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Cortex-A53 is used alone in higher and higher-end devices as the result of increased competition between MediaTek and Qualcomm
We’ve learned a lot during the last one a half years about the superiority of the Cortex-A53 cores for the mass produced SoCs. Some major points about that you see on the right:
My prediction back in Dec 23, 2013 was that The Cortex-A53 as the Cortex-A7 replacement core is succeeding as a sweet-spot IP for various 64-bit high-volume market SoCs to be delivered from H2 CY14 on. Such a prediction is a reality now as no less than 291 smartphones are listed as of today in PDAdb.net, which are using the Qualcomm Snapdragon 410 MSM8916 quad-core SoC based on Cortex-A53. The first such device, the Lenovo A805e Dual SIM TD-LTE was released in July, 2014.
Meanwhile Qualcomm’s downstream rival, MediaTek is moving up fast with its offerings as well. There are 8 devices based on quadcore MT6732M since Dec’14, 27 devices which based on quad-core MT6732 since Nov’14, and even 6 devices based on octa-core MT6753 since Jan’15. Note however that there are 3 such products from the Chinese brand Meizu, and one each from another local brands, Elephone and Cherry Mobile. Only the ZTE model is from a 1st tier global vendor yet.
My prediction was also proven by the fact that interest in that post was the highest on this blog as soon as the respective new SoCs, and commercial devices based on them arrived:
Now even higher end, octa-core smartphones based on Cortex-A53 alone are coming to the market from 1st tier device vendors
June 1, 2015: Asus ZenFone Selfie (ZD551KL)
(launched on the ASUS Zensation Press Event at Computex 2015)
from the product site:
ZenFone Selfie features the industry’s first octa-core, 64-bit processor — Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 615. With its superb performance and superior power-efficiency you’ll shoot sharp photographs at stupefying speed, record and edit Full HD (1080p) video with minimal battery draw, and enjoy using the integrated 4G/LTE to share everything you do at incredible speeds of up to 150Mbit/s!
expected price in India: ₹12,999 ($205)
(Re: “coming in an incredible price” said in the launch video about the earlier ZenFone 2 (ZE551ML) which has the same price, but a 1.8 GHz Intel Atom Z3560 processor, only 5 MP secondary camera etc.)
from the ASUS Presents Zensation at Computex 2015 press release:
ZenFone Selfie is a unique smartphone designed to capture the best possible selfies, quickly and simply. Featuring front and rear 13MP PixelMaster cameras with dual-color, dual LED Real Tone flash, ZenFone Selfie captures beautiful, natural-looking selfies in gloriously high resolution. The rear camera features a large f/2.0 aperture lens and laser auto-focus technology to ensure near-instant focusing for clear, sharp pictures — even in low-light conditions where traditional cameras struggle.
ZenFone Selfie includes the brilliant ZenUI Beautification mode for live digital cosmetics. A few taps is all that’s needed to soften facial features, slim cheeks, and enhance skin tone to add vibrancy, and all in real time — injecting instant verve into any composition. ZenFone Selfie also has Selfie Panorama mode, which exploits ZenFone Selfie’s f/2.2-aperture front lens and 88-degree field of view to capture panoramic selfies of up to 140 degrees. With Selfie Panorama mode enabled, selfies become a party with all friends included — plus the ability to capture panoramic scenery for stunning backdrops.
ZenFone Selfie has a large 5.5-inch screen that fits in a body that’s a similar size to that of most 5-inch smartphones, for a maximized viewing experience in a compact body that fits comfortably in the hand. It has a high-resolution 1920 x 1080 Full HD IPS display with a wide 178-degree viewing angle and staggering 403ppi pixel density that renders every image in eye-delighting detail. ASUS TruVivid technology brings color to life in brilliant clarity, making selfies and other photos look their best. Tough Corning® Gorilla® Glass 4 covers the display to help protect against scratches and drops.
ZenFone Selfie features the industry’s first octa-core, 64-bit processor for the perfect balance of multimedia performance and battery efficiency — the Qualcomm® Snapdragon™ 615. This extraordinarily powerful chip equips ZenFone Selfie to provide the very best multimedia and entertainment experiences, carefully balancing high performance with superior power-efficiency.
June 19, 2015 by SamMobile: Samsung’s first smartphones with front-facing LED flash, Galaxy J5 and Galaxy J7, now official
Samsung has announced its first smartphones with a front-facing LED flash; the Galaxy J5 and the Galaxy J7. Specifications of these devices were previously leaked through TENAA, and their UI was revealed through Samsung’s own manuals. Now, they have been officially announced in China, where they would be available starting this week, but there’s no clarity about their international launch.
All the mid-range and high-end smartphones from the company released recently have started featuring high-resolution front-facing cameras, and the same is the case with the Galaxy J7 and the Galaxy J5. To complement their 5-megapixel wide-engle front-facing cameras, they are equipped with a front-facing single-LED flash. Other features include a 13-megapixel primary camera with an aperture of f/1.9, 1.5GB RAM, 16GB internal storage, a microSD card slot, dual-SIM card slot, and LTE connectivity. Both these smartphones run Android 5.1 Lollipop with a new UI that is similar to that of the Galaxy S6 and the S6 edge.
The Galaxy J7 is equipped with a 5.5-inch HD display, a 64-bit octa-core Snapdragon 615 processor, a 3,000 mAh battery, and is priced at 1,798 CNY (~ $289). The Galaxy J5 features a slightly smaller 5-inch HD display, a 64-bit quad-core Snapdragon 410 processor, a 2,600 mAh battery, and is priced at 1,398 CNY (~ $225). Both of them will be available in China in three colors; gold, white, and black.
The Galaxy J5 and J7 are targeted at the youth and compete with devices like the HTC Desire EYE, Sony Xperia C4, and the Asus ZenFone Selfie, all of which have high-resolution front-facing cameras with an LED flash.
The selfie phenomenon is about to kick up a notch with the introduction of Xperia™ C4 and Xperia C4 Dual – Sony’s next generation PROselfie smartphones, featuring a best in class 5MP front camera, a Full HD display and superior performance.
“Following the success of Xperia C3, we are proud to introduce Sony’s evolved PROselfie smartphone,” said Tony McNulty, Vice-President, Value Category Business Management at Sony Mobile Communications. “Xperia C4 caters to consumers that want a smartphone that not only takes great photos, but also packs a punch. Benefiting from Sony’s camera expertise, the 5MP front-facing camera with wide-angle lens lets you capture perfect selfies, while its quality display and performance features provide an all-round advanced smartphone experience.”
We all like a high-profile selfie – so go ahead and get snapping:
You can now stage the perfect selfie, getting everything – and everyone – in shot, thanks to the powerful 5MP front camera with 25mm wide-angle lens. Sony’s Exmor RTM for mobile sensor, soft LED flash and HDR features means the pictures will always be stunning, even in those ‘hard to perfect’ low light conditions. Superior auto automatically optimises settings to give you the best possible picture and SteadyShot™ technology compensates for any camera shake.
With 13MP, autofocus and HDR packed in there is no compromise on the rear camera, which delivers great shots for those rare moments you’re not in the picture.
You will also be able to get even more fun out of your smartphone with a suite of creative camera apps such as Style portrait with styles including ‘vampire’ and ‘mystery’ to add a unique edge to your selfie. Moreover, apps such as AR maskgive your selfie a twist by letting you place a different face over your own face or others’ faces while you snap a selfie.
Experience your entertainment in Full HD
Now you can enjoy every picture and every video in detail with Xperia C4’s 5.5” Full HD display. Watching movies on your smartphone is more enjoyable thanks to Sony’s TV technology – such as Mobile BRAVIA® Engine 2 and super vivid-mode – which offers amazing clarity and colour brightness. Enjoy viewing from any angle with IPS technology.
Great video deserves great audio to match, so Xperia C4 features Sony’s audio expertise to deliver crisp and clear audio quality. With or without headphones, you can sit back and enjoy your favourite entertainment in all its glory.
The design of Xperia C4 has also been crafted with precise detail and care to ensure every aspect amplifies the sharp and vivid display. A minimal frame around the scratch-resistant screen enhances both the viewing experience and the smartphone design, while its lightweight build feels comfortable in the hand. Xperia C4 comes in a choice of white, black and a vibrant mint.
Superior performance, with a power-packed battery that just keeps going
Whether you’re running multiple apps, checking Facebook, snapping selfies or listening to the best music – you can do it all at lighting speed thanks to Xperia C4’s impressive Octa-core processor. Powered by an efficient 64-bit Octa-core processor [Mediatek MT6752], Xperia C4 makes it easier than ever to multitask and switch between your favourite apps, without affecting performance. Ultra-fast connectivity with 4G capabilities means it’s quicker than ever to download your favourite audio or video content and surf the web without lag.
The large battery (2,600mAh) provides over eight hours of video viewing time, meaning that the entire first season of Breaking Bad can be binged uninterrupted, while Battery STAMINA Mode 5.0 ensures you have complete control over how your battery is used.
Xperia C4 is compatible with more than 195 Sony NFC-enabled devices including SmartBand Talk (SWR30) and Stereo Bluetooth® Headset (SBH60). You can also customise the smartphone with the protective desk-stand SCR38 Cover or with a full range of original Made for Xperia covers.
Xperia C4 will be available in Single SIM and Dual SIM in select markets from the beginning of June 2015.
For the full product specifications, please visit: http://www.sonymobile.com/global-en/products/phones/xperia-c4/specifications/
June 1, 2015: The stakes have been raised even higher by a higher-end octa-core SoC from MediaTek with 2GHz cores which is also 30% more energy efficient because of the first time use of 28HPC+ technology of TSMC
MediaTek Expands its Flagship MediaTek Helio™ Processor Family with the P Series, Offering Premium Performance for Super Slim Designs
P-series the first to use TSMC’s 28nm HPC+ process, which reduces processor power consumption
MediaTek, a leader in power-efficient, System-on-Chip (SoC) mobile device technology solutions, today announces the launch of the MediaTek Helio™ P10, a high-performance, high-value SoC focused on the growing demand for slim form-factor smart phones that provide premium, flagship features. The Helio P10 showcases a 2 GHz, True Octa-core 64-bit Cortex-A53 CPU and a 700MHz, Dual-core 64-bit Mali-T860 GPU. The Helio P10 will be available Q3 2015 and is expected to be in consumer products in late 2015.
The P10 is the first chip in the new Helio P family, a series which aims to integrate into a high-value chipset, premium features such as high-performance modem technology; the world’s first TrueBright ISP engine for ultra-sensitive RWWB; and, MiraVision™ 2.0, for top-tier display experiences. The features available in the P series include several of MediaTek’s premier technologies, such as WorldMode LTE Cat-6, supporting 2×20 carrier aggregation with 300/50Mbps data speed; MediaTek’s advanced task scheduling algorithm, CorePilot®, which optimizes the P10’s heterogeneous computing architecture by sending workloads to the most suitable computing device – CPU, GPU, or both; and, MediaTek’s Visual Processing Application – Non-contact Heart Rate Monitoring, which uses only a smartphone’s video camera to take a heart rate reading and is as accurate as pulse oximeters/portable ECG monitoring devices.
“The P series will provide OEM smartphone makers with greater design flexibility to meet consumer demands for slim form-factors, which provide dynamic multimedia experiences,” said Jeffrey Ju, Senior Vice President of MediaTek. “The P10 enables state-of-the-art mobile computing and multimedia features all while balancing performance and battery life.”
The Helio P10 is the first product to use TSMC’s 28nm HPC+ process, which allows for reduced processor power consumption. With the help of the latest 28HPC+ process and numerous architecture and circuit design optimizations, the Helio P10 can save up to 30% more power (depending of usage scenarios), compared to existing smartphone SoCs manufactured using the 28 HPC process.
“We are pleased to see MediaTek’s achievement in producing the world’s leading 28HPC+ smartphone chip,” said Dr. BJ Woo, Vice President, Business Development, TSMC. “As an enhanced version of TSMC’s 28HPC process, 28HPC+ promises 15% better speed at fixed power or 50% leakage reduction at the same speed over 28HPC. Through our competitive 28HPC+ technology and process-design collaboration with MediaTek, we believe MediaTek will deliver a series of products which benefit smartphone users across the world.”
As with the entire line of Helio SoCs, the P10 is packed with premium multimedia features. With a concentration on advanced display technologies, premium camera features, and HiFi audio, the P10 delivers leading functionality around the features most used on today’s mobile phones:
21MP premium camera with the world’s first TrueBright ISP engine:
Enables ultra-sensitive RWWB sensor to capture twice as much light as traditional RGB sensors in order to retain true color and detail, even in low light. The RWWB sensor also enhances the color resolution, even when compared with RGBW sensors.
Other features include a new de-noise/de-mosaic HW, PDAF, video iHDR, dual main camera, less than 200ms shot-to shot delay, and video face beautify.
Hi-fidelity, hi-clarity audio achieves 110dB SNR & -95dB THD
Full HD display at 60FPS with MediaTek’s suite of MiraVision 2.0 display technologies:
UltraDimming – Dimmer background lighting for more comfortable reading, even in low-light situations.
BluLight Defender – A built-in blue light filter that saves more power than conventional software applications.
Adaptive Picture Quality – Ensures the best picture quality when using different applications. True-to-life colors when in camera preview; vibrant colors when watching videos.
The MediaTek Helio P10 will be released in Q3 2015 and is expected to be available in consumer products in late 2015.
Note that Helio P1 is a significant step in MediaTek’s strategy already outlined in the following posts of mine:
– March 4, 2014: MediaTek is repositioning itself with the new MT6732 and MT6752 SoCs for the “super-mid market” just being born, plus new wearable technologies for wPANs and IoT are added for the new premium MT6595 SoC
– March 10, 2015: MediaTek’s next 10 years’ strategy for devices, wearables and IoT
Oct 9, 2014 (reports on several Chinese websites about the launch): [First MT8752 octa-core Tablet!] 首款MT8752八核平板！[999 Yuan Cool Rubik’s Cube T7] 999元酷比魔方T7发布
Oct 11, 2014 on JD.com (Jingdong Mall): [Cool Rubik’s Cube] 酷比魔方（CUBE）T7 7[inch tablet computer]英寸平板电脑（MT8752[octa-core]八核 JDI[Retina [1920*1200] screen]视网膜屏64[bit]位[China Unicom]联通/[mobile dual]移动双4G 2.0GHz 2G/16G ￥999.00 [$163]
Oct 11, 2014 in ProductShow on [site home of] 网站首页 – [Cool Rubik’s Cube] 酷比魔方(CUBE)[brand website]品牌网站: T7 – 酷比魔方(CUBE)品牌网站
8″ and 9″ tablets (T8 and T9) to come later, as well as the ones with the quad-core SoC variety MT8732.Their lead partner for that is Shenzhen Alldo Cube Technology and Science Co., Ltd. releasing its products under the [Cool Rubik’s Cube] 酷比魔方（CUBE）brand. More information on this blog: MediaTek is repositioning itself with the new MT6732 and MT6752 SoCs for the “super-mid market” just being born, plus new wearable technologies for wPANs and IoT are added for the new premium MT6595 SoC [March 4-13, 2014]
This is MediaTek’s very first response to the 32-bit Qualcomm Snapdragon 805 Processor (ARM TechCon 2014, Oct 1-3): “our latest and greatest”. Regarding the MediaTek competitive edge over Qualcomm before that you can read on this blog:
– Qualcomm’s SoC business future is questioned first time [May 1, 2013]
– Eight-core MT6592 for superphones and big.LITTLE MT8135 for tablets implemented in 28nm HKMG are coming from MediaTek to further disrupt the operations of Qualcomm and Samsung [July 20, 2013 – March 15, 2014]
– MediaTek MT6592-based True Octa-core superphones are on the market to beat Qualcomm Snapdragon 800-based ones UPDATE: from $147+ in Q1 and $132+ in Q2 [Dec 22, 2013 – Jan 27, 2014]
– ARM Cortex-A17, MediaTek MT6595 (devices: H2’CY14), 50 billion ARM powered chips [Feb 18 – March 13, 2014]
Intel’s desperate attempt to establish a sizeable foothold on the tablet market until its 14nm manufacturing leadership could provide a profitable position for the company in 2016
The stock market is over-optimistic about that: Intel tablets could cure [stock] market conditions [Saxo TV – TradingFloor.com YouTube channel, April 16, 2014]
I am—nevertheless—highly sceptical about that as Allwinner to continue the No. 1 position on Android tablet application processor market with the new UltraOcta A80 SoC optimized for premium devices, without the premium cost, also made universal accross other devices (TV box, notebook, smart TV, All-in-one and digital signage), and operating systems (ChromeOS, Smart TV, Windows, Ubuntu and Firefox OS) [‘USD 99 Allwinner’ blog, April 16, 2014]. My skepticism is also based on The lost U.S. grip on the mobile computing market, including not only the device business, but software development and patterns of use in general [‘Experiencing the Cloud’, April 14, 2014].
You can judge all that for yourself as the background and my analysis behind Intel’s tablet strategy could be found in the following sections of this post below:
- Intel’s Mobile and Communications Group (MCG), which the Tablet Group is just a part of, is the largest loss maker segment with losses even growing to $3.15B in 2013 from $1.78B in 2012, and continuing at least into 20145
- Intel is desperate to cheat when comparing its current tablet performance based on Clover Trail+ against much lower priced and lesser frequency ARM Cortex-A9 tablets from brand vendors.
- Intel’s Krzanich is betting on sacrificing “contra revenue” dollars for Q2-Q4 2014 tablet market with Bay Trail-based tablets, while hoping to level the playing field with its TSMC produced SoFIA SoCs for the 2015 tablet market.
To understand the technical and business development aspects behind that strategy read my previous posts as well:
– Intel CTE initiative: Bay Trail-Entry V0 (Z3735E and Z3735D) SoCs are shipping next week in $129 Onda (昂达) V819i Android tablets—Bay Trail-Entry V2.1 (Z3735G and Z3735F) SoCs might ship in $60+ Windows 8.1 tablets from Emdoor Digital (亿道) in the 3d quarter [‘Experiencing the Cloud’, April 11, 2014]
– IDF14 Shenzhen: Intel is levelling the Wintel playing field with Android-ARM by introducing new competitive Windows tablet price points from $99 – $129 [‘Experiencing the Cloud’, April 4, 2014]
– The long awaited Windows 8.1 breakthrough opportunity with the new Intel “Bay Trail-T”, “Bay Trail-M” and “Bay Trail-D” SoCs? [‘Experiencing the Cloud’, Sept 14, 2013]
1. Intel’s Mobile and Communications Group (MCG), which the Tablet Group is just a part of, is the largest loss maker segment with losses even growing to $3.15B in 2013 from $1.78B in 2012, and continuing at least into 2014
Source: Download Quarters Q1 2014 [Intel Corporation – Investor Relations, April 16, 2014]
MCG is one of the new operating segments representing the following organisational responsibility, which is aligned with Intel’s new critical objectives (this particular segment was previously buried in the Other Intel Architecture Group):
- Mobile and Communications Group (MCG): MCG includes the Phone Group, the Tablet Group and Multi-Comm, all previously part of the Other IA operating segments.
