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  1. Qualcomm’s Quick Charge 5 standard promises 50 percent charge in less than five minutes Along with 100W charging speeds on phones and full charges in under 15 minutes Qualcomm has introduced Quick Charge 5, the company’s latest fast-charging standard, and it’s bringing some big promises: more than 100W charging speeds on a smartphone, with the ability to charge a device from 0 to 50 percent in five minutes or fully charge a phone in 15 minutes. It’s been a few years since Qualcomm introduced its last major quick-charging standard, Quick Charge 4 (which also had an enhanced version, Quick Charge 4+), but the new version represents the biggest leap yet for the company — at least where sheer charging speed is concerned. Qualcomm isn’t being shy about how big of an improvement this is: the company says that Quick Charge 5 is up to 70 percent more efficient than Quick Charge 4, up to 4 times faster at charging, while still running 10 degrees Celsius cooler than the old version. As noted by Anandtech, Quick Charge 5 is actually leveraging the existing USB Power Delivery Programmable Power Supply (PD-PPS) standard (a subset of the existing USB-C PD spec), which allows for even greater control over voltage and current levels during the charging process. The advantage to that is that Quick Charge 5 is, in theory, universal — any USB PD-PPS charger should be able to charge your Quick Charge 5 device at full speed. Another key change here is the fact that Quick Charge 5 now supports 2S battery systems for two battery cells wired in series, which allows for double the charging voltage. In turn, that increases charging speeds. It’s also backwards compatible: older Quick Charge accessories and devices will still work with new Quick Charge 5-rated hardware, albeit at the fastest speed that those chargers can provide. (USB-C PD devices and iPhones, on the other hand, will still only get fast-charging benefits from the USB PD-based Quick Charge 4 and up.) That leads to the biggest advantage of all: the fact that Quick Charge 5 is part of Qualcomm’s overall parts package. Qualcomm is already one of the biggest processor and modem suppliers, and tons of companies use its power solutions for the easy compatibility with those existing products — meaning that Quick Charge 5 will likely start popping up on tons of phones when the first devices start shipping in Q3 2020. Qualcomm’s Quick Charge 5 standard promises 50 percent charge in less than five minutes
  2. The new Snapdragon 865 Plus packs Wi-Fi 6E, 10% higher clocks Qualcomm's flagship SoC gets a midcycle upgrade with the latest Wi-Fi standard. Enlarge Qualcomm 53 with 28 posters participating Qualcomm is announcing its midcycle chip upgrade today: the Snapdragon 865 Plus. Like always, these "Plus" chips are higher-clocked versions of the major designs that were released earlier in the year, but new for the 865 Plus specifically is Wi-Fi 6E compatibility. First, the speed increases: Qualcomm is promising a 10-percent faster CPU and GPU, thanks to faster clock rates. The CPU is officially up to 3.1Ghz now, and since the GPU on the Snapdragon 865 runs at 600MHz, the Plus version should be up around 660MHz. The big news, though, is the addition of Qualcomm's "FastConnect 6900" connectivity chip, which, along with peak speeds of up to 3.6 Gbps, will bring Wi-Fi 6E to smartphones. Currently, Wi-Fi works in the 2.4GHz and 5GHz frequencies, but 6E will extend Wi-Fi into the 6GHz spectrum. Theoretical top speeds won't increase, but the extra spectrum will help Wi-Fi work better in crowded areas. You can only fit so many bits into the current 2.4GHz and 5GHz airways, and if you and all your neighbors are filling the airwaves and causing a traffic jam, everyone will have to slow down. Six gigahertz Wi-Fi will add more lanes for traffic. In the United States, Wi-Fi 6E will actually support a lot more lanes of traffic. The FCC allocated 70MHz of total spectrum for 2.4GHz and 500MHz of spectrum for 5GHz Wi-Fi. The new 6GHz Wi-Fi 6E is approved for an additional 1.2GHz of spectrum, so in total, Wi-Fi 6E users will have access to three times the available spectrum that exists today. Users who upgrade to 6E will have much more spectrum, and users who don't upgrade will face less competition for the older 2.4 and 5GHz spectrum. You need a new Wi-Fi 6E access point and a Wi-Fi 6E device in order to use Wi-Fi 6E. In the US, the new standard was only ratified by the FCC in April, so there are no consumer 6E access points yet. We've got to start somewhere, though, and it looks like smartphones will make the jump first. Qualcomm's press release mentions that one of the first phones to launch with the Snapdragon 865 Plus (and presumably Wi-Fi 6E) will be the Asus ROG Phone 3, which will be unveiled July 22. The new Snapdragon 865 Plus packs Wi-Fi 6E, 10% higher clocks
