Piper Jaffray‘s Gus Richard this morning writes that semiconductors are a “mixed bag” this quarter.
“We are seeing strong demand for communication infrastructure components in general and expect this demand to strengthen into Q4 and next year. PCs, however, are weak in Q3 due to an inventory overhang,” he writes. “After one more numbers cut we expect PCs to strengthen next year on the back of a respectable Intel product refresh and a mini corporate upgrade cycle driven by end of support of Windows XP."
The CEVA-XC DSP approach is apparently aimed at a superior future LTE (c.2015?), since it is a newer processor architecture and better long-term processor support by CEVA is likely (perhaps constituting a separate developer support team).
The company's 2014 roadmap is good, with the addition of carrier aggregation, envelope tracking and TD-SCDMA, with the latter necessary to be successful in the China Mobile market.
Broadcom promises to field its acquired LTE asset in a commercial product in Q1/14. We think that's achievable, but it may be in a Tier-2 smartphone, since the Tier-1s seem to be spoken for at the moment. But, like Intel, they have to start somewhere if they want to take on the 800-pound gorilla of the LTE modem market.
Broadcom is getting a multimode 2G/3G/4G/LTE modem with RF transceiver
Features | Will Strauss
MESA, USA: From a wireless chip standpoint, Broadcom's acquisition of Renesas Mobile's LTE modem properties has to be our lead story. It is ironic that the Renesas LTE modem was the only solution certified by five major carriers and could never get a cellphone socket.
Broadcom stated that Renesas Mobile really did have a tier-one socket lined up, but their parent company's financial difficulties precluded them from completing the transaction. That coincides with Renesas earlier statement to me at MWC that they really did have a tier-one socket that was "soon to be announced."
Broadcom is getting a multimode 2G/3G/4G/LTE modem with RF transceiver that is already validated at five major wireless carriers (AT&T, NTT DoCoMo, Orange, Vodafone and EE). In fact, multimode LTE modems from both Renesas and Qualcomm were the only ones employed by test equipment houses for their own test and calibration for almost two years.
So the question arises: If the Renesas modem was so great, why didn't it get into any cellphone sockets? What's more, what makes Broadcom think that they can get the same modem into any cellphone sockets? I don't have the answer, but I suspect that poor marketing by Renesas had something to do with its poor showing. Hopefully, Broadcom will be better at marketing.
If I correctly understood the CEO's comments on the acquisition, the current LTE development effort will continue in parallel with fielding the acquired LTE product. The current LTE modem development is based on Broadcom's earlier acquisition of Beceem and their CEVA-XC DSP-based OFDM product. The Renesas LTE modem, developed some time ago by Nokia ASIC designers, is based on custom programmable processors, accelerators and a small ARM core for handling the low level stack.
The CEVA-XC DSP approach is apparently aimed at a superior future LTE (c.2015?), since it is a newer processor architecture and be
Aside from customers leaving DoCoMo's network, local corporations have also been negatively impacted by the iPhone. Big name companies that sold Japan-only handsets through, including Panasonic and NEC, recently exited the sector after months of declining in sales.
It remains to be seen what effect the iPhone will ultimately have on Japan's smartphone ecosystem, which was previously dominated by domestic products, but subscriber statistics appear to show Apple's handset quickly gobbling up market share.
Some industry watchers believe Apple stands to gain some 35 million additional iPhone sales in 2014 as a result of new deals with DoCoMo and China Mobile. The latter has yet to announce a partnership with Apple, though both the iPhone 5c and 5s were granted a network license from the Chinese government earlier this week, allowing it to operate on the unique TD-LTE bands used by the world's largest cellular provider.
Apple's Japanese partner carriers on Friday announced price plans for the latest iPhones, with each provider offering the entry level version of the flagship iPhone 5s for free with a two-year contract, a move seemingly sparked by NTT DoCoMo's agreement to sell the device.
