Do I have this right that SoC's for smart phones will absolutely have to include the LTE within a couple of years? Therefore, one company has to "have it all". If X86 is also the preferred architecture by then and QCOM's foundry options are still not in 20 nm, would that not make QCOM dead meat?
Eventually, yes. Intel purchased Infineon for the reason of accessing the technology and eventually integrating it on the SoC. QCOM is already doing this and Intel will should have their integration completed soon. Intel's purchase of Infineon was the last piece they needed to compete in the cell phone market. QCOM virtually owns the baseband market but its future is tied to ARM's. I would be a bit more worried if I was a Broadcom shareholder whose life expectancy is even shorter.
QCOM: Competitors Won’t Easily Take LTE Share, Says Raymond James
By Tiernan Ray
As I mentioned this morning, Raymond James‘s Tavis McCourt today raised his rating on shares of wireless chip maker Qualcomm tod without adjusting estimates, arguing that competition in baseband processors from Intel and Broadcom will slow the company’s growth next year and the year after, “but that Qualcomm will maintain a meaningful advantage on high end smartphones as it moves to 20 nanometer),” referring to the next leg down in chip feature sizes.
The spur to competition, as McCourt observes, is the race the move from plain-old 3G and 4G networks to “long-term evolution,” or LTE, which is now in all high-end smartphone releases.
McCourt doesn’t think taking material share from Qualcomm will be easy:
Qualcomm outspends most of its competitors in mobile R&D by a factor of 5:1 to 10:1 and most are not close to profitability still. To believe Qualcomm loses meaningful revenue share is to believe that Qualcomm is overseeing a misallocation of R&D dollars on an historic scale. In fact, Qualcomm’s R&D expense of ~$5 billion this year is likely greater than all its competitors’ revenues combined in WCDMA/LTE baseband/app processors.
As McCourt observes, “QCOM has a 28nm Cat 4 LTE modem on 28nm this year, integrated with a world class App processor/GPU, power management, various connectivity modules, etc… In 2014, we expect QCOM to be at a 20 nm node, and continue to have substantial SoC advantages over its LTE competition.”