  3. Qualcomm might be working on a Snapdragon 8cx+ for Windows 10 PCs It's been over 18 months now since Qualcomm announced its "extreme" Windows 10 chipset, the Snapdragon 8cx. Indeed, last year's Snapdragon Technology Summit saw the announcement of more entry-level SKUs, but no new 8cx refresh. According to WinFuture, that might be on the way, and it might not be what we're expecting. The site reported on a third-party database that showed documentation for the Snapdragon 8cx+. As is usually the case with Qualcomm's 'plus' chipsets, the 8cx+ is just an overclocked version of its predecessor, with the gold cores coming in at 3.15GHz instead of 2.84GHz. The Adreno 680 is likely bumped up as well, although the silver cores will stay at 1.8GHz. Along with the Snapdragon 8cx, 8cx 5G, 8cx Enterprise, and Microsoft SQ1, this would be the fifth variant of the Snapdragon 8cx Compute Platform. It would seem that if we want to see an actual change to the architecture like we see from the firm's smartphone chipsets every year, we'll have to wait a bit longer. Perhaps, that will arrive at this year's Snapdragon Technology Summit in December. As the report says, this information is actually from February. It's entirely possible that Qualcomm was only testing the SC8180XP, or even that it might have been canceled in favor of something better. We've reached out to Qualcomm for comment. Qualcomm might be working on a Snapdragon 8cx+ for Windows 10 PCs
  4. Qualcomm’s latest chips could make noise cancellation standard on new wireless earbuds New Bluetooth chips promise better budget earbuds Qualcomm is announcing a pair of new Bluetooth chips designed for wireless earbuds, the Qualcomm QCC514x and QCC304x SoCs. Both chipsets will support Qualcomm’s TrueWireless Mirroring technology for more reliable connections, along with integrated, dedicated hardware for Qualcomm’s hybrid active noise cancellation and onboard support for digital assistants. Qualcomm’s TrueWireless Mirroring handles connections to a phone through a single earbud, which is then mirrored (hence the name) to the other earbud, which cuts down on the amount of synchronization needed (in theory) for a more reliable connection. If you take out the primary earbud, the system is designed to transition the connection seamlessly over to the mirrored earbud, too. The system also helps make sure that a pair of headphones shows up as a single connection to a phone, instead of “two” separate headphones. The other major feature here is Qualcomm’s “hybrid ANC,” which promises integrated noise-cancellation technology — allowing for cheaper earbuds with active noise cancellation — while also enabling what the company describes as “leak-through” for outside noise, in a feature that sounds similar to transparency modes on regular noise-canceling headphones. Qualcomm also says that the new chips are more power efficient, promising better battery life (even with noise-cancellation enabled). The main difference between the more premium Qualcomm QCC514x and the entry-level Qualcomm QCC304x SoCs has to do with voice assistant integration: the QCC514x can offer always listening wake-word activation for voice assistants (similar to Apple’s AirPods or Amazon’s Echo Buds). The QCC304x, on the other hand, only offers push-button voice assistance — meaning that you’ll have to physically activate the listening mode, instead of having it hear a “Hey, Google” or “Alexa” command. But by making features like voice assistants and ANC standard for even entry-level headphones, Qualcomm could be ushering in an era where all wireless earbuds offer these kinds of features, not just ultra-premium models like Apple’s AirPods Pro or Sony’s WF1000XM3 earbuds. And that’s an exciting prospect. Source: Qualcomm’s latest chips could make noise cancellation standard on new wireless earbuds (The Verge)
