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MediaTek’s 64-bit ARM Cortex-A53 octa-core SoC MT8752 is launched with 4G/LTE tablets in China

CUBE-Cool Rubik's Cube-MT8752-8732-based T7-T8-T9 range of tablets -- 11-Oct-2014Oct 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(CUBET7 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]

 

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32-bit Qualcomm Snapdragon 805 Processor (ARM TechCon 2014, Oct 1-3): “our latest and greatest”

Only 3 devices based on Snapdragon 805 SoC have been announced yet (since September): Amazon Fire HDX 8.9 (will be released on Oct 21), Samsung GALAXY Note Edge and Samsung GALAXY Note 4 (release for both–17 model varieties–is scheduled to take place in 140 countries throughout the rest of October after 17th in the U.S. and into the month of November). In addition Google Hopes Whale of a Phone Will Make Splash in Phablet Market with the 5.9″ Motorola (soon Lenovo) Nexus 6 (Shamu) sporting the Snapdragon 805 SoC, and competing with Apple’s iPhone 6 Plus. It might be released in mid-October (October 15 or 16) quite probably together with groundbreaking Android L.

New Krait 450 CPU cores (of Qualcomm’s own Krait microarchitecture for ARMv7-A CPU instruction set architecture–ISA) and new Adreno 420 GPU (for Qualcomm’s brand new Adreno 4xx GPU architecture) as well as the explained below:
– Ultra HD 4K display with integrated Hollywood Quality Video (HQV) technology [0:50⇒]
– HEVC codec feature [2:02⇒]
More information: Snapdragon 805 Processor Product Brief of Sept 20, as well as AnandTech | Qualcomm Snapdragon 805 Performance Preview of May 21 (also giving details about the Adreno 4xx GPU architecture) plus The first wave of computational photography capabilities from Qualcomm for its new Snapdragon 805 SoCs [this same blog, Jan 4-12, 2014].

Note that the Snapdragon 805 SoC was announced 11 months ago (Nov 20, 2013) with:

sampling now and expected to be available in commercial devices by the first half of 2014.

The 4 months delay is quite explainable by the onslaught of high-end SoCs from aspiring competitors, such as MediaTek (first and foremost, see more below), Rockchip, Allwinner etc., all using 3d party semiconductor IP for CPU and GPU cores. While pushing for maximum attainable performance with Krait 450 and Adreno 420 by adding more time to development, meantime Qualcomm itself was forced to move to high-end 64-bit ARMv8-A ISA cores from ARM Holdings (Cortex-A57/A53 big.LITTLE) for its upcoming 2015 SoCs (Snapdragon 810 and Snapdragon 808) in order to remain competitive, as even with Krait 450 the DMIPS/MHz gain against the first Krait 200 core is marginal: 3.51 vs 3.3. So the Krait 450 is the end-of-the-road implementation of the original Krait microarchitecture (but Qualcomm might come out with a brand new microarchitecture of its own for ARMv8-A ISA cores in order to remain competitive from 2016 and on).

Note as well that MediaTek will pose a direct challenge to Qualcomm in high-end 32/64-bit smartphone SoC space as per MediaTek May Narrow Qualcomm’s Lead in China’s 4G Market [EE|Times, Oct 1, 2014]:

MediaTek, Taiwan’s largest chip designer, has a chance to narrow Qualcomm’s lead in China’s 4G smartphone market with the launch of a new octo-core processor in the first quarter of 2015. MediaTek is sampling now the MT6795, a new 64-bit LTE True Octa-core SoC and will start selling the chip early next year, according to Joey Lee, a company spokesperson.

“The chip will provide Samsung Galaxy Notes-like performance at half the price,” Abrams [Randy Abrams, a Taipei-based analyst with investment bank Credit Suisse] said in a phone interview. “It’s for Chinese brands that want performance comparable to Galaxy Notes or the Apple iPhone at the equivalent of $300 to $400 retail for a handset.”

By the first quarter of next year, MediaTek’s MT6795 shipments are expected to reach 30 million units, giving MediaTek a chance to take the lead from Qualcomm, the Commercial Times report said, without citing the source of its information. Qualcomm has a 68% share of the global baseband chip business that was worth $5.2 billion in the second quarter of this year, according to Strategy Analytics.

The current MediaTek challenge for Qualcomm is MediaTek’s 64-bit ARM Cortex-A53 octa-core SoC MT8752 is launched with 4G/LTE tablets in China [this same blog, Oct 14, 2014]

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]
– 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]

Qualcomm moving to Applications DSP (ADSP)

Qualcomm’s Hexagon™ DSP [QUALCOMMVlog YouTube channel, Feb 1, 2013]

Steve Brightfield, QTI, discusses the evolution of Qualcomm’s Digital Signal Processor (DSP) from the original Qualcomm DSP #1 to our current sixth generation DSP, branded as Hexagon™ DSP. Find out about the differentiating features that make this ultimate low-power companion core a key component within Qualcomm’s Snapdragon, and get a glimpse into what the roadmap has in store for the future. To learn more about Qualcomm visit http://www.qualcomm.com or connect with us at: http://www.facebook.com/qualcomm, http://www.youtube.com/qualcomm and Twitter@Qualcomm.

[see also: Qualcomm Advocates Parallel Computing By Joining HSA [OnQ blog from Qualcomm, Oct 3, 2012]]

imageimage
Source and more information: QDSP6 V4: Qualcomm Gives Customers and Developers Programming Access to its DSP Core [BDTi, June 22, 2012] [Applications of Digital Signal Processing in Mobile Computing Devices]

At the January IEEE International Conference on Emerging Signal Processing Applications (IEEE-ESPA), Dr. Raj Talluri, Qualcomm’s Vice President of Product Management, used portions of his plenary talk [Applications of Digital Signal Processing in Mobile Computing Devices] to showcase key target applications for the QDSP6 architecture. Some of them were predictable case studies of already-established DSP opportunities: audio processing (encoding, decoding, transcoding, noise cancellation, bass boost, virtual surround and other enhancement functions), along with various types of still image and video processing tasks. The increasingly ubiquitous H.264 video codec received particular showcase …

Other highlighted applications in the IEEE-ESPA presentation were more trendsetting. Talluri mentioned, for example, the conversion between 2-D and 3-D versions of a polygon- or pixel-based image or video, for appropriate-format output to an integrated or tethered display. He also noted the execution time and power consumption improvements that could be garnered by migrating an augmented reality application from a 100% CPU-based approach to one that fully leverages the integrated QDSP6 V3 DSP core (Figure 6).

image
Source for the Figure 6: the same as above

HexagonDSP Augmented Reality Demonstration on a Snapdragon S4 (MSM8960) from Qualcomm Applications DSP (ADSP) [QUALCOMMVlog YouTube channel, Feb 5, 2013]

Watch as Ramesh Chandrasekhar, Director, QTI, demonstrates the benefits of offloading computation from the CPU to the Hexagon™ DSP in this augmented reality demonstration being run on a Snapdragon S4 (MSM8960). To learn more about Qualcomm visit http://www.qualcomm.com or connect with us at: http://www.facebook.com/qualcomm, http://www.youtube.com/qualcomm and Twitter@Qualcomm.

From ‘Applications of Digital Signal Processing in Mobile Computing Devices by Raj Talluri [as reported by Susie Wee, Cisco VP & CTEO, Jan 13, 2012]

Closing thoughts:

  1. Mobile computing apps are dominated by digital signal processing tasks
  2. There are compute modules that can be used in app processors on smartphones
  3. Apps processors need to continue to improve in performance and low power

Notable observations given before that by Raj Talluri:

  • 300M smartphones sold per year in 2010. Qualcomm predicts 1B per year in 2015
  • The highest volume of camera sales is in your mobile phones. Lots of opp for image processing & computer vision.
  • Most mobile phones have multiple microphones. Can be used for lots of signal processing apps.
  • There is a big opportunity for sensor fusion as there is large number of sensors in every mobile phone. Sensor fusion opportunity: Shake detection – detect shakes, then remove blurring.
  • Lots of signal processing is done to provide smooth gesture interactions on phone.
  • When breaking down the amount of signal processing needed for games multi-core CPU and GPU processing is key.

Raj Talluri, “Programmes of Innovative Development” [“Wireless &Mobile” session of rASiA.com Business Forum in Moscow, May 16, 2012, published on Aug 10, 2012]

[15:00] Enhancing User Experience

[15:04] Video Telephony + 3D Gaming

[15:45] “A little video clip which shows you other things we do in gaming

  • It’s blidingly fast
  • It’s insanely crisp
  • Augmented reality
  • It’s effortlessly connected
  • It’s innately social
  • Peer-to-peer
  • It’s abundantly armed
  • Snapdragon Game command
  • It’s unusually versatile
  • It’s absurdly efficient

[17:00] 3D Positional Audio Using Open SL

  • Advanced reverb and virtual surround
  • 3D positional audio, bass boost, DSP acceleration
  • Collaboration with SRS
[see also:
SRS Completes Integration of TruMedia onto Hexagon DSP based Snapdragon Platforms [SRS Labs press release via BusinessWire, June 29, 2012] which relates to the
earlier agreement to Integrate SRS Audio Technology on Qualcomm’s Reference Design Development Platform [SRS Labs press release via BusinessWire, Dec 8, 2011] as well as to
SRS Labs and Qualcomm Sign Licensing Agreement to Bring HD-Quality Audio to Mobile Devices [SRS Labs press release via BusinessWire, March 22, 2011]
]

[17:47] Dolby Multi-channel Audio

  • Dolby Digital Plus delivers a richer, cinematic audio experience to mobile
  • Scalable and extensible for optimization to available bandwidth
  • Supports many existing and emerging home theater, broadcast, online, and mobile applications
  • Provide up to 7.1 channels of cinematic surround sound
  • Enables compatibility with millions of existing home theater systems via simple conversion to Dolby Digital
[see also:
– “The Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 processors also introduce the very latest mobile experiences. … HD multichannel audio with DTS-HD and Dolby Digital Plus for enhanced audio” in
Qualcomm Announces Next Generation Snapdragon Premium Mobile Processors [Qualcomm press release, Jan 7, 2013]
“Qualcomm recently announced it would support Dolby Digital Plus in its new Snapdragon chipset, allowing OEMs to choose to deliver Dolby 7.1 Surround sound at the chipset level.” in
Dolby Labs’ CEO Discusses F1Q12 Results – Earnings Call Transcript [Seeking Alpha, Jan 31, 2012]]

[18:23] Multi-burst Photo Continuous photo capture

  • High-speed full resolution burst capture
  • Zero shutter lag
  • Continuous Auto-Focus

[19:24] Natural Human Interfaces in Next Generation Devices

  • Ultrasonics processing
  • IR-scanning
  • Coded/structured light depth mapping
  • Stylus based gestures
  • Stereo sparse depth mapping
  • Time-of-flight depth mapping

[20:21]

Custom DSP Architecture [#14 slide from At the Heart of Mobile Devices presentation by Qualcomm, Oct 25, 2012]

Enabling Rich User Experiences Without Sacrificing Battery Lifeimage

Qualcomm Leads in Global DSP Silicon Shipments [Wireless/DSP Market Bulletin, Forward Concepts, Nov 12, 2012]

When people speak of “DSP chips“, they are usually referring to discrete devices that are catalog or “off-the-shelf” units; although at the high end they tend to be customized for high-volume customers. And, they correctly associate Texas Instruments as the DSP chip market leader.  However, those DSP chips from TI, Freescale, ADI, NEC and others constitute only about 10% of the “DSP silicon” market in revenue terms, as I have detailed in a much earlier newsletter [May 4, 2009].

The largest market for “DSP silicon” is as embedded solutions, generally thought of as System on Chip (SoC) products.  Of that SoC DSP market, cellphones constitute the largest segment, with baseband modem chips being the most significant.  All baseband chips consist of one or more DSP cores. Qualcomm, the clear baseband market leader, has long employed two DSP cores in each of its MSM modem chips, and of late is shipping three or more of its latest Hexagon DSP cores in its Snapdragon S4 chips.  In calendar year 2011, Qualcomm shipped a reported 521 million MSM chip shipments and we estimate that an average of 2.3 of its DSP cores in each unit resulted in 1.2 billion DSPs shipped in silicon.  This (calendar) year, we estimate that the company will ship an average of 2.4 DSP cores with each (more complex) MSM chip.  We estimate that Qualcomm will ship about 610 million MSM chips in 2012, for a total of 1.5 billion DSPs shipped in silicon for the full year.  Clearly, Qualcomm leads the global unit market for DSP silicon shipments.

Qualcomm Intros Multimode LTE Snapdragon Chips in 28nm [Wireless/DSP Market Bulletin, Forward Concepts, Nov 1, 2011]

Although the company claims to have employed them in earlier Snapdragons, this is the first public announcement we have seen of Qualcomm’s Hexagon™ DSP cores which have been under development for several years. Hexagon cores are employed in both the modem and the multimedia subsystems of the S4.  According to the company, Hexagon “merges the numeric support, parallelism and wide computation engine of a DSP with the advanced system architecture of a modern microprocessor.” Qualcomm plans to release more Hexagon details and benchmarks later this quarter.

CEVA Says 927 million Basebands Shipped with its DSP Cores in 2011 [Wireless/DSP Market Bulletin, Forward Concepts, Feb 2, 2012]
CEVA, Inc. is clearly the leading licensor of DSP baseband cores and 2011 was a good year for them. All-time high quarterly and annual revenues were up 22% and 34% year-over-year, respectively.  Although cellphones constitute the bulk of its licensing business, the company is aggressively pursuing the consumer business with recent design wins in Smart TV and connectivity for smartphones and solid state drives. CEVA’s IP portfolio includes not only comprehensive technologies for cellular baseband, but also multimedia (HD video, Image Signal Processing (ISP) and HD audio), voice over packet (VoP), Bluetooth, Serial Attached SCSI (SAS) and Serial ATA (SATA). In 2011, CEVA claims that its IP was shipped in over 1 billion devices, powering (at least some) handsets from 7 out of the top 8 handset OEMs, including Nokia, Samsung, LG, Motorola, Sony and ZTE. Today, the company claims that more than 40% of handsets shipped worldwide are powered by a CEVA DSP core.


Voice Evolution – Higher Capacity, Better Quality, A Richer Experience
[Qualcomm, May 3, 2012]

Qualcomm Enables the True HD-Voice Experience

Qualcomm offers market leading technologies that dramatically improve the quality of voice, and the overall voice experience. These enhancements range from new wideband codecs, Fluence™ noise suppression, active noise cancellation, VoIP optimizations, unique HDOn™ feature to support wideband codecs on narrowband channels, and many more.

Qualcomm’s HD Voice offers clearer, higher quality voice conversations. Now you can hear, and be heard, no matter where you happen to be.

image
From: The Voice Evolution [Qualcomm presentation, April 2012]

Qualcomm is working on further enhancements even in this traditional voice/audio space as evidenced by this job placement: Audio DSP Systems Engineer [Jan 23, 2013]

Job Description

… Development and deployment of various audio signal processing algorithms for Qualcomm’s chipset solutions:

  • Audio and Voice compression technologies
  • Audio Pre/Post Processing such as echo cancellation, noise reduction, array signal processing, audio effects, blind bandwidth extension, companding, etc.
  • Ultrasound
  • Voice recognition
    ADC and DAC

Desired skills

  • Knowledge of echo cancellation, noise reduction, array signal processing.
  • Knowledge of voice recognition, speaker identification.
  • Knowledge of fixed-point programming or assembly language.
  • Knowledge of audio effects, virtualization, HRTF, 3D audio.
  • Knowledge of ultrasound signal processing
  • Knowledge of Psycho-acoustic modeling
  • Audio codecs such as AAC/AAC+/MP3/Dolby/DTS, etc.
  • Voice codecs such as AMR/AMR-WB/EVRC/EVRC-WB/EFR/TTY/CTM, etc.
  •  


    In addition there is a growing partner program in the overall user experience enhancements Qualcomm Announces the Expansion of the Hexagon DSP Access Program at Uplinq 2012 [Qualcomm press release, June 27, 2012]

    Qualcomm Incorporated (NASDAQ: QCOM) announced today at Uplinq 2012 the expansion of the Hexagon™ DSP Access Program on select Snapdragon™ S4 processors. The new expansion provides original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and independent software vendors (ISVs) with added resources, including software development tools and support, which allow them to provide increased differentiation on multimedia features via the integrated Hexagon DSP in Snapdragon S4 processors. The program offers the ability to integrate proprietary algorithms while enabling best-in-class power dissipation and multi-threaded hardware for concurrency. A comprehensive set of multimedia baseline features is provided standard with the Snapdragon platform, and the Hexagon Access Program enables the customization and augmentation of the baseline feature sets and usage models included on Snapdragon processors.
    “Qualcomm is committed to providing unparalleled usability for our customers,” said Raj Talluri, senior vice president of product management at Qualcomm. “The expansion of the Hexagon Access Program gives added support and resources to the Snapdragon ecosystem. Qualcomm is enabling power-competitive designs with differentiated multimedia features and customization of multimedia end-use cases via our highly efficient Hexagon DSP technology.”
    Previously offered solely on the Snapdragon S3 MSM8660 platform, the Hexagon Access Program now includes select Snapdragon S4 processors, including the APQ8064, MPQ8064, MSM8960, APQ8060A, MSM8260A, MSM8660A, MSM8930, APQ8030, MSM8630, MSM8230, MSM8227 and MSM8627. Both OEMs and ISVs can optimize the features and performance of their multimedia software for execution on the fully integrated audio-video acceleration hardware in Snapdragon processors. Program participants will have access to software development tools that the OEM or ISV can utilize to compile or hand-code their proprietary algorithms. These tools are provided to assist OEMs and ISVs with their audio and video programming on supported processors.
    Current ISV participants in Qualcomm’s Hexagon Access Program include: Berkeley Design Technology Inc. (BDTI), Bsquare, Mentor Graphics, Nextreaming, NXP Software, Qsound, SRS Labs, TATA ELXSI and Waves Audio.
    The Qualcomm Snapdragon processors that are supported via a Hexagon DSP Tools Suite and via software and documentation as part of the Hexagon DSP Access Program are available to OEMs and ISVs now. For more information on access to Hexagon programming tools and optional hardware development boards and documentation for the customization of multimedia on these processors, please visit developer.qualcomm.com.

    Forums – Qualcomm’s DSP Access Program [Qualcomm Developer Network, June 27, 2011]

    Get ready for programming on a Qualcomm digital signal processor (DSP), enabling your multimedia features for a large mobile handset market. For the first time Qualcomm is opening up a new programmable processor that software developers can use to accelerate their algorithms and offload the main applications processor. In this session targeted towards mobile software developers, we will introduce the program, go over the tools available, the chipsets supported and the timeline for availability. We will show how developers can add their own customizations to Qualcomm’s audio and video processing engines and enable device makers to better differentiate their smartphone and tablet devices by augmenting the Snapdragon platform’s multimedia suite.

    Learn more by checking out the video from our Uplinq 2011 QDSP technical lecture [by Kuntal Sampat, the engineering lead for Qualcomm’s DSP Access Program – see also his slides in PDF].

    Get ready for programming on a Qualcomm digital signal processor (DSP), enabling your multimedia features for a large mobile handset market. For the first time Qualcomm is opening up a new programmable processor that software developers can use to accelerate their algorithms and offload the main applications processor. In this session, we will introduce the program, go over the tools available, the chipsets supported and the timeline for availability. We will show how developers can add their own customizations to Qualcomm’s audio and video processing engines and enable device makers to better differentiate their smartphone and tablet devices by augmenting the Snapdragon platform’s multimedia suite.

    image

    [19:08] This section talks about how you can use the deliverables we will provide in the Open DSP program. Now just to give you an idea of what we imagedo with the DSP, when we supply our MSMs and our SW to the OEM. The DSP is not blank. It is doing something and this is what it is doing. The DSP is actually running the voice codecs part of the voice call. [19:41] … [19:54] Same thing for the audio.
    …. [21:04] As Qualcomm moves to its next-generation of chipsets we will probably see more functionality coming to the DSP, more than just audio. [21:17]

    Qualcomm’s DSP Access Program Debuts [Qualcomm Developer Network press release, March 21, 2011]

    Program Enables Manufacturers (OEMs) and Independent Software Vendors (ISVs) to Optimize Multimedia Solutions Utilizing Qualcomm Audio and Video Acceleration Hardware

    SAN DIEGO — March 22, 2011 Qualcomm Incorporated (NASDAQ: QCOM) today announced that OEMs and ISVs will now be able to program their own audio and video codecs using optimized processors and hardware on select versions of Qualcomm’s Mobile Station Modem™ (MSM™) chipsets through the new Qualcomm Developer Network DSP Access Program. This allows OEMs to better differentiate their smartphone and tablet devices by augmenting or modifying the Snapdragon™ platform’s multimedia suite with their own features or procure differentiated features directly from ISVs. 
    Both OEMs and ISVs can optimize the features and performance of their multimedia software for execution on Qualcomm chipset audio-video acceleration hardware. Qualcomm will offer software development tools that the OEM or ISV can utilize to compile (C/C++) or hand-code (assembly) their proprietary algorithms on Qualcomm’s optimized audio-video processor architectures. These tools are provided with training and support documentation to assist OEMs and ISVs with their audio/video programming on supported chipsets. Additional details on the Qualcomm Developer Network DSP Access Program are available on the Qualcomm Developer Network (http://developer.qualcomm.com/multimedia).
    “Our customers and developers can increase the differentiation of their products on select Qualcomm chipsets by offering new and unique multimedia features and/or customization of the priority and concurrency of their multimedia features,” said Steven Brightfield, director of product management at Qualcomm CDMA Technologies. “Access to our audio and video acceleration hardware enables OEMs and ISVs to give end users access to a wider range of multimedia content and a richer multimedia experience on their mobile devices.”
    The Qualcomm chipsets that will be supported via tools and documentation as part of the Qualcomm Developer Network DSP Access Program are the MSM8x60™, MSM8960™, MSM8270™, MSM8x55™, MSM7x27™ and MSM7x30™. For additional information and inquiries on access to programming tools and hardware documentation for the multimedia acceleration subsystems on these chipsets please inquire on the Qualcomm Developer Network (http://developer.qualcomm.com/multimedia).

    Why mobile developers should care about the hardware [Qualcomm Developer Network, Aug 4, 2010]

    In today’s crowded apps marketplace, it can sometimes be difficult for your apps to stand out. So as a developer, how can you make your apps stand out from the crowd? Certainly well-known IPs such as Tetris or PAC-MAN don’t really need help. But for most games and apps out there, there’s a good chance that a better understanding of the underlying hardware can help you optimize and differentiate your premium apps for an even greater payoff.
    Qualcomm’s Snapdragon platform offers an unprecedented combination of processing performance and optimized power consumption for the next generation of smart mobile devices. Because Snapdragon chipsets combine the CPU, GPU, connectivity, memory, GPS, and high performance multimedia capabilities into a powerfully integrated platform, building your applications for Qualcomm-based devices can help you take advantage of these optimized chipset features to create innovative, premium applications and content.
    For example, you can use our hardware accelerated codecs to improve app performance and power consumption, or use the dedicated 2D hardware using OpenVG, allowing higher graphics quality. These are just a few examples of how you can take advantage of the hardware to differentiate your app. To learn more, download the whitepaper “Why Should Mobile Developers Care About the Hardware.”
    For developers who want early access to Qualcomm-powered devices, you’ll be glad to hear that you can now pre-order the Snapdragon Mobile Development Platform online. With this development platform, you can begin developing your apps before commercial devices become available thus maximizing your revenue potential. Some of the key technical specs of the MSM8655-based Snapdragon MDP are:
    • 1 GHz CPU
    • 3.8” WVGA
    • HDMI port
    • Multi-touch capacitive touch screen
    • Adreno 205 GPU
    • 12 –megapixel camera
    • 720-pixel HD video decode and encode
    • Stereo 16mm loudspeakers
    • 512 MB of RAM (2x 32b ports)
    • 4GB on-board Flash
    So get started. If you have an application worth showcasing, tell us about it.

