Displaying items by tag: chipsets

Apple executive blasts Qualcomm during antitrust lawsuit trial

Written on Thursday, 17 January 2019 10:28

A prominent Apple executive has testified that Qualcomm refused to let the US technology behemoth use its chip technology in their latest line of iPhones due to an ongoing dispute between the two companies over licensing fees.

The admission was made by Apple COO Jeff Williams, during court proceedings in relation to an antitrust lawsuit filed by the US Federal Trade Commission.

Williams told the court that the global smartphone manufacturer expressed a desire to use both Qualcomm and Intel chips in its 2018 iPhones, but stated that Qualcomm withdrew support for Apple by refusing to sell them chips.

In addition to this, he disclosed that Apple has not been able to reach an agreement with the US chipmaker in relation to a new design since it filed a lawsuit in January 2017, which accused Qualcomm of using anticompetitive licensing tactics.

Williams also detailed the company’s fee negotiations with Qualcomm, noting Apple repeatedly traded exclusivity for a lower chip cost in order to keep the latter’s technology in its devices. Williams said, “We needed their chip supply, and we didn’t have a lot of options.”

Qualcomm has yet to mount its full defence in the litigation proceedings. However, it must be said that the claims made by Williams come in stark contrast to testimony provided by Qualcomm CEO Steve Mollenkopf last week.

Reuters published a report which claimed that the Qualcomm CEO declared that the chipmaker had sought an exclusivity arrangement not to shut out the competition, but instead to ensure it would recoup a $1 billion “incentive payment” made to Apple in 2011 in an effort to help cover technical transition costs incurred in switching chip suppliers from Infineon.

Williams’ statements were also contradicted by comments made by Qualcomm president Cristiano Amon during an earnings call in July 2018 noting the company would gladly be an Apple supplier again if the opportunity presents itself.

Mollenkopf also stressed that there was no reason the pair could not work together again noting that it makes sense that the technology leader in mobile should partner with the product leader.

Published in Devices

The European Commission has opened an “in-depth” investigation to assess the proposed acquisition of NXP by Qualcomm under the EU Merger Regulation. The Commission has concerns that the transaction could lead to higher prices, less choice and reduced innovation in the semiconductor industry.

Commissioner Margrethe Vestager, in charge of competition policy, said: “We use our electronic devices every day - mobile phones or tablets. As semiconductors are used in practically every electronic device, we are dependent on them in those devices. With this investigation, we want to ensure that consumers will continue to benefit from secure and innovative products at competitive prices."

The proposed transaction involves the acquisition of the whole of NXP by Qualcomm and would combine two of the leading players in the semiconductor industry. More specifically, Qualcomm develops and supplies baseband chipsets (both standalone and integrated with an application processor) enabling cellular telecommunications standards such as UMTS and LTE. NXP is an important provider of semiconductors, in particular for the automotive industry. With respect to mobile devices, NXP is a leading provider of near-field communication ("NFC") chips and secure elements ("SEs").

The Commission's initial market investigation raised issues relating in particular to semiconductors used in mobile devices, such as smartphones, and in the automotive industry. The Commission is concerned that the merged entity would hold strong market positions within both baseband chipsets and NFC/SEs chips, and would have the ability and incentive to exclude their rival suppliers from these markets through practices such as bundling or tying.

The Commission is also concerned that the merged entity would have the ability and incentive to modify NXP's current intellectual property licensing practices, in particular in relation to NFC technology, including by bundling the acquired NFC intellectual property to Qualcomm's patent portfolio. The Commission will investigate whether such conduct could lead to anticompetitive effects, such as increased royalties for customers and/or exclusion of competitors.

The Commission claims the merger would remove competition between companies active in the markets for semiconductors used in the automotive sector and, in particular, in the emerging Vehicle-to-Everything ("V2X") technology, which will play an important role in the future development of "connected cars".

The transaction was notified to the Commission on 28 April 2017. The Commission now has 90 working days, until 17 October 2017, to take a decision. The opening of an in-depth investigation does not prejudge the outcome of the investigation.

Published in Government

Qualcomm Incorporated announced that its subsidiary, Qualcomm Technologies Inc., has introduced two new mobile platforms, the Qualcomm Snapdragon 660 and 630, both designed to support a leap in performance, enabling advanced photography and enhanced gaming, in addition to long battery life and fast LTE speeds. The Snapdragon 660 and 630 Mobile Platforms include the Snapdragon 660 and 630 SoCs, which encompass the baseband functionalities, plus software and hardware components including RF front end, integrated Wi-Fi, power management, audio codec and speaker amplifier, all to support a comprehensive mobile solution.

