Tag: MediaTek

MediaTek wants to sort out China rules

mediatek-generic-chipMediaTek has slammed Taiwan’s rules regarding its domestic semiconductor companies investing and merging overseas, particularly in mainland China,.

MediaTek chief executive MK Tsai said the rules are too strict and should be reconsidered.

He said that Taiwan risks falling behind in the global race to develop the best chips if it does not invest more overseas to recruit talent and access large markets like China’s.

Rivals like Qualcomm and Intel have ploughed billions into China, Tsai said, but Taiwan’s rules prohibiting the export of advanced chip technology to the mainland risked its business prospects there.

“China is such a huge market … if everyone else is going and you have to stay on the sidelines, you’re in a weaker position,” Tsai said.

Taiwanese regulations prohibit chip design firms like MediaTek from investing any funds in China for research and development purposes, let alone for mergers and acquisitions, according to the company.

Tsai moaned about Taiwan’s “passive” stance amid a recent wave of mergers in the chip world.

“You have to keep up with the technological advancements or you’ll become irrelevant,” he said.

MediaTek-designed chips are doing well among Chinese phone vendors like Xiaomi.

Unlike chip design, investment in chip manufacturing in China is allowed, though heavily regulated..

Samsung signs up Mediatek

Samsung HQ Silicon Valley - MM picGiant Korean chaebol Samsung has signed a deal with Mediatek to supply application processors for smartphones, with shipments set to start in the second half of this year.

So says Digitimes Research, which said that currently there is a hole in Samsung’s lineup. Samsung currently uses Marvell and Spreadtrum to provide applictation processors.

But apparently Samsung is unhappy with its two suppliers because it’s claimed supply and support was indifferent.

Mediatek actually competes with Samsung in both the Chinese and Indian markets but it seems that because of the range of the products it supplies.

But it seems a deal has been satisfactorily struck.

It is something of a puzzle that Samsung feels it needs to turn to Mediatek because the Korean company has advanced semiconductor fabrication equipment and expertise of its own inhouse.

But Digitimes Research speculates that Samsung still needs help from outside, particularly in the wearable marketplace.On the face of it, the Mediatek partnership is intended to bolster Samsung’s low end range of phones, but it may also begin to supply its high end models too.

 

Qualcomm gives fingers for ultra-security

Churchill-first-V-signQualcomm has announced details of its Ultrasonic Finger Print Reader which is part of its  new Snapdragon processor.

The idea is that the tech can be used by smartphone ODMs and OEMs to provide ultrasecurity for their phones.

Qualcomm’s tech uses ultrasonic waves to scan all of the ridges and wrinkles of your fingers. This means that it can do a deeper analysis than the 2D image created by a fingerprint mashed up against a capacitive sensor.

It can also penetrate beneath the surface of your skin to identify unique 3D characteristics of your print.

Ultrasonic waves can go through glass, aluminum, steel and plastic housings of any phone, they don’t need a dedicated touch pad or button to work. You could conceivably touch any part of the smartphone with a finger to gain access to the phone itself.

While many might see the technology as a stab in the eye of Apple, which uses the old style of fingerprint technology. Qualcomm’s major competitor is MediaTek, whose processors and related technology are used in millions of phones, especially in China and areas where low cost smartphones are selling well.

Qualcomm’s new Ultrasound fingerprint reader means it has a weapon to counter MediaTek.

The thought is that this could win Qualcomm a lot of business.

 

 

Intel carries on wasting money

Intel Q4_14_ResultsChip giant Intel is being stubborn about its mobile strategy and will continue to throw money at the problem.
The firm has attempted to make headway in the tablet and smartphone market but has wasted around $7 billion so far without very much result.
Now, according to Taiwanese wire Digitimes, there’s evidence that Intel is going to carry on wasting money in a segment that has brought it nothing but woe so far.
Digitimes said that it is in cahoots with Chinese firms Spreadtrum and Rockchip and wants to continue to compete with Qualcomm and Mediatek in these markets.
The report claimed that it has licensed its X86 tech to both companies in a bid to ramp up its mobile business.
The report said Spreadtrum will release a number of system on a chip devices in the second half of this year.
Intel apparently wants to be a leader in the much hyped “internet of things”.