    Why Should Mobile Developers Care About the Hardware? [Qualcomm whitepaper, April 2, 2010, modified Sep 28, 2012 with new agreement included]:

    hardware-based 3D audio effects solutions by taking advantage of embedded digital signal processors (DSPs) which provide greater user experiences

    Qualcomm’s integrated chipset solutions (i.e. Snapdragon platform) address audio performance challenges head-on, by enabling developers to take advantage of embedded digital signal processors (DSPs), which provide greater user experiences. For example, many applications like mobile games play multiple sounds simultaneously such as, the playing of background music tracks while sound effects are trigged in the foreground (i.e. referred to as audio layering). Since the decoding of MP3 streams is already accomplished in the DSP, it’s a natural fit to mix multiple audio streams in the hardware.
    This enhanced audio functionality enables developers to implement their entire audio path at higher sampling rates than a software mixer could process, thereby yielding higher quality audio outputs. Moreover, by leveraging DSP decoder functionality, source audio streams can be encoded as AAC instead of MP3, resulting in smaller file sizes. These smaller AAC files further benefit developers by providing a reduction of bandwidth in applications where the files are transferred over the air, thereby enabling a better user experience.
    Presently, developers utilize graphic hardware solutions to give games and UIs the third dimension of depth. Dimension of depth functionality is achievable with audio through Qualcomm’s QAudioFX™ 3D positional engine.
    Developers designing applications around 3D positional audio solutions from the start (i.e. such as first-person games etc), will benefit greatly from the added dimensional depth QAudioFX will provide. For example, audio gaming cues placed around the user will signal a car passing from behind, or an enemy approaching from the side, long before they appear on the device screen. These types of enhanced audio functionalities enable developers to vastly increase the user’s 3D environment. Moreover, since the QAudioFX engine will be implemented in the DSP, developers incur little penalty in incorporating 3D positional audio functionality. Currently, QAudioFX and related features are not available to the developers. It is planned to be supported on devices in the later part of 2010.
    Developers can also look forward to taking advantage of QAudioFX’s reverberation engine capabilities. One challenge developer’s face in working with quality reverb algorithms is that they require a significant amount of memory for delay buffers. Qualcomm’s DSP-based audio solution allocates delay buffers in the hardware, thereby freeing up memory for the application. For example, in a racing game, rather than switching sound files when the vehicle enters a tunnel, developers can make a single API call to enable reverb. Another API call allows the developer to disable the reverb when the vehicle exits the tunnel.
    Developers desiring music functionality in their applications can leverage CMX™, Qualcomm’s DSP-based MIDI synthesizer. Genuinely, realistic sounding instruments require a synthesizer with many articulators and a wavetable with large samples. While equivalent software synthesizers may be realized on today’s mobile processors, they come with a price namely, greater cycle and power consumption requirements. Qualcomm’s CMX solution output quality rivals PC sound cards, to the extent that developers may want to revisit MIDI in situations where they need to minimize audio file sizes. The hardware accelerated CMX capabilities are currently available on BREW platforms. Other high-level operating systems have similar MIDI capabilities but are enabled though software solutions.
    Hardware-based 3D audio effects solutions by Qualcomm will provide powerful differentiating performance advantages for developers seeking a competitive edge in creating applications that contain a greater immersive user experience.


    DSP History [by Will Strauss of Forward Concepts, May 2009]

    This history of digital signal processing was originally written by Will Strauss of Forward Concepts and published in May, 2009 as part of a market study, “DSP SILICON STRATEGIES ’09.” ©2009 Forward Concepts Co. Permission to use excerpts of this history is granted as long as proper attribution is included.

    1. DSP History

    A. EARLY HISTORY

    The earliest record of digital filtering techniques (albeit on paper) was in solving problems of astronomy and the compilation of mathematical tables in the early 1600s.  The great mathematician Laplace (c.1779) understood the “z-transform,” the mathematical basis of modern digital signal processing.

    During the Great Depression of the ’30s, the U.S. Bureau of Standards retained its surplus employees and set them to developing a variety of mathematical tools.  Perhaps the most useful of these was a technique to evaluate the Fourier transform from a number of discrete data points, and using only multiplications and additions.  

    This Discrete Fourier Transform (DFT) technique lay dormant for a number of years before sampled-data control systems came into common usage.  It was then realized that the Bureau’s technique could be directly applied to analyzing the frequency makeup (or spectral content) in these systems, and further, that this technique was ideal for use with computers, and later, digital signal processors.  The successor to the DFT, the Fast Fourier Transform, or FFT, is a basic DSP algorithm employed in all forms of spectral analysis from seismic data processing and radar image processing to MP3 audio compression and Wi-Fi, DSL and WiMAX communication, and soon 4th-generation cellular (LTE).

    In the early ’70s, scientists were beginning to use off-the-shelf TTL (transistor-transistor-logic) discrete logic chips to implement specialized DSP “engines.”  The first systems were relatively slow and consumed lots of space, but the second generation of IC implementations (c.1974) began to use bit-slice logic, like Advanced Micro Devices’  Am2901 TTL 4-bit arithmetic logic unit (ALU).  In 1973, TRW bid a military project with the first practical parallel multiplier designs for use with bit-slice ALUs and shipped the first working parts in 1975.  But, at several hundred dollars just for the multiplier chip, only the military and government laboratories could afford the approach.

    Originally used for implementing “super” minicomputers, the Am2901 found application as the heart of Digital Equipment Corporation’s DECsystem 2020, Data General’s Nova 4 and other mid-sized computer systems of the day.  The 2901 and associated chips (consisting of address generators, carry look-ahead logic, program sequencers and fast multipliers—along with memory and I/O circuitry) constituted a basic “building-block” approach to implementing a fast digital signal processor.

    In the late ’70s, some of the first commercial applications of DSP used the Am2901 chip family to implement array processors for medical diagnostic equipment like CT (computer tomography) scanners and nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR, now called magnetic resonance imaging, or MRI) systems.  The high sales price of such systems justified the high cost of the building-block DSP technology.

    For military applications, like radar image processing, the building-block approach proved to be ideal.  Because little else was available, the 2901 family chips (and its successors) were also applied to other military DSP programs, such as sonar.  Although other IC houses made their own bit-slice chips (and sequencers, etc.), the 290x family architecture has become obsolete (though later implemented as CMOS data-path elements in several ASIC libraries).

    1. Speak & Spell

    Probably the first single-chip implementation of a DSP algorithm was the TMS280 (later renamed the 281A) chip in Texas Instrument’s Speak & Spell™ learning aid introduced in 1978.  Implementing Linear Predictive Coding (LPC) for speech synthesis, the device was not programmable, but was controlled by a separate microprocessor (TMS370) and a large ROM containing the library of digitized words.  All three chips were implemented in PMOS dynamic logic.  The Speak & Spell design team was headed by Gene Frantz (now a TI Principal Fellow).  The idea for the product came from Frantz’ boss at the time, Paul Breedlove, who came up with the idea through a series of brainstorming sessions on how to use a hot technology of the day…bubble memories.

    This was clearly a consumer product, a chip that retailed for $49.95 (instead of TI’s design goal of $29.95), rather than the thousands of dollars inherent in earlier military implementations.  Speak & Spell was such a wild success that TI couldn’t meet demand, so it kept raising the price.  However, it proved the commercial viability of DSP technology in a consumer product.

    2. GENERATION 0.5

    In 1978, American Microsystems Inc. (AMI) announced the first programmable integrated circuit designed specifically for digital signal processing, the 12-bit S2811, designed by Dick Blasco and his group under the direction of Bill Nicholson.  Although of truly innovative circuit design, the chip was implemented in a radical “V-groove” MOS technology and never yielded volume commercial products.

    Although AMI was the first to announce a single-chip DSP, Intel Corporation was the first company to actually begin shipping a product.  In 1979, Intel introduced the Intel 2920 DSP chip, designed by Marcian (Ted) Hoff (famous for invention of what some count as the first single-chip MPU, the Intel 4004).  Designed as a “drop-in” analog circuit replacement, complete with on-board A/D and D/A converters, the chip was called an “analog signal processor” by Intel; after all, it (digitally) processed analog signals.  The 2920 did not have a parallel multiplier and was too slow (with a 600 ns cycle time) to perform useful work in the audio spectrum—where the initial high-volume DSP chip market was to eventually materialize.  After lack of success elsewhere, the second wafer lot was sold out to U.S. Robotics for use in then-current 300 bps modems as adaptive equalizers.  Although the 2920 was unsuccessful, Intel did not capitalize on the fact that (with the on-board A/D & D/A converters) this was the first single-chip codec—for which, Intel was awarded the patent.

    3. GENERATION 1

    It was in 1980 that NEC announced the first practical programmable single-chip DSP for the merchant market, the 16-bitµPD7720.  Although hampered by primitive development tools, the 122-ns NMOS chip had a (two-cycle) on-chip parallel multiplier which was fast enough to perform useful “work” in the audio spectrum.

    This began the first generation of “true” DSP chips, most based on the “Harvard” architecture which employs separate data and memory buses for better real-time operation.  In the same year, AT&T’s Bell Laboratories introduced the DSP-1, which also had an on-chip parallel multiplier.  But the chip was intended for captive use by AT&T’s manufacturing arm, Western Electric Company.  Consequently, NEC was the first merchant market vendor of a practical DSP chip.

    In 1979, Ed Caudell of Texas Instruments designed the initial architecture of what was later to become TI’s first DSP chip.  Caudell was earlier involved in designing TI’s very popular TMS1000 8-bit MCU.  The effort was under TI’s Microprocessor Microcomputer Products (MMP) group headed by Wally Rhines (now CEO of Mentor Graphics) and Jerry Rogers (MMP Design Manager).  Known as the Signal Processing Computer (SPC) Program, John Hughes was the Program Manager and Tony Leigh was the Design Manager. Dr. Surendar Magar was hired in 1980 to optimize the SPC architecture around DSP algorithms. Dr. Magar’s Ph.D. was in Signal Processing and had been working for Plessey in the U.K. Soon after joining TI, Dr. Magar recommended the inclusion of a hardware multiplier, which was not in the original SPC specification. Wanda Gass (nee English) joined Magar as a key Design Engineer along with others and the full logic was complete by the end of 1980.

    The resulting design was implemented in 3.0 um NMOS and introduced to the world in February, 1982 through Dr. Magar’s classic ISSCC (International Solid State Circuits Conference) paper. The final product, the TMS32010, was announced by Caudell in April, 1982 at the Paris, France ICASSP (International Conference on Acoustics, Speech and Signal Processing).  The TMS32010 went into production in 1983 and the DSP Group at that time was headed by Dave French (later VP at Analog Devices Inc. and then CEO of Cirrus Logic Inc.).

    TI’s early recognition of the potential of DSP carried it through seven years of “missionary” work before a profit was turned, and by then others realized that it was a market ripe for growth.  Three other major semiconductor companies then joined TI and NEC in the programmable DSP chip market: AT&T Microelectronics (later Agere Systems, then merged with LSI Logic to become part of LSI Corp.), Motorola Semiconductor Products Sector (now Freescale Semiconductor) and Analog Devices Inc. Today, there are many other semiconductor houses that employ DSP technology in their products, but for the most part, those chips are not programmable by the user.

    First-generation chips generally lacked parallelism, since at least two processor cycles were required to perform a complete multiply-accumulate (MAC) function, and limited on-chip memory required expensive (in terms of real estate and added memory) additions for most applications.  The more primitive “engines” of the day (like conventional MCUs) required as many as 60 clock cycles to perform a multiply-accumulate operation.

    Other chips offered to the market in this first-generation era were the ITT UDPI-01 (the first announced CMOS single-chip DSP, which never reached the sampling stage) and the Hitachi HD61810, another CMOS chip which saw mostly internal company use.

    4. GENERATION 2

    The most striking improvement in second-generation DSP chips was in the implementation of a single-cycle multiplier-accumulator (MAC), effectively doubling the bandwidth capability of the chips.  Direct memory access (DMA) emerged as a way to quickly load new algorithms into the DSP chip.  Enhancements to first-generation chips added serial communication ports and timers, and interrupt capability began to emerge for control applications.  DSP instruction sets became richer, with event control capability, which further broadened chip utility—allowing true stand-alone capability for many more implementations.

    The Fujitsu MB8764 (announced in 1983) was the first of this genre, followed by the TI TMS32020 (in 1985).  The TMS32020 was the result of collaborative design efforts between Texas Instruments and their customer, ITT Corp. (then International Telephone and Telegraph Corp.).  Dr. Surendar Magar of TI and Dr. Kristine Kneib of ITT were the principal architects of the -020.

    Other single-chip DSPs were announced in this second-generation era by Toshiba (T6386/7), STC (DSP-128) and Matsushita (MN1901/9), but they were never successful in the merchant market. (The DSP-128 never sampled, according to our information.)  During this time, AT&T continued internal DSP development with the DSP-2 chip.   Thomson (now STMicroelectronics) introduced the ST68930/31 in 1986, but confined most marketing efforts to Europe.

    Texas Instruments licensed the NMOS 32020 architecture to General Instrument Microelectronics (now Microchip Technology).  GI moved the NMOS design into CMOS and in turn provided it back to TI which resulted in TI’s first CMOS DSP chip, the TMS320C25.  The new chip was designed in Japan and principal designer of the -C25 was Takashi Takamizawa, later to become TI’s DSP Business Manager in Japan.

    The first floating-point DSP chip from a major vendor reluctantly made it to market in this era.  AT&T introduced itsDSP32 for internal use at 8 MFLOPS in 1984 and began to sell its DSP32 to the merchant market in July, 1986.  Thrust into the merchant world by the divestiture of the Bell operating companies, AT&T did not have cohesive DSP-chip marketing direction until late 1987, when the company realized that their first integer DSP chip, the (third-generation-design) 18.2 MIPS DSP-16, could make the company a credible force in the merchant market.

    5. GENERATION 3

    The period of the third generation became the “glory years” for DSP volume shipments by TI, which had captured over 60% of the world single-chip DSP market by 1986.  Third-generation changes centered mainly on reconfigurable memory, with flexibility of on- and off-chip memory that could be variously configured for program, data, or coefficients.  The degree of parallelism increased even further, with as many as three operations performed in a single clock cycle.  Further-expanded instruction sets became evident.  In late 1986, Zoran Corp. introduced the first single-chip DSP with CISC-like vector instructions to efficiently perform FFT functions for military applications.

    Analog Devices introduced the ADSP-2100 chip, which was unique in that it had a 24-bit instruction word, 16-bit data paths, and had no on-board memory. But, it was designed to access two words of external data on every cycle and had an instruction set optimized to perform FFTs and zero-overhead loops.  The ADSP-2100 and its faster successor, the ADSP-2100A, found heavy use in military and imaging applications, while newer members of the family, the ADSP-2101 and ADSP-2105 (both with on-board memory) saw a wider variety of applications.

    The Motorola 56000 family of 24-bit chips (for both instructions and data paths) was the first integer DSP optimized for high-fidelity audio applications, and found early acceptance in professional audio processing and music synthesis.  Other third-generation integer DSP chips included those from AT&T (the DSP-16A at 40 MIPS by 1988), Hitachi (the DSP-I, sold only in Japan) and TI (TMS320C50).

    Coincident with the era of the third-generation of integer DSP chips, additional first-generation floating-point DSP chips were announced, including improved units from AT&T (the 25 MFLOP CMOS DSP32C was announced in 1987), Texas Instruments (TMS320C30), Zoran (ZR34325), Fujitsu (MB86232), STMicroelectronics (ST18940/41), NEC (µPD77230) and Oki (MSM699210).

    6. GENERATION 4

    The emergence of a fourth generation of DSP chips was heralded by announcements made in the early ’90s.  Several fourth-generation integer DSP chips were characterized by on-chip codec circuitry, like Motorola’s DSP56156.               

    As the fourth generation evolved, geometries progressed to submicron (0.8 µm) levels and multiply-accumulate times continued to fall.  Additional CISC instructions to accommodate key algorithms became evident for some chip designs.

    Second-generation floating-point chips emerged coincident with the introduction of fourth-generation integer chips: AT&T’s DSP3210, Motorola’s DSP-96002, NEC’s µPD77240, TI’s TMS320C40, and somewhat later, Analog Devices’ ADSP-21020.

    7. GENERATION 5

    The fifth generation of DSP chips began in 1994 with the Texas Instruments’ TMS320C54xx family.  Introduced with a 20ns (50 MIPS) speed, it was TI’s first chip with a Viterbi accelerator, and the successor to its popular C25 and C50 families.  With the accelerator, the chip was clearly intended for communication applications (like modems).

    But, from a public relations standpoint, the C54 family was overshadowed by the 1985 sampling of TI’s TMS320C80(earlier termed a Multimedia Video Processor—MVP).  The C80 consisted of four 64-bit DSP cores along with a 32-bit RISC core.  A less-capable, but cheaper version, the C82, was introduced with two DSP cores and the RISC core.  Although an extremely powerful chip family, the C80’s programming complexity confined the bulk of its applications to sophisticated image processing, and the chip never achieved general industry acceptance.

    Motorola Semiconductor’s Data Communications Operation melded its DSP56002 DSP core with a 68302 microprocessor (MPU) core on the same die, the M68356 “Signal Processing Communications Engine.” In a similar pairing, TI joined its C54 core with an ARM RISC core on a single die and found success in tens of millions digital cellphones.

    Although multiple-MAC designs were earlier available on specialized 8-bit video filter chips like the Inmos (acquired by STMicroelectronics) A121 and Zoran ZR33881, 16-bit programmable DSPs also began taking on multiple MACs late in this generation.  Half-micron geometries led to sub-20 ns multiply-accumulate times—across several MACs or several DSP cores, leading to substantially higher bandwidth capability.

    Continued improvements of second-generation floating-point DSP chips were introduced coincident with the fifth generation of fixed-point chips.  Texas Instruments introduced the TMS320C32 and TMS320C44 chips, while Analog Devices introduced the ADSP-21060 SHARC™ (Super Harvard Architecture Computer).

    8. GENERATION 6

    The late-‘90s era of 0.35 um CMOS geometries saw the first introductions of VLIW and superscalar architectures for DSP.

    Texas Instruments’ TMS320C6201 was the first user-programmable VLIW DSP chip available.  Employing eight ALUs, two of which had MACs, the ‘C62 was initially capable of executing 1,600 raw MIPS and 400 DSP MIPS (MMACS) at 200 MHz.  The VLIW approach requires an optimizing C-language compiler, and TI invested heavily in developing an efficient compiler.  Until the family later moved to 0.18 um geometries, power consumption was a problem.  The ‘C62x family was announced in February 1997 and began to ship in moderate volumes in Q1/98.

    Lucent Technologies (later Agere Systems) introduced the DSP16000 family of 16-bit DSPs which featured dual ALUs and dual MACs.  The 16000 was optimized for low power consumption and for bank speech coding applications such as required in cellular base stations or Internet Protocol (IP) telephony gateways.  Initially rated at 400 MIPS (@200 MHz), the 16000 could go head-to-head with TI’s C62x family in applications where there was no need for the extra (non-DSP) MIPS provided by the TI chip.  The DSP16000 began sampling in November 1997 and in 1998, Lucent began shipping the DSP16410, a chip consisting of two 16000 cores on a die.  The DSP16410 has been a favorite in GSM cellular base station implementations.

    In 1998, a startup company, ZSP Corporation, began sampling its ZSP16400 family of DSPs, which like the Lucent product, had dual ALUs and dual MACs.  However, the ZSP family was based on a 4-issue superscalar architecture and employed a different (proprietary) approach to feeding data to multiple MACs.  Initially rated at 400 MIPS (@200 MHz),the ZSP design was acquired by LSI Logic Corp. in mid-1999, and volume shipments of the renamed ZSP400 family began in Q3/99.  LSI Logic sold both ZSP chips and licensed ZSP cores to a number of companies.  The ZSP chip operations were sold in mid-2006 by LSI Logic to Verisilicon Corp., which has since expanded the product offerings.

    Third-generation floating-point chipsemerged in this time frame, beginning with TI’s C67x family based on the VLIW architecture of the fixed-point C62x family.  The family is source-code compatible with the C62x and started with a 1-GOPS version.  Analog Devices announced its own dual-ALU/dual-MAC product, the floating-point ADSP21100(“Hammerhead”) family, which was code-compatible with its ADSP21000 (SHARC) family of products.  Sampling began in Q4/99.  Because of its code compatibility, the Hammerhead presented an instant upgrade for existing sockets.

    In 2001, TI introduced a formal pairing of its C55-family DSP core and ARM900-family RISC cores on a single die, formalized as its OMAP™ product family (said to have evolved from Open Multimedia Applications Processor). For reasons explained later in this report, the pairing of DSP and RISC, rather than a single processor architecture for both, has considerable merit in many applications.

    By 2003, 0.15 um DSP chips became commonplace and 0.13 um chips were in volume production.  And DSP cores become an ever smaller percentage of the die area as peripherals and (mostly) on-board memory begin to dominate the silicon die.

    9. THE CURRENT DSP CROP [c.2009]

    By early 2007, 65-nm versions of Texas Instruments’ C55 family were shipping in volume as part of the OMAP™ family, which became the market leader due to its deployment in hundreds of millions of cellphones, annually.  But, the company’s 1-GHz C64 VLIW became TI’s flagship “catalog” product. One member of the C64 family includes both Viterbi and turbocoding accelerators, clearly targeting the cellular base station market.  The C64 family has since been expanded to three or more cores on a single die, again addressing the base station market.  Other C64 implementations employ MPEG4 and graphics accelerators for video multimedia applications, under the DaVinci™ family name.

    Motorola has fielded its MSC8144 chip, successor to those first announced in Q4/01.  Based on four StarCore VLIW cores (each with four ALUs & MACs)  and 11.5 Mbits of on-chip memory, the earlier MSC8122 chip was originally introduced at 300 MHz, but the successor MSC8144 is now shipping at over 1GHz, and at introduction was rated by Berkeley Design Technology Inc. (BDTI) as the fastest available DSP processor, even as a single-chip implementation.

    Formally announced in Q3/01, Analog Devices’ TigerSHARC™, a floating-point VLIW design, was also targeted (unsuccessfully) for the cellular base station market.  Uniquely, in addition to traditional “symbol-rate” baseband processing, the chip can also perform high-speed “chip-rate” signal processing functions (required for CDMA cellular operation) that competitors generally assign to ASIC or FPGA implementations. The chip provided a significant jump in performance over the earlier Hammerhead, but it is not code compatible with the ADSP21000 product family, so new tools were required to develop products based on the higher performance product.

    In a similar vein, Analog Devices introduced the fixed-point Blackfin™ DSP family, based on the “Frio” core jointly developed with Intel Corporation. The first chip (the ADI21535) was announced in mid-2001 at a 300MHz clock rate. It was priced at $27 @10K units. The initial superscalar design employed two 16-bit MACs and two 40-bit ALUs and four 8-bit video ALUs, clearly targeting multimedia applications. By mid-2003, the chip family began sampling at 600 MHz (1.2 GMACS), and is currently available at 750 MHz.  The architecture is said to scale to at least 1GHz, a speed that ADI’s older 219x devices would be unlikely to achieve.  As with the TigerSHARC, it is not code compatible with the earlier 2100 family devices, so the company has developed new tools to support the new architecture.  However, with the 300 MHz version later priced at $4.95 @10K units, the chip achieved strong early market attention.