  5. Reports: Google, LG, don’t want Qualcomm’s super-expensive Snapdragon 865 Smartphones are too expensive, so some are opting for cheaper chips. Enlarge / The Snapdragon 865. Qualcomm 45 with 37 posters participating Qualcomm really threw a wrench into the flagship SoC market for 2020 with the Snapdragon 865. The new chip was a big departure from previous years thanks to Qualcomm's aggressive push for 5G, which comes with design requirements that make phones bigger, hotter, and more expensive than previous years. While we've already seen Samsung and many Chinese OEMs step up with 865-powered super-flagships that are more expensive than ever, for some OEMs, it seems like the cost is just too high. A pair of recent reports indicated that both Google and LG are skipping out on the Snapdragon 865 this year, opting instead for a cheaper chip. For Google's next flagship smartphone, the Pixel 5, a few signs have popped up indicating it won't use the Snapdragon 865. Pixel phones always pop-up in the Android code repository with fishy codenames before release, and in January, XDA Developers spotted three devices codenamed "Sunfish," "Redfin," and "Bramble." A recent teardown of the Google camera app gave us definitions for each of these codenames. "Sunfish" was labeled as "photo_pixel_2020_midrange_config," aka the Pixel 4a, while Bramble and Redfin were labeled "photo_pixel_2020_config," which should be the Pixel 5 and Pixel 5 XL. As reported by XDA in January, the Pixel 5 and 5 XL don't actually use Qualcomm's flagship Snapdragon 865. In the Android code base, both are running the Snapdragon 765G, a chip that's one step down from the 865 in Qualcomm's lineup. There isn't actually a Snapdragon 865 Google phone in the Android repository. Korean site Naver reports that LG is taking a similar approach to its 2020 flagship, the LG G9 ThinQ: instead of shipping the 865, the company is also opting for the cheaper 765G. HMD did the same thing recently with the launch of the Nokia 8.3. The cost of smartphones is too damn high! There haven't been many yet, but the Snapdragon 865 flagships we've seen so far have been more expensive than ever. The Samsung Galaxy S20 starts at $1,000 for the smallest version and tops out at $1,400 for the S20 Ultra. Last year, the Galaxy S10e started at $750, the S10 was $900, and the S10+ was $1,000. Sony's Xperia 1 II costs €1,199 ($1,287) in Europe, while the Sony Xperia 1 from 2019 was only €799 ($857). There are several reasons for the higher price. First, the Snapdragon 865 has taken a step backward in terms of SoC integration from previous years. The SoC has no onboard modem—instead, it offloads the 4G and 5G connectivity to a separate chip called the X55 Modem. Qualcomm mandates that the 865 must be bundled with the X55 modem, making 5G a requirement for any Snapdragon 865 phone. The extra chip takes up more space in the phone, it costs more, and it needs a more complicated motherboard design. If OEMs want to deliver on the speed promises of 5G, they need mmWave, which requires several extra RF modules to be placed around the phone. mmWave functionality is optional, and for the relatively cheaper or smaller 5G phones, like the base model Galaxy S20, mmWave is left out. It's not just the extra Snapdragon 865 hardware that is leading to higher phone costs. The space and power requirements push OEMs toward making phones even bigger than last year, which encourages bigger screens and bigger batteries. In many cases, you can't make an apples-to-apples comparison of the price of 5G, because everything else has gotten bigger, too. So the cost of the 865 isn't just the cost of the chip package itself—it's also the bigger, more power-hungry phones. Both Google and LG are reportedly opting for the Snapdragon 765G, a chip that is one step below the Snapdragon 865. Instead of being slightly worse in every way, the Snapdragon 765G actually one-ups the 865 in one area: it's Qualcomm's first SoC with an integrated 5G modem. Instead of the two-chip design of the 865, everything on the 765G comes in a neat, single-chip package. This design lets OEMs keep the simpler one-chip SoC solutions that were common in 4G phones in 2019, and in addition to directly being cheaper, this design should also help reduce costs with a smaller footprint and less power usage. The 765G is a bit slower than the 865, but not dramatically so. The 865 is a 7nm, eight-core SoC with four A77 cores and four A55 cores. The 765G uses two older A76 cores and six A55 cores. For companies like Google, with heavy software optimization, you might not even notice. If you've been looking for a phone upgrade this year and the outrageous prices of 2020 flagships have been putting you off, cheaper phones might be on the way later this year. Source: Reports: Google, LG, don’t want Qualcomm’s super-expensive Snapdragon 865 (Ars Technica)