“With the introduction of the Snapdragon 660 and 630 Mobile Platforms, we are thrilled that features such as improved image quality and fast LTE speeds will now be available in a wide array of devices without sacrificing performance or quality,” said Kedar Kondap, vice president, product management, Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. “This ensures that a greater number of consumers will be able to take advantage of higher quality user experiences in camera, audio and visual processing, connectivity, improved CPU and GPU performance, fast charging, security and machine learning.”

The Snapdragon 660 and 630 Mobile Platforms focus on seven categories of features:

  • Camera: The Qualcomm Spectra 160 premium camera ISP supports improved photographic image quality for more natural skin tones, superior low light photography, as well as better power efficiency and higher throughput for dual camera smartphones. Also supported are features like smooth optical zoom, bokeh effects, dual pixel autofocus, and improved camcorder video stabilization.
  • Audio/Visual Processing: The Qualcomm Hexagon 680 DSP featuring vector extensions (HVX) on the Snapdragon 660 Mobile Platform enables high performance, power efficient processing of imaging, computer vision, and machine intelligence workloads, another first in the 600 tier. Optimized software libraries include support for TensorFlow and Halide. Both platforms also support Qualcomm All-Ways Aware technology with support for the Google Awareness API. This technology provides Qualcomm Technologies’ next generation of always-on contextual experiences and uses very low power running on the Hexagon DSP.
  • Connectivity: The Snapdragon 660 and 630 both feature a Snapdragon X12 LTE Modem, paired with the new SDR660 RF transceiver, which support peak downlink data rates of 600Mbps to the 600-tier lineup of SOCs for the first time. The Snapdragon 660 supports 2x2 MU-MIMO 802.11ac Wi-Fi for twice as much data throughput and 60 percent lower download power consumption as the Snapdragon 652. It also offers improved coverage, especially in homes, and offices with hard to penetrate brick and concrete walls as well as advanced features such as LTE/Wi-Fi antenna sharing, and Dual Band Simultaneous (DBS) operation. Both platforms also come with advanced RF front-end support including Qualcomm TruSignal adaptive antenna tuning with carrier aggregation, designed to dynamically optimize signal quality in varying user conditions for wide network coverage and more consistent data and voice experience. The Snapdragon 660 and 630 are the first 600-tier chipsets with envelope tracking technology, including high-power user equipment (HPUE) support, for superior power efficiency and thermal performance. Both platforms also integrate powerful location engines with better sensitivity and support for new constellations (Galileo and QZSS) for faster location fix, enhancements to support mandatory emergency service requirements, as well as smoother pedestrian navigation with up to 50 – 75 percent lower power consumption (compared to previous generation). Both platforms also feature Bluetooth 5 support, which doubles the amount of data that devices can transfer compared to the previous iteration.
  • Improved CPU and GPU: The Snapdragon 660 Mobile Platform is the successor to the Snapdragon 653 and features a 20 percent improvement in the Qualcomm Kryo 260 CPU and 30 percent improvement in the Qualcomm Adreno 512 GPU performance, ensuring a better gaming and multimedia experience for end users. The Snapdragon 630, which succeeds the Snapdragon 625, offers a 30 percent increase in the Adreno 508 GPU performance over its predecessor, as well as a 10 percent increase in CPU performance over its predecessor. Both platforms are designed to offer excellent battery life.
  • Qualcomm Quick Charge 4: The Snapdragon 660 and 630 Mobile Platforms feature the latest innovations in Quick Charge technology, which supports up to 5 hours of talk time in just 5 minutes of charging and up to 50 percent battery life in just 15 minutes of charging.
  • Security: Both platforms support Qualcomm Mobile Security, which provides security focused hardware-based protection, user authentication and device attestation on the mobile device.
  • Machine Learning: OEMs and developers can also power immersive and engaging user experiences with machine learning on the Snapdragon 660 and 630 Mobile Platforms using the Snapdragon Neural Processing Engine SDK. This heterogeneous software framework offers support for Caffe/Caffe2 and TensorFlow, making it easy to target and run neural networks on the Snapdragon core that matches the power and performance profile of the desired feature – CPU, GPU or DSP/HVX.

The Snapdragon 660 and 630 Mobile Platforms share the same modem and camera architecture, and are pin and software compatible, making it simpler and easier for original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) to build, test and calibrate their devices. Both platforms use a 14nm FinFET process and provide 4K video capture and playback capabilities, along with 8GB maximum memory and Vulkan API support. Additionally, the Snapdragon 660 Mobile Platform supports displays up to QHD (2K) resolution, whereas the 630 supports FHD/QXGA (1080p).