With the announcement that Japan's largest cellular provider NTT DoCoMo would start sales of Apple's iPhone for the first time, the country's three major carriers now have access to the device.
In what looks to be a price war to attract new customers, all three telecoms — DoCoMo, SoftBank and KDDI — are offering the iPhone 5s with discounts that effectively make the phone free on contract. As noted by CNET, the special pricing only applies to the 16GB version of the handset.
As with any subsidized device, limitations apply to early upgraders, though the up front fee is still less than what customers in the U.S. have to pay. Interestingly, only KDDI is offering a free version of the cheaper iPhone 5c with a new contract activation or transfer from another carrier.
In addition, DoCoMo is running a promotion to lure existing iPhone users away from rival networks. If an iPhone owner brings in their used SoftBank or KDDI handset, they will receive special bonus "points" that can be applied to a new DoCoMo account, redeemable for other products or repair services.
A report on Friday estimated that 66 percent of former DoCoMo customers left the carrier because it did not sell the iPhone. The statistic is in line with previous statements from the company, which blamed Apple's handset for ongoing net losses in subscribership.
Since the first iPhone was released in 2007, DoCoMo has been unwilling to carry the phone as Apple does not allow carriers to preinstall apps or brand the device with their logo. The telecom was still holding out as late as July, when CEO Kaoru Kato said his company was in no rush to ink a deal due to Apple's strict requirements.
On June 27th, Renesas Electronics Corp. announced that it would terminate its wireless modem chip business that it acquired from Nokia in 2010 and operated through its Renesas Mobile Corp. (RMC) subsidiary. The parent company will terminate the operations by the end of December and then liquidate the business in Finland, India and China.
What is ironic is that RMC once had the only multimode LTE/3G modem alternative to Qualcomm, and most of the test equipment houses employed both the Renesas and Qualcomm chips to qualify their LTE equipment. Moreover, Renesas’ LTE/3G modem (and RF transceiver) was shipping in USB dongles and fully qualified for both NTT DoCoMo’s and AT&T’s networks (no mean feat).
When the cash burn rate became untenable, the parent company searched months for buyers, but found no takers. It’s unclear where RMC’s worthy LTE modem IP will go, and if it’ll be available for licensing to other companies.
During the month of RMC’s founding, I met with its new President in Tokyo where I was shown an overly-ambitious business overview which stated that the company would be #1 in the cellphone chip market by 2015. I was incredulous, but refrained from commenting. I later entered into an NDA with the company, but the RMC management never told me anything that was not already public, so that was a wasted piece of paper.
President & Principal Analyst
Renesas Mobile is readying two big-little ARM Cortex processors for introduction at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain next week.
It is planning to demonstrate the MP6530 2.2 big-little quad-core communication processor with integrated GSM-through-LTE modem. Renesas also has a 4.4 big-little applications processor with four Cortex-A15 and four Cortex-A7 processor cores but no modem on-board.
The big-little architectural approach offered by ARM Ltd. to its licenses is designed to optimize energy efficiency. It does this by allowing application software to switch between cores optimized for low power and high performance for an overall energy saving in typical use where equipment spends much of its time in standby mode.
The quad-core MP6530 processor incorporates an integrated modem and is intended for use in mid- to high-end smartphones priced between $200 and $400 and which feature multiple cameras and multiple displays. Memory access is by means of a dual-channel LPDDR3-standard interface with a bandwidth of 800-Mbytes per second per channel.
The architecture will be most useful in multidisplay applications where LTE is used to download material such as a video which is then displayed on television at high-definition, typically over an HDMI cable. For graphics Renesas has selected the PowerVR SGX544 GPU core from Imagination Technologies.
The MP6530 is implemented in 28nm planar bulk CMOS and has a target performance of a maximum clock frequency for the Cortex-A15 cores of 2GHz and for the Cortex-A7 cores of 1-GHz. Renesas estimates that this is about three times the computing and graphics performance of its present MP5232.