    Intel chose to employ the Frio core in SoC (System on Chip) products under its PCA (Personal Internet Communications Architecture) banner.  Rather than use the DSP nomenclature (a term which they equate to TI), Intel chose to call the Frio technology “Micro Signal Architecture.” The Frio architecture became part of Intel’s cellular baseband chip, code-named “Hermon” (after Mount Hermon, the highest mountain in Israel), which (along with Intel’s XScale RISC product line) was sold to Marvell Semiconductor in late 2006. Marvell has since expanded on the initial architecture, now offering a cellular baseband chip code-named “Tavor” (after the second highest mountain in Israel).  Tavor found a home in RIM’s Blackberry “Bold” 3G cellphone introduced in late 2008.

    Agere Systems introduced (Q2/03) the DSP16411, a 0.13 um successor to the earlier (Lucent) DSP16410 that has been popular in GSM base stations.  Clearly, the faster, and code-compatible, 16411 is a natural for retrofitting GSM base stations to GPRS capability.  The operation became a division of LSI Corp. shipping its Trident HP chip based on its workhorse DSP16000 and ARM7TDMI cores for the GSM/GPRS/EDGE cellphone market.  The cellphone chip operation was later sold to Infineon, but LSI Corp. continues serving the cellular base station market with its Starpro line of multicore chips based on the StarCore DSP core jointly developed with (then) Motorola’s Semiconductor Division.

    VeriSilicon now offers its new ZSP600 family as licensed cores. Based on a 6-issue superscalar architecture with 4 MACs running at up to 300 MHz in 0.13um CMOS, the chip occupies a unique niche.  Although earlier designs, like the ZSP400 and ZSP500 were also sold as chips by LSI Logic, VeriSilicon only licenses the IP, in addition to applying the cores in its own ASIC chip designs.

    The designs of programmable DSP chips continue to evolve, with VLIW becoming the base architecture of choice for most of the highest performance discrete chips. But all discrete DSP chip vendors are now treating their basic engines as ASIC cores, as central elements in an ASSP (application-specific standard product), like a digital still camera chip, or for a customer-specific (usually high-volume) design like a cellphone baseband chip.

    Another clear trend is that of licensable RISC cores have evolved to incorporate ever-increasing DSP functionality, either through customizable instruction set architectures or through the addition of SIMD augmentation.

    The trend toward ASSPs for vertical markets, like cellphones, cameras and personal media players continues, with off-the-shelf discrete DSPs becoming a diminishing percentage of the (still-growing) DSP-centric silicon market.

    Qualcomm moving ahead of Allwinner et al. in CPU and GPU while trying to catch up with Allwinner in Ultra HD

    [Updated June 20, 2013] According to Qualcomm Expands Qualcomm Snapdragon 200 Processor Tier [press release, June 20, 2013] the entry-level S200 with quad-core Cortex-A5 @1.4GHz and Adreno 203 GPU manufacture on a 45nm proces will be expanded late 2013 (together with Qualcomm Reference Design (QRD) versions) Cortex-A7 @1.2GHz and Adreno 305 based SoCs: the MSM8x10 (8210, 8610) dual-core and MSM8x12 (8212, 8612) quad-core versions. They will feature key modem technologies that are important in China and emerging regions, including support for HSPA+ (up to 21Mbps) and TD-SCDMA. The processors will have support for dual cameras, with an 8 Megapixel rear-facing camera and up to a 5 Megapixel front-facing one, as well as feature a single platform for all SIM variants, including Dual SIM, Dual Standby, and Dual SIM, Dual Active, and Tri SIM Tri Standby.

    The latest additions to the Snapdragon 200 class also feature: integrated industry-leading IZat Location functionality and support of Qualcomm Quick Charge 1.0; support for the latest Android, Windows Phone and Firefox operating systems; RxD support; and a single, multimode modem enabling faster data rates, fewer dropped calls, and better connections.

    [Updated Feb 27, 2013] The ”Allwinner phenomenon” coming from nowhere in 2012 is threatening all established players in the SoC industry, even the industry’s undisputed leader Qualcomm. This was the reason why Qualcomm was forced to strengthen its Cortex based S4 Play class ahead of time already twice in the recent months, and came the time to announce its next-gen Krait microarchitectures with significantly enhanced GPU and video processing unit capabilities.

    In fact it was necessary to introduce two microarchitecture steps at once: Krait 300 and Krait 400. Even the SoC classification was further changed with the corresponding S600 (for mid-high tier smartphones and tablets) and S800 (for premium smartphones, Smart TVs, digital media adapters and tablets) “processor brand tiers” while the company was yet unable to decide how the existing S4 Play, S4 Plus and S4 Pro classes, introduced just in August 2011, should be transformed into the new S200 (for entry level smartphones) and S400 (for high volume smartphones and tablets) “processor brand tiers” in order to remain competitive. While Qualcomm will undoubtebly be able to defend its SoC leadership position with the announcements already made there will be even bigger trouble for the already ailing giant with Intel’s biggest flop: at least 3-month delay in delivering the power management solution for its first tablet SoC [this same ‘Experiencing the Cloud’ blog, Dec 20, 2012].

    Update: Qualcomm Snapdragon 200, 400, 600 and 800 at Mobile World Congress 2013 [Charbax YouTube channel, Feb 27, 2013]

    Update: Qualcomm Reveals the Snapdragon™ 400 and 200 Processors [OnQ Blog by Qualcomm, Feb 20, 2013] the essence of which I will include into the updated table below in order to make it easy to compare with everything introduced earlier by Qualcomm in the new “Krait era” of Snapdragon SoCs:image

    Update: LG Optimus G Pro, 5.5″ 1080p IPS display, 1.7Ghz Qualcomm S600
    [Charbax YouTube channel, Feb 26, 2013] a full HD (1080p) LTE device said to be “available in Q1 in globally selected markets” [4:11-4:18]

    HTC One announced with UltraPixel camera, 4.7-inch 1080p display and Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 processor Byhttp://www.bgr.in The HTC One is finally official. Yes, all the leaks of the past few weeks were true and we are indeed looking at HTC’s first smartphone with an “ultrapixel” camera. It looks every bit like the leaked render and we are indeed talking about a 4.7-inch full HD 1080p display with a pixel density of 468PPI in a unibody machine chiselled chassis.

    More information: OPTIMUS G PRO, LG’S FIRST FULL HD SMARTPHONE, LAUNCHES THIS WEEK IN KOREA [LG Electronics press release Feb 18, 2013]

    Update: HTC One announced with UltraPixel camera, 4.7-inch display and Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 processor [BGRIndia YouTube channel, Feb20, 2013] to be available in March worldwide

    HTC One announced with UltraPixel camera, 4.7-inch 1080p display and Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 processor Byhttp://www.bgr.in The HTC One is finally official. Yes, all the leaks of the past few weeks were true and we are indeed looking at HTC’s first smartphone with an “ultrapixel” camera. It looks every bit like the leaked render and we are indeed talking about a 4.7-inch full HD 1080p display with a pixel density of 468PPI in a unibody machine chiselled chassis.

    More information: Ubuntu and HTC in lockstep [‘Experiencing the Cloud’ blog, Feb 19, 2013]

    Update: Snapdragon 400 as now defined by Qualcomm (see MSM 8230 under the S400 in the above table) came first to the market with the Huawei Ascend W1 introduced at CES 2013. See Huawei Device – The Stage is Yours with the Ascend W1 [HuaweiDeviceCo YouTube channel, Jan 8, 2013]

    This device is also The first Windows Phone 4Afrika from Huawei for $150 = Huawei Ascend W1 for $240 (in China) and more elsewhere [Feb 5, 2013], and as such it is part of the Microsoft’s 4Afrika Initiative [Videos4Afrika YouTube channel, Feb 5, 2013]

    Watch from [0:54] to [1:10] part of the video for Huawei 4Afrika device with MSM 8230 Snapdragon 400 inside. This is showing quite well that for this 3-year initiative by Microsoft this Snapdragon 400 SoC will satisfy the entry-level requirements too, and not only in the smartphone space but in the tablet space as well.

    Update: The All-New Snapdragon 800 Series [QUALCOMMVlog YouTube channel, Jan 24, 2013] for which devices were said to be available in the middle of 2013

    Snapdragon 800 processors bring the power of 4G LTE advanced, delivering download speeds up to 150 mbps. Now you can stream movies, surf the web, and do so much more, better and faster. The new Snapdragon 800 delivers incredible detail and graphics with its quad core CPU and Adreno 330 graphics processing unit. Add to that UltraHD or 4K with 7.1 surround sound for capturing, viewing or watching video and movies at the highest quality possible.

    End of updates

    Here is the January 2013 SoC lineup for Qualcomm as per the new announcements at CES 2013:

    image
    Compiled from previous and current (see below) Snapdragon announcements from Qualcomm. The previous announcements were described in the following posts on this blog:
    Qualcomm quad-core Cortex-A7 SoCs with Adreno 305 and 1080p coming for the high-volume global market and China [Dec 9, 2012]
    Qualcomm decided to compete with the existing Cortex-A5/Krait-based offerings till the end of 2012 [Sept 30 – Dec 7, 2012]
    Next-gen Snapdragon S4 class SoCs — exploiting TSMC’s 28nm process first — coming in December [Aug 9 – Nov 25, 2011]
    Qualcomm Snapdragon SoCs with a new way of easy identification [Aug 4 – Nov 16, 2011]
    See also the post which described the availability problem of the company in 2012:
    Qualcomm’s critical reliance on supply constrained 28nm foundry capacity [July 27 – Nov 13, 2012]

    Paul Jacobs Demos the new 800 Series Snapdragon Processors [QUALCOMMVlog YouTube channel, Jan 9, 2013]

    During the Qualcomm CES 2013 Keynote, Qualcomm CEO Paul Jacobs shows off the incredible power of the new 800 Series Snapdragon processors. The new processor renders videos and games in stunning speed. Using the Fortress Fire app, Jacobs showed how the 800 series processor takes it to the next level.

    Which you should put into an overall context of new opportunities as it is presented in:
    Highlights from the 2013 Qualcomm CES Born Mobile Keynote [QUALCOMMVlog YouTube channel, Jan 10, 2013]

    Highlights from Paul Jacobs’ 2013 Qualcomm CES keynote. Featuring appearances from Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, director Guillermo del Toro, Sesame Street’s Big Bird, and many more. Visit the Qualcomm CES Facebook tab: http://on.fb.me/ZUsLky For more info visit: http://www.qualcomm.com/CES

    New Qualcomm Snapdragon Processor Brand Tiers Announced [OnQ Blog, Jan 7, 2013]

    Today Qualcomm Technologies is introducing new names and tiers for the upcoming 2013 line of Snapdragon(TM) processors. You probably became acquainted with the Snapdragon processor through smartphones and tablets, though the new line will expand into other consumer electronics.

    The current Snapdragon processors are labeled S1, S2, S3 and S4 to reflect the processor generation.  But as the processor roadmap has expanded to address additional segments of smartphones, tablets, compute devices and consumer electronics, so we are taking this opportunity to introduce a new tiered structure to the Qualcomm Snapdragon processor brand. There will be 4 tiers – Snapdragon 800, 600, 400 and 200 – to make it easy to distinguish the processor segmentation and to communicate the depth of Qualcomm Technologies’ processor portfolio.

    Starting in 2013 and moving forward, processors will be categorized in the following tiers:

    Snapdragon 800 Processors

    Snapdragon 800 Processors are designed to deliver blazing fast apps and web browsing, visually stunning graphics, breakthrough multimedia capabilities, seamless communications virtually anytime, anywhere, and outstanding battery life for premium smartphones, Smart TVs, digital media adapters and tablets.

    Snapdragon 600 Processors

    Snapdragon 600 Processors are designed to deliver outstanding performance for today’s coolest apps, fast web browsing, seamless connectivity and great battery life for mid-high tier smartphones and tablets.

    Snapdragon 400 Processors

    Snapdragon 400 Processors are designed to deliver the performance, features, connectivity and battery life that consumers expect in high volume smartphones and tablets.

    Snapdragon 200 Processors

    Snapdragon 200 Processors are designed to deliver a valued balance of performance, robust connectivity and better battery life for entry level smartphones.

    It’s important to state that the Qualcomm Snapdragon processor brand continues to stand for the same thing – mobility without compromise.  Now new tiered brand structure makes it easy for customers and consumers to see that no matter what your style, device preference or budget, there’s a Snapdragon processor for you.  And when a Snapdragon processor is at the heart of your device, you can do more and recharge less.

    Click here for a deeper dive into the features and specifications of the new Snapdragon 800 and 600 Series.

    Qualcomm Announces Next Generation Snapdragon Premium Mobile Processors [Qualcomm press release, Jan 7, 2013]

    New Snapdragon 800 and 600 Processors Represent a Significant Performance Leap For High-End Mobile Computing Devices

    LAS VEGAS – January 07, 2013 – Qualcomm Incorporated (NASDAQ: QCOM) today announced that its wholly owned subsidiary, Qualcomm Technologies, Inc., is sampling the first products in its latest generation of processors. With the introduction of its newest Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 and 600 processors, Qualcomm continues to lead the industry by once again raising the bar on performance per watt and delivering unparalleled user experiences.

    The new Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 processors target premium mobile and computing devices. They are designed to deliver outstanding overall user experience, expand the possibilities of seamless connected computing and enable brand new mobile experiences while maintaining industry-leading battery performance:

    • The Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 processors will deliver up to 75 percent better performance than the Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro processor and the move to 28nm High Performance for mobile (HPm) technology node ensures exceptionally low power
    • New Krait 400 CPU in quad configuration, with speeds of up to 2.3 GHz per core offers best-in-class performance per watt, so processor performance can hold up to the more demanding processing and communication requirements of premium mobile devices
    • Additionally, asynchronous SMP architecture provides dynamic power sensing and control for peak performance per core, while extending battery life without the use of specialized cores
    • New Adreno 330 GPU delivers more than 2x performance for compute applications over the current Adreno 320 GPU
    • 2x32bit LP-DDR3 at 800MHz with industry-leading memory bandwidth of 12.8GBps
    • New Hexagon DSP V5 delivers floating point support, dynamic multithreading and expanded multimedia instructions for enhanced low power performance
    • New IZat™ location technology combines multiple tracking systems into a single high performance, highly accurate navigation platform for auto and pedestrian applications
    • Seamless communications anytime, anywhere: Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 processors offer fully integrated connectivity and a wide variety of communication options.
    • Third generation 4G LTE modem with data rates up to 150 Mbps (Category 4), fully integrated in the new Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 processors
    • 4G LTE Advanced Carrier Aggregation feature to maximize radio frequency bandwidth
    • World multimode and multi-band support using wafer level package (WTR1605)
    • Integrated newest generation mobile Wi-Fi connectivity, 802.11ac
    • Broad connectivity support with integrated USB 3.0, Bluetooth and FM

    INSERT: Director Guillermo del Toro and Paul Jacobs Showcase Ultra HD [QUALCOMMVlog YouTube channel, Jan 10, 2013]

    Director Guillermo del Toro visits Paul Jacobs at the Qualcomm 2013 CES keynote to discuss Ultra HD and show the Qualcomm Pacific Rim trailer for his new film, Pacific Rim. Visit the Qualcomm CES Facebook tab: http://on.fb.me/ZUsLky For more info visit: http://www.qualcomm.com/CES

    Breakthrough multimedia experiences: The Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 processors also introduce the very latest mobile experiences.

    • Capture, playback and display in UltraHD video (with four times 1080p pixel density)
    • Dual Image Signal Processors (ISP) for Qualcomm Snapdragon Camera with support for computational camera
    • HD multichannel audio with DTS-HD and Dolby Digital Plus for enhanced audio
    • Higher display resolutions (up to 2560×2048) and Miracast 1080p HD support

    The Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 processors are currently sampling and expected to be available in commercial devices by mid-year 2013.

    The Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 processor targets high-end mobile devices. The Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 processor is designed to deliver great performance, rich graphics and enhanced user experience and will deliver up to 40 percent better performance than the Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro processor at lower power. The new processor offers system-wide architectural improvements, key component upgrades and expanded connectivity options. The Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 processor features a new Krait 300 quad-core CPU with speeds up to 1.9GHz, a new speed enhanced Adreno 320 GPU and support for LPDDR3 memory. The Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 processor is sampling now and is expected to be available in commercial devices by second quarter 2013.

    “With the overwhelming success of our previous Qualcomm Snapdragon platforms, our mobile processors have emerged as the platform of choice for high-end mobile devices,” said Steve Mollenkopf, president and chief operating officer of Qualcomm. “With more than 50 design wins already secured with the first products of the Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 and 800 processors, we are advancing our vision and setting the standard for excellence in mobile computing.”

    For more information and to see a demonstration of the Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 processors, as well as the newest devices powered by Qualcomm Snapdragon processors, please visit Qualcomm during CES 2013 South Hall 3, Upper Level, Booth #30313), Jan. 8-11 in Las Vegas or visit www.qualcomm.com/snapdragon.

    Snapdragon 800 Series and 600 Processors Unveiled [OnQ Blog, Jan 7, 2013]

    Earlier today we announced several new Snapdragon processors in our new Snapdragon 800 and 600 processors (you can read more about our new brand tiers here).  Smartphones, tablets or any devices loaded with the latest Snapdragon processor will feel really fast and offer long battery and I’d like to take the opportunity to tell you more about our newest flagship processors.

    The Snapdragon 600 Processors

    Building on the momentum of our highly successful Snapdragon S4 Pro processor featured in such flagship devices like the Google Nexus 4 and the HTC Droid DNA, we have introduced the first Snapdragon 600 processor which will once again lead the industry in both performance and power efficiency.  Inside of the Snapdragon 600 processor is an integrated system featuring our custom built CPU, GPU, and much more so you’ll our feel the Snapdragon experience—fast performance and great battery life. The new Snapdragon 600 processor includes the following features:

    • Quad Core Krait 300 CPU—running at up to 1.9 GHz
    • Adreno 320 GPU –offering over 3x the performance of A225 &, as the first GPU in the Adreno 300 series and introduces support for new mobile and GPGPU compute APIs       such as OpenGL ES 3.0 , OpenCL and Renderscript Compute
    • LPDDR3 RAM— (Low Power Double Data Rate 3) this faster RAM gives a speed boost to the channels which data flows.  By increasing the speed at which the data flows to each component, performance is boosted throughout the entire processor.
    • Overall Performance Boost—we expect the Snapdragon 600 processor to deliver up to 40% better performance than the Snapdragon S4 Pro processor.

    Our first Snapdragon 600 processor is sampling now and expected to be available in commercial devices by second quarter 2013.

    The Snapdragon 800 Processors

    Fast on the heels of our first Snapdrgon 600 processor, we will once again reset the performance and power efficiency bar with the introduction of our flagship Snapdragon 800 processors.   Inside these tiny processors are all of the leading technologies that you have come to expect from Qualcomm.  And we continue to custom build these technologies in-house so they can be fully tailored and tightly integrated with the entire system.  This level of customization enables the Snapdragon experience—stunning performance and extreme battery life.  The Snapdragon 800 processors will enable the newest mobile experience with a cutting edge feature set that includes:

    • Quad Core Krait 400 CPU—speeds up to 2.3 GHz, per core
    • Adreno 330 GPU—featuring patented Flex Render Technology and leading edge API’s that are designed to expand the use of GPU processing for general computing and other SoC tasks, the Adreno 330 GPU offers a 2 times better compute performance than Adreno 320
    • 2x32bit LPDDR3 RAM at 800MHz – with industry-leading memory bandwidth of 12.8GBps.
    • 4G LTE Cat 4 and 802.11ac—these connectivity options offer blazing fast, seamless connectivity with cellular modem boasting data rates up to 150 Mbps and 802.11ac at speeds up to 1 Gbps.
    • UltraHD—video can be captured, played back and displayed in UltraHD (previously called “4K.”)  The resolution has four times as many pixels as 1080p. (1920x 1080 versus  4096 × 2304)
    • HD Audio—support for DTS-HD, Dolby Digital Plus and 7.1 surround sound.
    • Dual Image Signal Processors (ISPs) up to 55MP – with support for up to four cameras and allows for 3D captures, photo merging into a master 55MPixel image, separate autofocus and captures, 1080p30 video captures.
    • Overall Performance Boost—the Snapdragon 800 processor is expected to deliver up to 75% better performance than the Snapdragon S4 Pro.

    Not only will you see this Snapdragon 800 processor in mobile devices like smartphones and tablets, but it will be featured in computing and consumer electronic devices such as Smart TVs and digital media adapters.  Snapdragon 800 processors are sampling now and expected to be available in commercial devices by mid-2013.

    Raj Talluri Senior Vice President of Product Management, Qualcomm CDMA Technologies

    Qualcomm decided to compete with the existing Cortex-A5/Krait-based offerings till the end of 2012

    Update: Nvidia Tegra 3 under strong pressure from S4 Pro, say Taiwan makers [DIGITIMES, Dec 7, 2012]

    Snapdragon S4 Pro series processors developed by Qualcomm have brought increasing competitive pressure on Nvidia’s Tegra 3 because of its superior overall performance-cost ratio, according to Taiwan-based handset supply chain makers.

    Although Nvidia successfully landed orders for Google’s Nexus 7 and Microsoft’s Surface RT in 2012, with Microsoft reportedly planning to adopt Qualcomm’s platform for its next-generation Surface RT, while Tegra-based smartphones have only had average sales performance, Nvidia may find it difficult to continue achieving strong growth in 2013 like in 2012.

    In 2012, Nvidia received Tegra orders for smartphones including the HTC One X, LG Electronics Optimus 4X H, ZTE Era, K-Touch Treasure V8 and Fujitsu’s devices.

    Qualcomm is expected to start fierce competition against MediaTek and China-based handset chipmakers in China’s mid-range to entry-level smartphone market in the first quarter of 2013, challenging Nvidia’s plans of releasing a solution for CNY1,000 smartphones (US$160), while Qualcomm’s aggressiveness over striving orders from tablet players with its reference design, which is set to release in the first half of 2013, also places strong pressure on Nvidia, the sources noted.

    With the new Snapdragon S4 class additions announced three days ago we can make the conclusion that:
    – Snapdragon Cortex-A5 based S4 Play smartphones will get quadcore capability only in the first quarter of 2013, so the current S1 and further dual core S4 Play smartphones are to compete till the end of the year.
    – Snapdragon Krait-based S4 Plus smartphones will have mid-range LTE (in so called World Mode form) “high-volume“ versions only in the first quarter of 2013, so the current S4 Plus smartphones and similar upcoming ones are to compete till the end of the year.
    – No decision was taken for the Cortex-A5 based S4 Play TD-SCDMA smartphone market thus letting Spreadtrum and its competitors to capture the corresponding China Mobile entry market even more.

    What does it mean?

    For the last, Spreadtrum et al observation it means that Qualcomm cannot do anything yet but stand still as according to my Lowest H2’12 device cost SoCs from Spreadtrum will redefine the entry level smartphone and feature phone markets [July 26 – Aug 16, 2012] post (here on this blog) the entry level TD-SCDMA smartphone market is moving from sub $150 to sub $100 in the H2 2012.

    For the other two observations we should first understand what has been delivered so far with Cortex-A5 and Krait based SoCs by the smartphone vendors.