 

Major Apple supplier to slash jobs

foxconn-tvTaiwanese megacompany Foxconn will slash jobs because of falling demand for Apple gear.
That’s according to Reuters, which has spoken to a company representative who confirmed the cuts will come.
The representative who works to the chairman of the board, said labour costs had doubled since 2010.
Foxconn currently hires 1.3 million people and came under fire in 2010 after a number of its workers killed themselves.
The Reuters report said revenue growth for Foxconn fell to 1.3 percent in 2013.
Analysts are predicting that the massive growth in sales of smartphones and tablets is bound to decline as saturation levels increase.
Both Apple and Samsung now face intense competition from own brand Chinese smartphone vendors offering units at rock bottom prices and with rock bottom margins.

Mediatek munches up Qualcomm’s lead

qualcomm-snapdragonA report from US firm Strategy Analytics said that while Qualcomm still had a 64 percent lead in the third quarter of 2014, its lead is being eaten into by Mediatek.
Mediatek has 17 percent share of the top five baseband revenues, followed by Spreatrum with six percent revenue share.
Qualcomm did have 85 percent share in the LTE baseband market but that fell to less than 80 percent in the period, mostly due to incursions from the Chinese company.
Mediatek overtook Marvell and Strategy Analytics believe it is set to continue its growth in LTE.
During the quarter, HiSilicon, Intel and Marvell made progress in the marketplace.  Intel won some major design wins with Samsung.

 

Chip market starts to boom

nand-chipsRevenue from worldwide sales of semiconductors will rise by nearly 10 percent this year, its strongest performance since 2010.

Figures released by IHS Technology show that global revenues will be worth $353.2 billion this year, a rise from $322.8 billion in 2013.

Dale Ford, chief analyst at IHS, said the growth is broad based – a nearly all semiconductor suppliers have benefited.

IHS segments the semiconductor market in 28 ways, and Ford said that 22 of those have grown this year, compared to 12 showing growth in 2013.

DRAM and flash memory were the movers and shakers in the market, and while revenues for those sectors have risen by around 20 percent, other segments are also showing healthy growth.

DRAM and light emitting diodes (LEDs) have shown growth, and microprocessor markets are also showing strong growth.

Mediatek and Avago are showing strong growth in the semi league table.

The top five players, as the following table shows, are Intel, Samsung, Qualcomm, Micron, SK Hynix and Texas Instruments.
leagueofchips

Smartphone shipments slow right down

threeiphonesShipments of smartphones worldwide slumped by 25.9 percent in 2014 and will fall again next year by 12.4 percent.

That’s the opinion of market intelligence company Trendforce which said 1.17 billion smartphones left the factories this year and 1.31 billion will ship next year.

The reason, according to Avril Wu, an analyst at Trendforce, is because the penetration rate “is already very high while the market is saturated”.

She said that Chinese brands will represent 17 percent of handset shipments in 2015 – with competition intense. Lenovo, Huawei, Xiaomi, Coolpad, ZTE and TCL are competing on price meaning their margins are as thin as a cigarette paper.  Trendforce thinks mergers and acquisitions over the next few years will be the inevitable conclusion of this trend.

Meanwhle, the iPhone 6 continues to sell well but brands using the Android and Windows operating systems find themselves competing on price.  This will continue in the coming year.

The 4G network, she says, is now in place and will mature next year, with Qualcomm taking the lead over Mediatek in the semiconductor infrastructure required.

Intel to carry on subsidising tablets

Internet of ThingsThe attempt by Intel to penetrate the tablet market has cost it dear in subsidies over the last two years.

But it appears that the chip giant hasn’t given up the ghost on such a plan and, according to Taiwanese wire Digitimes, is likely to pour more cash into the venture.

Intel’s problem is that it has faced overwhelming competition on price from companies that use microprocessors from Mediatek and Qualcomm, based on designs from British chip designer ARM.

Even though Intel has several ARM licences, it declines to use those to compete and wants the market to realise the important part it plays in the mobile arena.  Or, to put it differently, Intel is a proud company and doesn’t want to lose face.

The subsidies to vendors have been aimed at tablets with screen dimensions of 10 inches and below, but Digitimes now says it may well extend those subsidies to tablets 12 inches and below.