The communications processor is also designed to support cameras of up 20-megapixels resolution and burst shoot photograph at up to 30 frames per second in addition to support for simultaneous 1080p30 video encoding and decoding.
The SP2532 delivers high speed broadband on the go, and is able to deliver sustained Cat-4 throughputs of 150Mbits download and 50Mbits upload for both smartphones and data centric devices such as mobile tablets or dongles. Using Cat-4 in a 20MHz bandwidth the SP2532 can achieve 20% more efficient power consumption than leading competitive products, requiring a meager 2mA per Mbit. This impressive performance enhances battery life for example when downloading large files such as videos, music and browsing complex webpages enabling users to stay connected for longer on a battery charge.
Designed with flexibility and choice in mind for the customer, the SP2532 is compatible, and has been pre-integrated with, all the currently available open market application processors. This enables customers to leverage their existing software and hardware assets while upgrading to LTE or to select the most appropriate processor to meet the requirements of new devices. The product also inherits the maturity of previous generations’ extensive certification and testing on worldwide networks. OEM customers not only enjoy the peace of mind associated with a proven thoroughbred modem, but also reduce product development and device certification schedules.
The SP2532 comprises a highly integrated baseband modem, an RF subsystem containing the RF integrated chip, front end module, a power amplifier and a power management sub-system. It is available to OEMs today for design-in.
The company also announced the SP2532, a new version of its standalone LTE platform. This version pushes the LTE speed to 150Mbps (Category 4) while reducing board area by about 27%. The SP2532 baseband is a "thin modem" that lacks the CPU and graphics capabilities of the MP6530 but is optimized for low-cost cellular performance.
The new products offer significant improvements over the company's first-generation devices, which have seen little market success. The MP6530 is due to sample later this quarter, so it is unlikely to appear in smartphones before 1Q14, putting it at least six months behind the initial Cortex-A15 products. The SP2532 is currently sampling, with production scheduled for 4Q13.
TOKYO, Japan, 14th February, 2013 — Renesas Mobile Corporation, a leading supplier of advanced cellular semiconductor solutions and platforms, today announced the SP2532, the third generation of its GSM/HSPA+/LTE FDD/ LTE TDD multi-mode modems. Supporting full LTE Category 4 (Cat-4) capabilities 150Mbits download and 50Mbits upload combined with the industry’s lowest LTE power consumption results in greater speed with enhanced battery life. Coupled with a very small footprint 45% smaller than the previous generation SP2531, very low power consumption and high levels of integration it offers OEMs a fast track to device deployment reducing R&D effort and risks.
“This next generation slim modem platforms, the SP2532 will allow OEMs to design compelling mobile devices which take advantage of lightening quick throughput and low latency for interactive games, rapid web browsing and video streaming and data-rich enterprise application.”, commented Heikki Tenhunen, Senior Vice President Renesas Mobile Corporation. “In addition to enabling exciting new use cases at the lowest power possible, the small chipset footprint also offers the possibility to create new form factors and supports all key operator requirements for 2013 and 20141 including VoLTE, SRVCC and OTDOA.”
The modem of the MP6530 provides full global coverage and is already certified said Strauss and there are hardware reference designs and Android support for both smartphones and tablet computers. According to earlier reports the Renesas modem is certified by AT&T and NTT Docomo.
Author: Linley Gwennap
After Nvidia and Samsung rolled out Cortex-A15 processors at CES, Renesas Mobile took a different tack, targeting midrange smartphones with its MP6530. Whereas Tegra 4 and the Exynos 5450 have four Cortex-A15 CPUs, the MP6530 has two, slimming down on cost and power. Removing the two big cores leaves room for a complete multimode LTE baseband unit, making Renesas the first company to announce a Cortex-A15 processor with integrated cellular capability. This integration reduces system-level cost and power for LTE smartphones.