    The current Cortex-A5 based Snapdragon S1 UMTS and Krait based S4 Plus UMTS and World Mode SoCs from Qualcomm were adopted by global brands so far as follows:

    image image
    Source: smartphones in PDAdb.net counted for corresponding SoCs as of Sept 28, 2012

    image

    Smartphones based on the new Cortex-A5 SoCs detailed above were introduced
    as shown on the chart below:

    image image

    while the introduction of the new Krait-based smartphones is shown on the above chart
    and it was for the UMTS & World mode S4 class Plus tier SoCs detailed below as follows
    (i.e. the CDMA/UMTS S4 class Plus tier SoCs were not reflected in the above chart): image

    So there were no Adreno 305 based S4 class Plus tier smartphones introduced to the market yet except a single one from HTC for November timeframe, actually with Windows Phone 8. This single fact means, however, that in October and November more such smartphones could be introduced as the HTC case shows the Adreno 305 related SoCs availability for Q4 2012. So powerful by today’s market standards yet sold at mass market prices MSM8x27 based Windows Phone 8 and Android smartphones could be available on the market from November at the latest.

    Similarly we can expect mid-tier WP8 and Android smartphones based on MSM8x30 SoCs to become available in October or November at prices which are between the latest premium smartphones like Samsung Galaxy S III or HTC One XL, and the new mass market yet “powerful” ones introduced at the same time. As you could see via the number of new premium models introduced so far (not less than 43 if you will add up the numbers attached to each type of new premium SoCs in the table above), the new premium category is well established already both in price and functionality.

    Now the global brands could safely establish the new “mid-range” and “mass-market yet powerful” segments of the smartphone market with Qualcomm capable of delivering the new Krait and UMTS—CDMA/UMTS—World Mode technologies in greater volumes than before. With the decision of postponing the availability of the new higher end LTE (World Mode) mid-range category to the Q1 2013 Qualcomm and its global brand partners are in fact letting the market to sort out in November-December the acceptable pricing below whatever MSM8930 could bring in addition to that in Q1 2013.

    Somewhat more interesting and remarkable is the case of entry level smartphones which is covered in Qualcomm’s new segmentation strategy by the S1 class Play tier (see the table above). With the decision of leaving the active formation of the new entry-level segment to competitors like MediaTek and Spreadtrum till the end of the year Qualcomm shows not only the company’s unpreparedness to compete fully in TD-SCDMA market (as was already indicated in the beginning of this post), but also a more general unpreparedness to compete with a broader China based phenomenon currently most visible via MediaTek as it was shown in my earlier:
    Core post: Boosting the MediaTek MT6575 success story with the MT6577 announcement  – UPDATED with MT6588/83 coming early 2013 in Q42012 and 8-core MT6599 in 2013 [June 27, July 27, Sept 11-13, Sept 26, 2012]. Quoting from that:

    … MediaTek 28 nanometer quad-core A7 smartphone chip MTK6588 launch time is expected to advance to the fourth quarter of this year from the first quarter of next year! Because the price is very competitive, only 18 to 20 dollars, not only quadcore smartphone prices in mainland China will immediately fell to less than 150 dollars following that, the company will also have the opportunity to break into [the market of ] first-tier [i.e. global brand] manufacturers such as Samsung. …
    Mediatek’s biggest “backer” [in terms of stock market performance] is expected to be the launch of MT6588 (quad-core A7 [with] TD-SCDMA/WCDMA) and MT6599 (8 core of the ARM [with] LTE/TD-SCDMA/WCDMA) smartphone chips in 4th quarter [of this year] and in the next year, respectively.
    … we will see in the near future more dual-core 1.7Ghz Krait-based MSM8960A [on one hand], and MSM8974 [on the other], which is same but with quad-core, rather than next to the launch of 8225Q. …
    … the fastest possible production of MediaTek quad-core mobile processor chip MTK6588 will start in October this year a small amount, quantity should not be a lot, may be available only to large client proofing purposes. Rumored MediaTek MTK6588 manufacturing cost is even less than dual-core MTK6577. …
    MT6588 has a 4-core CPU [Cortex-A7 (!), see on the second slide below] clocked at 1GHz [1.XGHz rather, see the included slides below], supports dual-channel at maximum 1066Mbps, has an integrated multimode modem for WCDMA [+ it is delivering HSPA+ WCDMA performance (!) vs just HSPA with MT6577/75, see the first slide below] and TD (!), that is it can support both Unicom [latest upgrade to HSPA+ service, see the news in the original post materials much below] and China Mobile 3G network, supports an up to 13 MP camera and 1080P video playback. It finally has a GPU upgrade with SGX544, doubles the resolution to 1280×800 HD level, and has 32KB L1 cache and 1MB L2 secondary cache.
    Along the MT6588 there is a 28nm dual-core version, MT6583 on the MediaTek 2012 product roadmap. From the chipset parameters it is evident that MT6583 is a scaled down version of MT6588. It has 2 cores less, the camera support is 8MP, the video decoder is of 720P level, and the resolution is down to 854×480.
    It is understood that MT6588 and MT6583 will be in production in the first quarter of 2013, early next year the fastest.

    The MediaTek product roadmapMTK MT6588 chip Introduction

    Qualcomm’s problems are already immense as follows from another core post of mine stating not less than The low priced, Android based smartphones of China will change the global market [Sept 10-17, 2012], from I will just include this quote:

    The best smartphone based on the MediaTek MT6577 both technically and in terms of price is the MT6577-based JiaYu G3 with IPS Gorilla glass 2 sreen of 4.5” etc. for $154 (factory direct) in China and $183 [Sept 13, 2012], which is also the best example of the low priced, Android based smartphones of China will change the global market.

    This SoC competitor is also “deadly serious” as MediaTek plans for quad-core chips in budget smartphones by early 2013 [Engadget from China Times (translated) sources, Sept 26, 2012].

    Considering also the fact that Spreadtrum’s TD-SCDMA effort will meantime drive the entry level TD-SCDMA smartphone market from sub $150 to sub $100 level in the H2 2012 Qualcomm has to completely redefine its original plans for the upcoming S1 class Play tier by Q1 2013. Especially because its crucial global brand partners are embracing the new Chinese phenomenon as evidenced by the quite new Huawei Ascend G306T (Huawei T8808D) [Sept 14, 2012] example currently sold in China for $183 (Yuan 1,148). Note that here is IPS screen etc. so this is higher than the very entry level.

    Note as well that Qualcomm is heavily restricted by the shortage of 28nm foundry capacity which will be lifted only by the end of the year as described in my earlier:
    Core post: Qualcomm’s critical reliance on supply constrained 28nm foundry capacity [July 27, 2012]

    So for Q1 2013 the company will have plenty of room for effective actions in the competitive space quite unlike this time. It will be interesting to see what happens next!

    Related announcements and videos by Qualcomm:

    Before the new announcement Qualcomm issued the following “image” video:
    How Snapdragon processors stack up against the competition [QUALCOMMVlog YouTube channel, Sept 20, 2012]

    With so many devices launched every day, what claims to be new may not always be up to speed with current technology. In this video, you’ll see how a Qualcomm Snapdragon processors compare to the competition’s latest processor.

    Qualcomm Announces New Snapdragon S4 Play MSM8x25Q Processors with Quad-Core CPUs and Reference Design Counterpart for High-Volume Smartphones [Qualcomm press release, Sept 27, 2012]

    — Snapdragon S4 Plus MSM8x30 Platform to Support LTE -TDD/TD-SCDMA and All Three China Operators
    BEIJING – September 27, 2012 – Qualcomm Incorporated (NASDAQ: QCOM) today announced the addition of two new Snapdragon™ S4 mobile processors: the MSM8225Q and MSM8625Q. Both are members of the Snapdragon S4 Play processor tier, optimized specifically for a broad range of smartphone users seeking faster applications and better user experiences. Snapdragon S4 Play processors will now offer OEMs both dual-core and quad-core CPUs and performance for entry-level smartphones, with the more advanced version featuring higher bus bandwidth, larger screen resolution support, HD video and enhanced user experiences. Both processors will be ready for customer sampling by end of 2012 and are expected to be shipping in commercial devices in the first quarter of 2013.
    The MSM8225Q and MSM8625Q processors incorporate quad-core CPUs and are the upgraded software compatible variants of the highly successful Snapdragon S4 Play MSM8225 and MSM8625 processors, which both feature dual-core CPUs and dual SIM support. The quad-core variants will support LPDDR2 memory, increasing the bus bandwidth for improved features such as 720p display and 720p video encode and decode. Snapdragon S4 Play MSM8625Q features Qualcomm’s integrated multimode UMTS/CDMA modem, and the MSM8225Q has an integrated UMTS modem. Both processors enable Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0 and FM connectivity using the Qualcomm Atheros AR6005 and WCN2243 chips.
    In addition, Qualcomm also announced a single platform, the Snapdragon S4 Plus MSM8930, that supports all China operators with UMTS, CDMA and TD-SCDMA. Furthermore, this single platform will support LTE -TDD and TD-SCDMA, targeting mid-tier smartphones for use in China. Announced in February 2011, this processor features dual-core CPUs and as the world’s first single-chip solution with an integrated LTE modem, it is designed to take LTE to high-volume smartphones. Snapdragon S4 Plus MSM8930 with LTE-TDD and TD-SCDMA support will be ready for customer sampling by the end of 2012 and is expected to be shipping in commercial devices by the first quarter of 2013.
    Qualcomm will also be releasing Qualcomm Reference Design (QRD) versions of all three processors. The QRD program includes comprehensive handset development platforms and an ecosystem program providing access to third-party providers of tested and verified hardware and software components so customers can rapidly deliver differentiated smartphones to budget conscious consumers. The Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and FM connectivity technologies have been pre-validated and tested with the QRD platform to provide reduced time-to-market. There have been more than 50 public QRD-based product launches to date in collaboration with more than 40 OEMs, and there are 100 designs in progress, including QRD-based smartphones enabled by these new Snapdragon S4 Play and Plus processors, which are also expected to be available by the first quarter of 2013.
    “Our broad portfolio of Snapdragon S4 mobile processors delivers the optimal balance of features and performance for the high-volume smartphone segment,” said Cristiano Amon, senior vice president and co-president of mobile and computing products. “By offering both dual-core and quad-core CPU versions of the Snapdragon S4 Play processor, we are providing our OEM and operating partners a competitive and differentiated platform.”
    The new Snapdragon S4 Play and Plus processors are designed specifically for high-volume smartphones, and they provide device manufacturers the ability to migrate their existing Snapdragon S1-based designs to S4 dual- and quad-core CPU-based designs. This capability is particularly useful for device manufacturers looking to efficiently expand their smartphone product lines with more advanced 3G/LTE smartphone products.

    This announcement coincided with a new Graphics Benchmarking [QUALCOMMVlog YouTube channel, Sept 26, 2012] published for Qualcomm’s highest Adreno 320 GPU which is also in the MSM8960 SoC of the Pro tier of the S4 class for which no smartphones were introduced yet (probably in Q1 2013 we will see them):

    Watch how the graphics performance of Qualcomm’s quad-core Snapdragon S4 (APQ8064) with integrated Adreno 320 GPU compares with a competitor quad-core platform. Kishonti Informatic’s GLBenchmark 2.5, the newest and highest-end 3D graphics benchmark available today, plays noticeably more smoothly with Snapdragon and Adreno.

    Along with the first “image” video the company also issued another “giving assurance” type video: Vellamo™ Mobile Benchmark Suite: Setting new standards for system-level mobile benchmarking [QUALCOMMVlog YouTube channel, Sept 20, 2012]

    Here at Qualcomm, we place a great degree of importance on developing sound methodologies and best practices for benchmarking mobile performance across all devices. We think it’s a critical part of our overall evaluation of our own designs and those of our competitors — because ultimately the quality of the experience on your mobile device depends on performance. Vellamo was created using our own benchmarking expertise. It is a series of tests designed to evaluate which Android devices deliver the best mobile experiences. We are proud to announce that we’ve launched a new version of Vellamo on Google Play. Vellamo began as a mobile web benchmarking tool that today has expanded to include two primary chapters. The HTML5 Chapter evaluates mobile web browser performance and the Metal Chapter measures the CPU subsystem performance of mobile processors. Through a click-and-go suite of tests, Vellamo can rate things like: scrolling and zooming, 3D graphics, video performance and memory read/write and peak bandwidth performance and much more. Simply launching a chapter runs the full suite of tests in that particular chapter, providing the user with an overall performance score. That score can then be uploaded and compared to the scores of other devices. More detail on the specific tests included in each Vellamo chapter can be found here. We think Vellamo is pretty enticing. Check out the video demo below, download the app on Google Play and find out how your device scores and compare scores!

    Here is worth to remind you about my last year’s post that Qualcomm is very close to getting the HTML5 web apps performance and feature set to rival that of native OS apps [Oct 11, 2011]. Reading that one will understand this whole Velamo effort from both technical and marketing point of view.

    Now the latest Qualcomm video about the envisaged market segmentation of its offerings:
    Snapdragon Overview [QUALCOMMVlog YouTube channel, Aug 30, 2012]

    Michelle Leyden Li, Senior Director of Marketing at Qualcomm, explains the new Snapdragon system of tiers, whether it’s the entry-level space in the emerging markets or high-end devices like the HTC One X and Samsung Galaxy S3. The Snapdragon S4 tiers will also make it easier for Qualcomm’s customers and consumers to identify the right processor and its wide-array of features and specifications. To learn more about Qualcomm visit http://www.qualcomm.com or connect with us at: http://www.facebook.com/qualcomm, http://www.youtube.com/qualcomm and Twitter@Qualcomm.

    Qualcomm Launches Tiers for Snapdragon S4 platform [Qualcomm’s OnQ blog, June 6, 2012]

    Today, Qualcomm launched distinct tiers for its Snapdragon processor platform, starting with the S4 series. The Snapdragon S4 portfolio of processors now includes four distinct tiers – Prime, Pro, Plus and Play—that will better explain the capabilities of the many chipsets within the S4 class, as well future Snapdragon processors.
    You probably became acquainted with the Snapdragon processor brand through smartphones and tablets, but the road ahead for these powerful processors will scale beyond such devices. With the launch of the highly-capable Snapdragon S4, our processors are now destined to appear in new platforms like Windows 8 PCs, SmartTVs and set top boxes. The number of device form factors that can potentially benefit from Snapdragon processors’ balance of power and battery efficiency is endless. Our new system of tiers should make it easier for Qualcomm’s customers and consumers to identify the right processor and its features.

    Below is a description of each tier:

    Snapdragon S4 Prime designed to bring high performance applications, web browsing and connectivity to TVs and set top boxes. Processors in the S4 Prime tier include: MPQ8064.

    Snapdragon S4 Pro designed to bring computing-class processors to PCs, tablets and high-end smartphones. Processors in the S4 Pro tier include: APQ8064 and MSM8960T.

    Snapdragon S4 Plus covers a broad range of powerful smartphone and tabletprocessors. Processors in the S4 Plus tier include: MSM8960, APQ8060A, MSM8660A, MSM8260A, APQ8030, MSM8930, MSM8630, MSM8230, MSM8627, and MSM8227.

    Snapdragon S4 Play consists of processors for high-volume smartphones. Processors in the S4 Play tier include: MSM8625 and MSM8225.

    When you look at the broad range of things that Snapdragon S4 processors can do, you’re more likely than ever to be using one.

    Download Snapdragon S4 Infographic

    Qualcomm Brings Snapdragon S4 Processors to High Volume Smartphones and Expands Qualcomm Reference Design Development Platform and Ecosystem Program [Qualcomm press release, Dec 8, 2011]

    Addition of Two New Snapdragon S4 Mobile Processors Compatible with QRD Development Platforms Brings Dual-Core Processing and Integrated 3G Connectivity to High Volume Smartphones
    SAN DIEGO – December 08, 2011 – Qualcomm Incorporated (NASDAQ: QCOM) today announced two additions to its Snapdragon® S4 class of mobile processors: the MSM8625 and the MSM8225 chipsets. Both chipsets provide dual core CPUs operating up to 1 GHz, Qualcomm’s Adreno® 203 GPU and an integrated 3G modem. The MSM8625 and MSM8225 chipsets are designed to be hardware and software compatible with the MSM7x27A and MSM7x25A family of chipsets, giving device manufacturers the ability to seamlessly migrate their existing Snapdragon S1-based designs to S4 dual core-based designs. This capability is particularly useful for device manufacturers to efficiently expand their smartphone product lines with more advanced and more capable 3G smartphone products.
    To further simplify and improve time-to-launch of cost effective 3G solutions for device manufacturers, Qualcomm also announced the third-generation of its Qualcomm Reference Design (QRD) ecosystem program to enable third party device manufacturers to develop differentiated high volume smartphones with lower development costs and faster time to market. The QRD ecosystem program includes a comprehensive set of software and hardware components that allows third party hardware and software vendors to have their products pre-tested and optimized for the QRD development platform. A pre-tested and optimized platform gives device manufacturers a development platform with the hardware components (memory, sensors, touch panels, cameras, displays, RF, etc.) and software applications and features (browsers, map/navigation, mail, music, instant messaging, fonts and languages, etc.) needed for basic smartphone functionality already in place. This allows device manufacturers to focus their engineering resources on developing value-added features that will help make their high-volume smartphone stand out from the competition. The QRD ecosystem program is designed to help device manufacturers developing products for regions whose networks are evolving from 2G to 3G and high volume smartphones are becoming increasingly popular.

    The MSM8625 and MSM8225 chipsets will be available on Qualcomm’s third generation QRD development platform in the first half of 2012, in addition to being available as standalone chipsets. QRD development platforms based on both the MSM7x27A and MSM7x25A chipsets are currently available. Qualcomm has shipped over 100 million MSM7225 and MSM7227 chipsets, and smartphones based on these chipsets are operating on multiple carrier networks worldwide.

    “Smartphones present a large business opportunity for many of our customers, which is why we have created the QRD ecosystem program to assist them with developing compelling product designs with competitive differentiation,” said Cristiano Amon, senior vice president of product management at Qualcomm. “The program combines all the elements our customers need to get a new smartphone design to launch quickly and cost effectively, from carrier-ready hardware and software to local technical support resources.”
    “As Snapdragon processors power many of today’s most popular smartphones, we are working to port a variety of our core applications to the various QRD platforms,” said Chengmin Liu, senior executive vice president of Tencent, China’s largest integrated internet services provider. “This will offer our customers a strong processing solution to power our applications for future smartphone designs.”

    Qualcomm Unveils New Snapdragon Mobile Processors Across All Tiers of Smartphones and Tablets [Qualcomm press release, Nov 16, 2011]

    Qualcomm Incorporated (NASDAQ: QCOM) announced today the expansion of its Snapdragon S4 class of next-generation mobile processors and the enhancement of its Snapdragon S1 solutions for entry-level smartphones.
    The addition of new Snapdragon S4 processors, which are aimed at lowering design, engineering and inventory costs while bringing leading-edge 3G and 4G Internet connection speeds, will allow OEMs to introduce S4-based devices with next-generation mobile architecture throughout their respective device roadmaps—from basic smartphones to high-end smartphones and tablets. The enhanced S4 processors are also optimized for use with a suite of software solutions available from Qualcomm that help enable OEMs to deliver industry-leading feature sets for multimedia, connectivity, camera, display, security, power management, browsing and natural user interface design.
    The Krait CPU is the next generation of Qualcomm’s micro architecture and is purpose-built from the ground up for significant mobile performance and power management advantages leading to enhanced user experience and better battery life. The Krait CPU is an essential part of the Snapdragon S4 class of processors. Today, Qualcomm announced several new S4 chipsets, including the MSM8660A, MSM8260A, MSM8630, MSM8230, MSM8627,MSM8227, APQ8060A and APQ8030. These are additional chipsets to the previously announced MSM8960, MSM8930 and APQ8064. Snapdragon S4 MSM processors include Qualcomm’s leading-edge wireless modem technologies, including EV-DO, HSPA+, TD-SCDMA, LTE FDD, LTE TDD andWi-Fi® standards. Devices based on Snapdragon S4 processors are expected to appear in early 2012.
    The Snapdragon S1 product line is driving smartphone growth in all regions, and it offers a significant opportunity for market expansion and migration to 3G. To further this trend, Qualcomm is also announcing an upgrade to four of its existing Snapdragon S1 mobile processors. The MSM7225A, MSM7625A, MSM7227A and MSM7627A have been upgraded to deliver better performance and will enable new mobile experiences for entry-level smartphone users, particularly those transitioning from 2G to 3G.

    Qualcomm Announces a Bunch of Krait Based Snapdragon S4 SoCs [Anandtech, Nov 16, 2011]

    If you want an 8960 without integrated LTE, Qualcomm has an SoC for you: the MSM8x60A. The CPU specs are the same as the 8960, just without LTE support.
    Below the 8960 is the MSM8930, a dual-core Krait (up to 1.2GHz) offering with only a single LPDDR2 memory channel (up to 1066MHz data rate). The 8930 will actually use a faster GPU than the 8960, the Adreno 305, although it’ll be more memory bandwidth limited. The 8930 will also debut later than the 8960 partially due to its new GPU.
    The 8930 features LTE support, but if you want a version without it there’s the new MSM8x30. Similarly, if you want a version without an integrated baseband altogether there’s the APQ8030. The ISP in the xx30 series supports 1080p video decode and up to a 13.5MP camera (down from 20MP in the xx60 SoCs).
    There’s an even even more affordable S4 in the lineup: the MSM8x27. Here you get two Krait cores running at up to 1GHz, a single channel LPDDR2 interface (800MHz max data rate). Video decode is limited to 720p in the 8×27.


    [* the numbering change is: MSM8270 –> MSM8x60A]

    Qualcomm’s critical reliance on supply constrained 28nm foundry capacity

    KEY UPDATES: TSMC Board of Directors Meeting Resolutions [TSMC press release, Nov 13, 2012]

    Hsinchu, Taiwan, R.O.C. – November 13, 2012 – TSMC (NYSE: TSM) today held a meeting of the Board of Directors, which passed the following resolutions:

    1. Approved capital appropriations totaling approximately US$2.975 billion for the purpose of expanding advanced process capacity, construction of 12-inch GigaFabstm, and installation of facilities systems.

    2. Approved R&D capital appropriations and 2013 sustaining capital appropriations totaling approximately US$209.5 million.

    3. Approved the issuance of no more than NT$45 billion (approximately US$1.53 billion) in unsecured corporate bonds in Taiwan to finance TSMC’s capacity expansion.

    4. Approved the subscription of NT$1.24 billion (approximately US$42.28 million) in new shares to be issued by TSMC Solid State Lighting Ltd. in 2013.
    5. Approved the subscription of NT$636 million (approximately US$21.63 million) in new shares to be issued by TSMC Solar Ltd. in 2013.

    TSMC sees orders returning for its 28nm process [DIGITIMES, Nov 8, 2012]

    In first-half 2012, Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) saw its 28nm process lacking enough capacity, forcing customers such as Qualcomm to shift orders to United Microelectronics (UMC), Globalfoundries, and Samsung.

    However, TSMC has been seeing orders returning from tier-one customers such as Qualcomm as it solves the capacity issues.

    According to TSMC’s financial forecast for the fourth quarter, revenues will show a single digit decrease compared to the third quarter. Market observers expected TSMC to see an on-quarter decrease of 15% in its fourth-quarter revenues. But due to sufficient 28nm capacity, orders have been returning and revenues are likely to be higher than expected. TSMC forecasts revenues from the 28nm process will exceed 20% in the fourth quarter.

    UMC recently announced its 28nm process progress, which has been delayed due to lower than expected yield ramps. UMC noted that 28nm process gross margin has been lower than its average gross margin, and the firm originally planned to increase revenues from the 28nm process to 5% of total revenues by the end of 2012. But the firm has become conservative about the progress, and hopes that among total revenues in December, 5% will be from the 28nm process. Revenues from other processes such as 40nm will likely reach 15% of total revenues before the end of 2012, ahead of schedule, according to UMC.