- Mobile and Communications Group: Delivering platforms designed for the tablet and smartphone market segments; as well as mobile communications components such as baseband processors, radio frequency transceivers, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth*, global navigation satellite systems and power management chips.
Note that the previous structure of operating segments (since the end of 2012) was as seen on the right. As far as the organizational size is concerned, according to Infineon Completes Sale of Mobile Phone Business to Intel – New Company Intel Mobile Communications starts operations [Infineon press release, Jan 31, 2011]:
Following the sale, approximately 3,500 employees in total will move globally from Infineon to the new company Intel Mobile Communications GmbH (IMC). IMC will be headquartered in Neubiberg near Munich, Germany.
Then according to Intel® Mobile Communications Profile [Intel, Jan 6, 2012]:
Intel Mobile Communications GmbH is a subsidiary of Intel Corporation headquartered in Santa Clara, USA. The company develops and markets innovative semiconductor products and solutions for mobile communications – most notably in the rapid-growth market segments of smart phones, tablets and ultra-low-cost mobile phones.
The company has approximately 4,000 employees all over the world, about 1,700 of whom work in Germany where the headcount at the company headquarters in Neubiberg near Munich is approximately 1,200. Other German sites are Ulm, Regensburg, Duisburg, Dresden, Braunschweig and Nuremberg. Intel Mobile Communications is represented in altogether 17 countries around the world and has a strong presence in the Asian growth markets.
Considering that the Mobile and Communications Group (MCG) of today was put together from Intel Mobile Communications, the Tablet Group and the Phone Group, the overall number of employees in MCG is quite probably more than 6000 people.
Note that as of May 2013 MediaTek had 6,880 employees and ARM Holdings’ workforce at the same time was 2,261. As of March 2014 Allwinner Technology had 550+ employees (450 of which were engineers). In July 2013 Rockchip had more than 500 employees, 80% were engineers. In September 2013 Spreadtrum had 1,506 employees.
The 4000 strong Multi-Comm business is mostly engaged in standalone baseband processor market which had the following sales structure in 2013 according to Forward Concepts [March 24, 2014]:
Intel, the 2nd leading supplier of 3G thin modems in 2013 – will likely become the 2nd leading supplier of 3G/4G thin modems in 2014. Their focus will be on winning 3G/4G modem orders for notebooks and tablets. They will be challenged by Marvell’s 3G/4G PXA802 TD- LTE modem, which also supports TD-HSPA+ and is already shipping to ZTE.
Intel was—however—warning in its Nov 21, 2013 Investor Meeting presentation that:
In fact Strategy Analytics was painting a rather dark picture in Qualcomm’s Dominance Continues with 64 percent revenue share says Strategy Analytics [Feb 21, 2014]:
Qualcomm, MediaTek, Intel, Spreadtrum, and Broadcom captured the top-five revenue share spots in the cellular baseband processor market [which the standalone is just a part of] in 2013. Qualcomm dominated with 64 percent revenue share, followed by MediaTek with 12 percent revenue share and Intel with 8 percent revenue share.
Sravan Kundojjala, Senior Analyst, explains “Qualcomm domination in the cellular baseband market continued in 2013, thanks to its early investments in multi-mode LTE technology. The LTE baseband landscape is expected to be a crowded one in 2014 with several vendors including Broadcom, Ericsson, Intel, Marvell, MediaTek, NVIDIA, Spreadtrum and others are all set to bring commercial multi-mode LTE chip products to the market and this could help drive LTE down into mid-to-low tier devices.”
According to Stuart Robinson, Director of the Strategy Analytics Handset Component Technologies service, “Strategy Analytics calculates that revenue from baseband-integrated applications processors represented over 60 percent of total baseband revenue in 2013, up from 48 percent in 2012. Most baseband vendors have now transitioned their portfolios to include integrated products in order to boost their revenue share.”
According to Christopher Taylor, Director of the Strategy Analytics RF and Wireless Componentservice, “MediaTek overtook Intel to capture the number two spot in the 3G UMTS baseband market in 2013, by Strategy Analytics estimates. MediaTek capitalized on its smartphone chip momentum and improved its baseband-mix. MediaTek’s recent LTE chip announcements could potentially improve its baseband revenue share in future.”
Such a doomsday scenario was even more present in Qualcomm, MediaTek in Two-Horse Race, Says CLSA; Game Over for BRCM, Etc. [Tech Trader Daily at Barrons.com, Apr 11, 2014]
… and predicting many of the challengers will fold up without making a dent in Qualcomm’s position.
We believe that the baseband battle is largely over and expect more consolidation in the next 1 – 2 years. Nvidia is already shifting its investments, and we see a strong possibility that Broadcom exits in the next 6 – 9 months. Intel’s new management may have a bit more time, but we do not see enough opportunity to justify its $2bn+ investments. Marvell is least likely to exit in our view, but we expect it to remain a niche player. Overall, we expect the Qualcomm / MediaTek duopoly to get even stronger in the coming years and see positive implications for the overall industry profitability.
The baseband market has seen meaningful consolidation over the years. In 2006, there were 15 vendors in the market including larger analog IC vendors such as Texas Instruments, Freescale, and Analog Devices. The market has contracted to about 9 vendors by 2008 and currently has 7 vendors, after the recent consolidation at ST-Ericsson and Renesas.
Even if second tier vendors make significant progress in LTE, we simply do not see enough opportunity for all these vendors to achieve profitability any time soon.
MediaTek has a higher share in shipments of Chinese smartphones:
Chinese telcos, in particular China Mobile, are aggressively expanding their 4G networks, and China Mobile is targeting 100m LTE devices for 2014. While China Mobile’s target does appear aggressive, Qualcomm appears to be dominating the early shipments. We expect MediaTek-based LTE phones to start shipping in the next few months and expect a majority of MediaTek’s 3G customers to stick with the company as the China market transitions to 4G. Chinese smartphone OEMs lack the R&D capability of their international peers, and as a result, rely on turnkey solutions from MediaTek and Qualcomm. While MediaTek appears a bit late with LTE, we expect the company to maintain a strong share of the China LTE market longer term given its relationships with domestic handset manufacturers.
2. Intel is desperate to cheat when comparing its current tablet performance based on Clover Trail+ against much lower priced and lesser frequency ARM Cortex-A9 tablets from brand vendors.
For an Intel Clover Trail+ (pre-Bay Trail-T) tablet: A Four-Tablet Comparison: Intel vs. Competition [IREPRockLegend YouTube channel, April 16, 2014]
But Intel is cheating here, especially by being at least 2 times more expensive than the others (all the below prices are “best retail ones”), even discounting the 3G call capability:
- $300 (but has 3G call capability as well): Asus Fonepad 7 (Intel Atom Processor Z2560 (2 Clover Trail+ cores/4 threads, 1MB Cache, 1.60 GHz) since Q2’13)
(++Review Asus Fonepad 7 ME372CG Tablet [Notebookcheck.net, Nov 13, 2013)
- $119: Amazon Kindle Fire [7”] HD* (TI OMAP 4460 Processor (2 Cortex-A9 cores, 1.20 GHz))
[* Intel is cheating even more here as the 2nd generation figured in the above test has been replaced half a year ago by a 3d generation 7” Kindle Fire HD tablet which contains the TI OMAP 4470 with 2 Cortex-A9 cores, 1.5 GHz.]
- $160: Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 7” (ARM Cortex A9 Processor (2 Cortex-A9 cores, 1.2 GHz) )
- $139: Lenovo IdeaTab A1000 (ARM v7 Cortex A9 Processor (MediaTek 8317, Dual Core 1.2 GHz) )
The same cheating is in another new Intel video: A Three-Tablet Comparison: Intel vs. Competition [IREPRockLegend YouTube channel, April 16, 2014] where the $140 Dell Venue 7 16GB, having the same Z2560 CloverTrail+ processors goes against the same 2nd generation Amazon Kindle Fire [7”] HD and the also same Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 7”:
And finally the cheating in the 3d new video is even more inexcusable: Tablets with Intel Inside® vs. the Competition: Samsung as here the $305 Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 10.1” tablet with the same 1.6 Ghz Z2560 (and list price of is compared with the $200 Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 10.1” having just a 1 GHz Cortex-A9 dual core processor:
3. Intel’s Krzanich is betting on sacrificing “contra revenue” dollars for Q2-Q4 2014 tablet market with Bay-Trail-based tablets, while hoping to level the playing field with TSMC produced SoFIA SoCs for the 2015 tablet market
What is contra revenue? [Accounting Tools, March 5, 2013]
Contra revenue is a deduction from the gross revenue reported by a business, which results in net revenue.
Contra revenue transactions are recorded in one or more contra revenue accounts, which usually have a debit balance (as opposed to the credit balance in the typical revenue account). There are three commonly used contra revenue accounts, which are:
- Sales returns. Contains either an allowance for returned goods, or the actual amount of revenue deduction attributable to returned goods.
- Sales allowances. Contains either an allowance for reductions in the price of a product that has minor defects, or the actual amount of the allowance attributable to specific sales.
- Sales discounts. Contains the amount of sales discounts given to customers, which is usually a discount given in exchange for early payments by customers.
In fact what Intel calls in accounting terms “contra revenue” it actually represents the subsidies paid to tablet manufacturers in order bring the Bill of Materials cost of Intel tablets into line with ARM based tablets. Intel was forced into these subsidies otherwise tablet manufacturers weren’t going to offer Intel based tablets.
Intel aggressively promoting tablet CPUs in China [DIGITIMES, April 14, 2014]
Intel has resorted to an aggressive pricing strategy to promote sales of its tablet-use processors, particularly in China, a move which apparently will take on Qualcomm and MediaTek, while ramping up its market share, according to industry sources.
Prices of Intel’s mainstream quad-core tablet CPUs have dropped to below US$5, which are almost on par with those offered by China-based chipset suppliers such as Rockchip Electronics and Allwinner Technology and even below those available from Nvidia, Qualcomm and MediaTek, said the sources.
Consequently, the number of Intel-based tablets is likely to expand in a great proportion as more and more China-based brand and white-box tablet vendors are expected to use Intel’s tablet CPUs to develop new products, the sources revealed.
Intel’s new policy also focuses on deepening its relationship with the supply chain in China, highlighting by its recent announcement of establishing an Intel Smart Device Innovation Center in Shenzhen and a US$100 million Intel Capital China Smart Device Innovation Fund, commented the sources.
To encourage China-based tablet makers to use Intel’s CPUs, the chipset vendor is offering assistance in terms of design, technology and marketing, the sources indicated.
Intel’s offerings will be particularly attractive to white-box tablet makers as they can optimize low-priced chipsets and advanced technologies to roll out competitive models for the entry-level segment, added the sources.
Intel aims to ship 40 million tablet CPUs in 2014, including entry-level Bay Trail family and SoFIA 3G platform products, the sources noted.
Intel Beats on Bottom Line, Misses Revenue Expectations for Q1 Results [TheStreet YouTube channel, April 15, 2014]
From Intel Reports First-Quarter Revenue of $12.8 Billion Operating Income of $2.5 Billion, up 1 Percent Year-over-Year [news release, April 15, 2014]
Mobile and Communications Group revenue of $156 million, down 52 percent sequentially and down 61 percent year-over-year.
From Intel’s CEO Discusses Q1 2014 Results – Earnings Call Transcript [Seeking Alpha, April 15, 2014] ragarding the tablet strategy which is carried out by the Mobile and Communications Group:
Brian M. Krzanich – CEO: … We set an aggressive goal of shipping 40 million tablet SOCs this year. And I’m happy to say we’ve tallied more than 90 designs on Android and Windows and shipped 5 million units in the first quarter, placing us squarely on track to that goal.
We demonstrated SoFIA, our first integrated apps processor and baseband, after adding it to the roadmap late last year. We’re on track to ship the 3G solution to OEMs in Q4 2014, with the LTE version following in the first half of 2015.
We also shipped our first Quark SoCs for the Internet of Things and announced an upgrade of Edison to the Silvermont Atom architecture. Edison is on track to ship this summer.
And in the Technology and Manufacturing Group, who’ve worked to advance Moore’s Law as foundational to our long-term success, we began production on our 14-nanometer process technology and remain on track to launch Broadwell in the second half of the year.
And the foundry team extended our collaboration with Altera to the development of multi-dye devices that take advantage of our world-class package and assembly capabilities and Altera’s leading-edge programmable logic.
Stacy J. Smith – EVP and CFO: … The Mobile and Communications Group is down 61% from a year ago. The underlying dynamics are consistent with what we shared at the investor meeting last November.
We’re seeing a decline in our feature phone and 2G/3G multi-[com] [ph] business, as we’re in the midst of a transition to integrated LTE solutions. In addition, the ramp in tablet volume is being offset by an increase in contra revenue dollars.
We’re winning designs and ramping our tablet volume rapidly and we have design wins in LTE that will result in a second half revenue ramp.
Let me even back up and give you — again restate the strategy of what we’re doing here. … what we’re doing is we’re taking Bay Trail, which is a product really designed for the PC market, and we made the decision to take it broadly across different segments of the tablet market this year.
It brings along with it, at least over the course of 2014, a higher bill of materials. And that’s independent from the SOC cost. It’s the power management subsystem, it’s the motherboard that it goes on, it’s the memory solution, those kinds of things. And so, we’re providing some contra revenue to offset that bill of material delta over the course of 2014.
Now, as we said, we’re doing value engineering with our customers and our partners. And so we’re bringing down that bill of material over the course of 2014 independent of any changes to our SOC. …
Brian M. Krzanich – CEO: … We have a series of improvements. They have already started to kick-in in some cases around our power management systems, the number of layers in our motherboards, the memory system integration. All of those things we’ve worked on and actually have started to see the advantages already in our costs.
Stacy J. Smith – EVP and CFO: So, I think on a like dollars per unit, it comes down pretty dramatically over the course of 2014. And it should be relatively small, if at all, as we get into 2015. And it’s, again, the enablement we’re doing around the bill of materials.
And then we also have new products coming into the marketplace, like SoFIA, that’s targeted at the low end, and then in 2015 you’ll see Broxton, which is an SOC more for the mid-range to high-range of the market coming into our product portfolio.
So, the combination of all of that gives us a better cost structure with our own products and a better cost structure overall with the bill of materials as we enter 2015 and then work through 2015.
We’ll have significant unit growth in tablets. But remember that contra revenue isn’t just a gross margin impact; it’s actually a subtraction from revenue. And so that will mute the revenue growth for the segment because you have that negative as we get into the back half and ship more tablets. …
C.J. Muse – ISI Group: In terms of integrated LTE, you’ve talked about when we’ll first see that. But curious when you expect to bring that in house at Intel.
Brian M. Krzanich – CEO: We’ll bring that in on our 14-nanometer process either late 2015 or early 2016. We’re still battling back and forth on how fast we can bring it in and at what impacts that has. 14-nanometer is the technology there.
Blaine Curtis – Barclays Capital: … Maybe actually follows up on CJ’s prior question. The MPG business that you’re now breaking out, it’s pretty clear it’s losing $3 billion, $3.5 billion. How do you think about this business?
Obviously you’re trying to ramp the product set you are a bit behind. You’re entering from the low end and that pricing seems quite tough. You’re facing some subsidies that you have to do on the tablet side.
Are there some milestones that you look at to get this business back profitable? Or maybe would you consider this strategic enough that you would consider continuing to run this as a loss?
Brian M. Krzanich – CEO: So, you asked several questions in there, so let me start to pars it apart. Absolutely this is a strategic business, so let’s just start with that. We think this is critical and we said this in our prepared statements. It’s critical from 2 in 1 devices down through the Internet of Things.
You look across the connectivity requirements there; more and more of the devices are requiring integrated connectivity, whether it be LTE, 3G, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and all of these connectivities are becoming more and more required.
We don’t go into these businesses thinking that we’re going to lose money. We believe we have a roadmap to get to profitability in that business. The milestones that I look at — and so I’ll give you those for yourself to look at, we have the 7160, the current LTE version out there. We’re the second in LTE. We have the 7260 launch this quarter. I think that’s a critical there.
Again, we’re closing the gap with our competition. We’re bringing out leading edge Cat 6 capability with carrier aggregation. That’s a critical milestone. That puts — that closes the gap and puts us firmly in the LTE capability.
The next one is SoFIA. If you look at the SoFIAs at the end of this year with 3G integration and then a big first half of next year with LTE integration. Remember those products weren’t even on our roadmap six or seven months ago. So, that shows that we’re acting quickly integrating and bringing those products to production.
Then after that is, as Stacy said earlier, Broxton, which is our internal 14-nanometer product. That’s targeted towards the mid to high level. And as we bring that into the second half of 2015 and into 2016, there will be various levels of integration on that.
So, when I look across this, those are the milestones I look at, because those are what drive that along with just the basic cost reduction capabilities we talked about for this year as we get out of this contra revenue into 2015. Those products then place us firmly in leadership capability from the low end to the high end with integration. And those are the milestones to me that will lead to profitability long-term.
Stacy J. Smith – EVP and CFO: And I’ll just add to that, I think you left it off because it was so obvious, but the 40 million tablets is one of the things I see Brian just laser focused on. And as we’ve talked about before, it gets us into the 15% to 20% range of the total tablet market.
It gives us a big enough footprint that we start to see people developing on our architectures. It becomes a self-sustaining ecosystem as we’re bringing these other products to the marketplace. So, don’t lose sight of that one, Blaine.
Stacy Rasgon – Sanford C. Bernstein & Co: I wanted to dig a little bit into the mobile and wireless group. So, you’ve talked a bit about having I guess developing leadership products, leadership position in order to drive profitability. We’re looking at this right now, though. So, we had the business fall more than 50% sequentially.
You have your 7160 which is shipping but apparently it’s not really driving much volume. We have the 7260 which is forthcoming, but we really haven’t heard much about design wins. And you launched at Mobile World Congress without really saying very much there.