The MP6530 adds two Cortex-A7 cores to the two Cortex-A15s in a Big.Little configuration. The two low-power cores handle most of the processing tasks, extending battery life. Because of Cortex-A15's high power, all A15-based processors announced so far include some sort of alternate low-power core (except the Exynos 5250, which serves in tablets but not yet in smartphones). Unlike some Big.Little designs, the Renesas chip allows all four cores to be active at the same time.
LONDON – Renesas Mobile, the mobile chip division of Renesas Electronic Corp., has developed an application processor with on-chip LTE modem that an analyst said could provide competition to market-leader Qualcomm.
The MP6530 from Renesas Mobile is a quad-core big-little processor and a FDD/TDD Class 4 LTE/DC-HSPA+/EDGE/GPRS/GSM modem on a single piece of silicon, according to Will Strauss, principal analyst at Forward Concepts (Tempe, Arizona). It is thought that this includes dual-core Cortex-A15 and dual-core Cortex-A7 processors licensed from ARM Holdings plc (Cambridge, England).
Big-little is an approach to energy efficiency developed by ARM, that enables application software to switch between cores optimized for low power and high performance for an overall energy saving in typical use where equipment spends most of its time in standby mode.
Strauss said he discussed the MP6530 chip with Renesas executives at the Consumer Electronics Show last week, although there doesn't appear to have been any official announcement of the chip.
The MP6530 appears to be aimed at smartphone applications. It has less processing power than the big-little Exynos 5 Octa from Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. – but does include the multimode modem that extends up to category 4 LTE performance, 150-Mbit per second.
Strauss said the chip also provides PowerR SGX graphics rendering, dual-channel LP-DDR memory interface, a 20-megapixel image signal processor and wireless connectivity for Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, FM radio and GPS/GNSS. Strauss added that the MP6530 modem and application processor could provide "real competition for Qualcomm's current Snapdragon S4 product line." Qualcomm is widely thought of as the market leader in application processors for smartphones.
However, at CES Qualcomm announced it is sampling its follow-on to the S4 series, the Snapdragon 800 including quad-core Krait400 processor. At the same show Nvidia announced the five-cored Tegra 4 and ST-Ericsson the quad
Currently the LTE market is dominated by Qualcomm, which captured 97 percent revenue share in Q1 2013. We believe Qualcomm’s share will no doubt prove unsustainable in the face of increasing LTE competition next year from Broadcom, Intel, Marvell, MediaTek, NVIDIA and Spreadtrum, which will all produce multi-mode LTE chips for smartphones and tablets.
Broadcom has a successful track record of acquiring and integrating assets that can jumpstart its market share. We believe Broadcom’s proven ability in acquisitions coupled with its strong wireless product portfolio and financial strength will enable Broadcom to emerge as a strong alternative to Qualcomm in the next 12-18 months.
Broadcom’s original LTE-Advanced chip BCM21892 is expected to debut in early 2014 and would only have contributed materially in 2H 2014.
Renesas Mobile’s parent company Renesas Corporation announced the shutdown of its modem activities in June 2013. Before the shutdown, Renesas Mobile scored an LTE dual-core SoC design-win with Samsung, but that win came too late for the company. Renesas Mobile’s financial struggles, lack of global customer exposure and unsuccessful venture to integrate IP from multiple companies (Renesas (Hitachi plus Mitsubishi), NEC and Nokia IP) all took a toll and contributed to its collapse. ST-Ericsson, like Renesas Mobile, also struggled with organisational integration challenges and was eventually was taken over by part owner Ericsson, which has taken charge of ST-Ericsson’s 4G LTE thin modems. Unlike Broadcom, Ericsson is only focused on thin modems.
This is Broadcom’s second major LTE-related acquisition after Beceem Communications (October 2010). Broadcom said that the LTE roadmaps of both companies will converge and the company will ramp up its acquired LTE dual-core SoC and will sample a quad-core Cortex-A7 LTE SoC in 2H 2014. We believe with these kinds of products Broadcom can address the mid-tier LTE segment. Broadcom tends to announce products close to launch and we believe the company might release more competitive LTE SoCs (perhaps A15 / A7 combination) in the future.