Intel cannot afford not to be in the tablet business because it wants to be a key player in the so called Internet of Things.  Last week the chip giant said it was going to merge its mobile and comms businesses with its PC business, which will effectively disguise the hole in its profit and loss statements in the future.

Via to return to X86 CPU business

Shanghai skyline - WikimediaAfter keeping a low profile over the last few years, it appears that Taiwanese firm Via is planning to re-enter the mainstream PC market in the next year.

According to an interview in Taiwanese wire Digitimes, the company has a joint venture with the government of Shanghai and is deploying X86 based microprocessors along with graphics chips.

Company rep Timothy Chen told the wire that the company will return to the PC market in the second half of next year.  Via has a licence from Intel to design and produce X86 CPUs that lasts until 2018.

Its revenue streams right now include payments from chip dynamo Mediatek, USB 3.0 chips, and digital signage. It is also expected to make money from its GenieNetworks CDMA licensing business.

Despite those revenues, said Digitimes, Via turned in net losses in the third quarter.  Chen said that there were delays to embedded system business and a number of one off engineering expenses.

MediaTek creates cheap phone boom

mediatek-generic-chipTaiwan’s MediaTek is leading the Chinese low cost smartphone boom and providing chips that are shaking up the industry.

After missing out on the first wave of smartphones,   MediaTek is now a $23 billion purveyor of systems on a chip packages to the budget challenged.

MediaTek “system-on-chip” saves phone makers the cost of finding and testing parts to match the chips they buy. That in turn allows them to cut prices.

MediaTek says its system-on-chip has won it the patronage of every phone brand bar Samsung and Apple. And its main success story was the low-priced smartphone maker Xiaomi Technology which became the industry’s No.3 in just three years.

Chief Financial Officer David Ku told Reuters that MediaTek was like McDonald’s. McDonald’s gives you all the equipment you need, and the initial cost for you is lower.”

The outfit’s market value has risen 125 percent to $23.39 billion in less than three years and it works with 200 Chinese component makers and handset assemblers.

MediaTek built up its supplier network in the feature phone era. At that time, it says, larger rivals sold chips to big phone makers which would employ thousands of engineers to find and test components such as screens for the chips to operate.

To differentiate between its rivals, MediaTek began recommending hardware for its chips and targeting companies with limited means of sourcing and testing components independently. That lowered the barrier to enter the phone business, reduced costs and helped handsets reach the market quicker.

MediaTek adds reference designs to basic chip architecture, enabling components to work together. It contracts fabs – or chip factories – to make the chips, which it sells to phone makers along with a list of compatible sensors, microphones and other hardware.

What might cause MediaTek problems is the growth of 4F.  It still trails Qualcomm in the technology and needs to catch up before it can enjoy any similar success.

4G phones enter price war phase

SnapdragonFierce competition in the smartphone chipset and microprocessor market means prices of devices are likely to drop next year.

Smartcom, Qualcomm, Marvell and Broadcom are all competing in offering 32-bit quad core devices all hovering around the $8 to $9 mark.  They are eyeing up Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 210 which costs $9 in bulk, according to suppliers that have talked to Digitimes.

It’s interesting that Intel doesn’t seem to be involved in this price war because it’s usually the first on the block to trigger price wars.  That could indicate its tardiness in joining the smartphone fray.

There is growing demand for 64-bit eight core units which as part of the bill of materials cost around $15-$20.  Four core CPUs cost around $12-$15.

All of this means a scrabble on behalf of the component suppliers which may well lead to cheaper overall bills of materials for smartphones.

Intel to buy MediaTek prediction

entrailsThe fortune-tellers at RBC Capital Markets have emerged from their blood-stained temples with a dark prediction for MediaTek.

Analyst Doug Freedman, after seeing the liver of a particularly well fed Ram, claims that Intel will write a cheque for $27 billion to buy wireless chipmaker MediaTek within three years.

He told the Street that the deal would make sense as Intel’s earnings would grow and would help stop the investment losses it is incurring to grow wireless market share.

Freedman said the deal will happen within the next two-to-three years “almost out of necessity.” He said that  MediaTek’s purchase is Intel’s best option to grow in the wireless market. Intel may also find that the timing is improving for a large deal as the baseband market continues to consolidate, the analyst said.