We have SoFIA coming, which absolutely is integrated, but it’s being made at TSMC for the next few years which means you lose any potential benefits from your own process technology. And you would seem to be well behind what the market leaders are shipping in terms of 4G.
Just what should we be looking for and over what timeframe should we be looking for, for the ramp? I guess what I’m asking is, how can we get confidence that we’re going to actually see the revenue ramp that is built into the short-term expectations for this year and then going forward, to make sure that you can actually get a profitable business, which obviously would be driving quite a bit of upside to where the models are today?
Brian M. Krzanich – CEO: Remember, the 7160, we gave you a series of products that it’s shipping in. And on the 7260, which will qualify this quarter, we gave you a list of OEM partners that have committed to that platform. So, we’re fairly confident that the ramp in the second half of this year will continue on that product. And it is a leadership product.
SoFIA, you’re right, is built at TSMC. We went for speed and integration. And it was simply quicker to get to market with a competitive product from both a price and performance. We actually believe that the IA core will give us better performance than the competition. And the competition is at that same node at TSMC. And it’s 3G at the end of this year and LTE in the first half of next year.
We then told you that in the second half of next year — and again, we’re debating whether it’s the second half or the first quarter of 2016, but we’ll move all of that internal on to 14-nanometers. And it’s really based on other products that we have moving in at that time and just overall resources all right.
We had a lot going on — the ramp of Broadwell, the ramp of Skylake in the second half of next year, plus bringing these products inside. But I’m very confident that when you do that, plus you add in Broxton, which is targeted towards the mid to high range and again is integrated with leading-edge LTE.
And don’t forget we have a roadmap of LTE products beyond the 7260 that continue the level of carrier aggregation and product leadership. We’re fairly confident that we can continue to grow this business and turn it profitable over that time.
Stacy J. Smith – EVP and CFO: And let me just comment on the question about the long-term profitability. It sounds basic, but it really stems from our manufacturing leadership. If we’re two years ahead of the rest of the industry, and extending it gives us the ability that, as we target our products into the right space from a power standpoint, we will have power advantage or performance advantage and a cost advantage.
That really is our strategy playing out. You’re seeing the first products hitting that theme over the course of this year and into early next year. Bay Trail is a really good product. For the high end of the market, you’ll see products coming into the market that are more targeted at the mid-range and lower end of the market next year. But that’s how the strategy plays out.
I’d say for 2015, I would expect to see reduction in the loss. Not profitability, but a reduction in the loss will feel pretty good when we get there and then we’ll keep driving towards the long-term profitability goal.
Stacy Rasgon – Sanford C. Bernstein & Co: I’d like to drill in a bit more. I’m actually into the tablet efforts now. So, we’re obviously subsidizing. And I get the idea of reducing BOM cost in order to make up for the deficiencies with the idea being that you can drive improved product set down the road.
But at the same time, if you look at the tablet market, where it is today, you’re obviously not going to be going after Apple any time soon. Maybe there’s a little bit of volume at Samsung. But I mean if you take those guys out, 75% of what’s left is systems that are $250 and below, where your competitors are shipping quad-core chips for much less than $10.
I’m curious to know what kind of economics and pricing you see from that market long-term. And are the — I guess the total revenue pool and profit pool that’s available, even if you were to succeed at your goals, why does that make it a worthwhile effort to actually go after? Or is this simply, as you said, strategic? Is this an attempt to limit further penetration of tablets into the core market?
Brian M. Krzanich – CEO: You’ve asked a question that has multiple questions built into it. But let’s start with what we told you was we’ve got multiple OEM partners building tablets and phones on our products. And we gave you Asus and Dell and Lenovo and Samsung on those products.
If you look at the tablet business overall, it’s broken up into a series of segments. And you’re right; there is a large percentage of them that are $250 and below. Products like SoFIA are specifically designed for that segment.
And our dual-core SoFIA already performs quite well against quad-core systems. As we move into next year, we’ll bring quad-core SoFIA-based products out, as well. And so we believe that we can stay very cost competitive and have a performance leadership.
Remember, Intel has two assets. We have our silicon technology, but we also have our architecture. And one of the things an OEM gets when they build with Intel technology is that they can go into any OS and they can build a single platform and move that on to Chrome, on to Android, on to Windows. And that’s a very unique capability that we provide to OEMs for flexibility.
So, we believe with a product like SoFIA, as we bring that into the market next year, we can absolutely compete in those spaces and make money. You’re probably not going to make as much revenue dollars and as much margin dollars as the PC business, but we think this is still critical. And it’s critical for a variety of reasons. Part of it is simply the scale. You want to have those units. You want to have a presence in all areas of computing.
And the second one is developer attention. You want developers creating new products, doing innovation on your architecture. This is a space that’s got innovation. We are going to bring some of that innovation to this market. You’re going to see some tablets as you go into the end of this year.
We showed them at CES, some of the highlights where you have 3D cameras, you have perceptual computing capabilities for gaming. All of those kinds of things can change the tablet market, along with the PC market.
So, we believe that we can bring a lot of the innovation that we do in the PC down into the tablet space. And again, that keeps the developers developing and interested in our platform. I think for all of those reasons, we want to be in this space and we will be in this space from now on.
Stacy J. Smith – EVP and CFO: That was very complete, but we don’t fear the low end of the market. You look at how we played out in PCs. You can drive a lot of unit growth by participating in PCs now that are $199 to $250. We can have the cost structure because of our manufacturing lead to participate nicely there. And you see that as markets mature, they also segment.
And so we have look, you look at our PC business, we have great demand and profitability in core I7s and it spans down to Bay Trail at the Atom segment of the market. So, it’s a misconception to think that we only want to play at the high end. Our manufacturing leadership can give us the cost structure to play profitably at the low end, as well.
Mark Lipacis – Jefferies: Brian, when you talk about the 40 million unit bogey on tablets this year, could you go through the taxonomy of that a little bit? To what extent do you think this is Windows versus Android? And what’s the class of product you think will represent the mode or the mean? Like where do you think your sweet spot is going to be this year on tablets?
Brian M. Krzanich – CEO: Our mix of OSs reflects pretty much what you see in the marketplace. So, I think, depending on how you look at it, it’s probably something on the order of 90% Android, 80% Android, 10% to 20% Windows.
Our percentages look very much like the marketplace. So, if Windows continues to grow and gain traction I think our percentage would just align directly to that. So, you can — don’t separate what we ship from what’s basically in the marketplace. We’re leadership capability on all of the OSs now.
As far as what is the price point, again, it reflects fairly close to what the marketplace is. You see us in systems below $100 now. The majority of the systems are say $125 to $250, somewhere in there. And then you see us in some of the upper end systems, $250 to $400. And so — but the majority is in that — I’d call it, $125 to probably $250 range.
Mark Lipacis – Jefferies: And then as a follow-up, did you discuss, do you expect to have the Android tablets ramping in volume this quarter? Are we going to be — should we expect to see the Bay Trail Android products at Computex this year? When do we really see the material ramp in the Android products?
Brian M. Krzanich – CEO: Sure, absolutely. You can go out to the store today and buy an Android — in fact, I’d love you to go buy one of the 40 million we’ll sell. But, yes, you can buy Android. It continues to ramp through this quarter. At Computex, we’ll show a series of Android and Windows-based tablets. And they just continue to ramp through this year. But they’re on shelves today. I saw them in the store this weekend.
Stacy J. Smith – EVP and CFO: The majority of the 5 million units, for example, are Android. Just as Brian said, it more or less follows the distribution between Windows and Android.
The Cortex-A53 as the Cortex-A7 replacement core is succeeding as a sweet-spot IP for various 64-bit high-volume market SoCs to be delivered from H2 CY14 on
… not suprisingly as it is built on the same micro-architecture. Even Intel will manufacture Cortex-A53 based SoCs for Altera (Stratix 10 FPGA SoCs) in 2015 on its leading edge Tri-Gate (FinFET) 14nm process.
With MediaTek MT6592-based True Octa-core superphones are on the market to beat Qualcomm Snapdragon 800-based ones [‘Experiencing the Cloud’, Dec 21, 2013] MediaTek will follow up with a 4G LTE MT6595 version in January, and with a 64-bit version based on Cortex-A53 instead of Cortex-A7 in H2 CY14. In this way it will be able to compete head-on with the new Qualcomm Snapdragon 410 in the most lucrative high-volume market.
According to 大陸4G啟動 聯發科快攻 [Commercial Times, Dec 10, 2013]: “MediaTek MT6590’s first 4G modem chip is expected to begin shipping next month, in addition to 4G systems integration single chip (SoC) MT6595 has appeared earlier this month in the customer’s specification sheet, and 8-core as the main design, not difficult to see MediaTek ambition to expand high-end market.”
MediaTek delivering 4G LTE chips for verification, say paper [DIGITIMES, Dec 18, 2013]
MediaTek reportedly has delivered its first 4G LTE chip, the MT6590, to potential clients for verification. The chips are expected to begin generating revenues for the IC design house in the first quarter of 2014, according to a Chinese-language Liberty Times report. The MT6590 supports five modes and 10 frequency bands.
The news echoes earlier remarks by MediaTek president Hsieh Ching-chiang stating the company plans to launch 4G chips at year-end 2013 with end-market devices powered by the 4G chips to be available in the first quarter of 2014, the paper added.
Citing data from JPMorgan Chase, the paper said shipments of MediaTek’s first 8-core chip, the MT6592, are higher than expected and shipment momentum is likely to continue into the first quarter of 2014.
The latest news: Chipset vendors to showcase 64-bit smartphone solutions at CES 2014 [DIGITIMES, Dec 23, 2013]
Chipset players including Qualcomm, Nvidia, Marvell Technology and Broadcom all are expected to showcase 64-bit processors for smartphone applications at the upcoming CES 2014 trade show, a move which will add pressure on Taiwan-based MediaTek in its efforts to expand market share with its newly released 8-core CPUs, according to industry sources.
Qualcomm has already unveiled a 64-bit-chip, the Snapdragon 410, and is expected to begin sampling in the first half of 2014, according to the company.
Nvidia, which is familiar with 64-bit computing architectures, is expected to start volume production of 64-bit chips for smartphones in the first half of 2014 at the earliest, said industry sources.
Marvell and Broadcom are also expected to highlight their 64-bit chips at CES 2014, kicking off competition in the 64-bit chipset segment, note the sources.
Meanwhile, the vendors, as well as China-based chipset suppliers Spreadtrum Communications and RDA Microelectronics, will also exert efforts to take market share from MediaTek in the entry-level to mid-range chipset segment in 2014, commented the sources.
From: 64-bit smartphones to be ushered in 2014, say sources [DIGITIMES, Dec 11, 2013]
… Qualcomm has also claimed that the Snapdragon 410 will support all major operating systems, including Android, Windows Phone and Firefox OS and that Qualcomm Reference Design versions of the processor will be available to enable rapid development time and reduce OEM R&D, designed to provide a comprehensive mobile device platform. However, the observers noted that the Snapdragon 410 chips are aiming at the mid-range LTE smartphone segment, particularly the sub-CNY1,000 (US$165) sector in China. The launch of the mid-range 64-bit Snapdragon chips also aims to widen its lead against Taiwan-based rival MediaTek in the China market, the sources added. Qualcomm said the Snapdragon 410 processor is expected to be in commercial devices in the second half of 2014. …
Samsung Electronics is also believed to be working on its own 64-bit CPUs in house and expected to launch 64-bit capable flagship models in the first half of 2014 at the earliest, said the observers.
The 64-bit versions of CPUs from MediaTek, Broadcom and Nvidia are likely to come in late 2014 or in 2015, added the sources.
Google is expected to accelerate the upgrading of its Android platform, providing an environment for software developers to work on related 64-bit applications, commented the sources.
Taiwan IC suppliers developing chips for MediaTek smartphone solutions [DIGITIMES, Dec 18, 2013]
MediaTek’s growing shipments of smartphone solutions, which are expected to top 200 million units in 2013 and 300 million units in 2014, have encouraged Taiwan-based suppliers of LCD driver ICs, power management ICs, ambient light sensors, gyroscopes, touchscreen controller ICs and MEMS microphones to develop chips that can be incorporated into these smartphone solutions, according to industry sources.
MediaTek has been focusing its R&D efforts on developments of 4- and 8-core and 4G CPUs as well as wireless chips in order to maintain its competitiveness, while relying on other IC vendors to complete its smartphone solution platforms, the sources noted.
With MediaTek’s smartphone solution shipments expected to reach 30 million units a month in 2014, any suppliers which can deliver IC parts for MediaTek’s smartphone platforms will see their revenues and profits grow substantially in 2014, the sources said.
4G LTE, 64-Bit Processing Expands Qualcomm Technologies’ Global Product Offerings and Reference Design Program
SAN DIEGO – December 09, 2013 – Qualcomm Incorporated (NASDAQ: QCOM) today announced that its wholly-owned subsidiary, Qualcomm Technologies, Inc., has introduced the Qualcomm® Snapdragon™ 410 chipset with integrated 4G LTE World Mode. The delivery of faster connections is important to the growth and adoption of smartphones in emerging regions, and Qualcomm Snapdragon chipsets are poised to address the needs of consumers as 4G LTE begins to ramp in China.
The new Snapdragon 410 chipsets are manufactured using 28nm process technology. They feature processors that are 64-bit capable along with superior graphics performance with the Adreno 306 GPU, 1080p video playback and up to a 13 Megapixel camera. Snapdragon 410 chipsets integrate 4G LTE and 3G cellular connectivity for all major modes and frequency bands across the globe and include support for Dual and Triple SIM. Together with Qualcomm RF360 Front End Solution, Snapdragon 410 chipsets will have multiband and multimode support. Snapdragon 410 chipsets also feature Qualcomm Technologies’ Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, FM and NFC functionality, and support all major navigation constellations: GPS, GLONASS, and China’s new BeiDou, which helps deliver enhanced accuracy and speed of Location data to Snapdragon-enabled handsets.
The chipset also supports all major operating systems, including the Android, Windows Phone and Firefox operating systems. Qualcomm Reference Design versions of the processor will be available to enable rapid development time and reduce OEM R&D, designed to provide a comprehensive mobile device platform. The Snapdragon 410 processor is anticipated to begin sampling in the first half of 2014 and expected to be in commercial devices in the second half of 2014.
Qualcomm Technologies also announced for the first time the intention to make 4G LTE available across all of the Snapdragon product tiers. The Snapdragon 410 processor gives the 400 product tier several 4G LTE options for high-volume mobile devices, as the third LTE-enabled solution in the product tier. By offering 4G LTE variants to its entry level smartphone lineup, Qualcomm Technologies ensures that emerging regions are equipped for this transition while also having every major 2G and 3G technology available to them. Qualcomm Technologies offers OEMs and operators differentiation through a rich feature set upon which to build innovative high-volume smartphones for budget-conscious consumers.
“We are excited to bring 4G LTE to highly affordable smartphones at a sub $150 ( ̴ 1,000 RMB) price point with the introduction of the Qualcomm Snapdragon 410 processor,” said Jeff Lorbeck, senior vice president and chief operating officer, Qualcomm Technologies, China. “The Snapdragon 410 chipset will also be the first of many 64-bit capable processors as Qualcomm Technologies helps lead the transition of the mobile ecosystem to 64-bit processing.”
Qualcomm Technologies will release the Qualcomm Reference Design (QRD) version of the Snapdragon 410 processor with support for Qualcomm RF360™ Front End Solution. The QRD program offers Qualcomm Technologies’ leading technical innovation, easy customization options, the QRD Global Enablement Solution which features regional software packages, modem configurations, testing and acceptance readiness for regional operator requirements, and access to a broad ecosystem of hardware component vendors and software application developers. Under the QRD program, customers can rapidly deliver differentiated smartphones to value-conscious consumers. There have been more than 350 public QRD-based product launches to date in collaboration with more than 40 OEMs in 18 countries.
Note that just 18 days before that there was the news that Qualcomm Technologies Announces Next Generation Qualcomm Snapdragon 805 “Ultra HD” Processor [press release, Nov 20, 2013]
Mobile Technology Leader Announces its Highest Performance Processor Designed to Deliver the Highest Quality Mobile Video, Camera and Graphics to Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 Tier
NEW YORK – November 20, 2013 – Qualcomm Incorporated (NASDAQ: QCOM) today announced that its subsidiary, Qualcomm Technologies, Inc., introduced the next generation mobile processor of the Qualcomm® Snapdragon™ 800 tier, the Qualcomm Snapdragon 805 processor, which is designed to deliver the highest-quality mobile video, imaging and graphics experiences at Ultra HD (4K) resolution, both on device and via Ultra HD TVs. Featuring the new Adreno 420 GPU, with up to 40 percent more graphics processing power than its predecessor, the Snapdragon 805 processor is the first mobile processor to offer system-level Ultra HD support, 4K video capture and playback and enhanced dual camera Image Signal Processors (ISPs), for superior performance, multitasking, power efficiency and mobile user experiences.
The Snapdragon 805 processor is Qualcomm Technologies’ newest and highest performing Snapdragon processor to date, featuring:
– Blazing fast apps and web browsing and outstanding performance: Krait 450 quad-core CPU, the first mobile CPU to run at speeds of up to 2.5 GHz per core, plus superior memory bandwidth support of up to 25.6 GB/second that is designed to provide unprecedented multimedia and web browsing performance.
– Smooth, sharp user interface and games support Ultra HD resolution: The mobile industry’s first end-to-end Ultra HD solution with on-device display concurrent with output to HDTV; features Qualcomm Technologies’ new Adreno 420 GPU, which introduces support for hardware tessellation and geometry shaders, for advanced 4K rendering, with even more realistic scenes and objects, visually stunning user interface, graphics and mobile gaming experiences at lower power.
– Fast, seamless connected mobile experiences: Custom, efficient integration with either the Qualcomm® Gobi™ MDM9x25 or the Gobi MDM9x35 modem, powering superior seamless connected mobile experiences. The Gobi MDM9x25 chipset announced in February 2013 has seen significant adoption as the first embedded, mobile computing solution to support LTE carrier aggregation and LTE Category 4 with superior peak data rates of up to 150Mbps. Additionally, Qualcomm’s most advanced Wi-Fi for mobile, 2-stream dual-band Qualcomm® VIVE™ 802.11ac, enables wireless 4K video streaming and other media-intensive applications. With a low-power PCIe interface to the QCA6174, tablets and high-end smartphones can take advantage of faster mobile Wi-Fi performance (over 600 Mbps), extended operating range and concurrent Bluetooth connections, with minimal impact on battery life.
– Ability to stream more video content at higher quality using less power: Support for Hollywood Quality Video (HQV) for video post processing, first to introduce hardware 4K HEVC (H.265) decode for mobile for extremely low-power HD video playback.