Renesas Mobile’s LTE SoCs feature Imagination Technologies’ GPU core IP and we expect Broadcom to replace Imagination’s GPU core IP with its own VideoCore IP in future versions. It’s rather surprising that Broadcom didn’t mention Renesas Mobile’s MP6530 quad-core LTE-Advanced SoC (28 nm-based big.LITTLE A15 / A7). Renesas Mobile planned to mass produce this chip in 2H 2013 originally. We believe this product schedule may have been pushed out in order to start off quickly with what’s on hand (Renesas Mobile’s production-ready dual-core LTE SoC).
By Kevin Bostic
Thursday, September 12, 2013 @ 12:10 PM
The iPhone's long-awaited arrival on Japan's largest carrier could signal big trouble for other smartphone manufacturers, as the carrier has announced that the iPhone 5s and 5c will likely account for 40 percent of its future smartphone contracts.
The announcement of a deal to get the iPhone onto NTT DoCoMo sent ripples through Japan's native smartphone environment. DoCoMo has previously worked with other smartphone makers to boost sales in the absence of an iPhone option, but the carrier — according to Nikkei — offered the 40 percent quota to Apple as a concession to land the bestselling smartphone.
In the years since the iPhone's introduction, DoCoMo has slowly but surely lost subscribers, as it did not carry Apple's smartphone. The carrier's rivals, though, do carry the iPhone, and they have prospered as DoCoMo has struggled. While DoCoMo added just 43,000 users in August, KDDI added 209,200, and SoftBank added 250,300.
While it remains Japan's largest wireless carrier — with roughly 60 million subscribers, about half of Japan's population — DoCoMo executives have in the past explicitly blamed the iPhone as a reason for subscriber losses. Apple and DoCoMo were until recently at an impasse, with DoCoMo insisting that it be able to preinstall carrier-specific software on Apple's phone and Apple resisting. It is unclear how the two companies came to an agreement and what, if any, concessions Apple made in the process.
The DoCoMo deal may not signal the end for the major Japanese handset manufacturers; Sony, with 20.6 percent of the Japanese market, and Sharp (13.9 percent) will likely continue on, though in a tougher position. Some other smaller players, though, are likely in trouble.
"Japanese handset manufacturers are already bound for extinction," Ichiyoshi Investment Management's chief fund manager told Yahoo News, "and this will just accelerate that process. Firms such as Fujitsu and Kyocera could go the way of NEC, which is now pulling out of handsets. Panasonic is also cutting back on smartphones.
As a result, we have had customers and I mean more than two, because every time I say customers, people go oh, it must be two. We've had customers send us and communicate with us saying, we are very excited about the acquisition. We know about this part. We were unwilling to invest in it, because we didn't believe that there was a long-term plan for this asset. Now that's in your hands, we are very excited to talk to you more about it.
Some of them more advanced than others and so where you are as you wind up being in a trade-off between taking on additional operating expenses for greater certainty. I don't think any of us like taking on additional operating expenses and quite frankly we would rather than we didn't, but bringing clarity to the plan, being able to measure the plan, having a set of financial metrics for the business and recall we said that if you just look at this deal, just look at the assets we acquire. We believe there will be $0.10 to $0.15 dilutive next year as we are ramping down operating expenses and ramping up revenue both of the dual core product and the quad core product.
We felt that if you get to the back half of the year and you have an asset that is neutral or even potentially accretive as it turns out to be so and the ramp is better and we are able to take cost out faster then we have actually established ourselves in the position, we've cleared up uncertainty, which we think is important for our investor base around whether we will actually have something we can sell on a product roadmap that is viable for multiple customers instead of just one.
The strategic consideration was as follows. We have currently a healthy product, which is under development. That's undergoing carrier certification at AT&T. We've said that. It's a thin modem. We expect it to get carrier certification at the end of the year. It's still undergoing engineering work and the trade-off was ostensibly to take an SoC, where our SoC was probably back half at least or maybe early '15, but certainly back half of next year and move it up to the beginning part of next year in exchange for sliding the thin modem out.