    China-based Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corporation (SMIC) plans to put 28nm process into volume production at the end of 2012. Despite the relatively slow pace on expanding 28nm capacity, the China government has been subsidizing local IC design firms. If local IC design firms enter the 45nm and 28nm process market, the government reportedly will subsidize up to 50% of reticle costs.

    Note from the Reticle article of the Wikipedia: Photomask – plate with holes or transparencies used in photolithography integrated circuit fabrication also called a “reticle”

    QUALCOMM Incorporated Management Discusses Q4 2012 Results – Earnings Call Transcript [Seeking Alpha, Nov 7, 20]

    QCT had another strong year, with record revenues up 37% year-over-year, driven by record shipments of 590 million MSM chipsets, which were up 22% year-over-year. In the fiscal fourth quarter, we shipped approximately 141 million MSM chipsets, above the midpoint of our prior guidance.
    Revenue per MSM was up approximately 9% sequentially, driven by a greater mix of multimode 3G LTE devices, which more than doubled quarter-over-quarter and made up approximately 1/3 of our shipments exiting the quarter as expected. Similarly, shipments of our new dual-core MSM8960 tripled quarter-over-quarter as demand for our integrated application processors continues to grow.
    Demand for our 28-nanometer products remained strong, including significant design activity on our follow-on chipsets. As expected, we ramped our 28-nanometer supply significantly in the fiscal fourth quarter, and we remain on track to match our current 28-nanometer demand profile exiting the December quarter.
    We believe our first 28-nanometer Snapdragon product, the dual-core MSM8960 with integrated 3G/LTE has become the global standard for combined performance and battery life, powering recent flagship devices such as the Samsung Galaxy S III, the HTC 8X, the Motorola RAZR M and the new Nokia Lumia phones.
    As carriers deploy LTE networks, they are looking to Qualcomm as the leader in multimode LTE for smartphones. For example, KDDI, NTT DOCOMO and SoftBank announced 27 new smartphones in Japan in October, and 24 of those were powered by Qualcomm Snapdragon processors.
    Since releasing the MSM8960, 15 OEMs have launched devices with this chipset across 19 carriers around the globe. The 8960 was our fastest integrated product to ship 100 10 [as later corrected in the discussion] million units.
    Our OEM customers have also moved quickly to adopt the Snapdragon S4 Pro, which includes our latest Adreno 320 GPU, 4 Krait CPU cores and is paired with an MDM9x15 multimode LTE modem. Early reviews show that this product has set a new bar for multitasking and graphics performance. The first OEM devices based on this platform include the Google Nexus 4, LG Optimus G and Xiaomi MI2, and we expect more leading devices on this platform to be announced soon.
    Smartphone demand in emerging regions is growing rapidly, and we continue to invest in our Qualcomm Reference Design program to help service a new group of emerging customer accounts. The program now has over 40 OEM customers and 100 commercially launched devices. And this quarter we expanded our road map to include the new Snapdragon quad-core MSM8x25Q and our new 28-nanometer based MSM8930 with an integrated global modem.
    As we mentioned on the last call, we expect a strong December quarter for QCT as our supply of 28-nanometer chipsets continues to ramp and our partners launch a broad lineup of handsets for the holiday quarter. We are expecting record MSM shipments of between 168 million and 178 million units in the first fiscal quarter, up approximately 19% to 26% sequentially, with revenue per MSM also up sequentially.
    Question-and-Answer Session
    Q: … could you talk a little bit about what’s going on with ASP at the lower end? Obviously, MediaTek is starting to do a little bit better. Are you seeing more price pressure there? …
    … On the low end, it’s pretty much playing out the way that we’ve discussed and/or described over the last year or so, which is pretty competitive market at the low end. It’s very crowded a bit competitively, and people are really pricing aggressively in order to get share or to maintain share. So we expect that to continue to some degree as we talked about for some time. …
    Q: You’re upping estimates for emerging market devices in 2012 by $15 million. Could you talk about that? And do you have thoughts on how much of the China market can actually migrate to 3G and 4G? There is a bit of a negative case out there that EDGE plus WiFi is a sufficient smartphone experience for some, given the density of WiFi hotspots in China, and even like iPhones already on the China Mobile network.
    … If we look at the EDGE smartphone market, I mean, we believe that‘s a transitional step. Obviously, people aren’t going to be satisfied with the EDGE experience when it comes to the kind of content that many people are consuming on their smartphones, high-bandwidth content like video. The other thing is WiFi is going to tap out because it’s going to be interference limited. And the nice thing about the licensed band technologies that you can cause the base stations to manage interference among themselves. And that’s the kind of technologies that we’re going to be bringing to the market over the next few years. And those, I think, will drive the kind of capacities of the network at very, very much decreased cost points. So the wireless operators are going to be in a position to really supply a lot better data experience, lot better quality of service over the 3G and 4G networks. And so while we love WiFi and we sell an awful lot of WiFi through Atheros, we believe in it for offload, it’s not going to be the solution for the mass of smartphones and tablets going forward.

    Q: … You had said earlier that you would expect supply to only match demand later in the second half of the December quarter. Does that mean that you will still be working off demand in the March quarter? Is that the implication of that statement?

    With respect to seasonality, let me clarify my comments. For the fourth quarter, we have been talking about how we thought that exiting the fourth quarter we thought supply and demand of 28-nanometer would be matched. By implication, the starting point or the beginning part of the quarter, meaning the October and September time frame, we are still burning off excess or not enough supply. And by the way, these are calendar quarters. So I’m talking about the December quarter. Now going into March, we feel that we have supply and demand imbalance. And we think that, that will be the case, really, exiting the December month. So hopefully that clarifies it.
    Q: … I wanted to follow up on an earlier question related to device ASPs. I think Mike Walkley has asked about when we might expect to see the growth in emerging market start to have downward pressure on ASPs. At least, how we should think about that qualitatively? …
    [William E. Keitel – Chief Financial Officer, Principal Accounting Officer and Executive Vice President] … On the device ASP, emerging markets having a larger effect on the total average. The — although emerging market units are growing faster than the developed markets are, the total dollar value of the developed TRDS [Total Reported Device Sales] is far greater than the emerging market TRDS. And so we’re ways away from that crossing over where emerging market dollar value is equal to or greater than the developed market. But I think we’re planning a little more color on this next week. So I’ll leave that point there. …
    Q: And just to follow up on ASPs, my understanding is that the strong smartphone adoption that’s happening in the emerging markets has been driven in part because the smartphone ASPs have come down. I think, Paul [Jacobs, the CEO], you were talking recently about the price points getting to $100 and, at some point, maybe going down as low as $50. And I’m just trying to reconcile that with the comments around ASPs at the low end running up, and hence, supporting the outlook of flat to up ASPs in 2013.
    [Derek K. Aberle – Executive Vice President and Group President] Let me just try to take part of that, and then if Paul wants to add on. I think there’s still — even though the pricing from smartphone is coming down tier, which obviously is a positive for driving growth, there still is a meaningful gap between sort of the lower-end smartphone and the low-end 2G or 3G feature phones that have been sold before those became available. So as we look out and we see the trends, I think we do continue to expect, even as the prices come down, a combination of more people buying at a higher price than they were historically on a feature phone as well as people migrating to even the higher-tier devices will provide some stability there.

    END OF KEY UPDATES

    Rumors came yesterday that Apple to postpone iPhone 5 amid undersupply of 28nm chips [Want China Times, July 26, 2012]. And the reason:

    Apple’s leading chip supplier, Qualcomm, will be able to tackle the 28nm chip undersupply only by the end of this year, said Qi Fei, a spokesman for Qualcomm China. The problem arose during the second quarter of this year, as demand for 28nm chips has been growing alongside the popularity of smartphones.

    QUALCOMM Incorporated Management Discusses Q3 2012 Results – Earnings Call Transcript [Seeking Alpha, July 18, 2012]

    Paul E. Jacobs – Chairman and Chief Executive Officer:
    In QCT, we’re continuing to see strong demand for our new Snapdragon S4, and other 28 nanometer chipsets, and that demand continues to exceed our available supply. We will continue to ramp capacity in the upcoming quarters consistent with our prior expectation. However, the constraints on 28 nanometer supply are continuing to limit our potential revenue upside this fiscal year.

    Steven M. Mollenkopf – President and Chief Operating Officer:
    We continue to be supplies constrained on our 28 nanometer products but are ramping supply with multiple foundries in the September quarter and again into the December quarter consistent with our prior expectations. We currently project that we’ll be able to closely match supply with demand as we exit the calendar year.

    The reduced demand profile and ongoing 28 nanometer supply constraints, as well as our increased efforts to bring additional 28 nanometer capacity online and continue investments in our QRD and mobile computing programs in advance of the opportunities ahead are driving lower operating margins in the fiscal third and fourth quartersversus historical norms.

    Looking ahead, we anticipate a strong lineup of device launches leading into the holiday season and believe QCT is well positioned for the December quarter, particularly with the increasing supply of industry-leading chipsets for high-tier devices.

    Over 15 devices based on our S4 MSM8960 28 nanometer chipsets have launched to date, including the Samsung GALAXY S III, the HTC One S and One X, LG Optimus LTE2, Pantech Vega Racer 2 and Sony Xperia SX. There are now more than 420 announced Snapdragon-based devices with over 400 more in design, including 175 S4 designs. Third-party reviews and benchmarks again reinforced our product leadership this quarter, confirming that the Snapdragon MSM8960 outperforms quad-core CPUs-based handsets by using a complete multi-core system with our custom GPU, DSP and dual-Krait CPU cores. We also sampled 3 new S4 chips this quarter, including the APQ8064 and the MSM8x30. The APQ8064 includes 4 Krait CPUs. It is the first to use our new Adreno 320 GPU and will extend the performance expectations we recently established with the MSM8960. The MSM8x30 integrates a multi-mode LG or 3G LTE and is designed to enable 3G/4G smartphones at high-volume price points globally.

    Our modem leadership also continues to be a differentiator for design wins in modem plus AP smartphones, in tablets, modules and WiFi personal hotspots, including over 90 designs in process based on our 28 nanometer 3G/4G LTE MDM9x15 modem. While many companies are still commercializing their first LTE products, we have already announced our third-generation LTE chipsetsand will continue investing in our modem road map to maintain our leadership.

    In emerging regions, our QRD program, which provides turnkey designs for affordable smartphones, continues to expand rapidly. We continue to grow our QRD road map with differentiated technology, including our new [45nm] Snapdragon 8×25 1.2 gigahertz dual-core chipset, which began shipping commercially in July, only 2 months after first sampling. We are engaged with over 40 OEMs, many of which are now transitioning their platforms from 2G to 3G, and these OEMs have announced approximately 50 devices based on our chipsets for China and other emerging countries. In addition to the announced devices, we currently have 100 new QRD-based smartphone designs in the pipeline.

    We also continue to invest in mobile computing and are pleased to see the momentum building around the new ARM-based Windows platform. As the only chipset provider supporting Windows on both PCs and phones sold commercially, we look forward to the availability of both Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8 this fall.

    Looking ahead, while we are forecasting sequentially lower MSM shipments based on midpoints in the September quarter consistent with the pause and re-profiling of demand, we expect a strong December quarter as new high-tier smartphone devices launch for the holidays and we have an improved supply of 28 nanometer products.

    [Question-and-Answer Session]

    Brian T. Modoff – Deutsche Bank AG, Research Division

    Steve, on the 28 nanometer, can you talk a little bit about how you see demand in the current quarter? You’ve talked about hitting 1/3 of volume by September. Is that still feasible? In terms of the guide down sequentially, is this — a lot of this — have you seen cuts in the 45-nanometer demand trends as well? And then are you bringing a second source on for — in terms of meeting the demand as you get into the fourth quarter? And are you happy with the yields that you’re seeing on that second source at this point?

    Steven M. Mollenkopf

    Brian, yes, it’s Steve. The 28 nanometer right now, as I said, we’re supply limited. So it’s — and it’s going quite well in terms of bringing up additional sources. We actually have 4 sources that we’re now bringing up. If you track through the calendar year, we’re engaged with all of them now. And it’s going the way that we had thought. You had — you talked a little bit about the 45-nanometer products and such, and I think what you’re seeing a bit of is a little less of the backfill that we would have expected. And I think that’s consistent with what we were talking about, the re-profiling of demand. That’s really a little bit less of the backfill and a little bit more waiting for the new products to come out. So we’re just working very hard to try to get those products out the door.

    Brian T. Modoff – Deutsche Bank AG, Research Division

    So in terms of talking through the — just talking about a more positive December quarter, some of this is you’re getting demand. People want the 28 nanometer. So the push in demand is to that quarter is what you’re saying?

    Steven M. Mollenkopf

    That’s right. You — at the same time, you’re — we have a significant demand for the 28-nanometer products. And as you get into the December quarter, you now have a tier of products on 28 nanometer, which, I think, is a big advantage for our portfolio. And they’re moving forward. And you’re essentially in a situation where demand is increasing and supply is increasing, and we’re trying to match those 2 ramps. And it’s — we’re just in execution mode getting through that right now and engaged with 4 fabs in order to do that.

    Simona Jankowski – Goldman Sachs Group Inc., Research Division

    Just a couple of questions. First, to clarify. With your comments on the 28 nanometer, suffice to say it’s alleviating in the December quarter, was that referring to the entirety of the December quarter? Or is it just for the exit run rate? In other words, would you still see inability to meet some of the demand in the entirety of that quarter? And then as it pertains to your chipset margin, is there any reason to think that in December, chipset margins should not be above your typical average margin given the volumes you’re expecting?

    Steven M. Mollenkopf

    Simona, it’s — this is Steve. The supply really exits the quarter on a matched situation. It doesn’t end — enter the quarter that way. So at the beginning of the quarter, we still have a gap that we need to deal with, but it improves throughout the quarter. We think it matches up toward the end.

    Simona Jankowski – Goldman Sachs Group Inc., Research Division

    So then maybe just a question for Paul. In terms of looking strategically longer at some of your big customers who are becoming more vertically integrated, and obviously, we had the announcement yesterday from Samsung are buying some of the technology and connectivity from CSR, now how should we think about customers like that longer termfor fall coming in terms of your potential share of their silicon business?

    Paul E. Jacobs

    Yes. So we’ve had these same issues throughout the history of the company where internal efforts — people try to build the silicon for their own chipsets. And I think the key way to combat that, as we’ve done all along, is to continue to drive the technology hard. Obviously, we’re driving it very rapidly in a number of areas now, not just the radio. It used to be just the radio. But now it’s also processor and graphics technology. And we’ve seen — I’m sure you’ve seen a number of the benchmarks coming out talking about how, I think the latest one I saw was on graphics, how we were really winning on the graphics side but, obviously also, on the computing side, we’ve had great comparisons. So the key, as I said, is drive the technology hard. Do people for their internal uses have enough scale to invest at the same rate that we do? And the answer is generally no. And plus, we have just a level of experience that we can bring to bear, and I think that, that strategy will continue to work as it has in the past.

        • [from a later part]
          Jeffrey T. Kvaal – Barclays Capital, Research Divisio
          … first is to follow up on the internal production. I think we’ve seen the pendulum shift back and forth between internal and outsourced a bit over the years. Where are we in the current swing? Should we expect production to go a little bit more internal perhaps over the course of the next few quarters or years?
        • Steven M. Mollenkopf
          … I’m assuming the first question is really more about the vertical customers. I would say that it’s really consistent with what Paul said. I think it’s getting harder and harder to create chipsets moving forward. It’s primarily because in order to create particularly high-end products, you need to innovate across so many different technology vectors. And unless you’re fairly large and you have a fairly broad technology portfolio and you’re at the leading nodes, I think you’re going to have a difficult time producing the type of products that you need. So in our view, it’s actually getting harder to do chipsets and so, therefore, probably more favoring of our model.
        • [It is also worth to look at this video published just a day before the earnings call]
    Travis Lanier, director of CPU product management, discusses in detail what goes inside Snapdragon processors and sets them apart from the competition. This video sheds light on the thought that Qualcomm puts into its designs—from thermal management, power efficiency and extending device term battery life to asymmetrical loading, multiple cores and more—resulting in a highly optimized chip.

    Rod B. Hall – JP Morgan Chase & Co, Research Division

    … on 28 nanometer, just one more thing. Can you quantify at all what kind of 28-nanometer shortfall you’re assuming in the fiscal Q4 guidance?

    William E. Keitel- Chief Financial Officer, Principal Accounting Officer and Executive Vice President
    Oh, in the shortfall. Well, let me say this. First of all, 28 nanometer, our shipment estimates both for the fourth fiscal quarter and what we expect for the first fiscal quarter, we’re essentially in line with where we were 3 months ago. So the QCT team is executing well on that aggressive ramp that we had talked about last time. But going out of this quarter, if we could ship all the demand that’s in front of us for this quarter, I would just say that our revenue and operating margin would be materially higher.

    James E. Faucette – Pacific Crest Securities, Inc., Research Division

    Just a few follow-up questions. First, back to Steve or Paul related to your partnerships with your foundries. I think, Steve, you said that you’re now sourcing 28 nanometer from 4 different partners. Going forward as we look at future geometry and process improvements, should we expect you to continue to be diversified at the outset across multiple partners? Or should we expect you to return to concentrating on 1 or 2 key partners for future transitions, firstly? …

    Steven M. Mollenkopf

    James, this is Steve. Our product portfolio at the high tier, we tend to be on the leading node; on the lower tiers or the mass-market tiers, we may be one node behind. So we tend to have a broad sourcing strategy to take account of the fact that we’re on leading node. And also, following nodes, we tend to engage with a lot of fab partners by necessity. On the leading nodes, I think you’re not going to see a big change in our strategy moving forward with the exception that we do, obviously, a much better job of matching our ramps, capacity ramps and demand ramps, as we drive leading nodes. For us, you’re going to continue to see us really taking advantage of the fact that you can play the integration game at the leading nodes. And there’s a number of different good road maps that we’re seeing from the industry through the fab — through fab partners, and we’re going to continue to drive the best ones that we can find.

    QUALCOMM Incorporated’s CEO Discusses Q2 2012 Results – Earnings Call Transcript [Seeking Alpha, April 18, 2012]

    Steven M. Mollenkopf – President and Chief Operating Officer:
    Our QCT business delivered another strong quarter. We shipped 152 million MSMs, up 29% year-over-year driven by increased demand for our integrated smartphone solutions and advanced modems.
    Smart — Snapdragon shipments increased by more than 70% year-over-year, driven by growth across all price tiers from Snapdragon S1 products to our latest generation of Snapdragon S4 processors. There are now more than 370 announced Snapdragon-based devices with over 400 more in design, of which over 150 are S4 designs.
    As you know, we have made significant investments in recent years to establish a leadership position in LTE chipsets, and we believe we are succeeding. In parallel, industry adoption of LTE technology is growing rapidly. And with our strong portfolio of products, we are at the forefront of this technology transition.
    As a result of these trends and as Paul mentioned, demand for our 28-nanometer chipsets continues to exceed available supply. To address 28-nanometer demand, we are increasing our related operating expenses and are working closely with our fab partners to bring up additional capacity.
    Within this environment, it is worth noting that our current estimates for total 28-nanometer shipments this fiscal year are largely in line with our prior guidance, though our forecast for the June quarter is a bit lower. Our increased investment to bring up additional 28-nanometer capacity is expected to show results in fiscal 2013.
    Across the rest of the business, demand trends are very strong, and we continue to drive our technology leadership. At Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, several leading OEMs announced their first Snapdragon S4 dual-core devices, including ASUS, HTC, Huawei, Lenovo and Panasonic. We also demonstrated our new S4 quad-core processor, the APQ8064 running 4 separate HD video streams; and we announced our S4 Snapdragon MSM8960 Pro, which integrates our new high performance programmable Adreno 320 GPU for higher-end mobile computing devices.
    We announced and demonstrated our new 802.11ac Wi-Fi solution and announced a broad family of 11 AC chipsets for mobile, computing, consumer electronics, as well as home and enterprise networking. Also, our new integrated connectivity solution, which includes digital Wi-Fi, GPS, Bluetooth and FM, continues to be designed in by our customers in the vast majority of our growing S4 pipeline.
    We continue to invest in our Qualcomm reference design program to support growth of lower-tier smartphones in emerging regions. Shipments into Chinese emerging accounts are expected to grow at a strong double-digit rate quarter-over-quarter while we transition customers to 7x27A. There have been 10 OEM designs launched on our reference programs over the last quarter with more to follow. We are on track to expand the reference design programs to include a new dual-core Snapdragon processor the MSM8x25. We will do this before the end of the June quarter.
    We are increasing our investments to address incremental opportunities beyond traditional cellular, including mobile computing and Windows on Snapdragon. And looking ahead, our leadership position across multiple technologies, delivered to our customers with a tiered and expanding chipset road map, positions us well for smartphone and computing trends in both emerging and developed regions.
    T. Michael Walkley – Canaccord Genuity, Research Division
    Steve, I wonder if you could just elaborate a little more on the 8960 ramp. Obviously, some of your customers are worried about your ability to supply, given the demand’s greater than the ability to supply. So how do you manage maybe losing some share in the short term? And then also how do you manage maybe some double ordering that might come from customers trying to get that supply?
    Steven M. Mollenkopf
    Mike, it’s Steve here. A couple of things, one is we have taken approach to spread the supply across all of the customers as best we can, and so I think everybody is dealing with this issue. And obviously, it’s a pretty difficult issue to deal with. But in the near term, some of the OEMs have been looking at alternative chipsets, in particular our Fusion 2 lineup, which can be substituted in some cases. But other than that, it’s really a question where we are accelerating as best we can the supply, consistent with what I was saying and what Paul was saying. We’re really focused very much on getting additional supply throughout the year.
    Parag Agarwal – UBS Investment Bank, Research Division
    Steve, can you please explain the alternative your customer have, given that the supply is constrained? And then what has been the reaction so far? I mean what — I mean are these customers willing to go to older Snapdragon designs? Are they looking at alternatives? Are they trying to use their own set [ph] of solutions?
    Steven M. Mollenkopf
    Well, I think you see a combination of people. In any constrained environment, people look for any alternative they can in order to solve the problem. Now what you have, particularly in this case, is these are devices that primarily are using LTE type of chipsets, and so the alternatives are a little bit smaller than they would be, let’s say, in a general allocation scenario, maybe in another industry. And we’ve been helping customers to see how they can swap in our Fusion 2 chipset, which is the chipset that we have been ramping over the last 8 months in production. Now in some cases also, our OEM partners are, of course, working with us very closely to try to help us accelerate our own supply, and that is primarily what we’re seeing. And we do expect to see some alternative non-Qualcomm chipsets being used to solve that issue as well. But I will remind you that in addition to the 8960, right on its heels is the 8×30, as well as the APQ8064. So we’re continuing to drive our tiered road map throughout the year on the same schedule, again, gated by the supply here in the near term. But I think that’s a pretty attractive road map that people are interested in doing. So we need to solve the supply issues, and then we’ll move the business on.

    Qualcomm chip shortage to continue [The Korea Times, June 21, 2012]

    Qualcomm said Thursday that its chip supply will not likely meet high demand from its major clients, including Samsung Electronics, LG Electronics and Pantech, dampening their hopes that chip supply would improve in the latter half of this year.

    “We are still struggling to meet an explosive demand for the latest MSM8960 chipsets and other chip variants using a 28-nanometer processing technology, though the production yields of our chip products have steadily been improving,” said Kim Jong-ha, a senior executive at Qualcomm CDMA Technology Korea, Thursday.

    Industry sources said Qualcomm has been in negotiations with three and four chip foundries other than Taiwan’s TSMC to increase supply of the chips and stressed “visible results” to follow shortly. Kim was at the sidelines in the press conference to unveil Qualcomm’s updated business strategies at the Plaza Hotel, downtown Seoul.