– Sharper, higher resolution photos in low light and advanced post-processing features: First Gpixel/s throughput camera support in a mobile processor designed for a significant increase in camera speed and imaging quality. Sensor processing with gyro integration enables image stabilization for sharper, crisper photos. Qualcomm Technologies is the first to announce a mobile processor with advanced, low-power, integrated sensor processing, enabled by its custom DSP, designed to deliver a wide range of sensor-enabled mobile experiences.
“Using a smartphone or tablet powered by Snapdragon 805 processor is like having an UltraHD home theater in your pocket, with 4K video, imaging and graphics, all built for mobile,” said Murthy Renduchintala, executive vice president, Qualcomm Technologies, Inc., and co-president, QCT. “We’re delivering the mobile industry’s first truly end-to-end Ultra HD solution, and coupled with our industry leading Gobi LTE modems and RF transceivers, streaming and watching content at 4K resolution will finally be possible.”
The Snapdragon 805 processor is sampling now and expected to be available in commercial devices by the first half of 2014.
The original value proposition was presented in the brief Brian Jeff highlights the ARM® Cortex™-A53 processor [ARMflix YouTube channel, Oct 30, 2012] video as follows
The Top 5 Things to Know about Cortex-A53 [Brian Jeff on ‘ARM Connected Community’, Oct 28, 2013]
The Cortex-A53 was introduced to the market in October 2012, delivering the ARMv8 instruction set and significantly increased performance in a highly efficient power and area footprint. It is available for licensing now, and will be deployed in silicon in early 2014 by multiple ARM partners. There are a few key aspects of the Cortex-A53 that developers, OEMs, and SoC designers should know:
1. ARM low power / high efficiency heritage
The ARM9 is the most licensed processor in ARM’s history with over 250 licenses sold. It identified a very important power/cost sweet spot.The Cortex-A5 (launched in 2009) was designed to fit in the CPU same power and area footprint,
while delivering significantly higher performance and power-efficiency, and bring it to modern ARMv7 feature set – software compatibility with the high end of the processor roadmap (then Cortex-A9)
The Cortex-A53 is built around a simple pipeline, 8 stages long with in-order execution like the Cortex-A7 and Cortex-A5 processors that preceded it. An instruction traversing a simple pipeline requires fewer registers and switches less logic to fetch, decode, issue, execute, and write back the results than a more complex pipeline microarchitecture. Simpler pipelines are smaller and lower power. The high efficiency Cortex-A CPU product line, consisting of Cortex-A5, Cortex-A7, and Cortex-A53, takes a design approach prioritizing efficiency first, then seeking as much performance as possible at the maximum efficiency. The added performance in each successive generation in this series comes from advances in the memory system, increasing dual-issue capability, expanded internal busses, and improved branch prediction.
2. ARM v8-A Architecture
The Cortex-A53 is fully compliant with the ARMv8-A architecture, which is the latest ARM architecture and introduces support for 64b operation while maintaining 100% backward compatibility with the broadly deployed ARMv7 architecture. The processor can switch between AArch32 and AArch64 modes of operation to allow 32bit apps and 64bit apps to run together on top of a 64bit operating system. This dual execution state support allows maximum flexibility for developers and SoC designers in managing the rollout of 64bit support in different markets. ARMv8-A brings additional features (more registers, new instructions) that bring increased performance and Cortex-A53 is able to take advantage of these.
3. Higher performance than Cortex-A9: smaller and more efficient too
The Cortex-A9 features an out-of-order pipeline, dual issue capability, and a longer pipeline than Cortex-A53 that enables 15% higher frequency operation. However the Cortex-A53 achieves higher single thread performance by pushing a simpler design farther – some of the key factors enabling the performance of the Cortex-A53 include the integrated low latency level 2 cache, the larger 512 entry main TLB, and the complex branch predictor. The Cortex-A9 has set the bar for the high end of the smartphone market through 2012 – by matching and exceeding that level of performance in a smaller footprint and power budget, the Cortex-A53 delivers performance to entry level devices that was previously enjoyed by high-end flagship mobile devices – in a lower power budget and at lower cost. The graph below compares the single thread performance of the high efficiency Cortex-A processors with the Cortex-A9. At the same frequency, Cortex-A53 delivers more than 20% higher instruction throughput than the Cortex-A9 for representative workloads.
4. Supports big.LITTLE with Cortex-A57
The Cortex-A53 is architecturally identical to the higher performance Cortex-A57 processor, and can be integrated with it in a big.LITTLE processor subsystem. big.LITTLE enables peak performance and extreme efficiency by distributing work to the right-sized processor for the task at hand.
It is described in more detail here – Ten Things to Know About big.LITTLE
The diagram above shows Cortex-A53 combined with Cortex-A57 and a Mali-T628Graphics processor in an example system. The CCI-400 cache coherent interconnect allows the 2 CPU clusters to be combined in a seamless way that allows software to manage the task allocation in a highly transparent way, as described in <link – software>. The big.LITTLE system enables peak performance at low average power.
Cortex-A53 in ideal for use in a standalone use scenario, delivering excellent performance at very low power and area enabling new features to be supported in the low cost smartphone segments Our new LITTLE processor packs a performance punch.
Read more about that in a somewhat humorous blog on Cortex-A53 from the product launch – ARM Cortex-A53 — Who You callin’ LITTLE?
5. Extensive feature set for broad application support
The Cortex-A53 includes a feature set that allows it to be configured and optimized through physical implementation tailored to mobile SoCs and to scalable enterprise systems
- AMBA 4 ACE Coherent bus
- big.LITTLE processing (2 CPU Clusters) with CCI-400 interconnect
- AMBA5 CHI Coherent bus
Scalable to 4 or more coherent CPU clustersfor low-cost servers or networking infrastructure devices.
- 16-core systems with CCN-504 or 32-core systems with CCN-508 – all on a single silicon die.
Small area, low power design
Optimized for <150mW envelope
Small area, low power design.
Likely still optimized for 150 mW. However, higher performance implementations can be used
ECC, parity available, but configurable if not needed
ECC and parity protection required for enterprise applications
- ARM Announces New High-Performance System IP to Address Demand for Energy-Efficient ‘Many-core’ Solutions for the Enterprise Market [press release, Oct 10, 2012]: “To address the significant increase in data over the next 10-15 years, and the demand for more energy-efficient network infrastructure and servers, ARM has announced the ARM® CoreLink™ CCN-504 cache coherent network. This advanced system intellectual property (IP) can deliver up to one terabit of usable system bandwidth per second.”
- ARM Launches Cortex-A50 Series, the World’s Most Energy-Efficient 64-bit Processors [press release, Oct 30, 2012]
- ARM Announces POP IP for Cortex-A50 Series Processors on TSMC 28nm HPM and 16nm FinFET Processes [press release, April 9, 2013]
- ARM Announces AMBA 5 CHI Specification to Enable High Performance, Highly Scalable System on Chip Technology [press release, June 3, 2013]
- Huawei announces global agreement to licence ARMv8 architecture – Agreement underlines Huawei’s commitment to IPR and the UK [Huawei press release, Sept 4, 2013]
- From: AMD Details Embedded Product Roadmap [AMD press release, Sept 9, 2013]:
“ ‘Hierofalcon’ CPU SoC ‘Hierofalcon’ is the first 64-bit ARM-based platform from AMD targeting embedded data center applications, communications infrastructure and industrial solutions. It will include up to eight ARM Cortex™-A57 CPUs expected to run up to 2.0 GHz, and provides high-performance memory with two 64-bit DDR3/4 channels with error correction code (ECC) for high reliability applications. The highly integrated SoC includes 10 Gb KR Ethernet and PCI-Express Gen 3 for high-speed network connectivity, making it ideal for control plane applications. The “Hierofalcon” series also provides enhanced security with support for ARM TrustZone® technology and a dedicated cryptographic security co-processor, aligning to the increased need for networked, secure systems. “Hierofalcon” is expected to be sampling in the second quarter of 2014 with production in the second half of the year.”
- MediaTek extends partnership with ARM to drive next-generation mobile and consumer technology [joint press release, Oct 8, 2013]: “MediaTek has acquired a broad license to Cortex-A50 Series processor cores and the next generation of ARM Mali graphics processing Unit (GPU) solutions.”
- Broadcom Announces Server-Class ARMv8-A Multi-Core Processor Architecture –Optimized to Deliver Industry’s Highest Performance for Next-Generation Networking and Communications Applications [Broadcom press release, Oct 15, 2013]:
- Quad-issue, quad-threaded 64-bit ARMv8-A core with superscalar out-of-order execution delivers true server-class performance
- Core enables 3-GHz performance in the advanced 16-nm FINFET process node
- Partnership with ARM aims to define and develop an open, ISA-independent Network Function Virtualization (NFV) software environment
- Coherent Interconnect Technology Supports Exponential Data Flow Growth [Ian Forsyth on ‘ARM Connected Community’, Oct 26, 2013]: “Recently I presented “Coherent Interconnect Technology Supports Exponential Data Flow Growth” at the Linley Processor conference in Santa Clara, CA where I announced a new ARM coherent interconnect product for enterprise applications, the CoreLink CCN-508. … CoreLink CCN-508 is a cache coherent network providing support for up to 32 fully coherent cores. Supported cores include Cortex-A57 and Cortex-A53.” From: “ARM is just beginning to engage with customers for the CCN-508, and it expects the first SoCs using this IP to enter production in late 2014 or early 2015.”
- Rockchip extends partnership with arm by subscription license of ATM processor and GPU technologies [press release, Nov 5, 2013]
ARM Cortex-A53 — Who You callin’ LITTLE? [Brian Jeff on ‘ARM Connected Community’, Oct 30, 2013]
I may only weigh in at just over half a square millimeter on die, but I can handle a heavy workload and I pack quite a processing punch, and frankly I’m tired of the lack of respect I get as a “LITTLE” processor. I am the CortexTM-A53 processor from ARM, some of you may have previously known me by my code name “Apollo”. Despite being three times as efficient as my big brother, the Cortex-A57, and delivering more performance than today’s current heavyweight champ the Cortex-A9, I am often overlooked.
Processor designers and consumers alike look to the big core, the top end MHz figure, and the number of big processors in the system when they evaluate devices like premium smartphones and tablets. What they don’t realize is that I’m the one running during most of the time the mobile applications cluster is awake, and I’m the one that will enable improvements in battery life even as delivered peak performance increases dramatically. It is high time that the LITTLE processor gets the respect and appreciation that is due.
I’m speaking not just for myself here, but for my close cousin the Cortex-A7. We’re built from the same DNA, so to speak, sharing the same 8-stage pipeline and in-order structure. We both consume about the same level of power on our respective production process nodes, and although I bring added performance and support 64-bit, we are both quite alike. We are 100% code compatible for 32-bit code after all. And yet we don’t get the respect we deserve. It is an injustice, really.
In high-end mobile devices, my cousin the Cortex-A7 is always telling me how everyone wants to hear about how fast the Cortex-A15 is in the system, how many Cortex-A15 CPUs are in the system, and how many MaliTM GPU cores are built into the SoC. They don’t even notice if there are four Cortex-A7 cores in the design capable of delivering plenty of performance — more performance than a lot of smartphones in the market today. They just expect battery life to improve without giving any credit to the LITTLE processor that makes it possible.
Well they will soon see… big.LITTLE processors are coming into the market next year, nearly sampling already, and the capability of the LITTLE processor will be in full view, let me tell you.
Oh, and another thing — in the enterprise space, what they call “big Iron” — there is almost no recognition of the worth of small processors there. Sure, new designs are considering LITTLE processors in many-core topologies with ARM’s CoreLinkTM Cache Coherent Network (CCN) interconnect, but look at the products that are deployed today — they are mostly based on big cores, the bigger the better. Nowhere is this more evident than in the server space, where IT managers brag about how big their server racks are. Just wait and see. New server processors are being developed based on ARM, where even my big brother the Cortex-A57 is about an order of magnitude smaller and lower power than the incumbent processors. I’m in a different weight class altogether, but I can hang with the big boys on total performance. Purpose-built servers using lots of Cortex-A53 cores can deliver even more aggregate performance in a given power and thermal envelope. But are we LITTLE cores getting much attention in servers today? No. Well just watch and see. In 2015 when the first Cortex-A50 series 64-bit processors are built for lower power servers, you won’t be able to help but notice that LITTLE processors can get key jobs done in a lot less energy.
So I may be the same size relative to my Cortex-A57 big brother as the Cortex-A7 is to the Cortex-A15, but OEMs and consumers better not underestimate me. I’ve been going through intensive work these past 2 years to build up my muscles in the places that count: my SIMD performance is way up thanks to the improved NEONTM architectural support in ARMv8 and a much wider NEON datapath. I can dual-issue almost anything. My memory system is also juiced up, as is my branch predictor capability. That’s how I can pack a bigger punch than Cortex-A9 at around a quarter the power in our respective process nodes.
That’s all I’m saying, man. You gotta respect the LITTLE processor.
From the earlier: Answered by the Experts: ARM’s Cortex A53 Lead Architect, Peter Greenhalgh [AnandTech, Dec 17, 2013]
Cortex-A53 has been designed to be able to easily replace Cortex-A7. For example, Cortex-A7 supports the same bus-interface standards (and widths) as Cortex-A7 which allows a partner who has already built a Cortex-A7 platform to rapidly convert to Cortex-A53.
A Cortex-A53 cluster only supports up to 4-cores. If more than 4-cores are required in a platform then multiple clusters can be implemented and coherently connected using an interconnect such as CCI-400. The reason for not scaling to 8-cores per cluster is that the L2 micro-architecture would need to either compromise energy-efficiency in the 1-4 core range to achieve performance in the 4-8 core range, or compromise performance in the 4-8 core range to maximise energy-efficiency in the 1-4 core range.
We expect to see a range of platform configurations using Cortex-A53. A 4+4 Cortex-A53 platform configuration is fully supported and a logical progression from a 4+4 Cortex-A7 platform.
We’re pretty happy with the 8-stage (integer) Cortex-A53 pipeline and it has served us well across the Cortex-A53, Cortex-A7 and Cortex-A5 family. So far it’s scaled nicely from 65nm to 16nm and frequencies approaching 2GHz so there’s no reason to think this won’t hold true in the future.
Cortex-A53 has the same pipeline length as Cortex-A7 so I would expect to see similar frequencies when implemented on the same process geometry. Within the same pipeline length the design team focussed on increasing dual-issue, in-order performance as far as we possibly could. This involved symmetric dual-issue of most of the instruction set, more forwarding paths in the datapaths, reduced issue latency, larger & more associative TLB, vastly increased conditional and indirect branch prediction resources and expanded instruction and data prefetching. The result of all these changes is an increase in SPECInt-2000 performance from 0.35-SPEC/Mhz on Cortex-A7 to 0.50-SPEC/Mhz on Cortex-A53. This should provide a noticeable performance uplift on the next generation of smartphones using Cortex-A53.
Due to the power-efficiency of Cortex-A53 on a 28nm platform, all 4 cores can comfortably be executing at 1.4GHz in less than 750mW which is easily sustainable in a current smartphone platform even while the GPU is in operation.
The performance per watt (energy efficiency) of Cortex-A53 is very similar to Cortex-A7. Certainly within the variation you would expect with different implementations. Largely this is down to learning from Cortex-A7 which was applied to Cortex-A53 both in performance and power.
Intel to make ARM Processors, firstly 64bit 14nm ARM Cortex-A53 ARMv8 for Altera [Charbax YouTube channel, Oct 31, 2013]
Altera Announces Quad-Core 64-bit ARM Cortex-A53 for Stratix 10 SoCs [press release, Oct 29, 2013]
Manufactured on Intel’s 14 nm Tri-Gate Process, Altera Stratix® 10 SoCs Will Deliver Industry’s Most Versatile Heterogeneous Computing Platform
Santa Clara, Calif., ARM TechCon, October 29, 2013—Altera Corporation (NASDAQ: ALTR) today announced that its Stratix 10 SoC devices, manufactured on Intel’s 14 nm Tri-Gate process, will incorporate a high-performance, quad-core 64-bit ARM Cortex™-A53 processor system, complementing the device’s floating-point digital signal processing (DSP) blocks and high-performance FPGA fabric. Coupled with Altera’s advanced system-level design tools, including OpenCL, this versatile heterogeneous computing platform will offer exceptional adaptability, performance, power efficiency and design productivity for a broad range of applications, including data center computing acceleration, radar systems and communications infrastructure.
From: Intel fabs Altera’s Stratix 10 FPGA with four ARM A53 cores [SemiAccurate, Nov 5, 2013]: Altera representatives at Techcon said that the beast would tape out in Q4/2014 or about a year from now.
From: Pigs Fly. Altera Goes with ARM on Intel 14nm [SemiWiki.com, Oct 29, 2013]:
I asked Altera about the schedule for all of this. Currently they have over 100 customers using the beta release of their software to model their applications in the Stratix 10. They have taped out a test-chip that is currently in the Intel fab. In the first half of next year they will have a broader release of the software to everyone. They will tape out the actual designs late in 2014 and have volume production starting in early 2015.
Why did they pick this processor? It has the highest power efficiency of any 64-bit processor. Plus it is backwards compatible with previous Altera families which used (32-bit) ARM Cortex-A9. The A53 has a 32-bit mode that is completely binary compatible with the A9. As I reported last week from the Linley conference, ARM is on a roll into communications infrastructure, enterprise and datacenter so there is a huge overlap between the target markets for the A53 and the target markets for the Stratix 10 SoCs.
The ARM Cortex-A53 processor, the first 64-bit processor used on a SoC FPGA, is an ideal fit for use in Stratix 10 SoCs due to its performance, power efficiency, data throughput and advanced features. The Cortex-A53 is among the most power efficient of ARM’s application-class processors, and when delivered on the 14 nm Tri-Gate process will achieve more than six times more data throughput compared to today’s highest performing SoC FPGAs. The Cortex-A53 also delivers important features, such as virtualization support, 256TB memory reach and error correction code (ECC) on L1 and L2 caches. Furthermore, the Cortex-A53 core can run in 32-bit mode, which will run Cortex-A9 operating systems and code unmodified, allowing a smooth upgrade path from Altera’s 28 nm and 20 nm SoC FPGAs.
“ARM is pleased to see Altera adopting the lowest power 64-bit architecture as an ideal complement to DSP and FPGA processing elements to create a cutting-edge heterogeneous computing platform,” said Tom Cronk, executive vice president and general manager, Processor Division, ARM. “The Cortex-A53 processor delivers industry-leading power efficiency and outstanding performance levels, and it is supported by the ARM ecosystem and its innovative software community.”