If you think about the thin modem, it would have had a single carrier or so, we would have rolled additional cert simultaneously and replace it with a product that actually had five carrier certification.
Number one, it hits the market more at a place where we felt the customers were willing to try a new supplier. It provides and SoC, which is cost effective, brings a meaningful product to the market, comes with certification and is ready to ramp now, so instead of waiting for the timeline to move, waiting for the timeline to hit and things moving to the right which they inevitably do and there are being sort of more uncertainty and smoke around the choice, we traded the use of about $165 million of foreign cash for more certainty around our LTE business and the ability to evaluate it the same way we evaluate the rest of the businesses in the company, so that we could be able to figure out whether we are actually going to deliver what we said we were going to deliver.
I think the other thing is that it was important to us and I think there was an opening of the market to establish truly the second player in terms of technology in LTE. There was a lot of discussion from a variety of our competitors about the fact that they would be there at the end of this year. It doesn't look like many of them will or at least they will be in cut down versions of what they originally anticipated and this sort of lead products into the front.
Eric Brandt - Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer
Consistent with what we said on the call, this is a part that's ready to certify today is production volume and inventory and there is at least one handset design which is pretty far along that you could move fairly quickly. I think in the next three months, we will see whether we have that design engagement and potential production models to move into the first half of the year. You will see whether there are model shipping in early 2014. You will see the announcement of the quad core part and the sampling of the quad core part early in the year. Then I think that the next piece will be, you will just be able to watch the revenue ramp and then eventually the ramp of the quad core part in the back half of the year.
In the case of quad core, no. The quad core is the exact same modem we removed the 2A9, we replaced them with Quai7 and they stay in the footprint of the dual A9, so there's actually no change to the footprint of the die of the chip, so it's the exact same model. There's no re-cert required. As we move to the integrated technology between our thin modem and their modem technology, there will be an additional cert requirement. Some of it shorter as you are certing the new features and interactions of those features as opposed to the older features which have already been certed.
I think LTE is very, very challenging and it's hard for everybody to do it and people who thought they will be able to do it faster did not and I continuously discover that and one of the reasons why this asset becomes attractive again is that you short circuit that with something that actually does work, but it's a challenging problem to solve.
The long wait for Apple to reach a deal with China Mobile, a carrier with more than 700 million subscribers, may finally be near an end, as the company has received the required license for its iPhone lineup from government regulators.
China's Telecom Equipment Certification Center was updated on Wednesday to reveal that Apple had been granted a "network access license" for an iPhone that would run on China Mobile's network, according to The Wall Street Journal. The devices would be compatible with China Mobile's 3G and 4G LTE networks.
Also given approval were iPhones compatible with carriers China Unicom and China Telecom, both of which are set to receive the iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c when they go on sale worldwide next Friday, Sept. 20.
China Mobile subscribers will have to wait a little longer, however. According to KGI analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, the iPhone will launch on its network before the end of the year, allowing China Mobile more time to finish rolling out its TD-LTE high-speed network.
After they were announced on Friday, the iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c were both revealed to support China Mobile's TD-LTE bands, suggesting that the carrier already has an unannounced partnership with Apple. The TD-LTE standard is a somewhat rare flavor of 4G used by China Mobile.
With more than 740 million subscribers and 138 million smartphone users, China Mobile is the largest wireless provider in the world. Rumors of an imminent deal between Apple and the carrier have remained for years, but to date the iPhone is still not officially available on China Mobile.
But Apple did announce a deal has been struck with NTT DoCoMo this week, the largest carrier in Japan with about 61 million subscribers. Both the iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c will launch on that carrier next Friday.
The addition of NTT DoCoMo and anticipated launch of iPhones on China Mobile is predicted by analyst Chris Withmore of Deutsche Bank to drive an additional 35 M units in calendar 2014.