Tag: Qualcomm

Nvidia wrestles with ARM connections

arm-wrestlingARM Holdings Chief Executive Officer Simon Segars defended his smartphone graphics technology which Nvidia claims it invented.

Nvidia is currently taking Samsung Electronics and Qualcomm to court for using the technology in its phones and accusing both companies of infringing its property patents on graphics chip technology.

Nvidia said Samsung devices made with graphics technology from ARM, Qualcomm and Imagination Technologies illegally use its intellectual property, or IP.

Segars said that the company stood behind its IP and will work with its partners when something like this happened.

Nvidia is not suing ARM or Imagination yet but it did say it would ask the US International Trade Commission to prevent shipments of Samsung devices containing ARM’s Mali or Imagination’s PowerVR graphics architectures, as well as Qualcomm’s graphics technology.

Nvidia has to play this carefully. Nvidia depends on ARM’s technology to make its Tegra chips for tablets and cars.

Segars said that it did “create a bit of a curious situation… But we do a lot of business with a lot of people.”

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.

Apple’s iPhone6 will be tricky to fix

maxresdefaultGadget repair firm iFixit has voided the warranty on an iPhone 6 to see what was under the bonnet and found that it would be a major headache to repair.

Apparently to get inside you have to extract two proprietary Pentalobe screws, and then lever the entire front display assembly away from the rest of the body with a suction cup, being careful not to rip the TouchID sensor wire clean off. Apple clearly does not want anyone looking inside or fixing it themselves.

The battery is bigger than previous iPhones — it has a 2915mAh battery, which is nearly double the 1560mAh cell in the iPhone 5S. However, it smaller than most Phablets, which means that it lacks the juice of its rivals. The Galaxy Note 3 has a 3200mAh up its sleeve.

The iPhone 6 also has a disappointing 1GB of RAM. Most high-end Android phones have 2-3GB.

iFixit technicians also discovered a Murata (6981.T) wifi module, a Broadcom touchscreen controller, and chips from Skyworks, Avago and TriQuint.

The phones are Apple’s first to include NFC radio chips used for the new Apple Pay mobile payment platform. The NFC chip in the iPhone 6 Plus comes from NXP Semiconductors (NXPI.O).

NXP also supplies a motion co-processor, key to making the iPhone’s sensors work without draining its battery.

As in other iPhones, Apple has designed its own main processor with technology licensed from ARMand in this device it is the A8 chip.

The iPhone 6 Plus opened by iFixit also included a NAND flash memory chip, used for storing music and photos, made by SK Hynix.  Apple in the past has depended on multiple companies to supply its memory chips.


Chinese give Qualcomm a novel suggestion

Tchinaflaghe Chinese government, which is currently about to release its antitrust watch-dogs onto US chipmaker, Qualcomm has come up with a novel way for the outfit to avoid trouble.

Qualcomm has been told that if it helps Chinese companies become so competitive that they can give the company a good kicking, then the watchdogs will be sent back to their cages.

Lu Wei, the head of China’s State Internet Information Office, was speaking at a panel http://www.weforum.org/ during a World Economic Forum event in Tianjin, China, where Qualcomm’s executive chairman Paul Jacobs was also among the speakers.

Lu told Jacobs that Qualcomm made $24 billion in revenue during the company’s last fiscal year, with nearly half of it from China.

“This means China is a good place to make money… we should make money together. You should work alongside Chinese companies to make money.”

China’s National Reform and Development Commission has been investigating Qualcomm since last November, on industry complaints that the company has been overcharging Chinese clients to use its patents.

Qualcomm said the company had 70 Chinese vendors using its 4G LTE patents, and another 120 vendors for its 3G CDMA patents.

Jacobs replied that his company had been helping Chinese companies to deliver new products to the market. This includes working with over 90 Chinese companies to build devices.

“I feel like it has been a win-win between Qualcomm and Chinese companies, Chinese customers and I hope that continues far into the future,” Jacobs said.

Qualcomm releases Snapdragon 210

qualcomm-snapdragonQualcomm has released its new Snapdragon 210  chip which should mean more LTE smartphones running high-quality video.

Sticking two fingers up at its rival MediaTek, Qualcomm has built a 28-nm chip for the entry-level market. It has based around a 1.1 GHz quad-core Cortex-A7 CPU, Adreno 300-series GPU, supports up to 8 megapixel cameras, and has a resolution of up to 720p.  Not huge but you are trying to watch a movie on a screen the size of a beer mat.