Leveraging Intel’s 14 nm Tri-Gate process and an enhanced high-performance architecture, Altera Stratix 10 SoCs will have a programmable-logic performance level of more than 1GHz; two times the core performance of current high-end 28 nm FPGAs.
“High-end networking and communications infrastructure are rapidly migrating toward heterogeneous computing architectures to achieve maximum system performance and power efficiency,” said Linley Gwennap, principal analyst at The Linley Group, a leading embedded research firm. “What Altera is doing with its Stratix 10 SoC, both in terms of silicon convergence and high-level design tool support, puts the company at the forefront of delivering heterogeneous computing platforms and positions them well to capitalize on myriad opportunities.”
By standardizing on ARM processors across its three-generation SoC portfolio, Altera will offer software compatibility and a common ARM ecosystem of tools and operating system support. Embedded developers will be able to accelerate debug cycles with Altera’s SoC Embedded Design Suite (EDS) featuring the ARM Development Studio 5 (DS-5™) Altera® Edition toolkit, the industry’s only FPGA-adaptive debug tool, as well as use Altera’s software development kit (SDK) for OpenCL to create heterogeneous implementations using the OpenCL high-level design language.
“With Stratix 10 SoCs, designers will have a versatile and powerful heterogeneous compute platform enabling them to innovate and get to market faster,” said Danny Biran, senior vice president, corporate strategy and marketing at Altera. “This will be very exciting for customers as converged silicon continues to be the best solution for complex, high-performance applications.”
Altera® programmable solutions enable designers of electronic systems to rapidly and cost effectively innovate, differentiate and win in their markets. Altera offers FPGAs, SoCs, CPLDs, ASICs and complementary technologies, such as power management, to provide high-value solutions to customers worldwide. Follow Altera viaFacebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ and RSS, andsubscribe to product update emails and newsletters. altera.com
My Altera will use Intel Custom Foundry’s 14 nm Tri-Gate (FinFET) process services to produce its new high-end SoC FPGA with 64-bit ARM Cortex-A53 IP [‘Experiencing the Cloud’, Nov 1, 2013] post was already answering in detail the following questions that arised from the above announcement:
- Why FPGAs? Why more FPGAs?
- Why SoC FPGAs?
- Why ARM with FPGA on the Intel Tri-Gate (FinFET) process, and why now?
- OpenCL for FPGAs
- Altera SoC FPGAs
Precedence for TD-LTE by Chinese government to benefit China Mobile to launch its China-originated 4G service as early as Dec 18, 2013
… it looks like the government was waiting till China Mobile was ready to launch, meanwhile delaying FDD-LTE by declaring a necessity to “test a converged TD-LTE/LTE FDD network at a later date”.
4G TD-LTE Licenses Officially Issued by MIIT [Global TD-LTE Initiative Updates, Dec 4, 2013]
After months of waiting and dithering, China is moving into the 4G era.
Today Chinese Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) has finally issued the first batch of 4G licenses to China Mobile, China Unicom and China Telecom. China Mobile gets access to 130MHz of spectrum (1880-1900 MHz, 2320-2370 MHz, 2575-2635 MHz), China Unicom gets 40MHz (2300-2320 MHz, 2555-2575 MHz) and China Telecom has 40MHz (2370-2390 MHz, 2635-2655 MHz) for TD-LTE operation. The commercialization of TD-LTE in China by these three operators will certainly promote the TD-LTE scale deployment globally.
China issues 4G licenses [Xinhua, Dec 4, 2013]
China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) on Wednesday issued 4G licenses to three Chinese telecom operators, marking the beginning of a new era in China’s high-speed mobile network.
China Mobile, China Telecom and China Unicom received permits to offer fourth-generation (4G) mobile network services employing homegrown TD-LTE technology.
The ministry said the three companies have conducted large-scale tests of TD-LTE, or Time-Division Long-Term Evolution, one of two international standards, and their technology is ready for commercial service.
Zhang Feng, the MIIT’s spokesman, said 4G technology will lower bandwidth costs and promise faster mobile broadband.
The ministry’s figures showed that the Internet speed of 4G networks is 10 times that of 3G services, and allows mobile users to download a 7-megabyte music file in less than one second.
China Mobile said the rates for 4G services will be cheaper than those for 3G. In some cities where the company has launched the 4G network for trial commercial use, the tariff is 20 percent less than similar 3G network plans.
Li Yue, president of China Mobile, said the price of 4G smartphones will go down quickly following the approval of the 4G network for commercial use.
Now only a number of smartphone models in China are equipped with modules that support home-grown 4G TD-LTE technology, with their prices ranging from 350 U.S. dollars to 800 U.S. dollars.
Li said 4G terminals for as little as 150 U.S. dollars will be available on the market by the end of this year.
The MIIT also said Wednesday it will test a converged TD-LTE/LTE FDD network at a later date.
China is the major promoter of the TD-LTE standard and is also a major owner of the standard’s core patents. LTE FDD is the other international 4G standard and is popular in Europe.
The MIIT said the convergence of the two standards is gaining momentum in the global telecom industry. A total of 10 converged TD-LTE/LTE FDD commercial networks have been established so far worldwide.
“China will issue licenses for LTE FDD when the condition is ripe,” said the ministry.
Experts believe the commercialization of TD-LTE will create a new impetus for China’s economic growth, as the country is home to the largest number of mobile phone users in the world.
The ministry’s statistics showed that the 3G network contributed 211 billion yuan (34 billion U.S. dollars) to China’s GDP in its first three years of commercial use.
“The 4G industry chain, which involves terminal manufacturing and the software sector, will further improve the services of China’s telecom sector,” said spokesman Zhang Feng.
60% of phone users in China have no plans to upgrade to 4G: report [Want China Times, Dec 6, 2013, 14:46 (GMT+8)]
More than 60% of China’s cell phone users have no plans to switch to the latest 4G technology, the Guangzhou-based Souther Daily reported on Dec. 5.
Though the paper did not give detailed information on how its poll was conducted, it said more than 60% of the people it surveyed said they are happy with their 3G smartphones and that they do not feel the need to upgrade.
Those polled said they have a greater choice of 3G smartphones at more competitive prices than the 4G options currently available.
Southern Daily said 4G services, for which the government began to issue licenses this week, would be attractive for the younger generation in particular but telecom carriers may need to offer more promotions and incentives to persuade people to retire their current cell phones.
What are the differences between TDD LTE (TD-LTE) and FDD LTE (FD-LTE)? [Global TD-LTE Initiative, Nov 4, 2013]
FDD LTE and TDD LTE are two different standards of LTE 4G technology. LTE is a high-speed wireless technology from the 3GPP standard. 3G growth reached its end at HSPA+, and mobile operators have already started deploying 4G networks to provide much more bandwidth for mobile users. 4G speed will provide a virtual LAN reality to mobile handsets by offering very high speed access to the Internet to experience real triple play services such as data, voice and video from a mobile network.
LTE is defined to support both the paired spectrum for Frequency Division Duplex (FDD) and unpaired spectrum for Time Division Duplex (TDD). LTE FDD uses a paired spectrum that comes from a migration path of the 3G network, whereas TDD LTE uses an unpaired spectrum that evolved from TD-SCDMA.
TD-LTE does not require a paired spectrum since transmission and reception occurs in the same channel. In FD-LTE, it requires a paired spectrum with different frequencies with a guard band.
TD-LTE is cheaper than FD-LTE since in TD-LTE there is no need for a diplexer to isolate transmission and receptions.
In TD-LTE, it’s possible to change the uplink and downlink capacity ratio dynamically according to the needs. In FD-LTE, capacity is determined by frequency allocation by regulatory authorities, making it difficult to make a dynamic change.
In TD-LTE, a larger guard period is necessary to maintain the uplink and downlink separation that will affect the capacity. In FD-LTE, the same concept is referred to as a guard band for isolation of uplink and downlink, which will not affect capacity.
Cross slot interference exists in TD-LTE, which is not applicable to FD-LTE.
What are TD-LTE’s technical highlights? [Global TD-LTE Initiative, Nov 4, 2013]
TD-LTE transmissions travel in both directions on the same frequency band, a methodology formally known as “unpaired spectrum.” It is distinct from “paired spectrum,” where two frequencies are allocated, one for the transmit channel and the other for the receive channel (formally called “Frequency Division”). “Time Division” means the receive channel and the transmit channel take turns (i.e., divide the time between them) on the same frequency band. The time divisions are asymmetric, meaning that more time-slots are allocated to data going from the tower to the phone than from the phone to the tower. The usage patterns of the future (fewer phone calls, more Internet) are asymmetric in this manner.
The frequency bands used by TD-LTE are 3.4–3.6 GHz in Australia and the UK, 2.57−2.62 GHz in the US and China, 2.545-2.575 GHz in Japan, and 2.3–2.4 GHz in India and Australia. The technology supports scalable channel bandwidth, between 1.4 and 20 MHz. A typical range measures up to 200 meters indoors on a 2.57–2.62 GHz radio frequency link.
China Telecommunications: Who says TD-LTE doesn’t work? [Global TD-LTE Initiative Updates, Nov 25, 2013]
Our existing ‘counter consensus’ view on the outlook for Chinese Telecoms is based on the belief that LTE will cause a reversal of fortune among the key players. China Mobile will solve the biggest problem identified in our consumer research (slow data speeds) and will once again have the ‘best’ mobile network in China on all dimensions. China Unicom, having gained strong momentum on the basis of their superior 3G data speeds will face a slowing of momentum – at least among high value customers seeking the latest technology
Over the last few weeks we have heard many arguments from China Mobile Bears as to why our hypothesis will be wrong. The initial arguments are usually targeted at the technology itself – that TD-LTE is a Chinese standard and a poor cousin to the much better FD-LTE more popular in Europe (it isn’t), that it doesn’t handle voice calls well (irrelevant – no operator in the world has launched a new LTE network with voice over LTE – in all cases they use existing 2G or 3G networks for voice), that handsets will not be available (ever heard of the iPhone? Not to mention Samsung, Sony, HTC, Huawei…)
China Mobile launched its TD-LTE network in Shenzhen for ‘test’ operations in early November. We thought the best way to address the Bear’s technology concerns was to go test the network for ourselves. Nearly 120 speed tests conducted from different indoor and outdoor locations supported our hypothesis that TD-LTE will be demonstratively better than Unicom’s existing 3G network in data speeds. On average we experienced download speeds 10 times faster, upload speeds 7 times faster and a dramatic improvement in latency. We concur that service coverage for LTE is currently weaker, but locations meaningful to high value customers are already largely covered. Coverage will continue to improve as China Mobile rolls out new sites.
Over the last few years, China Mobile has underperformed the market while Unicom has outperformed – we attribute most of the difference in fortune of these two companies to the relative data speed of their respective 3G networks. We believe the launch of TD-LTE services by China Mobile will start the process of reversing this. Speed test in Shenzhen affirm our belief that TD-LTE technology works and is demonstratively superior to W-CDMA in data speeds.
Click to download:
China Telecommunications: Who says TD-LTE doesn’t work?
We experienced lightning speeds in Shenzhen
[a 10 pages long whitepaper by Berstein Research, Nov 18, 2013]
Some important excerpts from that:
China Mobile has been selling TD-LTE devices and rate plans in Shenzhen since November 1st. As 4G licenses are not yet issued, these sales are described as “trials” and are limited to a small number of devices and are only available in a few cities. The LTE rate plans are provisional: service contracts are signed under a 3G rate plan which will transfer to a 4G plan in January. We believe that sales of 4G services in advance of an actual license is an aggressive move, and highlights how important 4G is for China Mobile’s management.
We conducted over 100 speed tests in Shenzhen to compare the new TD-LTE network versus Unicom’s existing 3G network. Unicom has benefited tremendously from China Mobile’s misfortune with TD-SCDMA and its own good fortune of being licensed with WCDMA. Unicom also stands to suffer the most if its leadership on speed is lost. Our proprietary customer research indicated this was a key buying factor for many of Unicom’s existing customers. We went to Shenzhen (one of the cities where China Mobile is already selling 4G services) to pit China Unicom and China Mobile’s networks head-to-head. We conducted ~120 tests across various locations (indoors, outdoors, in-transit, and under-ground) to reach robust conclusions on speed, latency and coverage. Our test approach and sampling criteria are shown on Exhibit 1; our 4G test equipments are shown in Exhibits 2 and 3.
As expected, our test highlighted that TD-SCDMA lags Unicom’s WCDMA in 3G data speeds. First we wanted to confirm Unicom’s data speed superiority over China Mobile on 3G network. As expected we found Unicom’s WCDMA to download and upload around 3 times faster than China Mobile’s TD-SCDMA. TD-SCDMA clocked an average of 1.1MB/s on download and 0.2MB/s on upload, compared to 2.7MB/s and 0.7MB/s for WCDMA. These results were broadly similar to field tests done by the Chinese Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) in 2010 (see Exhibits 4 and 5).
However, China Mobile’s TD-LTE is everything it is promised to be: the new leader in data speed. We then moved on to test TD-LTE… We found it had 3 times less latency (Exhibit 6) which improves the browsing experience making the phone feel more responsive. Download speeds clocked an average of 26.2MB/s, which was ~10 times faster than Unicom’s 3G network (Exhibit 7). Upload speeds averaged 5MB/s, which was 7 times faster than Unicom’s 3G (Exhibit 8). These performance levels were consistently observed across all locations where there was a signal. Part of TD-LTE’s outperformance is due to a lack of users on the network, however, given the large amount of spectrum expected to be allocated for LTE services we believe there will continue to be a material performance advantage over WCDMA even as the subscriber base expands.
The TD-LTE network had more coverage gaps but this will improve over time. China Mobile’s TD-LTE network did have some coverage issues, even within urban Shenzhen. However the problem was less significant than feared. All the outdoor sites tested received good signals, and high traffic indoor locations (e.g. shopping malls, cafes) are also covered. The only test site where we failed to receive a signal was the underground metro station (Refer back to Exhibit 1). We suspect there are many more ‘gaps’ around, but these will be progressively fixed over time.
Anecdotally there appears to be pent-up demand for TD-LTE services; improving availability of handsets will be key to unlocking this. Currently there are only two LTE handsets available from China Mobile: a Samsung Galaxy Note II at 5299RMB [$871] and a cheaper Huawei model at 2888RMB [$475]. One clerk told us that since launching 4G “trials” 2 weeks ago, her store had only sold one TD-LTE phone. However many customers with TD-LTE compatible iPhones (5S/5C models bought in Hong Kong) are signing up to 4G plans. We are wary of making too much from this, but agree that improving handset availability will be key to a broader uptake of the service. With integrated 2G/3G/4G chipsets available and China now being the largest smartphone market, we believe it will not be long before a large number of mid to low end devices start to appear on the market.
More than Half of Asian Population Will Be Covered by LTE-TDD by 2018 [ABI Research News, Nov 4, 2013]
LTE network deployments will continue to grow rapidly globally. Time-division duplex (TDD) network is picking up the pace and gaining more market traction. In Asia-Pacific, LTE-TDD networks will cover more than 53% of the population by 2018 at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 41.1% between 2012 and 2018, while frequency-division duplex (FDD) networks will reach 49% population coverage by the end of 2018.
“The increase of LTE-TDD population coverage is mainly driven by wide deployment in some Asian countries with large populations, such as China, India, and Japan,” comments Marina Lu, research associate at ABI Research. “Due to its complementarity of using unpaired spectrum, a number of LTE-FDD operators will expand their networks with LTE-TDD in additional spectrum to improve network capacity.”
Among Asia-Pacific’s recently completed, on-going, and upcoming 4G spectrum auctions, 25% concern 2,600 MHz, 25% 1,800 MHz, and 20% 800 MHz, which is consistent with the popularity of the 2,600 MHz band for LTE-TDD networks. “Asia-Pacific will be the region with the most LTE-TDD networks,” adds Jake Saunders, VP and practice director. “Of global LTE-TDD concluded contracts awarded to vendors so far, 47% come from Asia-Pacific and the second largest portion of 18% is contributed by the Middle East.”
Considering spectrum efficiency, spectrum bandwidth, network capacity, etc., a number of operators are preparing to upgrade LTE networks to LTE-Advanced networks. In ABI Research’s latest survey, there have been 29 LTE Advanced network commitments worldwide by Q3 2013, of which 10 commitments come from Western Europe, 9 from Asia-Pacific, and 5 from North America.
TD-LTE global market overview [Global TD-LTE Initiative Updates, Sept 13, 2013]
With the Long Term Evolution (LTE) standard continuing to develop, international differences in plannings and frequency allocation timetables have resulted in different frequency bands being used in different countries. TD-LTE standard’s greater efficiency in terms of frequency spectrum usage has attracted the attention of carriers in a number of other countries.
21 TD-LTE commercial networks have been launched as of August, 2013, and 39 LTE TDD commercial networks are in progress or planned. (Source: GSA)
TD-LTE’s unique features have also played an important part in the technology’s growing stature in the market. Because TD-LTE makes asymmetrical use of unpaired spectrum, for both uplink and downlink, it is a spectral efficient technology. Spectrum is a valuable commodity for mobile operators, especially those who operate in countries where there is a limited amount of available FDD spectrum; or where only single unpaired frequency is available. Driven by its spectral efficiency, TD-LTE is now increasingly being viewed as an attractive proposition in markets.
GSA confirms 244 LTE networks are commercially launched, LTE1800 now mainstream [news article by GSA, Dec 5, 2013]
The latest update of the Evolution to LTE report from GSA (Global mobile Suppliers Association) confirms that 244 operators have commercially launched LTE services in 92 countries.
98 LTE networks have been commercially launched so far in 2013.
The report confirms that 499 operators are investing in LTE in 143 countries. This is made up of 448 firm operator commitments to build LTE networks in 134 countries, plus 51 additional operators engaged in various trials, studies, etc. in a further 9 countries.
From amongst the committed operators, 244 have commercially launched services, which is 78% more than a year ago.
GSA forecasts there will be 260 LTE networks in commercial service by the end of this year.
The majority of LTE operators have deployed the FDD mode of the standard. The most widely used band in network deployments continues to be 1800 MHz which is used in over 44% of commercially launched LTE networks. 108 operators worldwide have launched LTE1800 (band 3) systems, 157% more than a year ago, in 58 countries, either as a single band system, or as part of a multi-band deployment.
1800 MHz spectrum is typically refarmed from its original use for 2G/GSM, facilitated by technology-neutral licensing policies.
