life

The SiRF star III chipset is also very efficient, which means low power draw and longer battery life for the unit it is in. Many of the models that are using the SiRF star III chipset are mobile devices that are turning in great battery life times as a result of the lower power draw of the SiRF star III chipset.

Some of the more popular models to use the SiRF star III chipset are:

  • Garmin StreetPilot C530
  • Garmin StreetPilot C550
  • Garmin Nuvi 350
  • Garmin Nuvi 360
  • Garmin Nuvi 660
  • Garmin Zumo
  • Garmin GPSMap 60Cx
  • Garmin GPSMap 60CSx
  • Garmin Forerunner 205
  • Garmin Forerunner 305
  • Garmin Edge 205
  • Garmin Edge 305CAD

  • TomTom GO 510
  • TomTom GO 910
  • TomTom Rider
  • TomTom ONE

  • Mio C310x
  • Mio H610

    Magellan RoadMate 3000T
    Magellan RoadMate 6000T


    ReadMore at the SiRF website.

    Read More in: SiRF News

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    Posted by Scott Martin at January 28, 2006 10:07 AM
  • Recent Comments

    I intent to buy a garmin nuvi 250W but no where on the net I can find if this model use the SiRF Star III chipset. Would you be able to help me. A BIG thankyou


    Posted by: Conrad Trepanier at January 25, 2008 3:56 PM

    the GPS do not came with a full manual, I need some information about how to copy map to the gps mio c310.


    Posted by: Humphrey de la Cruz at November 30, 2006 7:16 AM

    I am confused. In the above article it states that Garmin are using the SiRF star III Chipset in a number of handheld GPS units but elsewhere on this site it states that those same units are using the SiRF star II chipset. I would like to buy a Garmin Legend Cx but would like to know what chipset it uses.


    Posted by: Patrick Beilby at May 18, 2006 1:03 AM
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