  6. Mandatory, but useless — Thanks, Qualcomm: Mandatory 5G means phones now ship with disabled 5G modems Pay for a 5G modem you can never use, thanks to Qualcomm's Snapdragon 865 design. First image of article image gallery. Please visit the source link to see all 7 images. It's Qualcomm's world, and we're all just living in it. Phones are starting to trickle onto the market with Qualcomm's new Snapdragon 865 SoC, and the company's unchecked monopoly power over the mobile industry is really coming to a head with this new chip. Qualcomm is forcing 5G on everyone with the Snapdragon 865, increasing the size, cost, and complexity of smartphones, even if the world's 5G networks are not ready yet. This week, we're seeing an absurd new wrinkle in the Mandatory 5G Saga: manufacturers are sticking to Qualcomm rules and shipping its 5G modems, but they are also disabling them because 5G just doesn't work in some markets. Meet the "iQoo 3." As pointed out by XDA Developers, in India, this phone ships the Snapdragon 865 in a first-ever "4G" configuration. Apparently, BBK subsidiary iQoo does all the work of paying for Qualcomm's mandatory 5G modem, integrating it into the phone design, and then the company just, uh, disables the 5G functionality completely. A phone that ships with some of its modem features disabled is not unusual. Sometimes companies turn off some 4G bands to help region lock phones to certain countries or possibly to save costs. Turning off the 5G bands on a Snapdragon 865 phone is tough to come to terms with, though, because the SoC's design and performance was compromised just to bring this 5G capability to market. Qualcomm rolled back years of SoC progress by building the Snapdragon 865 without an onboard modem, and the only way to give this SoC cellular capabilities is to pair it with an external modem chip, the Qualcomm Snapdragon X55, which adds 4G and 5G connectivity. External modems take up more space, run hotter, and use more power than an onboard modem, and to accept this compromise while also not getting 5G seems like a really bad deal. One reason for the lack of enthusiasm for 5G from iQoo is easy to understand: despite being the world's second-largest smartphone market, India does not have 5G networks. Unlike in places like the United States, where tiny pockets of 5G are slowly being built, India does not have a clear path to 5G. The Indian government set prices to auction off public spectrum for 5G, but Indian carriers say the prices are "prohibitively expensive" and aren't willing to pay the prices to buy the spectrum to begin to build the networks. Besides the conflict over the airways, the situation on the ground is not really settled, either. Most towers in India are not connected to fiber backhaul and probably can't handle the bandwidth demands of 5G. Fixing this requires even more money that the carriers say they don't have. In short, 5G ain't happening anytime soon in India. Enlarge / Enlarge / 2019's Snapdragon 855 offers 4G connectivity in a single, simple package. 2020's Snapdragon 865 has no onboard modem, and it needs an extra chip. Qualcomm / Ron Amadeo Last year, Qualcomm had a more sensible, flexible design for its first-ever 5G compatible chip, the Snapdragon 855. That chip had an integrated 4G modem—needed in every single market—and had a separate 5G modem as an optional extra. 4G connectivity would be more power-efficient than 5G on the Snapdragon 855 because the 4G modem was integrated and the 5G modem was not. This year, Qualcomm "fixed" that power discrepancy by making 4G as bad as 5G and pulled both modems off the main chip. So the iQoo 3 comes in both a 5G version—which, again, cannot possibly be used in the country—and a 4G version. The 4G version comes in two configurations: 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage for Rs 36,990 ($515) or 8GB and 256GB of storage for Rs 39,990 ($557). The highest-end SKU—12GB of RAM and 256GB of storage for Rs 44990 ($626)—gets to keep the 5G functionality for... bragging rights? International travel? If the 5G chip has to be in the phone anyway, why disable it at all? Does Qualcomm charge less if you buy a 5G chip from the company and then disable it? Does iQoo view the "5G" label on the high-end version as some kind of market segmentation, even though it is completely irrelevant in India? Assuming there is some kind of financial incentive behind disabling 5G on cheaper Snapdragon 865 phones, we will probably see this from more devices. India is the world's second-largest smartphone market (behind China) and is a major battleground for the smartphone manufacturers. If manufacturers want to build a smartphone with the best specs—and they definitely do—Qualcomm hasn't given them a way to do that without also including 5G. There is no standalone 4G-only modem to pair with the Snapdragon 865—it only works with the Snapdragon X55 5G/4G Modem. iQoo is the latest brand launched by BBK, which is a company you can be forgiven for never having heard of. But if you combined the company's various operations, BBK is the world's second or third-biggest smartphone manufacturer. BBK is basically the General Motors of the smartphone world—a company that owns a million sub-brands targeted