As 1800 MHz is the prime band for LTE deployments worldwide, it will greatly assist international roaming for mobile broadband. Mobile licences for 1800 MHz have been awarded to 350+ operators in nearly 150 countries.
The number of LTE1800 terminals has tripled in each of the past 2 years. One third of all announced LTE user devices can operate in 1800 MHz band 3 spectrum. LTE1800 is a mature, mainstream technology.
The next most popular contiguous bands are 2.6 GHz (band 7) as used in 29% of networks in commercial service today, followed by 800 MHz (band 20) in 12% of networks, and AWS (band 4) in 8% of networks.
Interest in the TDD mode continues to be strengthening globally ahead of the large-scale commercial deployments in China. Worldwide, 25 LTE TDD (TD-LTE) systems are commercially launched in 20 countries, of which 12 are deployed in combined LTE FDD & TDD operations.
The report includes a growing list of operators who have commercially launched or preparing to introduce enhancements to their networks including multicarrier support for Category 4 user devices (150 Mbps theoretical peak downlink speed), and LTE-Advanced features, especially carrier aggregation, which is a key trend.
The report also confirms how voice service has moved up the agenda for many LTE operators as network coverage has improved (nationwide in many cases) and as the penetration and usage of LTE-capable smartphones has increased. VoLTE services have been launched by operators in Asia, Europe, and North America and several more operators have committed to VoLTE deployments and launches over the next few months.
The Evolution to LTE report (December 5, 2013) is a free download for registered site users
Registration page for new users: http://www.gsacom.com/user/register
Numerous charts, maps etc. confirming the progress of mobile broadband developments including LTE are also available on the home page and at www.gsacom.com/news/statistics.
GSA confirms 1,240 LTE user devices launched, support building for LTE-Advanced systems [news article by GSA, Nov 7, 2013]
The latest update to the ‘Status of the LTE Ecosystem’ report published by the GSA (Global mobile Suppliers Association) confirms that 120 manufacturers have announced 1,240 LTE-enabled user devices, including frequency and carrier variants.
680 new LTE user devices were announced in the past year. The number of manufacturers increased by 44% in this period. Smartphones continue to be the largest LTE device category with 455 products released, representing 36% share of all LTE device types. 99% of LTE smartphones also operate on 3G networks (HSPA/HSPA+ or EV-DO or TD-SCDMA technologies).
The report embraced devices that operate on the FDD and/or TDD modes of the LTE system. The majority of products are designed for operation in the FDD mode. However, 274 devices can operate in the LTE TDD (TD-LTE) mode, and this figure is 159 higher than a year ago.
The largest LTE device ecosystems for the FDD bands are as follows:
– 2600 MHz band 7 = 448 devices
– 1800 MHz band 3 = 412 devices
– 800 MHz band 20 = 314 devices
– 2100 MHz band 1 = 305 devices
– 700 MHz bands 12, 17 = 289 devices
– AWS band 4 = 279 devices
– 700 MHz band 13 = 250 devices
– 850 MHz band 5 = 189 devices
– 900 MHz band 8 = 174 devices
– 1900 MHz band 2 = 134 devices
– 2600 MHz band 38 = 197 devices
– 2300 MHz band 40 = 184 devices
– 1900 MHz band 39 = 71 devices
– 2600 MHz band 41 = 63 devices
– 2500 MHz bands 42, 43 = 15 devices
(totals include carrier and operator variants)
The Evolution to LTE report (October 17, 2013) is also available as a free download to registered site users via the link at http://www.gsacom.com/gsm3g/infopapers
Note that by the time of 4G based on TD-LTE the leading edge of LTE will much further ahead as SK Telecom Demonstrates 225 Mbps LTE-Advanced [press release, Nov 28, 2013]
- Successfully demonstrates the upgraded LTE-Advanced: Aggregates 20MHz bandwidth in 1.8GHz band and 10MHz bandwidth in 800MHz band to offer up to 225Mbps of speed
- Expects to launch the ‘20MHz+10MHz’ LTE-Advanced service in the second half of 2014 and plans to introduce 3 Band Carrier Aggregation in an early manner
SK Telecom (NYSE:SKM) today held a press conference to demonstrate the upgraded LTE-Advanced service that offers up to 225Mbps of speed by aggregating 20MHz bandwidth in 1.8GHz band and 10MHz bandwidth in 800MHz band.
LTE can only offer up to 150Mbps of speeds using a maximum of 20MHz of continuous spectrum in one band, while LTE-Advanced can support speeds over 150Mbps by combining different bands through Carrier Aggregation (CA).
In June 2013, SK Telecom has commercialized, for the first time in the world, LTE-Advanced service using 10MHz bandwidth in 1.8GHz band and 10MHz bandwidth in 800MHz band. Backed by a wide range of mobile value added services specially designed for the LTE-Advanced network, and a rich lineup of LTE-Advanced capable devices (8 different smartphone models), SK Telecom’s LTE-Advanced service is attracting subscribers at a rapid pace.
Moreover, on August 30, 2013, SK Telecom has gained authorization to operate the 35 MHz bandwidth (20 downlink + 15 uplink) in 1.8GHz band, and immediately launched diverse measures to strengthen both its LTE and LTE-Advanced services by utilizing the newly acquired bandwidth.
Once SK Telecom commercializes the upgraded LTE-Advanced (20MHz+10MHz), customers will be able to download an 800MB movie in just 28 seconds, significantly faster than other networks. Measured at their maximum speeds, downloading the same movie file via 3G, LTE, and the existing LTE-Advanced (10MHz+10MHz) would take 7 minutes and 24 seconds, 1 minute and 25 seconds, and 43 seconds, respectively.
The company said that it expects to launch the ‘20MHz+10MHz’ LTE-Advanced service nationwide through smartphones in the second half of 2014 as the smartphone chipset that supports 225 Mbps of speeds is currently being developed.
Furthermore, by successfully demonstrating the ‘20MHz+10MHz’ CA, SK Telecom moves one step closer to realizing the next level of LTE-Advanced technology: Aggregating three component carriers (20MHz+10MHz+10MHz) to support up to 300Mbps of speed.
Alex Jinsung Choi, Executive Vice President and Head of ICT R&D Division at SK Telecom said, “SK Telecom has been leading the development of wireless networks since it commercialized CDMA (2G) technology for the world’s first time in 1996. Today’s successful demonstration of 225 Mbps LTE-Advanced will serve as a momentum for SK Telecom to realize more innovative network technologies, which will also lead to the growth of relevant industries, including device, content and convergence fields.”
But already SK Telecom, China Mobile agree on automatic LTE roaming service [Yonhap, Dec 5, 2013]
SK Telecom Co., South Korea’s largest mobile operator, said Thursday that it has agreed to launch an automatic international Long Term Evolution (LTE) roaming service with China Mobile Ltd., as well as other LTE services.
Under the deal, travelers and businesspeople will be able to use their regular LTE services offered by the two mobile carriers more easily between the two countries, according to SK Telecom.
About 6.8 million Koreans and Chinese traveled between the two countries last year.
Early this year, SK Telecom and CSL Ltd. of Hong Kong successfully demonstrated the compatibility of their two LTE networks. The international automatic LTE roaming service has been available since June this year.
Since October, SK Telecom also has offered a similar roaming service with Saudi Arabia.
New era for mobiles as 4G licenses issued to carriers [Xinhuanet, Dec 5, 2013]
China issued long-awaited 4G licenses to three telecommunications carriers yesterday, which would offer mobile Internet access 20 to 50 times faster than the current 3G network and create a new trillion-yuan market for devices and services.
China, the world’s biggest mobile phone market, has now officially entered the 4G era five years after it issued 3G licenses. The technology is widely adopted in the United States, Europe, Japan, South Korea and other regional markets.
The network, along with e-commerce and software businesses, is expected to boost information consumption and market demand, and encourage innovation in China, according to the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology.
China Mobile will launch 4G services in Shanghai, Beijing and 11 other cities by the end of this year. The number of cities will expand to 340 by the end of 2014.
Users can upgrade to the 4G network without changing phone numbers, China Mobile said yesterday. It has been testing 4G networks for two years.
China Mobile, China Unicom and China Telecom all got 4G licenses based on TD-LTE (time division-long term evolution) technology. China Unicom and China Telecom also got approval to test another 4G technology FD-LTE (frequency division-LTE), which is mainly used in overseas markets.
China will issue FD-LTE 4G licenses later, the ministry said.
China Mobile also got the approval to operate fixed-line business including family broadband, which makes it possible to launch bundled services, the ministry added.
“It’s a national strategy to boost commercial 4G development to boost consumption and fuel-related investment,” the ministry said on its website.
The ministry said that 4G had become an engine for the development of the whole IT industry, fueling demand for the latest smartphones. With greatly improved speed and more powerful phones, new mobile Internet services will appear that will enrich people’s daily lives, the ministry said.
With 4G, mobile users can download a film (700 megabytes) in two minutes and a high-quality song (7MB) in less than a second. More 4G-related services such as video on demand, conferencing, high-quality music streaming, multiplayer games and remote video monitoring for medical and security services are being tested, industry insiders said.
The initial investment for 4G will reach 500 billion yuan (US$82 billion) in a few years, and is expected to hit 1 trillion yuan with the industry’s development.
“4G LTE is the fastest growing mobile technology since the inception of mobility some 25 years ago. And we know that mobile broadband will have a huge impact on people, business and society and be one of the most critical infrastructures for any country,” Hans Vestberg, chief executive of Ericsson, the world’s largest telecommunications equipment vendor.
By 2019, China will be home to 700 million mobile subscribers on 4G, making it the world’s biggest 4G market, according to Ericsson.
Equipment makers including Ericsson, Huawei, ZTE and Alcatel-Lucent Shanghai Bell are going to benefit from the 4G wave.
“We are fully prepared for providing handsets for China’s own 4G technology, from entry-level to high-end phones,” said Cher Wang, HTC’s chairman.
China Mobile is going to launch 4G services with a new brand He, meaning harmony in Chinese, on December 17. The carrier may offer iPhones supporting TD-LTE then, according to industry sources.
In cities such as Beijing and Shenzhen, China Mobile have allowed users to apply for trial commercial use of 4G services with their own devices. In Shanghai, more than 1,800 people had been invited to test 4G services.
Its target is to cover 100 cities by the middle of next year and 340 by the end of 2014, when it plans to launch 4G phones that cost less than 1,000 yuan each. In the first half, it will launch 50 new 4G phones.
In Shanghai, nine TD-LTE phones will be available by the end of this year. Users can apply for 4G services at China Mobile’s outlets on Madang Road and Minsheng Road initially, to be expanded to 20 outlets citywide.
Shanghai Mobile also plans to establish an additional 3,000 4G base stations next year from the current 700, to cover the whole city including suburban and rural regions.
(Source: Shanghai Daily)
From 2013 Interim Results Presentation as of Aug 15, 2013
From China Mobile 2012 Annual Report [April 25, 2013]
… starting from 2013, we commenced investments in the development of TD-LTE network. We intend to use the TD-LTE network to primarily carry high bandwidth and high quality wireless broadband businesses. In 2012, the extended large scale trial of the TD-LTE network was carried out in 15 cities in Mainland China and approximately 20,000 base stations were built. The quality and scale of the TD-LTE networks in Hangzhou, Guangzhou and Shenzhen have reached pre-commercial standard. In addition, we started providing commercial 4G services in Hong Kong in 2012 with the LTE FDD and TD-LTE bandwidths we previously obtained from the Office of the Telecommunications Authority of Hong Kong in 2009 and 2012, respectively. We plan to construct more than 200,000 TD-LTE base stations in 2013. [Certain 3G base stations may also be upgraded to TD-LTE base stations.]
China Mobile lifts hopes of Apple deal and 4G launch [Shanghai Daily via Xinhuanet, Oct 31, 2013]
China Mobile is raising consumer hopes that the next-generation 4G mobile network will be launched soon and that a long-awaited deal between the world’s largest telco and Apple Inc may be unveiled as early as next week.
The telco’s website displays a cartoon tornado advertisement that announces “the invasion of 4G” and “November 9-11.” The ad links to a page showing two images of smartphones that resemble iPhones and a caption that says “special discounts.”
November 11, or Singles’ Day, is the busiest shopping day of the year in China. Last year, it generated 4 billion U.S.dollars in online sales alone, according to retail consultant McKinsey Global Institute.
China Mobile declined to comment but its senior executives said earlier that it would distribute 4G phones, including Apple’s latest iPhone 5S, after China issues 4G licenses expected by the end of this year.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology has approved the sale of several 4G models made by Sony, ZTE and other vendors.
China Mobile hopes the expected tie-up with Apple will boost revenue and profit, especially in the high-end market segment, after its net profit for the first three quarters of this year fell for the first time by 1.9 percent to 91.5 billion yuan (14.8 billion U.S.dollars).
China Mobile’s Beijing branch jumps on 4G technology wave [China Daily USA, Nov 6, 2013]
Carrier to begin sales of newest network-enabled smartphones
Beijing has become the latest Chinese city to join the wave of tests for fourth generation, or 4G, mobile networks, despite the fact that the government has yet to issue 4G licenses to telecom carriers.
On Tuesday, China Mobile Ltd’s Beijing branch said it would start sales of 4G smartphones on Wednesday. The first batch of 4G handsets includes two models – Sony Corp’s M35T and Samsung Electronics Co Ltd’s Galaxy Note 2.
Customers do not need to change their phone numbers but just have to get a new SIM card for their 4G handsets, according to a statement from China Mobile. Fourth-generation wireless networks achieve data download speeds of up to 80 megabits per second, four times faster than 3G networks.
However, the coverage of 4G networks in Beijing is limited, said Gao Shu, a spokeswoman for China Mobile’s Beijing branch. Only people in areas inside the capital’s Third Ring Road will be able to access the network.
“Our 4G smartphones are aimed at high-end, white-collar workers in Beijing,” Gao said.
Before Beijing, a handful of affluent Chinese cities, including Guangzhou and Hangzhou, have started offering 4G services on a trial basis.
China Mobile – the only operator in the country currently testing 4G networks – has adopted the domestic Time Division-Long Term Evolution (TD-LTE) 4G technology.
The number of applicants for 4G services is expected to surpass 100,000 in major cities, according to a China Mobile official, who asked not to be named.
Meanwhile, the lack of mature 4G smartphones has long been seen as a major obstacle for the expansion of China Mobile’s 4G business. But the situation has improved in recent months. According to a report from Bank of China International Securities, as of Sept 11, smartphone models received the permission from Chinese authorities to run on 4G networks. The new smartphones are being made by domestic and international companies, including Samsung, Sony, Huawei Technologies Co Ltd and ZTE Corp, the report said.
“The planned 4G commercial rollout is very good news for China Mobile, as well as for smartphone companies and mobile Internet companies,” said Wang Jun, an analyst with Beijing-based research firm Analysys International.
China Mobile’s net profit dropped 9 percent in the third quarter partly due to the increasing challenges posed by mobile Internet applications such as Tencent Holdings Ltd’s WeChat.
“The 4G business can help the carrier to attract more high-end users from rivals,” Wang said.
Apple Inc has also said that its latest iPhone 5S and iPhone 5C handsets may support TD-LTE technology.
James Yan, an analyst with IDC China, pointed out that the timing for launching 4G services in China is right.
“The environment could not be better. Customers favor smartphones, carriers have the motivation to do 4G services, and distributors know how to sell 4G products to people,” Yan said.
The launch of 4G services in China will definitely be a new driver for the growth of the nation’s smartphone market, he added.
“4G will be an important factor to make people buy new phones,” Yan said.
Ryan Reith, program director at IDC’s Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker, said that China has become one of the fastest-growing smartphone markets in the world, accounting for more than one-third of total shipments in the third quarter of the year.
China Mobile to launch all-service brand [China Daily, Nov 20, 2013]
China Mobile Ltd, the nation’s biggest telecom carrier by subscriber numbers, revealed onTuesday that it would officially launch a new brand “He” (And) on Dec 18, mainly targeting the upcoming fourth generation (4G) mobile business.
The new brand’s logo features grass green and peach blossom colors. According to ChinaMobile officials, the company’s current-running brands – GoTone, EasyOwn, M-Zone and G3for 3G mobile services, will be phased out after the launch of “He”.
That means “He” will take the stage as an all-service brand for China Mobile and provide customers with integrated 2G, 3G and 4G mobile services.
Commercial 4G to start December 18 [Shanghai Daily, Nov 25, 2013]
China will start commercial 4G mobile communications services on December 18, bringing the most advanced telecommunications technology to the country’s more than 1 billion mobile users.
China Mobile, the country’s No. 1 mobile operator with over 700 million users, will start 4G services on that date with a new brand He, meaning harmonious in the Chinese language.
China is expected to issue licences for 4G before the telco’s new services start.
“It will be a national event and users are allowed to apply for 4G services without changing numbers,” said a Shanghai Mobile official.
Users in Beijing, Guangzhou and Chongqing will be the first to enjoy commercial 4G, or fourth generation, services. Shanghai, which is still building a citywide 4G network, will launch the services later.
Though China is the world’s biggest mobile phone market with more than 1 billion users on its mainland, it lacks the 4G technology that is used in some other countries and regions including the United States, South Korea, Japan, Singapore and Hong Kong.
The 4G phone will become rapidly popular on China’s mainland, thanks to the low cost of 4G phones, according to Li Yue, China Mobile’s president, who expects some 4G phones priced below 1,000 yuan (US$162) to appear in the second half of next year.
Apple Inc is also set to introduce iPhones supporting the 4G network in China, industry insiders said. The US giant and China Mobile are in negotiations over the 4G iPhone and they will launch it officially on December 18.
China Telecom and China Unicom are now Apple’s carrier partners for its smartphone on the Chinese mainland.
China Mobile still talking to Apple on iPhones [Reuters, Dec 5, 2013 9:27am EST]
Earlier in the day, the Wall Street Journal reported that the two giants had signed a deal, citing an anonymous source familiar with the matter.
Moody’s: TD-LTE License Is Credit Positive for China Mobile [Moody’ Global Credit Research announcement, Dec 6, 2013]
Hong Kong, December 06, 2013 — Moody’s Investors Service says that the Chinese government’s decision to issue a Time-Division Long-Term Evolution (TD-LTE), or 4G, license, is credit positive for China Mobile Limited (Aa3 stable) as this will help strengthen its market position in the growing wireless data business.
On 4 December, China Mobile announced that the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology had granted its parent, China Mobile Communications Corporation (CMCC, unrated), permission to operate the TD-LTE business and China Mobile will assist CMCC in the construction and operations of the TD-LTE network.