It supports HD Video with high efficiency video coding support and supports the usual USB, Bluetooth, single-stream 802.11n WiFi, and NFC standards.

Qualcomm claims this is the first LTE-Advanced chipset to target the sub-US$100 phone category.

It is clear that Qualcomm wants to be the first of the starting blocks with this sort of technology.  The world is slowly moving to LTE but most of it is happy with its 3G phones.


Nvidia sues Qualcomm and Samsung

nvidia-gangnam-style-330pxNvidia has sued Qualcomm and Samsung for infringing its patents on graphics processing technology.

Nvidia said Qualcomm and Samsung had used Nvidia’s patented technologies without a licence in Samsung’s mobile devices and the Galaxy Note 4 and Galaxy Note Edge.

Nvidia said Samsung devices made with graphics technology from Qualcomm, Britain’s ARM and Imagination Technologies infringed on its patents.

Nvidia Chief Executive Jen-Hsun Huang said that the pair were using Nvidia technology free and were shipping an enormous number of devices.

Nvidia did not say it is suing Imagination – part owned by Apple –  or ARM  – started by Apple really, but it did say it is asking the US International Trade Commission to prevent shipments of Samsung devices containing ARM’s Mali or Imagination’s PowerVR graphics architectures, as well as Qualcomm’s graphics technology.

However, since Imagination technology is also found under the bonnet of Apple’s iPhones, it could be that Nvidia plans to sue Apple.

It is clear that Apple was not a legal cage that Nvidia wanted to rattle yet. Huang said he was focused on Samsung and Qualcomm, and continues to have “productive conversations” with many other companies out there.

In other words the cunning plan is to take out Qualcomm and Samsung and the others will pay a lot of money to make Nvidia lawyers go away.

Samsung has said it will fight Nvidia, while the others have not made a comment.

Intel poaches Qualcomm exec

cracking-eggs-mFashion bag and bracelet maker Intel is attempting to prove that it is serious about mobile by headhunting one of Qualcomm’s gadget makers.

Amir Faintuch is a senior executive at Qualcomm’s networking and connectivity businesses Atheros, which we were surprised to discover has nothing to do with one of the three musketeers.

It is unusual for Intel to look outside its own company for senior executives and the hiring is being seen as a portent that the company is serious to sort out its struggling mobile business.

Faintuch will be an Intel a senior vice president and co-general manager of the Platform Engineering Group.

Intel spokesman Chuck Mulloy said Faintuch will  be among Intel’s dozen or so most senior executives and will co-manage the Platform Engineering Group with Josh Walden, a manufacturing technology expert who previously led the group.

Mulloy said that Faintuch brings experience designing “system on chips,” or SoCs, which combine features like modems, Wi-Fi and memory.  Chipzilla is still a little short on the expertise needed for designing SoCs.

“We want to accelerate our success rate with SoCs and get the designs aligned and the roadmaps aligned to do that. We’ve made good progress but there’s more to be done. Amir has extensive management experience and a strong resume,” he said.

Since taking over in 2013, CEO Brian Krzanich has made a number of sweeping changes designed to counteract a slump in PC sales, including opening Intel’s cutting-edge factories to other chipmakers willing to pay for access to them.

Still the traffic between Intel and Qualcomm has not been one way. In fact Qualcomm is seen as a nicer place to work. In 2012, senior executive Anand Chandrasekher, a 25-year Intel veteran, jumped over to Qualcomm to become the outfit’s chief marketing officer.

Nadella kowtows to China

kowtowMicrosoft CEO Satya Nadella appears to be packing his suitcase to visit China in late September in a move which might be an attempt to sort out the government’s rejection of his company’s software.

Although China runs on pirated versions of Windows XP, the government has forbidden its civil servants from using anything more modern than Windows 7.  The idea being that it will be releasing a homegrown version of Linux which it will expect everyone to use.

At the same time, the Chinese are investigating Redmond for playing monopoly behind the bamboo curtain.

Nadella has a lot to talk about with the government, although it is not clear if he will meet with any Chinese government representatives as part of his visit, or try to resolve problems with the State Administration for Industry and Commerce (SAIC), one of China’s antitrust regulators.

Foreign CEOs often pay calls on the world’s second-largest economy to strengthen business and political ties and Nadella is following Qualcomm’s President Derek Aberle who also looked to end his company’s woes in China.