Published in Gadget

Qualcomm fires back at Apple’s monopoly abuse accusations

Written on Monday, 23 January 2017 06:45

Qualcomm has fired back at Apple after it sued the company on Friday, 20 January, over allegations of monopoly abuse. Some analysts suspect Apple is taking advantage of the monopoly abuse lawsuit filed against Qualcomm by the US Federal Trade Commission, to pave the way for other mobile chipset makers, in order to forge more deals. Analyst Patrick Moorhead said he believes Apple “is not comfortable in feeling that they have only one [chipset] source and are taking this opportunity to go after Qualcomm.”

Apple claims Qualcomm owes it a billion dollars and says the company is refusing to pay since Apple cooperated with South Korean antitrust regulators looking into antitrust claims against Qualcomm in the country. However, the iPhone maker is being accused of hypocrisy since the company is facing its own monopoly abuse accusations regarding its App Store.

A lawsuit filed against Apple, Inc. in 2011, seeking hundreds of millions of dollars in damages for monopoly abuse regarding Apple’s App Store, was revived recently. A US appeals court received the civil suit on January 12. Apple has been accused of creating a monopoly by making its App Store the only place to purchase iPhone applications.

Lack of competition has thus pushed App Store prices higher. Google now holds a considerable market share over Apple in terms of how many apps and users it has, according to a 2016 report by App Promoters; in fact, it’s estimated to be as much as 75% market share for the Play Store.

Qualcomm has rejected Apple’s monopoly abuse claims as baseless, and insisted the iPhone maker “intentionally mischaracterized” agreements between the two companies as well as the value of Qualcomm’s technologies.

“While we are still in the process of reviewing the complaint in detail, it is quite clear that Apple’s claims are baseless,” responded Qualcomm general counsel Don Rosenberg in a statement. “Apple has intentionally mischaracterized our agreements and negotiations, as well as the enormity and value of the technology we have invented, contributed and share with all mobile device makers through our licensing program.”

The statement continues, “Apple has been actively encouraging regulatory attacks on Qualcomm’s business in various jurisdictions around the world, as reflected in the recent KFTC decision and FTC complaint, by misrepresenting facts and withholding information. We welcome the opportunity to have these meritless claims heard in court where we will be entitled to full discovery of Apple’s practices and a robust examination of the merits.”

Some analysts suspect Apple is trying to pave the way for other rival chipset makers to flourish, by taking advantage of the monopoly abuse claims being made against Qualcomm. Apple relies on Qualcomm for chip-based modems that enable iPhones and iPads to communicate with telecommunication networks. By playing into the antitrust claims against Qualcomm, Apple could forge better deals with its competitors, says Patrick Moorhead of Moor Insights and Strategy.

“I think Apple is not comfortable in feeling that they have only one source and are taking this opportunity to go after Qualcomm,” said Moorhead. “Qualcomm is being looked at on every continent on the planet; this is probably, strategically, the right time for Apple to do this.”

Published in Telecom Vendors

U.S. semiconductor maker Qualcomm recently announced a $47 billion mega-deal to buy Dutch rival NXP to extend its footprint into the Internet of Things and the automobile sector. A week later on November 2, chipmaker Broadcom announced a $5.9 billion deal to acquire computer network company Brocade Communications Systems, continuing the consolidation of the semiconductor industry.

Qualcomm’s announced purchase of NXP is said to be the biggest ever deal in the semiconductor market. The agreement, according to AFP, will give the company a much-needed boost due to falling mobile phone sales and stiff market competition. Eindhoven-based NXP is one of the leading manufacturers of chips for the auto industry, and also for contactless payment systems, hence Qualcomm’s interest in acquiring its assets.

Broadcom, which has operations in both California and Singapore, said in a released statement that it would hold on to Brocade's Fibre Channel SAN operations specializing in switches for high-speed networks and storage. Broadcom itself was acquired in 2015 by Singapore-based Avago Technologies in a $37 billion deal intended to create a mobile chip-making powerhouse. Avago was originally a semiconductor unit of U.S.-based Hewlett-Packard.

Broadcom reportedly plans to sell parts of Brocade. Chief executive Hock Tan said, “This strategic acquisition enhances Broadcom’s position. With deep expertise in mission-critical storage networking, Brocade increases our ability to address the evolving needs" of customers, Tan added. Broadcom's board has signed off on the Brocade acquisition, which was expected to close early next year.

The two latest billion dollar acquisitions made by Qualcomm and Broadcom represent an intense consolidation of the semiconductor industry. Leading industry players have been eager to increase in scale and scope to prevail in an increasingly competitive market where costs have risen while sales have declined.

Published in Telecom Vendors