China Mobile is likely to enjoy the first mover advantage in the TD-LTE business as it has been investing in the technology since early 2013, well ahead of its competitors.
China Mobile targets to build over 200,000 commercial-ready base stations and expand its network coverage to 100 major cities by the end of this year. It has already started trials in some of the major cities, including Beijing.
While its two major competitors — such as China United Network Communications Group Co Ltd (China Unicom, unrated) and China Telecom Corporation (unrated) — also obtained TD-LTE licenses at the same time, we expect these companies to only start major investments in 2014.
In fact, these companies plan to use Frequency Division Duplex (FDD)-LTE — an international standard used outside China — as their mainstream 4G technology. However, the FDD-LTE licenses have not yet been granted and any delay in the issuance of the licenses will be advantageous for China Mobile.
Although TD-LTE is a home-grown technology, China Mobile is unlikely to be hampered by the lack of choice in 4G handsets, as was the case with its 3G indigenous technology platform (Time Division-Code Division Multiple Access, or TD-SCDMA).
TD-LTE technology has been accepted internationally, with 59 operators and 54 manufacturers joining the global TD-LTE initiative as of H1 2013. In addition, 25 models of TD-LTE trial devices were launched and over 100 models are under development, of which 15 handsets are intended for commercial use.
Moody’s believes that Apple’s new iPhones have also become technologically compatible with TD-LTE, as well as TD-SCDMA, although China Mobile has not yet started selling iPhones.
The launch of TD-LTE is strategically important for China Mobile to strengthen its market position in the growing wireless data business.
China Mobile had about 759 million customers as of October 2013, of which 176 million were 3G customers. Its 3G subscribers are growing rapidly with over 100% growth since May 2013 on a year-over-year basis.
Moody’s expects its wireless data business to continue its solid growth. The wireless data revenue has grown 62% in H1 2013 on a year-over-year basis. In H1 2013 the business accounted for 17% of its telecommunications services revenue, up from 11% in H1 2012.
However, China Mobile’s market share for 3G services has been much smaller than its overall mobile market share. As of October 2013, its 3G market share was 45% (China Unicom 30% and China Telecom 25%) while its overall mobile market share was 62% (China Unicom 23% and China Telecom 15%), largely because of the use of TD-SCDMA despite the recent improvement in its 3G market share.
Moody’s expects the launch of TD-LTE will help China Mobile improve its market position in the wireless data segment and slow the pace of declines in average revenue per user (ARPU), as the ARPU of data users tends to be higher.
The large investments in TD-LTE will continue to pressure China Mobile’s cash flow. Moody’s expects its adjusted free cash flow (FCF)/debt to fall to below 0% in 2013 and 2014 from over 60% in 2012.
Moody’s expects that the company’s adjusted capital expenditure as a percentage of revenue from telecommunications services will increase to over 30% in 2013 and 2014, from below 25% of its revenue in 2012.
Nevertheless, its overall credit profile will remain in line with its rating, supported by its solid overall operating and financial profiles, as well as its excellent liquidity. For example, Moody’s expects China Mobile’s adjusted debt/EBITDA to remain at approximately 0.3x.
The principal methodology used in this rating was the Global Telecommunications Industry published in December 2010. Please see the Credit Policy page on http://www.moodys.com for a copy of this methodology.
China Mobile is the leading provider of mobile telecommunications services in China, offering voice and data services in all 31 provinces and autonomous regions, as well as in Hong Kong. It is 74% owned by CMCC, which in turn is wholly owned by China’s State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission.
LTE/4G DIGITAL CELLULAR MOBILE SERVICE OPERATION PERMIT [China Telecom’s regulatory announcement for Hong Kong Exchange, Dec 4, 2015]
This announcement is made pursuant to Rule 13.09 of the Rules Governing the Listing of the Securities on The Stock Exchange of Hong Kong Limited and Part XIVA of the Securities and Futures Ordinance (Cap. 571 of the Laws of Hong Kong).
The Board (the “Board”) of directors of China Telecom Corporation Limited (the “Company”) announced that the Company was notified by China Telecommunications Corporation (the parent company of the Company) that China Telecom has been granted by the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology of the PRC the permit to operate the LTE/4G digital cellular mobile service (TD-LTE). Meanwhile, China Telecom will apply for the permit to operate the LTE/4G digital cellular mobile service (LTE FDD) as soon as practicable.
In order to proactively implement national innovation strategy and leverage collaborated use of different spectrum resources to meet customers’ demand, the Company aims to adopt a flexible approach in deployment of LTE network with one hybrid network of integrated resources. The Company will flexibly deploy the LTE network with regard to data business growth and value chain development. In particular, the LTE deployment would only start from densely populated areas, overlaying on existing superior 3G network for long-term integrated operation. The Company would grasp the rapidly growing data business opportunities with an aim to better enhance customers experience and corporate return.
The Company believes that the issue of 4G digital cellular mobile service operation permit will be beneficial to the sustainable development of the telecommunications industry. It will also foster the informatisation consumption and economic growth. However, it will simultaneously intensify market competition. The Company will proactively leverage its operation edge and strive to foster the sustainable development of its business.
In the meantime, investors are advised to exercise caution in dealing in the securities of the Company.
By Order of the Board
China Telecom Corporation Limited
Chairman and Chief Executive Officer
From Edited Transcript of 2013 Interim Results Investor Presentation and 2013 Interim Results Presentation of Aug 21, 2013:
Slide 10: To Deploy LTE Trial Network Timely & Appropriately
To support national technology innovations and allow flexible use of spectrum resources to meet customer demand, we plan to deploy one hybrid LTE network of integrated resources, sharing the core network with wireless access through both TDD and FDD. Thus, most of the LTE network investments would support both TDD and FDD services, offering us flexibility in long term development and return enhancement.
We will continue to fully leverage existing nationwide superior 3G and fibre broadband networks to serve our customers. LTE deployment would only start from densely populated areas.
We plan to flexibly deploy LTE network with regard to future LTE licensing, data business growth & value chain development, overlaying on existing superior 3G network for long-term integrated operation to enhance customer experience & return.
China Telecom to launch TD-LTE trial network construction [Global TD-LTE Initiative Updates, Oct 25, 2013]
According to informed sources, the Ministry has recently approved the China Telecom launched TD-LTE trial network construction and pre-commercial related business. This means that China Telecom 4G future will get two licenses for FDD LTE/TD-LTE network integration.
“China Telecom will use FDD LTE/TD-LTE network integration approach build 4G network.” China Telecom Chairman Mr. Wang had previously publicly stated that “since the frequency is restricting the operator’s core resources in the 4G era, network integration is inevitable.”
A week ago, China Telecom completed the LTE core network master device EPC Jicai tender. It is understood that although China Telecom’s LTE core network master device bidding amount is not large, but the coverage of the country’s 31 provinces, including ZTE, Huawei, Shanghai Bell, Ericsson and other equipment manufacturers, including domestic and international mainstream have received certain share, which, ZTE, Huawei, Shanghai Bell’s winning share is relatively large.
It is understood that the successful vendor device support FDD/TDD multi-mode network, this also shows that China Telecom has begun preparations related to the deployment of TD-LTE.
Late last year, China Telecom in Shanghai, Nanjing and other cities in Guangdong 4G trial, however, was mainly dominated by FDD LTE trial network. The Ministry of approval, indicating that China Telecom has determined will be FDD LTE/TD-LTE 4G mode hybrid network test network construction.
Prior to the introduction, according to Mr. Wang in China Telecom’s 4G network planning, large-scale, wide coverage 4G networks will use FDD standard, while the urban area densely populated areas will use TDD system, using this integrated program will be able to achieve all of the user needs.
In addition, from China Telecom’s terminal planning can be seen that China Telecom in 4G mobile phones mainly uses standard FDD LTE multimode phones, but in the data card is the main use of TD-LTE network resources.
Announcement LTE/4G Digital Cellular Mobile Service Operation (TD-LTE) Permit [China Unicom’s regulatory announcement for Hong Kong Exchange, Dec 4, 2015]
This announcement is made pursuant to Rule 13.09 of the Rules Governing the Listing of Securities on The Stock Exchange of Hong Kong Limited (the “Listing Rules”) and Part XIVA of the Securities and Futures Ordinance (Cap. 571).
On 4 December 2013, China Unicom (Hong Kong) Limited (the “Company”) was notified by its ultimate parent company, China United Network Communications Group Company Limited (中國聯合網絡通信集團有限公司) (“Unicom Parent”), that Unicom Parent has been granted the license to operate LTE/4G digital cellular mobile service (TD-LTE) by the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology of the People’s Republic of China (“MIIT”) on 4 December 2013. MIIT has also granted approval for Unicom Parent to license China United Network Communications Corporation Limited (中國聯合網絡通信有限公司), a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Company, to operate LTE/4G digital cellular mobile service (TD-LTE) nationwide in China.
Meanwhile, the Company will continue to proactively apply for the launch of LTE FDD technology test run. It aims to leverage on the 3G network in order to provide users with mobile broadband data services with a higher speed.
By Order of the Board
CHINA UNICOM (HONG KONG) LIMITED
CHU KA YEE
From 2013 Interim Results Presentation as of Aug 8, 2013
From INTERIM REPORT 2013 as of August 8, 2013
To support its sustainable growth in the future, the Company further enhanced its network capabilities with a focus on network architecture as well as mobile, broadband and transmission networks so as to strengthen its network advantages in broadband and mobile Internet. In the first half year, the Company added 33 thousand new 3G base stations, and opened HSPA+ 21Mbps services over the whole 3G network, with speed up to 42Mbps at some urban hot spot areas. The Company accelerated fiber optic deployment. Its broadband access ports increased by 19.9% year-on-year, and FTTH/B accounted for 63% of total access ports, representing an increase of 10 percentage points over the same period last year. In order to better meet the demand from HSPA+, LTE and integrated services, the Company optimised the structure and enhanced the coverage of its infrastructure and transmission networks.
From China’s telecom firms reveal 4G strategies [Xinhuanet, June 27, 2013]
… the other two smaller Chinese telecom operators – China Unicom (Hong Kong) Ltd and China Telecom Corp Ltd – have expressed their willingness to adopt the Frequency Division Duplex-Long Term Evolution, or FDD-LTE, technology, or at least to build a converged network under both standards.
TD-LTE and FDD-LTE are the two major 4G international standards, but the latter has gained more popularity across the globe and has stronger industry support.
Lu Yimin, general manager of China Unicom, said the company is conducting tests for 4G wireless networks with mixed technologies. It is the first time that China Unicom has admitted that it is actively preparing to launch 4G services.
However, Lu added that because the Chinese government has not yet awarded the 4G licenses, China Unicom’s final strategy is still “uncertain.” Lu also made the remarks at Shanghai’s Mobile Asia Expo.
Last weekend, Wang Xiaochu, China Telecom’s chairman, confirmed that the company is stepping up efforts for its LTE network trials.
“It’s inevitable (for China Telecom) to adopt a converged network, since the spectrum is at the core of every carrier’s resources,” Wang said.
China Unicom tests 4G network [China Daily via Xinhuanet, Aug 9, 2013]
China United Network Communications Co Ltd, known as China Unicom, said on Thursday that it has started testing a TD-LTE 4G network, which it will use if the government doesn’t allow it to use its favored FDD-LTE technology in the upcoming 4G licensing process.
China’s second-biggest mobile operator by subscribers is said to have taken the preemptive action because it expects the government to follow a similar strategy as in its 3G auction, when it first awarded licenses for TD-LTE networks, a technology which is mostly backed by its arch-rival China Mobile Ltd, which has the most subscribers in the country.
The government is widely expected to award 4G licenses before the end of the year. And if it licenses TD-LTE networks first, it will give China Mobile a big edge in the 4G market over its competitors.
After reporting a 55 percent jump in its first-half profit, Chang Xiaobing, the company’s chairman, said investment on TD-LTE technology has already started and testing will begin in major cities. Funds will come from Hong Kong-listed China Unicom, rather than from its controlling company China United Network Communications Corp Ltd, which previously funded some of China Unicom’s network tests.
“I expect Beijing to license TD-LTE first, so we have to prepare,” Chang told a news conference in Hong Kong on Thursday.
Beijing favors TD-LTE, or Time-Division Long-Term Evolution, because the network’s core technologies are developed by Chinese companies. The technology was developed specifically for the Chinese market and is expected to serve a quarter of the global market by 2016.
China Unicom’s infrastructure mainly supports FDD-LTE, or Frequency Division Duplexing Long-Term Evolution, which is the world’s dominant 4G technology. Out of the 156 commercial 4G networks operating around the world in March 2013, 142 were FDD-LTE and 14 were TD-LTE networks. China Mobile operates a FDD-LTE network in Hong Kong and is trying to integrate it with the mainland’s TD-LTE market.
Chang said China Unicom’s capital expenditure will stay within the full-year budget of 80 billion yuan (12.96 billion U.S. dollars), despite the planned investment in TD-LTE networks.
Media reports said that China Telecom Corp Ltd, the other major operator in China, will rent China Mobile’s TD-LTE 4G infrastructure. Chang refused to say if China Unicom will do the same.
China Unicom’s first-half profit surged to 5.32 billion yuan compared with 3.43 billion yuan in the same period in 2012. Revenue was up 18.6 percent to 144.3 billion yuan, boosted by a 52 percent increase in income from 3G services to 40.9 billion yuan. The company’s 3G subscribers grew a stunning 74 percent to more than 100 million.
China Unicom shares gained 2.67 percent on Thursday. Trading of the stocks was suspended in the afternoon, after the website of the State-owned Asset Supervision and Administration Commission published the company’s earnings before they were reported to the Hong Kong stock exchange. China Unicom shares surged after the disclosure at around 3:30 pm.
A China Unicom spokesman apologized for the incident and promised it won’t happen again.
China Unicom to procure TD-, FDD-LTE equipment, says report [DIGITIMES, Oct 24, 2013]
China United Network Communications (China Unicom) has started an open-bid process for procuring 34,000 FDD-LTE base stations, 10,000 TD-LTE base stations and 8,000 FDD-LTE small cells, according to China-based tech.sina.com.
Of the mobile telecom carriers in China, China Mobile has adopted TD-LTE only, while China Telecom and China Unicom have adopted FDD LTE as their main 4G standard and TD-LTE as an auxiliary in line with the China government’s policy promoting TD-LTE.
China Telecom procured about 50,000 FDD-LTE base stations and about 20,000 TD-LTE ones in the third quarter of 2013.
Intel is ready to push big in smartphones next year with its winning multimode voice and data, multiband LTE modem technology capable of global LTE roaming via a single SKU
To play it safe the chip is still produced by TSMC (as with Infineon bought in 2011 by Intel) and could continue so in the foreseeable future.
- Intel® XMM™ 7160 LTE modem is now shipping in the 4G version of the Samsung GALAXY Tab 3 (10.1) – available in Asia and Europe.
- Intel® XMM™ 7160 provides multimode (2G/3G/4G LTE) voice and data with simultaneous support for 15 LTE bands for global LTE roaming.
- Intel announces PCIe M.2 LTE wireless data modules expected to ship in 2014 tablet and Ultrabook™ designs from leading manufacturers.
IDF 2013: Intel CEO shows 22 nanometer-based, LTE smartphone [ITworld YouTube channel, Sept 11, 2013]
From: Intel’s CEO Discusses Q3 2013 Results – Earnings Call Transcript [Seeking Alpha, Oct 15, 2013]
In the Wireless business, I was pleased with our progress on LTE. Our multimode data modem is now available in the Samsung Galaxy Tab 3. By the end of the year, we expect to have voice-over-LTE versions available for customers and our second generation of voice-over-LTE product with carrier aggregation will be available in the first half of next year.
See also: Intel® XMM™ 7160 Slim Modem [ARK | Your Source for Intel® Product Information, June 23, 2012]
Interview AnandTech with Aicha Evans — Scale & Integration- Addressing the Global Market for LTE [channelintel YouTube channel, Aug 14, 2013]
Interview AnandTech with Aicha Evans — Intel’s Approach to Wireless Innovation [channelintel YouTube channel, Aug 14, 2013]
Background information: Ask the Experts: Intel’s Aicha Evans Talks Wireless and Answers Your Questions [AnandTech, Aug 15, 2013]
Intel proves that it has what it takes when it comes to LTE [By Michael Thelander on Spirent blogs, March 19, 2013]
Signals Research Group (SRG) recently completed its eighth collaborative effort with Spirent Communications and its sixteenth “Chips and Salsa” report on cellular chipsets. In the most recent collaboration, we brought together LTE baseband chipsets from eight different suppliers (Altair Semiconductor, GCT, Intel, NVIDIA, Qualcomm, Renesas Mobile, Samsung, and Sequans) to determine who has the best performing chipset, based on a series of 32 test scenarios that we derived from industry accepted 3GPP test specifications. SRG facilitated the benchmark study and was responsible for reviewing and analyzing the results. Spirent provided engineering support, and most importantly, the use of its 8100 test system to conduct the automated and highly repeatable tests on each chipset.
The most recent study marked our second benchmark study of LTE chipsets. Previous studies with Spirent have included HSPA+, HSDPA, UMTS call reliability and A-GNSS. To date, we are still recognized as the only independent provider of baseband chipset performance benchmark studies in the industry. And as a testament to our long-standing relationship, the companies that participated in the most recent round are already clamoring for the next round to take place. The companies that came out on top want to prove that they are not a one trick pony and the companies that came out toward the bottom want redemption. The few companies that were not ready to participate in the last study are also ready to enter the competition. There was a reason that we titled the report, “Sweet 16 and never been benchmarked” since some of these companies have been noticeably absent from prior studies due to the uncertain viability of their chipsets.
The results from the most recent round are interesting, to say the least. First, Spirent and SRG were able to bring together numerous pre-commercial and commercial chipsets. I imagine that most people were surprised that Intel actually had a working LTE chipset, let alone find out that it was the best performing chipset (more on this facet in a bit). Additionally, the list included pre-commercial solutions from Sequans, Renesas Mobile and NVIDIA. It would be virtually impossible for any organization to assemble such a line-up!
As I hinted in the title, Intel came out on top – beating the likes of perennial favorite and San Diego native, Qualcomm. To be fair, the results were incredibly close with only a few percentage points separating the two companies, but Intel’s results were better and close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades. We could add another activity to the list, but this blog is intended to be family friendly. And if you are assuming that Qualcomm came in second place then you might want to rethink your assumption – nothing we wrote in this blog suggests that they did.