The shy and retiring Steve Ballmer, did occasionally go to China in his 14 years as CEO, but that was mostly to speak loudly and carry a soft stick about piracy. Ballmer sulked in 2011 that Microsoft got more revenue in the Netherlands than China.

EU watchdog bites Qualcomm’s rump

AnubiIt looks as if the EU is going to back Nvidia’s complaint against Qualcomm and investigate the chipmaker for alleged anti-trust shenanigans.

Nvidia has been moaning about Qualcomm for nearly four years and the investigation coincides with a similar case in China into the chipmaker’s monopoly practices.

If found guilty of breaching EU rules, the company could face a fine of up to $2.5 billion.

Reuters said that the Commission may open a case after the summer.

The case centred on the British mobile phone chipmaker Icera which was bought by Nvidia in 2011.

While no one said what happened to Icera, it appears that the company accused Qualcomm of using patent-related incentives and exclusionary pricing of chipsets to discourage customers from doing business with it.

No one seemed to care that much and the issue appeared to have faded from the Commission’s agenda. However, a recent case where Europe’s second-highest court in June upheld a record 1.1 billion euro EU fine against Intel for abuse of its dominant market position made the regulators realise that they were sitting on a nice little earner.

Companies can be fined as much as 10 percent of their global revenues for breaching EU antitrust rules.

But the case is a long way off being resolved and anything could happen. In 2010, the EU competition authority scrapped a four-year probe into Qualcomm after Ericsson and Texas Instruments withdrew their objections against the company.

Qualcomm is in denial

bad-dogQualcomm, under investigation for possible monopolistic practices in China, said it had no direct financial links with an antitrust expert.

Zhang Xinzhu, a member of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS) and one of China’s leading antitrust experts was sacked from a government advisory post after state media reported he had received payments from Qualcomm.

Qualcomm is being investigated by the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), one of China’s three antitrust regulators, over how the company licenses its patents and prices its chipsets.

The chipmaker did not hire Zhang directly. When it was investigated by the NDRC it hired Global Economics Group to produce an economic analysis for submission to the regulator. Global Economics Group employed Zhang Xinzhu.

The official Xinhua News Agency reported on Wednesday that Zhang had been fired from the State Council’s expert commission on competition issues for taking “huge rewards” from Qualcomm. The implication was that Qualcomm had been bribing Zhang to suggest that the regulators should be nice to the American chipmaker.

Qualcomm paid Global Economics its standard rates for the firm’s services,” Trimble said, and did not have “any financial dealings” with Zhang directly.

Qualcomm’s analysis was submitted to the NDRC in May and had three principal authors, including Zhang.

The Chinese said that Zhang had “contravened work discipline” and been removed from his position on the anti-monopoly committee.

The news agency said “certain multinational companies” had been attempting to delay antitrust probes, including spending money to gain support on experts groups and complaining of being picked on for being foreign.

“Against this backdrop, hiring relevant ‘experts’ from government departments to ‘speak on behalf of foreign companies’ is a violation of discipline … This matter should be gotten to the bottom of and bought to light,” Xinhua said.

The 21-member anti-monopoly academic experts group from which Zhang was dismissed was established in 2011. The group is seen to serve the principal role of providing the bureaucracy with the supporting arguments needed to justify its industrial policy aims.

But Zhang has been critical of the NDRC, and claimed that the regulator had acted outside of its jurisdiction and misused antitrust principles. It appears that the regulator, might just want him out of the way.

Chinese regulators gun for Microsoft

microsoft-in-chinaIt seems that after claiming the rump of Qualcomm, the Chinese antitrust regulators want to take a bite out of Microsoft.

Apparently representatives from China’s State Administration for Industry & Commerce (SAIC) popped in for a quiet chat to the Microsoft offices in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Chengdu.

No one is actually saying what the conversation was about, but it is not thought that the Chinese water torture was used at this point of the investigation.

SAIC is not just in charge of antitrust matters, it also takes the lead in any bribery and corruption investigations as well as intellectual property rights abuse cases,

A Microsoft spokeswoman said the company was happy to answer the government’s questions but did not say what those questions were.

Qualcomm is facing penalties that may exceed $1 billion in one such Chinese antitrust probe, following accusations of overcharging and abusing its market position.

Needless to say this is getting the US jolly cross. It favours letting businesses do whatever they like or senators are not going to get their usual Christmas presents from their favourite lobby group.