    Qualcomm had warned in April that it will have trouble meeting demand for some of its advance cellphone chips for the rest of the year due to manufacturing constraints and operating expenses will increase faster than expected.

    The MSM8960 chipsets, which sport Long-Term Evolution (LTE) functionality, are currently being used in Samsung, LG and Pantech’s premium smartphones. Samsung’s Galaxy SIII LTE smartphone is also using the Qualcomm chipset.

    But the Qualcomm executive said the chip shortage problem should soon ease, though he declined to say exactly when.

    Qualcomm has attempted to appease its clients by offering an alternative in the form of the “Fusion 2” chipset; however the manufacturer is conceding; “We do expect to see some alternative non-Qualcomm chipsets being used to solve that issue as well.”

    The executive said it will commercialize its quad-core one chip solutions from the latter half of next year and a smartphone that uses the latest chip solution will be released in July next year.

    Qualcomm plans to put the VoLTE functionality on its upgraded MSM8960 chipsets in a goodwill gesture to help local carriers smoothly push their VoLTE services from September this year.

    Qualcomm sources said the existing MSM8960 chipsets don’t support the VoLTE functionalities, which is impossible for consumers using Samsung’s Galaxy R Style, LG’s Optimus LTE2 and Pantech’s VegaRacer2 models to experience the VoLTE service.

    During the conference, Qualcomm pledged business expansion to Internet-connected TVs, PCs and tablets and reiterated its bullish plan to support Microsoft’s Windows 8 software.

    Globalfoundries to the “rescue”:

    Globalfoundries to fab 28nm chips for Qualcomm, says paper [DIGITIMES, July 13, 2012]

    Qualcomm has contracted Globalfoundries’ Dresden fab to manufacture 28nm chips, the Chinese-language Commercial Times cited unnamed equipment makers as saying in a recent report. The foundry chipmaker will start shipping the orders to Qualcomm in the fourth quarter of 2012, the paper said.

    Commercial Timespreviously reported that UMC had secured orders for 28nm Snapdragon S4 chips from Qualcomm with volume production slated for the last quarter of 2012.

    Rumors circulated earlier in the year that TSMC’s supply shortfalls at 28nm would likely drive its longtime partners toward other foundries. In addition to Qualcomm, Nvidia was identified as another TSMC customer considering a second-source supplier.

    In fact, Globalfoundries has already entered into a non-binding MoU with Qualcomm to collaborate on leading-edge technologies. Globalfoundries said in a January 2010 company release that initially the firm intends to provide Qualcomm with access to 45nm LP and 28nm LP technologies, with an intended collaboration on future advanced process nodes.

    In other news, IC design service company Socle Technology recently disclosed that the firm has developed and taped out its first ARM Cortex-A9 based 28nm ASIC design using Globalfoundries’ 28nm super low power technology (SLP) with HKMG. The ASIC design will soon be mass produced at Globalfoundries, Socle said.

    Formerly a IC design service subsidiary of Chartered Semiconductor Manufacturing, Socle now works closely with Globalfoundries.

    GlobalFoundries Interview with Subramani (Subi) Kengeri [BrightSideofNews YouTube channel, May 22, 2012]

    An interview with Subramani “Subi” Kengeri, Vice President of Design Solutions at GlobalFoundries. We discussed topics such as 28nm and future nodes such as 20nm and 14nm, the future of Silicon-on-Insulator (SOI), as well as relationship with over 150 GlobalFoundries customers.

    GLOBALFOUNDRIES Extending Fab 8 to Meet Strong Customer Demand [GLOBALFOUNDRIES press release, July 24, 2012]

    Cleanroom extension to add hundreds of new jobs and 90,000 square feet of manufacturing capacity
    GLOBALFOUNDRIES today announced it is moving forward with the final construction for the extension of Module 1 at the Fab 8 campus in New York. The project will add 90,000 square feet of manufacturing capacity, bringing the total capacity for Fab 8 Module 1 to 300,000 square feet. Construction activities are scheduled to begin in August and work is expected to be completed in December 2013.
    “During the construction of Fab 8, we extended the shell of the Module 1 building with the expectation that our business would continue to grow. Today we see increasingly strong demand from our customers, especially at the 28nm node, and we are excited to be moving forward with this next phase in the development of the Fab 8 campus,” said Eric Choh, vice president and general manager, Fab 8, GLOBALFOUNDRIES. “By continuing to expand our investment in the project, GLOBALFOUNDRIES is delivering more options to our global customers, while helping to redefine upstate New York as a premier hub of the global semiconductor industry, creating thousands of new advanced manufacturing jobs, and contributing billions of dollars to the regional economy.”
    Consisting of approximately two million square feet, Fab 8 is being developed as the world’s most advanced semiconductor foundry manufacturing facility and is consistently hitting all major development milestones. GLOBALFOUNDRIES began construction on Fab 8 in July 2009 and began moving people and equipment into the facility in mid-2011. Initial wafer starts began earlier this year and the facility is on track to begin risk production by the end of the year, with volume production in early 2013.
    Extending the Fab 8 cleanroom is expected to increase the Fab 8 capacity to approximately 60,000 wafers per month and increase the capital budget by approximately $2.3 billion, taking the total capital budget from $4.6 billion to approximately $6.9 billion, once tools and equipment are installed.
    Since breaking ground on Fab 8 in 2009, GLOBALFOUNDRIES has created more than 1,500 new direct jobs, developing a unique and diverse workforce drawn from local talent in the region as well as experienced professionals from across the United States and more than 30 countries.
    In addition, the project has created an additional 4,300 construction-related jobs and established the largest private Project Labor Agreement in history, generating hundreds of millions of dollars of economic development throughout upstate New York during the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression.
    GLOBALFOUNDRIES has a total of about 1,800 employees across New York, including research teams at the IBM facilities in East Fishkill and at CNSE at the University of Albany, and more than 12,000 employees worldwide with additional manufacturing campuses in Germany and Singapore.

    Execution, Innovation, Location: 3 Reasons to Choose GLOBALFOUNDRIES at 28nm [thefoundryfiles.com blog by Michael Noonen, Executive Vice President, Worldwide Marketing and Sales, for GLOBALFOUNDRIES, July 5, 2012]

    Refers to: – Rory Read, 2nd gen AMD A-Series APU using HKMG – Rambus: Joe Louis-Chandran @[6:06] Fab 8 in Saratoga County, New York is: fully operational ramping ahead of schedule shipping products for revenue in early 2013

    We recently attended the Design Automation Conference in San Francisco, where we showcased our wide array of foundry offerings and met with customers, partners, and industry influencers. All of them asked how GLOBALFOUNDRIES can address the increased demand for 28nm.  We answered that we have three major reasons why our customers can depend upon GLOBALFOUNDRIES for their 28nm needs: execution, innovation and location.

    Execution

    GLOBALFOUNDRIES has a tradition of rapidly ramping leading-edge technologies to volume production.  We delivered the fastest time-to-volume for the 45/40nm production ramp, and we are leading the foundry ramp at 32/28nm in volumes well ahead of others foundries. In fact, earlier this year we reached a major milestone by shipping our 250,000th HKMG wafer, and we have shipped many thousands more since. Overall, we have shipped more HKMG wafers than all the other foundries combined.

    Not convinced? Just ask our customers. For example, AMD CEO Rory Read said, “In just one quarter, we were able to see more than a doubling of yields on 32nm, allowing us to exit 2011 having exceeded our 32nm product shipment requirements. Based on this successful ramp of 32nm HKMG, we are committed to moving ahead on 28nm with GLOBALFOUNDRIES.”

    Innovation

    Everyone knows our industry faces huge challenges as we move to more advanced technology nodes. At 28nm, we worked tirelessly to maintain true scaling and deliver an industry-leading technology in a System-on-Chip (SoC) design platform based on our production-proven HKMG technology. Here are a few highlights of our 28nm technology in comparison to the previous generation:

    • ~100 percent density increase.
    • Up to 50 percent increased speed and 50 percent reduction in energy/switch.
    • Sustains 40nm layout style advantages: Bi-directional Poly, Poly Jogs, Large Caps.
    • ~20% smaller die relative to 28nm “Gate Last.”

    Here again, our customers are seeing the benefits. Thucydides Xanthopoulos, distinguished engineer at Cavium, says with GLOBALFOUNDRIES, his company received outstanding levels of in-depth technical support: “This was essential in addressing the new technical challenges of the 28nm process technology to meet our stringent power requirements and demanding frequency goals. This ensured our product design timeliness and success.”

    Location

    Not only is GLOBALFOUNDRIES now the second largest semiconductor foundry in the world, but with manufacturing plants located in Europe, Asia and North America, we are the only truly global foundry.

    Designed for 32/28nm and beyond, our newest location, Fab 8 in New York, is one of the most advanced semiconductor facilities in the world. Fab 8 is the largest public-private sector industrial investment in state history and a cornerstone of New York’s burgeoning “Tech Valley.” Forbes magazine recently said the Capital Region could become the “Silicon Valley of Nanotech and even surpass it in economic importance.”

    To paint a clearer picture of how advanced the nearly 2 million square foot campus is, here are a few more facts:

    • The clean room is larger than 6 football fields and has 7 miles of track for overhead transport vehicles.
    • Fab 8 took over six million man hours to complete – that’s more man hours than it took to construct the Empire State Building in New York City.
    • Fab 8 has over 60,000 cubic yards of concrete, enough to build a 105 mile-long sidewalk.
    • 75 miles of pipe total square footage exceeds the Chrysler building in NYC.

    Fab 8 is fully operational, ramping ahead of schedule, and shipping products for revenue in early 2013. Once fully ramped, the first fab module will be capable of 60,000 wafer starts per month.

    These are just a few of the reasons why customers should work with GLOBALFOUNDRIES on 28nm—and they are. We taped out our first 28nm product in Q4 2011 and we have dozens in the pipeline. To learn more about our complete value proposition at 28nm, check out this video we created for DAC.

    More information: Globalfoundries Vows to Ramp Up 28nm Production Quickly. [X-bit labs, July 5, 2012]

    ChipEstimate.TV interview with Mike Noonen, GLOBALFOUNDRIES at Common Platform Tech Forum [chipestimate YouTube channel, March 21, 2012]

    Sean O’Kane, producer/host ChipEstimate.TV interviews Mike Noonen, Sr. VP of Worldwide Sales and Marketing, GLOBALFOUNDRIES at Common Platform Tech Forum 2012 For more information about GLOBALFOUNDRIES go to:http://www.globalfoundries.com/.

    GLOBALFOUNDRIES Dresden Fab Ships 250,000th 32nm HKMG Wafer [GLOBALFOUNDRIES press release, March 21, 2012]

    … based on 32nm High-k Metal Gate (HKMG) technology

    On a unit basis, cumulative 32nm shipments for the first five quarters of wafer production are more than double that achieved during the same period of the 45nm technology ramp, demonstrating that the overall 32nm ramp has significantly outpaced the 45nm ramp, despite the integration of a number of new and complex elements in both design and process technologies.

    “AMD and GLOBALFOUNDRIES worked in close partnership during 2011, and today’s announcement is a testament to the progress we have made together,” said AMD president and CEO Rory Read. “In just one quarter, we were able to see more than a doubling of yields on 32nm, allowing us to exit 2011 having exceeded our 32nm product shipment requirements. Based on this successful ramp of 32nm HKMG, we are committed to moving ahead on 28nm with GLOBALFOUNDRIES.”

    At Fab 1 in Dresden, GLOBALFOUNDRIES recently completed construction of an additional wafer manufacturing facility designed to add capacity at 45nm and below, which has the potential to increase the overall output of the Fab 1 campus to 80,000 wafers per month once fully ramped. The expansion project is adding more than 110,000 square feet of cleanroom space to the site, making Fab 1 the largest wafer fab in Europe for leading-edge technology. More than 50 percent of Fab 1’s production is now on HKMG technology. In addition to the 32nm technology, the company’s 28nm HKMG offerings are qualified and ready for design-in today.

    28nm Ramp Starts At Globalfoundries. [Manerisms blog on ElectronicsWeekly.com, April 17, 2012]: “We’re starting the volume production ramp on 28nm. With our experience at 32nm we expect less issues on the 28nm,” Rutger Wijburg, vice president and general manager GLOBALFOUNDRIES Fab 1, told EW.

    Globalfoundries opens up 28nm, 20nm FD-SOI process to all-comers[ElectronicsWeekly.com, June 20, 2012]:

    Globalfoundries is to manufacture FD-SOI chips for STMicroelectronics and ST-Ericsson at both 28nm and 20nm process generations which will be made avaialble to anyone wanting to use them. ST has a limited availability of FD-SOI from its line at Crolles. “This arrangement ensures our customers will have a secure source of supply, says ST vp Joel Hartmann. 28nm FD-SOI, is currently in the ‘industrialisation phase’, says ST and is scheduled to be available for prototyping by July 2012.

    The Rambus experience with GLOBALFOUNDRIES 28nm Super Low Power (28nm-SLP) technology see in the collaborative whitepaper: Designing into a Foundry Low Power High-k Metal Gate 28nm CMOS Solution for High-Performance Analog Mixed Signal and Mobile Applications [June 26, 2012]

    Background video on GLOBALFOUNDRIES’ leadership in 28nm capacity:

    Thomas Wong, Director Design Enablement, GLOBALFOUNDRIES. IP Talks speaker with ChipEstimate.com at DAC 2012 in San Francisco. Leadership in 28nm capacity.

    Background video on Sand to Silicon [globalfoundries YouTube channel, May 9, 2012]

    Have you ever wondered what goes in to making a semiconductor? Watch ths video.

    Collaborative partner Samsung Electronics also joining the “rescue” effort:

    Common Platform Technology Forum 2012, Ana Hunter, VP Foundry Services, Samsung interview on ChipEstimate.TV [chipestimate YouTube channel, Feb 13, 2012]

    GLOBALFOUNDRIES and Samsung Extend Fab Sync to New High-Performance 28nm Technology for Mobile Applications [GLOBALFOUNDRIES  press release, Aug 31, 2011]

    GLOBALFOUNDRIES and Samsung Electronics, Co., Ltd. broadened their collaboration, announcing plans to synchronize global semiconductor fabrication facilities to produce chips based on a new high-performance and low-leakage 28nm High-K Metal Gate (HKMG) technology. The technology has been specifically developed for mobile device applications, offering 60 percent of active power reduction at the same frequency or 55 percent of performance boost at the same leakage over 45nm low power (LP) SoC designs.

    In 2010, GLOBALFOUNDRIES and Samsung announced a fab synchronization on low-power 28nm HKMG technology in collaboration with IBM and STMicroelectronics. This low-power technology is qualified and fully design enabled with standard cell libraries, memory compilers, and additional complex IP blocks. The high-performance offering announced today complements the low-power technology, extending the frequency of operation for high-performance smartphones, tablets, and notebook computers, while retaining ultra-low leakage transistors and memories to enable the long battery life needed for mobile environments.

    The companies are proving the collaborative value of a synchronized platform by working with several customers to optimize processes and tooling for both the low-power and high-performance 28nm HKMG technologies. The synchronization process helps ensure consistent production worldwide, enabling customer chip designs to be produced at multiple sources with no redesign required, leveraging the customers’ design investments.

    By virtue of the synchronization, the collaboration presents a “virtual fab” that derives manufacturing capacity from four geographically diverse fabs. Each company has two 300mm fabs that will qualify the technology: GLOBALFOUNDRIES Fab 1 in Dresden, Germany and Fab 8 in Saratoga County, New York; and Samsung S1 in Giheung, Korea and the company’s recently expanded fab, S2 in Austin, Texas. The four fabs represent a global footprint estimated to be the largest in the foundry industry for leading-edge capacity, offering customer choice enabled by close collaboration and an unparalleled de-risking of supply chain uncertainties.

    The new high performance process is based on the 28nm “Gate First” HKMG technology utilized for the low power process announced in 2010. As with the low power 28nm technology that is fully design-enabled today, a comprehensive System-on-a-Chip (SoC) design platform will be implemented for the high performance offering to enable seamless customer design-in to the multiple global manufacturing sites.

    Ana Hunter – Vice President of Foundry for Samsung Semiconductor Inc. [globalfoundries YouTube channel, May 29, 2012]

    Qualcomm, Samsung to team up for chip [The Korea Times, July 5, 2012]

    As part of efforts to solve a supply shortage Qualcomm will soon sign a deal with Samsung Electronics to produce chips used in the Korean firm’s smartphones, according to industry sources.

    Industry and Samsung officials said Thursday that Samsung Electronics has “tentatively agreed” with Qualcomm to produce the latter’s Snapdragon S4 chipsets using Samsung’s 28-nanometer technology from the first half of 2013.

    “The two companies have agreed in principle on chip production and are now trying to iron out details, including production volume,” an industry source said.

    Samsung expects that the latest partnership will help the company strengthen its capabilities for non-memory chip management. The Korean technology giant plans to invest more in non-memory chips this year than in conventional memory chips for the first time since it started its chip-making business.

    Qualcomm CEO Paul Jacobs has said his firm is seeing “very strong demand” for the S4 chipsets amid the rising popularity of data-intensive and speedier phones that also use advanced long-term evolution (LTE) networks.

    Qualcomm’s MSM8960 chipsets are currently being used in the latest smartphones by Samsung, LG Electronics, Motorola and Taiwan’s HTC.
    ”Because Samsung is a long-time partner with Qualcomm for modem chips, it’s no surprise that the partnership has expanded to real chipsets,” said another industry source.

    With the Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. (TSMC) and Samsung producing the Qualcomm chipsets, analysts expect the supply will improve from early next year.

    Qualcomm has also designated United Microelectronics Corp. (UMC) as another supplier with the capacity to help cope with tight supply of the leading-edge process at TSMC.

    ”The contract with Samsung, as well as UMC, means that Qualcomm plans to lower its heavy dependence on TSMC. It also means that Samsung’s foundry chip-making has reached a competitive level to guarantee the capacity that Qualcomm wants,” said an analyst at Semiconductor Equipment and Materials International (SEMI).

    Samsung, which controls near 50 percent of the global memory chip market, is busy transferring its conventional chip lines to profitable non-memory lines such as foundry facilities.

    Samsung’s global share for the foundry chip-making business was less than 2 percent as of the end of last year. However, market experts say Samsung is one of the few players that can threaten TSMC’s leadership as Samsung has abundant cash and top-class memory chip-making technology.

    “It’s probable for Samsung to win more deals from Texas Instruments and Nvidia – which are key partners of TSMC. In the near future, Samsung will become a top-tier foundry chipmaker that could compete with TSMC,” said the SEMI analyst.

    See also: Proven Track Record at 32/28nm [Samsung Foundry presentation, July 3, 2012]

    A New Foundry Business Model [by Ana Hunter Voices@SamsungSemiconductor, June 26, 2012]

    As we hit the half way mark of 2012, it’s been an eventful year so far.  Conversations swirl around:
    • The need for more 28nm capacity
    • Is 450mm wafer manufacturing really going to happen?
    • When will FinFET transistors become standard?
    • Will the foundry/fabless industry continue to thrive?
    There’s no doubt we’re at a crossroads at the most advanced process technology nodes. In order to take positive steps forward, significant monetary and collaborative investments and resources are required from both the manufacturing and design sides of the equation.
    The foundry/fabless semiconductor industry is not going to collapse or disappear as some have recently predicted. See the recent report from SEMI.org on equipment spending. But, a new approach to doing business is in order to stay competitive with pure IDMs [Integrated Device Manufacturer, like once Gobalfoundries was under AMD]. The foundry industry has taken huge strides on the ecosystem side to ensure that physical IP, libraries and design flows are all in place as a new process node comes online. That tight working relationship needs to be pushed beyond the partner ecosystem to include the customer’s design teams.
    There is a lot to be said for mimicking a more IDM-like relationship between a foundry and its fabless customers. For faster product rollout and ramp to high-volume manufacturing at the most advanced process nodes, integrated relationships between the foundry and its strategic customers where quasi-IDM operating procedures are established is key to the health and growth of the foundry industry. Fabless companies and foundries need to collaborate on the factors that allow products to be manufacturable, crossing traditional customer and vendor barriers. This is already happening as leading fabless companies learn from experience that closer integration with foundry design flows and kits, starting very early in the development cycle, enables faster feedback and improvement to both the product design and the manufacturing process.
    The industry is at an inflection point and the model is changing. A more simulated IDM environment will allow fabless semiconductor companies to be more competitive at the advanced process nodes. As an IDM foundry, Samsung is keenly aware of the advantages that can be gained by this approach. We strive to deliver these benefits to our foundry customers.

    UMC is coming to the “rescue” as well:

    Chip industry undergoing structural shift, says UMC CEO [DIGITIMES, July 27, 2012]

    The semiconductor industry is in the process of structural change, and United Microelectronics (UMC) has a big growth opportunity in the advanced chip segment, according to Shih-Wei Sun, CEO for the IC foundry.

    Sun said that he has observed some form of evolution in the IC sector which will likely lead to gradual changes in market leadership. UMC’s high-end foundry business has entered its next stage of growth, which will help strengthen its foundation for future growth, Sun claimed.

    Sales generated from advanced process technologies are set to climb substantially and drive sales growth for the company in the second half of 2012, Sun noted. Growth momentum will continue into next year, when the fifth and sixth phase (P5 and P6) factories of its 12-inch plant in southern Taiwan are ready to come online, according to Sun.

    UMC’s planned capex budget for 2012 of US$2 billion remains unchanged, said Sun, adding that the expenditure will be mainly used to expand 28nm manufacturing capacity and develop 20nm and more advanced technologies.

    Sun indicated that 28nm process technology will account for about 5% of UMC’s revenues by the end of 2012. Moving forward, the foundry expects to start making small volume chips using 20nm process sometime in the second half of 2013, Sun said.

    UMC also set a goal of moving 20nm FinFET process to volume production in the second half of 2014, according to Sun. The company has signed a licensing agreement with IBM to expedite the development of its 20nm CMOS process with FinFET 3D transistors.

    UMC has long been ranked the world’s second-largest pure-play foundry, trailing only Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC). However, it now faces tougher competition from Globalfoundries, and has been aggressively ramping up its foundry business. Globalfoundries recently claimed that the firm narrowed its gap with UMC in the foundry rankings in 2011, and moved up to second in the first quarter of 2012.

    In other news, UMC has reported better-than-expected results for the second quarter of 2012. The firm estimated third-quarter sales will grow only slightly on quarter, but did not provide its guidance for the fourth quarter of 2012 citing uncertainty in end-market demand.

    UMC 2Q12 results beat guidance [DIGITIMES, July 25, 2012]

    … UMC CEO Shih-Wei Sun, said in a statement. “For the upcoming quarter, we expect mild revenue growth, with 40nm percentage contribution increasing significantly as volume production begins for several new products.”…. UMC saw 40nm and more advanced processes account for 9% of revenues in the second quarter, compared to 9% in the first quarter and 6% in second-quarter 2011. …

    UMC reportedly seeking investment from Qualcomm [DIGITIMES, July 13, 2012]

    UMC has approached Qualcomm to participate its upcoming private placement with an aim to establish a strategic partnership with the chip vendor, according to industry sources.

    In response, UMC said it has no specific target investors for the fundraiser.

    UMC’s board of directors in April approved plans to issue up to 1.292 billion new shares in a private placement, which is aimed at bringing in new strategic partners as well as strengthening its capital structure. The resolution later received the nod from the company’s shareholders.

    UMC reportedly to start building 28nm chips for Qualcomm in 4Q12, says report [DIGITIMES, July 2, 2012]

    United Microelectronics (UMC) reportedly has secured orders for 28nm Snapdragon S4 chips from Qualcomm with volume production slated for the fourth quarter of 2012, according to a Chinese-language Commercial Timesreport.