In hindsight, Intel’s results should not be all that surprising since it highly leverages the Infineon 3G platform and stellar RF performance that has since evolved to support LTE under the Intel moniker. Infineon, I note, was always a strong performer in our HSPA+/HSDPA chipset studies and it was in the original 3G iPhone until Qualcomm won the slot, in part due to its ability to support the requirements of a certain North American operator whose name rhymes with Horizon Direless. Intel may have lost the ARM war, but you can’t throw the baby out with the bath water.
Separate from the overall results, I once again saw some pretty big performance differences among all of the chipsets, in particular for the more challenging fading scenarios. As a side note, in addition to the more basic static channel conditions, our 32 test scenarios included various simulated fading channels (EVA5, EPA5, ETU70, and ETU300), SNR values, and MIMO correlation factors to create a range of challenging, albeit realistic, scenarios. In many cases the variance between the top-performing and bottom-performing LTE baseband chipset exceeded twenty percentage points. Even for the top-performing LTE baseband chipsets, it was clearly evident in the results that some chipsets did better in some scenarios than in other scenarios.
Now that we’ve set the bar for how chipsets should perform, I expect to witness material improvements in our next round, which we have planned for later this year. Just to keep everyone honest, I plan to change the test scenarios for the next round. In the interim, Spirent and SRG are investigating some additional benchmark studies that we can do together. These studies could include the industry’s first independent over-the-air (OTA) testing of leading platforms in commercial devices (imagine Samsung S III versus Apple iPhone 5) as well as our second round of A-GNSS testing.
If you are interested in the published report, please feel free to visit our website at www.signalsresearch.com where you can download a report preview.
Click here for more information on testing LTE chipset and mobile device performance.
Intel® XMM™ 7160 platform
Multimode LTE & DC-HSPA
Based on Intel® X-GOLD™ 716 digital and analog baseband with integrated Power Management Unit and Intel® SMARTi™ transceiver for 2G, 3G, 4G, and LTE, the Intel® XMM™ 7160 platform is the most compact solution for LTE and DC-HSPA smartphones for worldwide deployment.
View the Intel® XMM™ 7160 platform brief > [June 23, 2012]
- LTE capabilities of 150Mbps and 50Mbps (Cat 4)
- HSDPA and HSUPA capabilities of 42Mbps and 11.5Mbps with EDGE multislot class 33
- Multi-band LTE, penta-band 3G, quad-band EDGE for worldwide connectivity
- Excellent power consumption and extremely small PCB footprint
- Hardware and software interfaces to applications processors or to a PC as a wireless modem
From the announcement in February 2012 via product launch in Q1’13 to first commercial delivery in October 2013:
From: Intel Expands Smartphone Portfolio: New Customers, Products, Software and Services [press release, Feb 27, 2012]
Addressing the growing handset opportunity in emerging markets where consumers look for more value at lower prices, Intel disclosed plans for the Intel® Atom™ processor Z2000.
The Z2000 is aimed squarely at the value smartphone market segment, which industry sources predict could reach up to 500 million units by 20151.The platform includes a 1.0 GHz Atom CPU offering great graphics and video performance, and the ability to access the Web and play Google Android* games. It also supports the Intel® XMM 6265 3G HSPA+ modem with Dual-SIM 2G/3G, offering flexibility on data/voice calling plans to save on costs. Intel will sample the Z2000 in mid-2012 with customer products scheduled by early 2013.
Building on these 32nm announcements, Otellini discussed how the Atom™ processor will outpace Moore’s Law and announced that Intel will ship 22nm SoCs for carrier certification next year, and is already in development on 14nm SoC technology.
In 2011, Intel shipped in more than 400 million cellular platforms. Building on this market segment position, Intel announced the XMM 7160, an advanced multimode LTE/3G/2G platform with support for 100Mbps downlink and 50Mbps uplink, and support for HSPA+ 42Mbps. Intel will sample the product in the second quarter with customer designs scheduled to launch by the end of 2012.
Intel also announced that it is sampling the XMM 6360 platform, a new slim modem 3G HSPA+ solution supporting 42Mbps downlink and 11.5Mbps uplink for small form factors.
From: Intel Accelerates Mobile Computing Push [press release, Feb 24, 2013]
Long-Term Evolution (4G LTE)
Intel’s strategy is to deliver a leading low-power, global modem solution that works across multiple bands, modes, regions and devices.
The Intel® XMM™ 7160 is one of the world’s smallest2 and lowest-power multimode-multiband LTE solutions (LTE / DC-HSPA+ / EDGE), supporting multiple devices including smartphones, tablets and Ultrabook™ systems. The 7160 global modem supports 15 LTE bands simultaneously, more than any other in-market solution. It also includes a highly configurable RF architecture running real time algorithms for envelope tracking and antenna tuning that enables cost-efficient multiband configurations, extended battery life, and global roaming in a single SKU.
“The 7160 is a well-timed and highly competitive 4G LTE solution that we expect will meet the growing needs of the emerging global 4G market,” [Hermann] Eul[, Intel vice president and co-general manager of the Mobile and Communications Group] said. “Independent analysts have shown our solution to be world class and I’m confident that our offerings will lead Intel into new multi-comm solutions. With LTE connections projected to double over the next 12 months to more than 120 million connections, we believe our solution will give developers and service providers a single competitive offering while delivering to consumers the best global 4G experience. Building on this, Intel will also accelerate the delivery of new advanced features to be timed with future advanced 4G network deployments.”
Intel is currently shipping its single mode 4G LTE data solution and will begin multimode shipments later in the first half of this year. The company is also optimizing its LTE solutions concurrently with its SoC roadmap to ensure the delivery of leading-edge low-power combined solutions to the marketplace.
From: Signals Ahead: Chips And Salsa XVI – Sweet 16 And Never Been Benchmarked [Feb 25, 2013]
In December 2011 we published the industry’s first performance benchmark study of LTE baseband modem chipsets. In that study we tested five commercially-procured chipsets from four chipset suppliers. We tested two different Qualcomm chipsets. Fast forward fourteen months and we are finally out with the results from our most recent study in which three companies vie for top honors. Intel’s pre-commercial solution was the top-performing solution that we tested.
This report is our sixteenth Chips and Salsa report since 2004, with the overwhelming majority of these reports focused specifically on performance benchmarking. Over the years, we’ve benchmarked UMTS (call reliability) HSDPA, HSPA+, Mobile WiMAX, A-GNSS and LTE chipsets, with the results always providing the industry with a fully independent and objective assessment of how the chipsets compare with each other for the given set of evaluation criteria. For the eighth time, we have collaborated with Spirent Communications to get access to their 8100 test system and engineering support in order to obtain highly objective results.
The significant advantage of conducting lab-based tests is that we can easily replicate and repeat each test scenario in an automated fashion, thus ensuring a common and consistent set of test scenarios for each device/chipset that we tested. And with the Spirent 8100 test system that we used for the tests, we know that we went with a test platform that is widely recognized and being used in several early LTE deployments. SRG takes full responsibility for the analysis and conclusions associated with this benchmarking exercise.
In the most recent round of chipset testing, we tested a seemingly staggering number of solutions – we tested solutions from eight different chipset suppliers (reference Table 1). We attempted to test a solution from HiSilicon, but through no fault of their own we ran into some difficulties and faced time constraints with MWC just around the corner. We reserve the right to publish their results in the near future and provide updated rankings. Many of these solutions were pre-commercial chipsets and/or the chipsets that came directly from the chipset suppliers. This approach ensured that the results that we are providing in this report are very forward looking and highly differentiated. It would be virtually impossible for any single organization to get access to all of these chipsets and replicate this study.
Worth noting, we personally invited all companies with LTE chipset aspirations to participate in this study, and given our history in doing these tests, companies recognize the importance of supporting our efforts. Needless to say, if we didn’t include a company’s LTE chipset in this study then they probably don’t have a solution that is ready to be benchmarked against their peers. It is one thing to issue a press release, demonstrate a working PHY Layer without any upper protocol layers, or show a chipset operating under ideal conditions. It is another situation all together to put your proverbial money where your mouth is and allow a third party to benchmark your solution and publish the results for all to read. Sweet 16 and never been benchmarked!
As previously alluded to in this report, we used throughput as the primary criteria for evaluating the chipsets. We recognize that device manufacturers and operators use other objective and subjective criteria to select their chipset partners. The criteria includes support for multiple RF bands and legacy technologies, power consumption, time to market, price, engineering support, and the inclusion of peripherals (e.g., application processor, connectivity solutions, etc.). However, no one can dispute the importance of throughput and the ability of the chipset to make the most efficient use of available network resources.
We subjected the chipsets to 32 different test scenarios that combined a mix of fading profiles (Static Channel, EPA5, EVA5, ETU70 and ETU300) and transmission modes (Transmit Diversity, Open Loop MIMO and Closed Loop MIMO). All of the chipsets that we tested performed quite well with the less challenging test scenarios but we observed a fairly large separation of results with the more challenging test scenarios. In many cases the performance difference was in excess of 20% between the top- and bottom-performing solutions.
Based on our highly objective evaluation criteria, Intel had the top-performing solution by a very slight margin. This result may surprise some readers, but we point out that the Infineon 3G solution was always a strong contender in our previous benchmark studies. That scenario is in stark contrast to its application processor which has continuously struggled to be competitive and to attract market share. Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater. All this and more in this issue of Signals Ahead.
From: Innovation, Reinvention on Intel® Architecture Fuel Wave of 2-in-1 Devices, New Mobile Computing Experiences [press release, Jun 3, 2013]
Accelerating Fast: Tablets, Smartphones and LTE
Intel’s 22nm low-power, high-performance Silvermont microarchitecture is enabling the company to accelerate and significantly enhance its tablet and smartphone offerings.
For tablets on shelves for holiday 2013, Intel’s next-generation, 22nm quad-core Atom SoC (“Bay Trail-T”) will deliver superior graphics and more than two times the CPU performance of the current generation. It will also enable sleek designs with 8 or more hours3 of battery life and weeks of standby, as well as support Android* and Windows 8.1*.
For the first time, [Executive Vice President Tom] Kilroy demonstrated Intel’s 4G LTE multimode solution in conjunction with the next-generation 22nm quad-core Atom SoC for tablets. The Intel® XMM 7160 is one of the world’s smallest4and lowest-power multimode-multiband LTE solutions and will support global LTE roaming in a single SKU.
With a number of phones with Intel silicon inside having shipped across more than 30 countries, Kilroy previewed what’s coming. He showed for the first time a smartphone reference design platform based on “Merrifield,” Intel’s next-generation 22nm Intel Atom SoC for smartphones that will deliver increased performance and battery life. The platform includes an integrated sensor hub for personalized services, as well as capabilities for data, device and privacy protection.
From: Intel Readies ‘Bay Trail’ for Holiday 2013 Tablets and 2-in-1 Devices [press release, Jun 4, 2013]
At an industry event in Taipei today, Hermann Eul, general manager of Intel’s Mobile and Communications Group, unveiled new details about the company’s forthcoming Intel® Atom™ processor-based SoC for tablets (“Bay Trail-T”) due in market for holiday this year.
Eul also spoke to recent momentum and announcements around the smartphone business and demonstrated the Intel® XMM 7160 multimode 4G LTE solution, now in final interoperability testing (IOT) with Tier 1 service providers across North America, Europe and Asia.
Long-Term Evolution (4G LTE)
Intel’s strategy is to deliver leading low-power, global modem solutions that work across multiple bands, regions and devices.
Intel’s XMM 7160 is one of the world’s smallest and lowest-power multimode-multiband LTE solutions. The modem supports 15 LTE bands simultaneously, and also includes a highly configurable RF architecture running real-time algorithms for envelope tracking and antenna tuning that enables cost-efficient multiband configurations, extended battery life and global LTE roaming in a single SKU.
Eul demonstrated the solution by showcasing a Bay Trail-based tablet over an LTE network connection, and said that Intel will begin shipments of multimode data 4G LTE in the coming weeks following final IOT with Tier 1 service providers in North America, Europe and Asia.
Intel announced that the new Samsung GALAXY Tab 3 10.1-inch is powered by the Intel® Atom™ processor Z2560 (“Clover Trail+”). Additionally, the new Samsung GALAXY Tab 3 10.1-inch tablet will come equipped with Intel’s XMM 6262 3G modem solution or Intel’s XMM 7160 4G LTE solution.
From: New Intel CEO, President Outline Product Plans, Future of Computing Vision to ‘Mobilize’ Intel and Developers [press release, Sept 10, 2013]
In high-speed 4G wireless data communications, [Intel CEO Brian] Krzanich said Intel’s new LTE solution provides a compelling alternative for multimode, multiband 4G connectivity, removing a critical barrier to Intel’s progress in the smartphone market segment. Intel is now shipping a multimode chip, the Intel® XMM™ 7160 modem, which is one of the world’s smallest and lowest-power multimode-multiband solutions for global LTE roaming.
As an example of the accelerating development pace under Intel’s new management team, Krzanich said that the company’s next-generation LTE product, the Intel® XMM™ 7260 modem, is now under development. Expected to ship in 2014, the Intel XMM 7260 modem will deliver LTE-Advanced features, such as carrier aggregation, timed with future advanced 4G network deployments. Krzanich showed the carrier aggregation feature of the Intel XMM 7260 modem successfully doubling throughput speeds during his keynote presentation.
He also demonstrated a smartphone platform featuring both the Intel XMM 7160 LTE solution and Intel’s next-generation Intel® Atom™ SoC for 2014 smartphones and tablets codenamed “Merrifield.” Based on the Silvermont microarchitecture, “Merrifield” will deliver increased performance, power-efficiency and battery life over Intel’s current-generation offering.
- Intel® XMM™ 7160 LTE modem is now shipping in the 4G version of the Samsung GALAXY Tab 3 (10.1) – available in Asia and Europe.
- Intel® XMM™ 7160 provides multimode (2G/3G/4G LTE) voice and data with simultaneous support for 15 LTE bands for global LTE roaming.
- Intel announces PCIe M.2 LTE wireless data modules expected to ship in 2014 tablet and Ultrabook™ designs from leading manufacturers.
Intel Corporation today announced the commercial availability of its multimode, multiband 4G LTE solution. The Intel® XMM™ 7160 platform is featured in the LTE version of the Samsung GALAXY Tab 3 (10.1)*, now available in Asia and Europe.
Intel has also expanded its portfolio of 4G LTE connectivity solutions, introducing PCIe (PCI Express) M.2 modules for 4G connected tablets, Ultrabooks™ and 2 in 1 devices as well as an integrated radio frequency (RF) transceiver module, the Intel® SMARTi™ m4G. These new products make it simple, efficient and cost effective for device manufacturers to add high performance wireless connectivity to their product designs.
“As LTE networks expand at a rapid pace, 4G connectivity will be an expected ingredient in devices from phones to tablets as well as laptops,” said Hermann Eul, vice president and general manager of Intel’s Mobile and Communications Group. “Intel is providing customers an array of options for fast, reliable LTE connectivity while delivering a competitive choice and design flexibility for the mobile ecosystem.”
The commercial availability of the Intel XMM 7160 solution follows successful interoperability testing with major infrastructure vendors and tier-one operators across Asia, Europe and North America. The Intel XMM 7160 is one of the world’s smallest and lowest-power multimode, multiband LTE solutions for phones and tablets. The solution provides seamless connectivity across 2G, 3G and 4G LTE networks,supports 15 LTE bands simultaneously and is voice-over LTE (VoLTE) capable. It features a highly configurable RF architecture, running real-time algorithms for envelope tracking and antenna tuning that enables cost-efficient multiband configurations, extended battery life and global LTE roaming in a single SKU.
Intel offers a broad portfolio of mobile platform solutions including SoCs, cost-optimized integrated circuits, reference designs and feature-rich software stacks supporting 2G, 3G and 4G LTE. Building on the Intel XMM 7160 platform, Intel today announced two multimode LTE solutions that pave the way for 4G connected devices in a variety of form factors.
New Intel PCIe M.2 LTE Modules and Intel SMARTi m4G Solution
Intel introduced Intel PCIe M.2 LTE modules, which are small, cost-effective, embedded modules in a standardized form factor for adding multimode (2G/3G/4G LTE) data connectivity across a variety of device types. The Intel M.2 module supports peak downlink speeds of 100Mbps over LTE. The modules support up to 15 LTE frequency bands for global roaming. In addition, those modules also feature support for Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS) based on the Intel CG1960 GNSS solution.
For manufacturers, the M.2 module makes it simple to add 4G connectivity to their designs while reducing integration and certification expenses, and improving time-to-market. The M.2 module is currently undergoing interoperability testing with tier-one global service providers. Intel M.2-based modules will soon be available from Huawei*, Sierra Wireless* and Telit*. These modules are expected to ship globally in 2014 tablet and Ultrabook designs from leading manufacturers.
In addition to the new M.2 LTE module, Intel also offers the new Intel SMARTi m4G – a highly integrated radio transceiver module. The Intel SMARTi m4G was developed in cooperation with Murata* and integrates the Intel SMARTi 4G transceiver with most front-end components in one LTCC (low temperature co-fired ceramic) package. When paired with the Intel® X-GOLD™ 716 baseband, manufacturers can meet the certification requirements of service providers with minimal design cycles in an easy-to-place, low-profile solution. With the Intel SMARTi m4G, the overall component count can be reduced by more than 40 components and the required PCB area is reduced up to 20 percent.
Intel plans to deliver next-generation LTE solutions, including the Intel® XMM™ 7260 in 2014. The Intel XMM 7260 adds LTE Advanced features, such as carrier aggregation, faster speeds and support for both TD-LTE and TD-SCDMA. More information about Intel’s mobile communications solutions is available at http://www.intel.com/content/www/us/en/wireless-products/mobile-communications.html.
See also: Intel Talks about Multimode LTE Modems – XMM7160 and Beyond [AnandTech, Aug 20, 2013] from which I will include here:
XMM7160 is still built on TSMC’s 40nm CMOS process, and its SMARTi 4G transceiver is built on 65nm at TSMC, but Intel still claims it has a 20–30% power advantage for modem and RF compared to a competitor smartphone platform, though it wouldn’t say which. … The transition of modem to Intel Architecture (away from two different DSP architectures) also remains to be seen, and I’m told it will be two to three years before Intel’s modems are ready to intercept the Intel fabrication roadmap and get built on Intel silicon instead of at TSMC. …
From: Mobile Wireless M2M Value Proposition Product Portfolio and Roadmap for M2M 2G-4G [Intel presentation, Nov 26, 2012]