The US Chamber of Commerce earlier this year urged Washington to get tough with Beijing on its use of anti-competition rules, and warned that “concerns among U.S. companies are intensifying”.

Microsoft has been having a little bit of trouble in Big China lately. Earlier this month, activists said Microsoft’s OneDrive cloud storage service were being disrupted.

In May, central government offices were banned from installing Windows 8, Microsoft’s latest operating system, on new computers. This ban has not been lifted, as multiple procurement notices since then have forbidden the use of Windows 8.

Qualcomm is a monopoly – report

monoplyMobile chipmaker Qualcomm has been accused of running a monopoly by China’s antitrust watchdog.

The state-run Securities Times newspaper reported on Thursday that Qualcomm’s chief executive Steven Mollenkopf  held talks in China to see what could be done about the problem.

Watchdog, the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), snarled that the US chipmaker was suspected of overcharging and abusing its market position In wireless communication standards, allegations which could see it hit with record fines of more than $1 billion.

However the NDRC, did not say whether the regulator had determined that Qualcomm had abused its monopoly, just that it had confirmed it had one.

Qualcomm was charging lower royalties for patents to undercut competitors who have similar technology and maintain market share. The report also said that Qualcomm, as the only provider of chips for high-end phones, can dictate those licensing fees.

The Securities Times report said the NDRC was probing Qualcomm’s local sales data and that Qualcomm President Derek Aberle has been communicating with the NDRC over issues relating to the anti-monopoly investigation.

Under China’s anti-monopoly law, the NDRC can impose fines of between one and 10 percent of a company’s revenues for the previous year. Qualcomm earned $12.3 billion in China for its fiscal year ended September 29, or nearly half of its global sales.

TSMC shares fall on rumours of chip cancellations

A not so mobile X86 PCTSMC shares fell as much as six percent after an analyst and Taiwanese media reported that Apple and Qualcomm were going to buy their next generation chips from elsewhere.

This is bad news as TSMC reported its highest quarterly profit since the end of 2006, and said it expected revenue to grow at least a record 20 percent this year. But its outlook was based on increased demand from Apple which recently chose TSMC over Samsung to make the majority of chips for the successor to its iPhone 5 series of smartphones.

But it looks like Apple and Qualcomm will likely buy a larger proportion of 14 nanometer smartphone chips from Samsung rather than TSMC beginning in the second half of 2015.

KGI Securities analyst Michael Liu said in a note to clients that he found that tasty bit of gossip following an investor conference held after TSMC reported second-quarter earnings.

The Commercial Times on Thursday, citing market speculation, said Qualcomm has already started working with Samsung to develop the chips. The Economic Daily News said without citing sources that Qualcomm had placed orders with Samsung.

However the rumours are not believed by everyone. Quanta Securities Analyst George Chang, who also attended the conference, said this was just a lot of speculation as no one has even seen the iPhone 6 yet, so it’s too early to say anything about future products.

During the conference, TSMC Chairman Morris Chang admitted that the company’s market share in 16 nanometer chips – which perform similarly to 14 nanometer chips – will be smaller than “a major competitor” next year, and that TSMC will claw it all back the year after.

Giants battle over the internet of thongs

intel_log_reversedMicrosoft has joined Qualcomm and other technology companies in a bid to establish standards for the Internet of fings, fangs, thongs and things, writes Nick Farrell.

The Qualcomm-backed AllSeen Alliance attracting people who want to promote protocols for how smart devices should work together.

Microsoft joined 50 other members in the AllSeen Alliance, including major consumer electronics players Panasonic, LG and Sharp.

However this is not the only standards consortium out there  and chipmakers that compete with Qualcomm plan to launch a rival standards consortium as early as next week.

It looks like we will have another standards war similar to that sparked by the Blu-Ray and HDTV standard.

Apple – known for strictly controlling how other companies’ products interact with its own, in June announced plans for HomeKit, which will integrate control of devices like garage door openers, lights and thermostats.  Of course  Apple gear will be slavishly adopted by Apple fanboys who are keen to have Coldplay playing on their fridge, but will probably not be seen elsewhere.

Last week, Google said it partnered with Mercedes-Benz, Whirlpool Corp and light bulb maker LIFX to integrate their products with Google’s Nest thermostats and smoke detectors.

So far the biggest player, Intel, has stood like Lord Stanley on the sidelines of the Battle of Bosworth waiting for one side to start calling for a horse.  While saying it is keen on the Internet of Thongs,  it is thinking of the internet of bags.

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.