    UMC’s monthly output for Qualcomm’s 28nm chips is initially estimated at 3,000-5,000 wafers, equivalent to 20-30% of Qualcomm’s total orders placed with Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC)for the fourth quarter, the report indicated.

    The report comes on the heels of a Bloomberg report citing Qualcomm CEO Paul Jacobs as saying that the firm would not rule out owning a manufacturing plat or consider “writing big checks” to its contract partners to ensure sufficient supply.

    Previous reports cited industry sources saying that the tight supply of chips built using TSMC’s 28nm process technology would likely drive Qualcomm and TSMC’s other major client Nvidia toward other foundries as a second source.

    TSMC has reiterated that supply of 28nm chips will come close to meeting demand in the fourth quarter of 2012, and satisfy demand completely by the first quarter of 2013.

    UMC Aligns With IBM on 20nm Process with FinFET 3D Transistors [UMC press release, June 29, 2012]

    Engagement will expedite the development of UMC’s next generation technologies

    Hsinchu, Taiwan, June 29, 2012 – United Microelectronics Corporation (NYSE: UMC; TWSE: 2303) (“UMC”), a leading global semiconductor foundry, today announced that it has licensed IBM technology to expedite the development of the foundry’s next generation 20nm CMOS process with FinFET 3D transistors. Under the terms of the agreement, IBM will license its 20nm process design kit and FinFET technology to UMC so the foundry can use these technologies in order to accelerate the availability of these processes for UMC customers.

    Dr. IC Chen, vice president of Advanced Technology Development at UMC, said, “We are happy to engage with a recognized technology leader such as IBM for this technology advancement effort. UMC’s position as a world-leading foundry involves timely introduction of leading-edge processes to enable next generation customer chip designs. Leveraging IBM’s technology expertise to shorten our 20nm and FinFET R&D cycle will create a win-win situation for UMC and our customers.”

    This agreement between UMC and IBM is only inclusive of IBM’s 20nm CMOS and FinFET. UMC’s internally developed 20nm planar process will be aligned to IBM’s design rules and process/device targets, while UMC’s FinFET will be offered as a low-power technology enhancement option for mobile computing and communication products. Implementation will take place at the company’s Tainan, Taiwan R&D site.

    About UMC
    UMC (NYSE: UMC, TSE: 2303) is a leading global semiconductor foundry that provides advanced technology and manufacturing services for applications spanning every major sector of the IC industry. UMC’s customer-driven foundry solutions allow chip designers to leverage the strength of the company’s leading-edge processes, which include production proven 65nm, 45/40nm, mixed signal/RFCMOS, and a wide range of specialty technologies. Production is supported through 10 wafer manufacturing facilities that include two advanced 300mm fabs; Fab 12A in Taiwan and Singapore-based Fab 12i are both in volume production for a variety of customer products. The company employs approximately 14,000 people worldwide and has offices in Taiwan, Japan, Singapore, Europe, and the United States. UMC can be found on the web at http://www.umc.com.

    Comment on that by X-bit labs [July 3, 2012]

    It is necessary to note that UMC does not currently enter the so-called “IBM fab club”, or Common Platform alliance between IBM, Globalfoundries and Samsung Semiconductor that develops common process technologies for all three companies’ semiconductor manufacturing facilities. As a result, UMC will not be able to align its manufacturing processes with CP members.

    Nonetheless, licensing technologies from IBM demonstrates inability of UMC to design competitive process technologies fully on its own. Potentially, it means that going forward UMC may either join the Common Platform alliance or to continue licensing fabrication processes from others.

    Comment on that by EE Times [June 29, 2012]

    Though he declined to disclose the specific cost of the license deal, the spokesman described the terms as “reasonable and insignificant to our financial statements after expense amortization.” The deal will enable UMC to save the considerable costs that would have been involved in developing 20-nm and FinFETs on its own, the spokesman.

    FinFETs are three-dimensional, fin-based multi-gate transistors. Intel Corp. is currently in production of 22-nm devices featuring FinFETs—known by Intel as tri-gate transistors. Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. Ltd., UMC’s biggest rival in the foundry business, is not planning to implement FinFETs until the 14-nm node. Globalfoundries and Samsung are also planning to implement FinFETs at the 14-nm node.

    While Qualcomm’s long supplier TSMC is declaring:

    TSMC reiterates supply of 28nm chips to come close to demand in 4Q12 [DIGITIMES, June 13, 2012]

    Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) has reiterated its previous remarks that supply of 28nm chips would come close to meeting demand in the fourth quarter of 2012, in response to speculation that companies lining up for the foundry’s 28nm process capacity had dispersed.

    At its most-recent investors meeting, TSMC also suggested that demand for the foundry’s 28nm manufacturing capacity would be completely satisfied by the first quarter of 2013.

    TSMC chairman and CEO Morris Chang remarked at the company’s annual shareholders meeting yesterday (June 12) that the foundry’s 28nm foundry capacity will remain tight through the third quarter of 2012. Company efforts in production expansion will help supply catch up and come near the total market demand in the last quarter of the year, according to Chang.

    Chang admitted that TSMC had failed to make a precise estimate of demand for 28nm chips this yearand therefore, the foundry could not immediately provide the needed additional capacity.

    In order to accelerate its pace of 28nm capacity expansion, TSMC has revised upward its 2012 capex to US$8-8.5 billion. The foundry also unveiled plans to ramp up 20nm production ahead of schedule.

    TSMC Reports Second Quarter EPS of NT$1.61 [TSMC press release, July 19, 2012]

    28-nanometer process technology accounted for 7% of total wafer revenues, meeting our internal plan. 40-nanometer accounted for 28% of total wafer revenues, and 65-nanometer was 26%. These advanced technologies accounted for 61% of totalwafer revenues.

    “Due to continuing strong demand for our 28-nanometer technology, we expect to double the shipments of 28-nanometer in the third quarter. This increase in 28nm business will account for more than 80% of revenue growth in the third quarter,” said Lora Ho, SVP and Chief Financial Officer of TSMC.

    TSMC Reports First Quarter EPS of NT$1.29 [TSMC press release, April 26, 2012]

    28-nanometer process technology accounted for 5% of total wafer revenues, 40-nanometer was 32%, and 65-nanometer accounted for 26%. These advanced technologies accounted for 63% of total wafer revenues. …

    TSMC Reports Fourth Quarter EPS of NT$1.22 [TSMC press release, Jan 18, 2012]

    28-nanometer process technology accounted for 2% of total wafer revenues, 40-nanometer was 27%, and 65-nanometer accounted for 30%. These advanced technologies accounted for 59% of total wafer revenues. …

    TSMC Reports Third Quarter EPS of NT$1.17 [TSMC press release, Oct 27, 2011]

    40-nanometer and 28-nanometer process technologies accounted for 27% of total wafer revenues, and 65-nanometer accounted for 27%. These advanced technologies accounted for 54% of total revenues. …

    Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company Limited, 2012 Annual General Shareholders’ Meeting Minutes [June 12, 2012]

    … We became the first foundry to offer volume production of 28-nanometer, with the first-to-market 28-nanometer high-k/metal gate (HKMG) technology portfolio. …

    … Based on a record number of customer product tape-outs, TSMC entered volume production of superior 28-nanometer Gate-Last HKMG logic technology.  Revenue from the 28-nanometer node contributed 2% of fourth quarter 2011 wafer revenue, and is expected to contribute approximately 10% wafer revenue in 2012.  …

    TSMC plans to make as small as 7nm processors, 28nm is now in volume production [Charbax YouTube channel, Oct 25, 2011]

    TSMC is the worlds largest independent ARM Processor foundry. Here’s a video about how TSMC makes the processors of the present and the future, they do them for many of the major ARM chip designers such as Texas Instruments, Nvidia, Qualcomm and others.

    More background information: ChipEstimate.com DAC 2012 IP Talks presenter Dan Kochpatcharin [chipestimate YouTube channel, June 26, 2012]

    Dan Kochpatcharin, Deputy Director, IP Portfolio Marketing, TSMC. IP Talks presenter with ChipEstimate.com at DAC 2012 in San Francisco. TSMC OIP and IP Quality.

    There are 41 IP partners in TSMC IP alliance program and also have 20-25 IP partners directly supported but not part of the IP alliance program.

    image

    And here are the number of titles in TSMC IP portfolio also vs. other foundries:

    image

    After that the whole discussion is about the IP quality, which is also discussed in the following video: IP Quality — It’s Imperative! – Voices of DAC 2012 [synopsys YouTube channel, June 11, 2012]

    TSMC offers some of the most advanced processes in the industry. They are used to manufacture many of the most complex semiconductors ever produced. Semiconductor IP is a key ingredient to successful System-on-Chip design. Both the processes and the IP face big challenges. Dan Kochpatcharin talks with us about the latest TSMC process technology, the challenges in designing in the latest technology, and why IP quality is imperative. Links of Interest: http://www.tsmc.com/english/default.htm http://blogs.synopsys.com/conversationcentral/

    In this video TSMC 9000 IP library is mentioned as critical to the TSMC’s foundry operation. See additional information on extension of that as well, the so called Soft-IP alliance program: A Comprehensive Soft IP Qualification System (Atrenta) [TSMC page, Nov 3, 2011]

    Abstract:
    Knowing the quality, completeness and integration risks associated with soft, or synthesizable semiconductor IP is critical to meeting power, performance, area and schedule targets for complex system on chip (SoC) designs. In many cases, over 80% of the SoC design is composed of reused IP, much of it synthesizable.

    Atrenta has collaborated with TSMC to create a comprehensive system to automate the process of soft IP qualification. Based on the popular SpyGlass® platform, the system programmatically analyzes soft IP using an IP handoff methodology consisting of TSMC’s Golden Rule Set covering various design aspects (risk analysis, integration readiness, implementation readiness, reusability etc.) for an IP. These Golden Rules can help to detect various types of design issues such as simulation-synthesis mismatches, unsynchronized clock domain crossing paths, electrical/connectivity related issues, testability bottlenecks and timing constraints not fully aligned with the design topology/configuration. This approach also provides in-depth analysis reports on various design parameters such as power consumption and optimization, stuck-at and at-speed fault coverage, clock-reset propagation and timing constraints coverage. The results of all tests are summarized in a concise, portable, easy to read HTML-based Atrenta DashBoard report. Once all errors are addressed, the IP is further profiled through an Atrenta DataSheet report that summarizes many aspects of the IP, including estimated power consumption, IO profile, clock and reset trees, gate count, testability and timing constraints. These reports are then posted on TSMC’s online IP databases for customer review as part of the TSMC 9000 IP library.

    In this presentation, we will describe the process used to develop the qualification flow. We will provide details regarding what aspects of the IP are checked and how the information is used to assess IP completeness, readiness and integration risks. We’ll review the process to install, setup and run the software and share some results of its application on production soft IP.

    Also: Atrenta and TSMC IP Quality Initiative Gains Broad Industry Acceptance [Atrenta press release, March 5, 2012]

    Atrenta Inc., a leading provider of SoC Realization solutions for the semiconductor and electronic systems industries, today announced that 10 intellectual property (IP) providers have qualified their soft IP for inclusion in the TSMC 9000 IP library using the Atrenta IP Handoff Kit.

    Those companies, part of TSMC’s Soft-IP Alliance Program, include Arteris, Inc.; CEVA; Chips&Media, Inc.; Digital Media Professionals Inc. (DMP); Imagination Technologies; Intrinsic-ID; MIPS Technologies, Inc.; Sonics, Inc.; Tensilica, Inc.; and Vivante Corporation. The participating companies are able to provide quantitative information to TSMC’s customers regarding the robustness and completeness of their soft or synthesizable semiconductor IP that is part of the TSMC 9000 IP library.

    In May 2011, TSMC and Atrenta announced the Soft-IP Alliance Program, which uses Atrenta’s SpyGlass® platform and a targeted subset of its GuideWare reference methodology to implement TSMC’s IP quality assessment program. TSMC requires all soft IP providers to reach a minimum level of completeness, as documented by Atrenta DashBoard and DataSheet reports, before their IP is listed on TSMC online.

    Atrenta integrated all the software and methodologies needed to implement TSMC’s IP qualification requirements to form the IP Handoff Kit, which uses the SpyGlass register transfer level (RTL) analysis and optimization product suite. To qualify for inclusion in TSMC Online, soft IP must be verified for language syntax and semantic correctness, simulation-synthesis mismatches, electrical and connectivity rules, power consumption, synchronization of clock domain crossing paths, stuck-at and at-speed test coverage and timing constraints. All results are summarized in Atrenta DashBoard and DataSheet reports that capture the results of these SpyGlass tests in an easy-to-read and track HTML format.

    “Given the complexity inherent in today’s system on chip (SoC) designs, TSMC is proactively helping our customers mitigate risk and meet their time-to-market goals,” said Suk Lee, director, Design Infrastructure Marketing Division, TSMC. “The IP qualification flow with Atrenta addresses many of the quality challenges inherent in re-using third-party IP. We are pleased with the number of IP providers that are participating in this program and the measurable improvement in delivered IP quality available for TSMC’s end customers.”

    “As designers face the challenge of finding quality third-party IP, this program – a collaboration between TSMC, Atrenta and IP providers – is a powerful example of what teamwork in the supply chain can accomplish,” said Mike Gianfagna, vice president of marketing at Atrenta. “TSMC customers can now make more informed decisions that improve the handoff of IP between members of the semiconductor supply chain. This is one way to drive more effective SoC Realization.”

    About Atrenta
    Atrenta is a leading provider of SoC Realization solutions for the semiconductor and electronic systems industries. As one of the largest private electronic design automation companies, Atrenta provides a comprehensive SoC Realization solution that delivers higher quality semiconductor IP, predictable design coherence, automated chip assembly and improved implementation readiness. Its SpyGlass® and GenSys™ products and GuideWare reference methodologies open the way for broader deployment of system on chip (SoC) devices in the marketplace, improving time to market, reducing implementation costs and lowering risk. With nearly 200 customers, including 19 of the top 20 semiconductor and consumer electronics companies, Atrenta enables the most complex SoC designs in the world. Atrenta, the SoC Realization Company. http://www.atrenta.com.
    Atrenta and TSMC IP Quality Initiative Gains Broad Industry Acceptance
    Partner Quotes

     

    Arteris
    “Based on our long-standing relationship with TSMC, Arteris is pleased to participate in TSMC’s Soft-IP Alliance Program and TSMC Reference Flows 11 and 12. By validating Arteris’ configurable NoC interconnect IP with the SpyGlass platform, customers can choose our IP and handoff their design to TSMC with even greater confidence.”
    K. Charles Janac, President and CEO, Arteris
    CEVA
    “CEVA is committed to streamlining the SoC design process and supply chain through a robust ecosystem that improves the efficiency of how customers use our DSP-based solutions. The link to the manufacturing process is critical as we move into the realm of 28 nanometer and beyond. We are pleased to be able to work with Atrenta and TSMC to certify our IP using TSMC’s soft IP validation kit. This will result in faster and more reliable manufacturability for our customers.”
    Moshe Sheier, Director of Product Marketing, CEVA, Inc.
    Chips & Media

     

    “As consumers demand a better experience from their multimedia devices, SoC designs are becoming more complex. By working closely with TSMC and Atrenta, Chips&Media is capable of delivering its leading-edge video processing technologies to customers more efficiently and effectively.”
    Steve Kim, CEO, Chips&Media,Inc.
    Digital Media Professionals

     

    “In support of our advanced graphics IP technology based on industry-standard OpenGL ES and DMP’s proprietary Maestro extension, we are able to leverage excellent semiconductor process technology from TSMC and comprehensive assessment metrics from Atrenta. With a wide-range of leading-edge technologies and eco-system support, DMP will provide highly optimized and validated graphics IPs for embedded markets.”
    Tatsuo Yamamoto, President & CEO, Digital Media Professionals Inc.
    Intrinsic-ID

     

    “As SoC devices become more prevalent and customer needs become increasingly more complex, Intrinsic-ID offers a wide-ranging portfolio of IP available in the TSMC 9000 IP library. Working with TSMC and Atrenta, the quality of our IP is demonstrated and customers will be more informed when using it in their designs, reducing the risk in the handoff to other members of the supply chain.”
    Pim Tuyls, CEO, Intrinsic-ID
    MIPS

     

    “The Atrenta IP Handoff Kit can help assure customers of quality and consistency across the variety of IP available for use at TSMC. As a member of the TSMC Soft IP Alliance Program, MIPS Technologies is committed to working closely with TSMC to speed our customers’ time-to-market. Starting with our superscalar multicore MIPS32® 1074K™ coherent processing system, MIPS is leveraging the IP Handoff Kit to validate that our IP meets and surpasses TSMC’s expectations of quality for soft IP.”
    Gideon Intrater, Vice President of Marketing, MIPS Technologies, Inc.
    Sonics

     

    “As the number of unique IP cores increase with each process node, the need for a reliable, high-performance on-chip network is critical for successful SoC execution. As a partner in the Atrenta and TSMC IP Quality Initiative, and a TSMC Soft IP Alliance member, Sonics gives customers complete assurance and support from the initial design to TSMC hand-off. Our partnership with Atrenta continues to help semiconductor leaders realize their broad range of SoC designs, and the SpyGlass product suite will continue to play an integral part of Sonics’ RTL flow.”
    Frank Ferro, Director of Marketing, Sonics
    Tensilica

     

    “Tensilica is pleased to participate in TSMC’s Soft-IP Alliance Program after many years of producing successful tapeouts for mutual customers. By validating our IP against quality metrics established by TSMC and measured using the SpyGlass platform, our customers can choose Xtensa processors and deliver their designs to TSMC with even greater confidence.”
    Chris Jones, Director, Product Marketing, Tensilica, Inc.
    Vivante

     

    “Vivante is pleased to be part of TSMC’s Soft-IP Alliance Program, offering customers our full line of high performance, power efficient GPU/GPGPU cores. By going through extensive validation of our IP on the SpyGlass platform to ensure reliability and quality, customers can be confident that selecting Vivante products will reduce their risk and expedite time to market of their designs.”
    Wei-Jin Dai, President and CEO, Vivante Corporation

    And here is a video with Atrenta CTO Bernard Murphy about the current changes:
    DAC Retrospective [SperlingMediaGroup YouTube channel, June 13, 2012]

    Is DAC really a design automation conference, or has it shifted to a design enablement conference due to rising complexity breaking down traditional barriers and silos? Low Power High Performance Engineering talks with Atrenta CTO Bernard Murphy about the changes.

    Qualcomm and TSMC Collaborating on 28nm Process Technology [joint TSMC and Qualcomm press release, Jan 8, 2010]

    Cutting-edge Semiconductor Technology Enables Mobile Devices to Offer Greater Functionality and Lower Power Consumption

    Qualcomm Incorporated (Nasdaq: QCOM), a leading developer and innovator of advanced wireless technologies, products and services, today announced that the Company is working closely with foundry partner Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TWSE: 2330, NYSE: TSM) on 28 nanometer (nm) process technology. The advanced process node enables more features to be integrated into smaller chips with a high level of cost efficiency, accelerating the expansion of wireless into new market segments.

    Small form factor and low power consumption are important features of Qualcomm’s next generation of system-on-a-chip (SoC) solutions, including the Snapdragon™ chipset platform. The two companies are capitalizing on their long-term relationshipas Qualcomm works on migrating directly from the 45nm to the 28nm node.

    “TSMC prides itself on its ability to deliver cutting-edge technology platforms, including the related design ecosystems. Our 28nm platform supports the high-performance, low-power products that deliver next-generation experiences,” said Jason Chen, vice president of Worldwide Sales and Marketing. “We are pleased to be working with Qualcomm, a market leader in wireless technology, on bringing these new experiences to reality.”

    “Qualcomm’s close collaboration with TSMC has always been a key part of our ability to deliver significant advantages to our customers through the industry-leading integration, power efficiency and cost efficiency of our products – enabling them to do more with less,” said Jim Clifford, senior vice president and general manager of Qualcomm CDMA Technologies. “Qualcomm’s integrated fabless manufacturing model and migration to smaller geometries will allow us to continue enabling the best mobile user experience possible on handsets, smartphones and smartbook devices.”

    Qualcomm and TSMC worked closely on 65nm and 45nm technologies. They are continuing their relationship into low-power, low-leakage 28nm designs for high-volume manufacturing. Delivering up to twice the density of previous manufacturing nodes, 28nm technology allows semiconductors that power mobile devices to do far more with less power. Qualcomm and TSMC are working on both high-k metal gate (HKMG) 28HP and silicon oxynitride (SiON) 28LP technologies. Qualcomm expects to tape out its first commercial 28nm products in mid-2010.

    Close collaboration with strategic technology and foundry partners is a key part of Qualcomm’s Integrated Fabless Manufacturing (IFM) business model, which delivers greater efficiencies and accelerated technology advancement to the industry.

    Background video on Semiconductor Technology at TSMC, 2011 [AndrewatEML YouTube channel, March 26, 2011]

    An up to date and current overview of semiconductor manufacturing technology from TSMC in Taiwan. Nicely produced and informative if you tune-out the voice-over slightly. Better access than any Fab tour. Recommended if you have any interest in how semiconductors are made/manufactured in volume right now.

    AH-IPS technology from LG Display and True HD IPS of LG Mobile LTE superphones: Nitro HD (AT&T) and Spectrum (Verizon)

    Penetration rate of IPS/FFS panels in mobile PC sector to reach 20% in 2014-2015, says DisplaySearch [Jan 19, 2012]

    The penetration rate of IPS (in-plane switching) and FFS (fringe-field switching) panels in the mobile PC (including notebook, netbooks and tablet PCs) segment is expected to climb from 11% in 2011 to 20% in 2014-2015, Display Search has indicated in a Chinese-language press release.

    While IPS/FFS LCD panels held a 31% penetration rate in the LCD TV segment in 2011, DisplaySearch estimated that the penetration rate of IPS/FFS panels in the desktop monitor sector, in which IPS/FFS is being used for specific applications such as medical equipment, will soar to 25% in 2015 from 7% in 2011 as LG Display aims to make IPS panels a standard for desktop monitors.

    LG Display (LGD) has been the top supplier for IPS/FFS panels, accounting for 80% share of IPS/FFS panels in 9.1-inch sizes and above. Panasonic LCD serves as a major supplier of IPS/FFS panels for TV applications. LGD plans to venture into the development of AH-IPS technology for display devices in the next few years, DisplaySearch noted.

    While Samsung Electronics and some Taiwan-based flat panel makers will also roll out IPS panels, China-based BOE Technology has begun shipping 32-inch TV panels using FFS technology, DisplaySearch noted.

    LGD is also a major vendor for small- to medium-size IPS panels, taking up a 25% share in the below 9-inch size segment, and other vendors including Hitachi, Sony and Toshiba each also hold a certain market share in the sector. However, when Japan Display will officially be set up in 2012, the company will become the largest supplier for small- to medium-size IPS/FFS panels, said DisplaySearch.

    LG Display introduce new AH-IPS technology for Tablet PCs and smartphones at SID-2011 [Oct 26, 2011]

    LG Display introduce AH-IPSat the SID-2011 in Los Angeles. AH-IPS is a new advanced high performance In-Plane switching technology.

    LG Display’s3.5-inch smartphone panel supports 960×640 pixel resolution at 326 PPI, delivering the most detailed images among smartphones available on the market.

    What is AH-IPS?