Although $27 billion is a lot of dosh, Chipzilla is already spending more than $1 billion a quarter to expand into the mobile and wireless market.  This money appears to be just disappearing and the company is suffering heavy losses in the unit as it tries to boost market share beyond the single digits. Over all buying MediaTek could be a less expensive way to drive market share gains and would entail less risk, Freedman said.

MediaTek is a big name in mobile and tablet chipsets, in addition to Bluetooth, WLAN and GPS chips and NFC system on chips.  While Intel pines away in the baseband market,  MediaTek has made steady market share gains.

This would be the second time that Intel has had to buy the stairway to wireless heaven. In 2010 Intel bought Infineon’s wireless solutions business for $1.4 billion .  However Intel’s baseband market share has fallen to the mid-single digits.

Intel has made significant investments but it isn’t expected to post revenue growth in the next two and a half years, according to Wall Street consensus.

 

Qualcomm beats the smartphone pack

Intel-logoStrategy Analytics said that Qualcomm grabbed 54 percent revenue share in the smartphone application processor market in 2013.

Apple had 16 percent share and MediaTek 10 percent share in a market that was worth $18 billion last year, a rise of 41 percent over 2012.

Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 and 600 chip families along with its 400 and 200 ranges gave it a strong position.  Apple’s 64 bit A7 did well in the latter half of the year.  Samsung ranked number five, followed by Spreadtrum.

Intel had a minute 0.2 percent revenue share.

However, in the tablet processor sphere, Intel did somewhat better.  Qualcomm heads the pack in the non Apple market but Apple itself has the lead overall with 37 percent share.  Samsung has 10 percent revenue share, and Qualcomm 11 percent. Strategy Analytics did not give figures for Intel.

Cheap tablets start to make their mark

cheap-tabletsEver since Google launched its $199 Nexus 7 last year, tablet makers have been looking for ways to come up with even cheaper devices to undercut Google and other brands who targeted the sub-$200 space. Smaller form factors were popularised by Apple’s iPad mini, too. As a result the tablet underwent a massive transformation over the last 12 to 15 months in what can only be described as a race to the bottom. However, we’re not at the bottom just yet.

Big brands have started rolling out cheaper devices, first hitting the $149 mark and now going towards $99. The white-box gang is already there and cheap tablets are slowly making their presence felt. According to Bloomberg, sales of sub-$149 tablets will account for almost 35 percent of the US market next year, up from 25 percent in 2011.

However, cheap tablets have evolved. The average $199 or $149 tablet two years ago was absolutely horrible, but this is no longer the case. Here are a few examples proving that cheap tablets have come a long way.

The cheap white-box tablet, anno 2011, usually shipped with 512MB of memory, single-core A8 processor and low-res 1024×600 or 1024×768 TN panel. Some even featured outdated resistive touchscreens. However, 1GB of RAM is now the bare minimum, while many cheap tablets already pack 2GB. Practically all cheap tablets now sport IPS panels and it’s even possible to get a WUXGA (2048×1536) tablet for as little as $200, or ~€160 in Euroland. Dual-core A9 or quad-core A7 processors are standard, but there are even some A9 quads available for that sort of money.

Components are getting ridiculously cheap, allowing vendors to add more for less. This is especially true of processors and displays.

Several companies are churning out cheap ARM SoCs and it is estimated that Rockchip can sell a SoC for as little as $5. MediaTek is currently shipping one in five SoCs on the planet and most of them are cheap, A7-based parts. Prices of relatively high-quality IPS displays have tumbled as well and many cost less than $10. Prices or RAM and NAND have gone down as well, but the drop wasn’t as drastic. All in all, Bloomberg reckons the cost of components used in today’s cheap and cheerful tablets is $60, down from $175 in 2011.

It should be noted that cheap tablets, or the companies behind them, don’t get nearly as much press as they should. After all, cheap tablets will make up a third of all tablet shipments next year, but tech sites are focusing on clickbait, pricey high-end models churned out by brands who tend to advertise on the same sites.

It’s all somewhat reminiscent of the vanilla PC boom in the mid eighties, although we don’t believe cheap tablets can replicate the success of cheap PCs three decades ago.