    AH-IPS technology, an advanced form of IPS, has realizes 1.5 to 2 times the resolution of typical LCD panels. This ultra high resolution becomes particularly valuable when the emphasis is on displaying highly detailed images. The technology also improves display’s color accuracy, which in turn leads to reproduce the original color precisely without color distortion. In addition, it provides greater lighttransmission which translates into lower power consumption while delivering exceptional picture quality, making it ideal for use in outdoor settings.

    image

    The AH-IPS panels deliver ultra high resolution, notable for their superiority in use for smartbooks, tablet pcs and smartphones. LGDisplay shows off a full line-up of products which deliver ultra high resolution, including 3.5- and 4.5-inch panels for smartphones, 7- and 9.7-inch panels for smartbooks, and 55- and 84- inch panels for TVs at the exhibition. In particular, by highlighting the strengths of AH-IPS, the company plans to solidify its competitive edge in the smart mobile market. The Company is already enjoying dominance in technology, supply capability, and cost competiveness based on its extended experience in mass production.

    “Consumers can enjoy crisp and clean pictures in any device like smartphones and smartbooks with LG Display’s proprietary AH-IPS technology,” said President and CEO of LG Display Mr. Young Soo Kwon. “Our goal is to be the world’s No. 1 display maker that consistently delivers groundbreaking technologies like IPS to innovate the display industry.”

    Resolution is generally defined by the total number of pixels whereas image crispness is measured by pixels–per-inch (PPI) which refers to pixel density per unit area. The ultra high resolution technology employed by AH-IPS adds a greater number of pixels than the PPI that can be recognized by the human eye at a typical distance. This makes it more difficult for the naked eye to distinguish each individual pixel, thus making the image sharper.

    image

    Apple use IPS-LCD technology for the Iphone (Retina) Ipad etc. Now Apple got some new advanced technology from LG-Display. We will see this kind of displays in the next generation Iphone

    LG Nitro HD — True HD [LGUSAMobile, Jan 13, 2012]

    LG Display’s AH-IPS Panel Receives the World’s First Quality & Performance Mark from Intertek for Color Accuracy [LG Display press release, Aug 24, 2011]

    image

    LG Display [NYSE: LPL, KRX: 034220], a leading innovator of thin-film transistor liquid crystal display (TFT-LCD) technology, announced today that its Advanced High Performance In-Plane Switching (AH-IPS) technology received the Quality & Performance Mark from Intertek, a global product testing and certification company, for color accuracy. The 4.5-inch AH-IPS panel designed for mobile devices is the first LCD module in the world to receive the certification given to products that outperform others in the same category after rigorous independent testing.

    AH-IPS was also recognized as superior to a comparable AMOLED display in terms of power consumptionin the same tests.

    The two products Intertek tested, a 4.5-inch (HD, 720 x 1280, 329ppi) AH-IPS display scheduled for release in the second half of 2011 and a 4.3-inch (WVGA, 480 x 800, 217ppi) AMOLED display adopted in the Samsung Galaxy S2 handset, are regarded in the industry as the leading smartphone displays.

    In tests of color accuracy, the color reproduction of LG Display’s 4.5-inch AH-IPS display was shown to be three times more accurate, receiving a color accuracy*rating of 0.012 compared with 0.037 for the 4.3-inch AMOLED display. The less accurate color gamut that AMOLED recorded can be proven to result in color distortion, based on a 2008 report by the Advanced PDP Development Center Corporation which showed that when color accuracy exceeds 0.015, colors are perceived differently by the human eye.

    In terms of power consumption, the 4.5-inch AH-IPS with a brightness of 600 nits was found by Intertek to consume a constant level of power at 624mW on all color expressions compared to as much as 1,130mW for the 4.3-inch AMOLEDwhen displaying full-white colors. The result demonstrates that, despite its larger and brighter display, AH-IPS can be regarded as a more energy-efficient and environment-friendly display than AMOLED.

    Considering current smartphone trends where users are increasingly browsing the Internet and accessing social networking services which heavily utilize white backgrounds, power consumption is expected to grow in importance for consumers, particularly as next-generation 4G smartphones are said to consume 1.5~2 times more power than current smartphones.

    “The certification from Intertek proves that AH-IPS is more suitable for mobile displays than AMOLED,” said Sang Yeoup Rhee, Vice President of AH-IPS Marketing in LG Display. “With credible global testing demonstrating the superiority AH-IPS, LG Display plans aggressively to promote and to highlight the superior performance of AH-IPS to consumers.”

    Intertek tested color accuracy through a spectrophotometer that measured color temperature against standardized display color, and power consumption under 14 different color patterns using a standardized international test for power consumption under the same conditions.

    *Color accuracy is measured numerically by △u’v’. A lower value indicates a smaller gap between the original color and reproduced color

    About LG Display

    LG Display Co., Ltd. [NYSE: LPL, KRX: 034220] is a leading manufacturer and supplier of thin-film transistor liquid crystal display (TFT-LCD) panels, OLEDs and flexible displays. The company provides TFT-LCD panels in a wide range of sizes and specifications for use in TVs, monitors, notebook PCs, mobile products and other various applications. LG Display currently operates eight fabrication facilities and six back-end assembly facilities in Korea, China and Poland. The company has a total of 50,000 employees operating worldwide. Please visit http://www.lgdisplay.com for more information.

    Amazing True HD IPS Display [LGUSAMobile, Dec 21, 2011]

    LG Nitro HD Launch Event In True HD [Dec 5, 2011]

    LG Mobile with celebrity photographer Tyler Shields ushered in the next evolution of mobile device display technology last night during the launch event for LG Nitro HD, the first smartphone in AT&T’s portfolio with a True HD AH-IPS (Advanced High-Performance In-Plane Switching) display. Taking place at the ultra modern New Museum in New York’s SoHo district, guests were able to experience the advantages of LG Nitro HD and its striking 4.5-inch display first-hand, which will be available in AT&T stores and online Dec. 4 for $249.99 with a two-year contract.

    LG NITRO HD DELIVERS FIRST TRUE HIGH-DEFINITION EXPERIENCE FOR AT&T CUSTOMERS [LG press release, Nov 28, 2011]

    Exclusive to AT&T Customers, Android-Powered LG Nitro™ HDProvides High-Definition Display, Lightning-Fast Processing Speeds and AT&T 4G LTE Capabilities

    image

    Key Facts

    • LG Nitro™ HD, the first smartphone in the AT&T* portfolio with a true high definition screen becomes the third 4G LTE smartphone for AT&T customers.

    • Available in AT&T stores and online Dec. 4 for $249.99 with a two-year commitment.
    [No Commitment Pricing $550]

    • Dual-core 1.5 GHz processor and access to AT&T’s 4G LTE makes Nitro HD the ultimate high-performance superphone.

    • AT&T 4G LTE recently expanded to 15 markets. AT&T plans to reach 70 million Americans with 4G LTE by year-end 2011.

    image

    LG Nitro HD

    The LG Nitro™ HD, featuring a 4.5-inch True HD AH-IPS display, will be available exclusively to AT&T customers beginning Dec. 4 in company owned stores and online. Setting a new standard for a mobile device, LG Nitro HD comes equipped with a stunning true high-definition touchscreen display, a dual-core 1.5 GHz processor and access to AT&T’s 4G LTE where available, making it the ultimate high-performance superphone. Not only is LG Nitro HD powerful and incredibly fast, it also features multitasking abilities and offers the latest evolution in mobile device display technology for higher image resolutions and text readability.

    Taking advantage of LG’s new proprietary True HD technology, LG Nitro HD’s 4.5-inch AH-IPS (Advanced High-Performance In-Plane Switching) display supports resolutions up to 1280 X 720 pixels and offers unrivaled color accuracy, brightness, battery efficiency and performance. LG Nitro HD’s 500 nit display luminance allows for clear viewing in direct sunlight and RGB stripe pixels deliver incredibly accurate true-to-life color rendering.

    LG Nitro HD offers incredibly quick speed, power and efficiency in a slim design (5.27” X 2.67” X 0.41”) making it easy to view, create and share in HD. LG Nitro HD multitasks seamlessly and with AT&T 4G LTE and HSPA+ where available, it easily browses even the most content-heavy websites and runs HD games with ease, including HD gaming from the Gameloft HD game store and Zynga Poker HD.

    An 8-megapixel HD camera and 20 GB of total memory (4 GB on-board plus 16 GB via In-box microSD) allows users to capture and view crystal-clear True HD images and video. Wi-Fi Direct™ technology and DLNA® features offer wireless HD content streaming options, making it easier and faster than ever to share HD content with the people and networks that matter the most.

    AT&T is the only U.S. carrier providing 4G using both HSPA+ and LTE technologies. HSPA+, when combined with enhanced backhaul, provides customers with compatible devices 4G speeds, meaning customers get a faster and more consistent 4G experience, even when outside of an AT&T 4G LTE area.

    Pricing and Availability

    Be one of the first to experience the phenomenon of LG Nitro HD on Dec. 4, available exclusively in AT&T company owned stores and online for just $249.99 after a two-year contract.

    Quotes

    “With the LG Nitro HD as one of our last smartphones to arrive in 2011, we’re closing out the year with a bang,” said Jeff Bradley, senior vice president, Devices, AT&T Mobility and Consumer Markets. “We’ve seen others get close to a true HD experience on Android superphones this year, but Nitro HD is the one that does it right.”

    “LG continues to push the boundaries of what is possible on mobile devices today,” said Tim O’Brien, vice president of marketing for LG Mobile. “LG Nitro HD will be the first smartphone available for AT&T to feature True HD AH-IPS capabilities, and the advantages of a crystal clear display are immediately evident after seeing the device first hand. In addition to sporting the clearest and crispest display on the market, LG Nitro HD will be one of the fastest and most powerful smartphones available.”

    *AT&T products and services are provided or offered by subsidiaries and affiliates of AT&T Inc. under the AT&T brand and not by AT&T Inc.

    Limited 4G LTE availability in select markets. 4G speeds delivered by LTE or HSPA+ with enhanced backhaul, where available. Deployment ongoing. Compatible device and data plan required. LTE is a trademark of ETSI. Learn more at att.com/network.

    Limited-time offer]. LG Nitro HD with new 2-yr wireless agrmt of $39.99 or higher and min $15/mo data plan is $249.99. Wireless Service: Subject to Wireless Customer Agrmt. Coverage and svcs not avail everywhere. Credit approval req’d. Activ. Fee up to $36/line. Geographic, usage, and other terms, conditions and restrictions apply, and may result in svc termination. See store or visit att.com for complete details and coverage maps. Data: Min $15/mo, 200MB, data plan required. If you exceed your initial 200MB allowance, you will automatically be charged an average of $15 for each additional 200MB provided. All data allowances and overages must be used in the billing period provided or they will be forfeited – details att.com/dataplans. Regulatory Cost Recovery Charge up to $1.25/mo. is chrg’d to help comply with gov’t obligations and chrgs; it is not a tax or gov’t req’d chrg. Early Termination Fee (ETF): After 30 days, ETF up to $325 based on device (details att.com/equipmentETF). Restocking fee up to $35. Taxes and other charges apply.

    VERIZON WIRELESS AND LG MOBILE CONTINUE LEGACY OF INNOVATION BY OFFERING A TRUE HD MOBILE EXPERIENCE WITH SPECTRUM™ BY LG [LG press release, Jan 9, 2012]

    Latest LG Smartphone Boasts True HD IPS Display, Verizon Wireless 4G LTE, Dual-Core Processor and ESPN ScoreCenter App with Exclusive HD Feed

    LAS VEGAS – From the 2012 International Consumer Electronics Show (CES), Verizon Wireless and LG Mobile today announced Spectrum™ by LG smartphone, exclusively for Verizon Wireless. Spectrum is the first smartphone for Verizon Wireless to feature a 4.5-inch True HD In-Plane Switching (IPS) display, the same display technology used in premium LG HD televisions. Intensifying its HD capabilities, Spectrum by LG will give customers exclusive HD access to the ESPN™ ScoreCenter application. Spectrum will be in the Verizon booth (Las Vegas Convention Center, South Hall, Booth #30259) and LG booth (Las Vegas Convention Center, Central Hall, Booth #8204).

    ESPN’s ScoreCenter app is supported by an exclusive HD video feed, giving customers the exclusive access to ScoreCenter stats, images and videos in 720p HD. Scoreboards and live game details include in-game stats, news and video. Personalization features allow fans to customize their ScoreCenter experience by highlighting their favorite teams and leagues from around the world, all in crystal clear high-definition.

    Showcasing LG’s True HD technology, Spectrum by LG supports 1280 x 720 resolution and offers one of the brightest and sharpest displays available on a mobile device. Spectrum’s 500-nit display luminance and Real-Stripe RGB pixels offer users clear viewing in direct sunlight and accurate true-to-life color rendering.

    Spectrum also features a Qualcomm® 1.5 GHz dual-core processor combined with 4G LTE connectivity for robust power, multitasking and download speeds. Verizon Wireless leads the way in 4G with the fastest and most reliable 4G network in the United States, covering more than 200 million people in 190 markets.

    Key features:

    • 4.5-inch True HD IPS display provides natural colors and brilliant, undistorted HD images in 16:9 aspect ratio. Pictures and texts are incredibly sharp with 329 pixels per inch (PPI) screen density.

    • Protected by Corning® Gorilla® Glass, the True HD IPS display uses Real Stripe subpixel arrangement so images never get blurred.

    • Android™ 2.3 Gingerbread (Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich upgrade available the first half of 2012); support for Google™ Mobile Services including Gmail™, YouTube™, Google Talk™, Google Search™, Google Maps™ and access to more than 300,000 apps available to download from Android Market™.

    • Preloaded Netflix app allows Netflix subscribers to stream the latest movies in high-definition quality.

    • Qualcomm 1.5 GHz dual-core processor makes multitasking seamless. Customers can surf the Web, check email and update social networks effortlessly.

    • ESPN’s ScoreCenter app offers the most comprehensive sports coverage available on an Android device whether you follow the NFL or Premier League, ICC Champions League or MLB™, NASCAR or Formula One™. Customers can follow teams from more than 500 leagues around the world with an exclusive 720p high-definition feed for Spectrum by LG while connected to the Verizon Wireless 4G LTE network or Wi-Fi.

    • Spectrum supports Dolby® Digital Plus, which allows users to maximize their HD multimedia experience. Dolby Digital Plus can stream up to 7.1 channels of surround sound through home entertainment systems.

    Additional features:

    • 8-megapixel rear-facing autofocus camera with LED flash to snap beautiful pictures and 1080p video capture

    • Front-facing 1.3-megapixel camera for video chat

    • SmartMovie HD app—create and edit HD videos right on the Spectrum by LG

    • Mobile Hotspot capability—share 4G LTE connection with up to 10 Wi-Fi-enabled devices

    • Bluetooth® Version 3.0

    • 16 GB microSD™ card pre-installed with support for up to 32 GB microSD card

    • SmartShare—share media wirelessly to DLNA®-enabled devices

    • HDMI mirroring capable via MHL

    Pricing and availability:

    • Spectrum by LG will be available on Jan. 19 in Verizon Wireless Communications Stores and online at http://www.verizonwireless.com for $199.99with a new two-year customer agreement.

    • Customers who purchase a Spectrum by LG will need to subscribe to a Verizon Wireless Nationwide Talk plan beginning at $39.99 monthly access and a smartphone data package starting at $30 monthly access for 2 GB of data.

    Customers Can Score the Game Winner

    LG and ESPN are teaming up to give fans the chance to score an unbelievable sports weekend, including two tickets to ESPN The Magazine’s NEXT Event and a trip to the big game in Indianapolis on Sunday, Feb. 5. Customers can visit http://www.SpectrumbyLg.com or http://www.verizonwireless.com/spectrum for official rules, details and a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be a part of sports history.

    For more information and product images, please visit LG’s online press kit at http://www.LGnewsroom.com/ces2012.

    True HD is now mobile [LG data sheet, Jan 9, 2012]

    Spectrum by LG sharpens the vision of what’s truly superior in mobile technology. Beneath its exceptionally large 4.5″ True HD IPS display is a mighty combination of power and speed.

    A Qualcomm® 1.5 GHz dual-core processor compliments Verizon 4G LTE connectivity, generating an astoundingly fast overall experience. You’ve never seen this before—expect to be blown away.

    image

    Perfecting the Pixel – The True HD IPS display utilizes Real Stripe subpixel arrangement, which is denser and 1.4 times sharper than PenTile™ subpixel arrangement on typical Super AMOLED display

    image
    True HD IPS Super AMOLED

    Take It All In

    image

    The 1280 x 720 pixel resolution provides additional screen space for more visible page content when compared to a typical smartphone screen.

    Down to the Details

    The 4.5″ True HD IPS display provides brilliant, undistorted HD images at a 16:9 aspect ratio. With 329 pixels per inch screen density, pictures and texts are sharp even at the smallest details.

    Record videos at 1080p and snap beautiful pictures with the 8 MP camera/camcorder.

    image

    Super Powered Multitasking – By utilizing the dual-core processor plus the 4G LTE connectivity, multitasking is seamless on Spectrum. It zooms its way through web surfing, emails, and social networks effortlessly

    GOOGLE™ INTEGRATION

    • Android™ 2.3 Platform (Gingerbread)

    • Android Market

    • Google Maps™ Navigation

    • Preloaded Apps: Alarm/Clock, Browser, Calculator, Camera, Contacts, Email, Gallery, Gmail,™ Google Search, Latitude,™ Maps, Market, Messaging, Music, Phone, Places,™ Polaris Office, Richnote, Smart Movie HD, Video Player, Voice Dialer, Voice Recorder, Voice Search, Voicemail, YouTube™

    CONNECTIVITY

    • Verizon 4G LTE Network1

    • 4G Mobile Hotspot – share a data connection with up to 10 other devices (or 5 devices on a 3G network2)†

    • Bluetooth® Version: 3.0

    • Save Up to 100 Bluetooth Pairings3

    • Supported Bluetooth Profiles: headset, hands-free, serial port, advanced audio distribution (stereo), messaging access profile, audio/video remote control, object push, file transfer, phone book access, audio/visual distribution, audio/visual control transport protocol

    • Wi-Fi® Connectivity: 802.11b/g/n

    • Wi-Fi Direct™ – connect directly to another Wi-Fi Direct device without having to join a wireless network

    • S-GPS Support for Location Accuracy

    1Verizon’s 4G LTE Network not available everywhere.

    2Depends on device memory and network availability.

    3Depends on available memory

    †Verizon Wireless service required. Features based on carrier program availability.

    ENTERTAINMENT

    • True HD IPS Solution – 16:9 aspect ratio, 1280 x 720 pixel resolution at 329 ppi provides more visible page content and sharper details

    • 1080p HD recording1

    • Smart Movie HD – make and edit HD videos

    • SmartShare – share media wirelessly to DLNA®-enabled devices

    • HDMI® mirroring via MHL2

    • Video Player with Touch Lock, Dolby® Sound Effect, Next/Previous Button, More Menu Options and Resume Play Function; supports DivX,® WMV, MP4, 3GP, and 3G2 Formats

    • Music Player for MP3, AAC, AAC+, M4A, WMA, AMR, MIDI, Ogg Vorbis, and WAV Formats

    • Convenient Music Controls – access music playing controls from the Notifications panel

    • Preloaded Verizon Apps: Backup Assistant, Guided Tours, My Verizon Mobile, V CASTSM Media Manager, V CAST Tones, Verizon Video, VZ Navigator®

    • TuneWiki – discover new music via recommendations from friends and fellow users; play music, radio, and video with synchronized lyrics

    • Accelerometer – switch portrait/landscape view; control games by turning/tilting phone3

    • USB Mass Storage4

    1Content must be shared on larger HD display for 1080p playback.

    2MHL Adapter required (sold separately).

    3Only available on certain interactions with the touch screen.

    4USB cable and microSD™ card required (both included).

    CAMERA/VIDEO

    • 8 Megapixel Rear-Facing Autofocus Camera and Camcorder with LED Flash

    • 1.3 Megapixel Front-Facing Camera for Self-Portraits and Video Chat

    • Rear-Facing Camera Resolutions: 3264 x 2448 (default), 3264 x 1836, 2560 x 1920, 2048 x 1536, 2304 x 1296, 1280 x 960, 1536 x 864 pixels

    • Front-Facing Camera Resolutions: 1280 x 960 (default), 1280 x 720, 640 x 480 pixels

    • Image Editor – zoom, crop, and rotate

    • Face Tracking – automatically finds and focuses on faces

    • Tag Location – add geographic data to images

    • Customizable Brightness,1 Scene Mode, ISO, White Balance,1 Color Effect,1Timer, and Shot Mode

    • Camera and Video Zoom: up to 4x

    • Full HD Video Recording – record video in 1080p HD for sharing or playing on a larger display2

    • Video Resolutions: 1920 x 1088 (default),31280 x 720, 720 x 480, 640 x 480, 320 x 240, 176 x 144 pixels

    • Audio Recording – record video with or without sound (mute)

    1Available in both camera and video modes.

    2Content must be shared on larger HD display for 1080p playback.

    3Depends on available memory.

    CONVENIENCE

    • Simultaneous Voice and 4G Data – browse the web or send email while on a voice call

    • Connect to Social Networks

    • Enhanced HTML Web Browser

    • Text, Picture, Video, Group (send a message to a group of contacts who can see and reply to the group), and Location Messaging†

    • Mobile Instant Messaging

    • Email – mobile personal & corporate email

    • One-Touch Speakerphone1

    • Speaker-Independent Voice Commands

    • Text-to-Speech

    • MP3 Music Ringer Support (song clips)†

    • 31 Unique Ringtones + Vibrate & Silent Modes

    • TTY/TDD Support

    • Contacts – unlimited fields2 for numbers, email addresses, a group, physical addresses, organization names, IM screen names, web addresses, events, notes, nickname, and picture ID3

    • Speed Dial – 98 entries + 1 voicemail default

    • Proximity Sensor – locks touch screen and buttons while talking on phone

    • Touch Vibration for Tactile Feedback4

    • Languages: English, Spanish, Chinese, Korean, French, German, or Italian

    • FOTA – upgrade firmware over the air†

    1Only available during a call.

    2Depends on available memory.

    3Depends on photos stored in your gallery.

    4Only available on certain interactions with the touch screen

    SPECIFICATIONS

    • Technology: CDMA 1x, EVDO Rev. A, LTE

    • Frequencies: 1.9 GHz CDMA PCS, 800 MHz CDMA DCN, 700 MHz LTE

    • Data Transmission: LTE, EVDO Rev. A, 1xRTT

    • Processor: 1.5 GHz Dual-Core Qualcomm SnapdragonS3

    • Weight: 4.99 oz.

    • Display: 4.5″ True HD AH-IPS, 16:9 display ratio, 1280 x 720 pixel resolution at 329 ppi, 16.7M Color, LCD Capacitive Touch Screen

    • USB: 2.0 High Speed

    • Standard Battery: 1830 mAh

    • Usage Time: up to 498 minutes1

    • Standby Time: up to 348 hours1

    • Micro USB Charging Port2

    • Memory: 4 GB onboard + 16 GB pre-installed microSD card (slot is expandable up to 32 GB)3; 1 GB RAM

    1Certain features may use more power and cause actual time to vary.

    2USB Cable included.

    31.81 GB for apps; 16 GB microSD card included. Additional memory cards sold separately

    ACCESSORIES

    • Standard Battery*

    • Travel Adapter and USB Cable*

    • 16 GB microSD Memory Card*

    • Extended Battery (3,040 mAh)

    • Wireless Charging Pad (WCP-700)

    • Wireless Charging Battery Door

    • Media Charging Dock

    • Vehicle Mount

    • Vehicle Power Charger

    Bluetooth Headsets (HBM-235, HBM-570, HBM-905)

    Bluetooth Headset with Charging Cradle (HBM-585)

    Bluetooth Headset with Speakerphone and Solar Charging Cradle (HBM-810)

    • LG TONE™ (Bluetooth Stereo Headset HBS-700)

    *Included with phone