at various market segments and countries. You won't find a phone branded "BBK" in the market, but you've probably heard of OnePlus, Oppo, Vivo, and/or Realme, which are all brands in the BBK stable. Just like with GM, it's not uncommon for the brands to share technology, parts, and designs. With iQoo going the "disable 5G route," the other BBK sub-brands might find it an appropriate strategy for some devices, too. Another BBK brand, Realme, also took the odd step of launching a 5G phone (the Realme X50 Pro) in India this week. Listing image by iQoo Thanks, Qualcomm: Mandatory 5G means phones now ship with disabled 5G modem (Ars Technica) (To view the article's image gallery, please visit the above link)
  7. Qualcomm builds a bigger, better in-screen fingerprint reader Never miss your fingerprint scanner again with this giant new sensor. First image of article image gallery. Please visit the source link to see all images. In-screen fingerprint readers were the standard form of Android biometrics on 2019 flagships, and in 2020 we'll start seeing the second-generation versions of this technology. Qualcomm is hosting its big tech show this week, and one of the first announcements is the new version of its "3D Sonic Max" ultrasonic in-screen fingerprint sensor. The second-gen sensor is absolutely huge. Qualcomm says it's 17 times larger than the previous version. In-screen fingerprint readers offer the benefit of being invisible and under the screen, and they can go on the front of the device while still allowing for an all-screen smartphone design. Being on the front lets you activate the fingerprint reader while the phone is on a desk, without picking it up. The downside is that there's not tactile guidance for where your finger should go. There's just a big, smooth pane of glass, and if you miss the fingerprint sensor, you're going to fail to unlock your phone. For in-screen fingerprint readers, bigger is better, since a wider target area means less of a chance you miss the invisible reader. Qualcomm's first in-screen fingerprint reader, available on the Samsung Galaxy S10, was basically as small as it could possibly be: 9mm x 4mm. This is much smaller than a fingertip, which is somewhere around 14mm x 14mm—you were only scanning a tiny sliver of your fingertip. Qualcomm's second-gen reader is huge: 30mm x 20mm. Qualcomm says this is big enough to scan two fingers at once, and—while I'm not sure why you would ever want to do this—"simultaneous two-finger sensing" is actually supported. You can be extra-secure at the cost of one-handed usage. Qualcomm is also promising better security for the new fingerprint reader. The company says the second-gen sensor has 1 in 1 million accuracy, compared to the 1 in 50,000 accuracy of the old version. This is good, since the old version has had a number of security concerns stemming from 3D printers and clear cases. Most smartphone biometrics are hackable, though. They provide "good enough" security for most people and deter basic thieves or spying acquaintances. The bigger size sounds like it will be a huge benefit for usability. This will be a giant, unmissable target for your finger, and it will cover a big chunk of the bottom portion of the phone. Having a fingerprint reader that is bigger than any other touch target on your phone means you will never miss the fingerprint reader again, allowing you to more quickly and consistently unlock the phone. There's no word on when this new fingerprint reader will be integrated into shipping devices, but most other things at the show are expected out sometime in 2020. Source: Qualcomm builds a bigger, better in-screen fingerprint reader (Ars Technica) (To view the article's image gallery, please visit the above link)
  8. Qualcomm’s new Snapdragon 865 flagship is here — without integrated 5G The new Snapdragon 865 and 765 will force phone makers to choose between flagship specs and integrated 5G Qualcomm has officially announced its next-generation flagship processor for phones — the Snapdragon 865 — but it’ll still need a separate 5G modem to enable 5G instead of an integrated 5G modem built right into the chipset. Traditionally, that means more expensive, power-hungry phones than an integrated solution. Announced alongside the 865 is Qualcomm’s other new processor, the Snapdragon 765, which will feature integrated 5G. However, it’ll be part of a less powerful processor than the 865, which will likely power the next wave of Android flagships in 2020. Qualcomm has been teasing that it would offer Snapdragon chips with integrated 5G modems since February. It even confirmed at IFA 2019 that it would be offering a 700-series processor with integrated 5G. But it’s still odd that Qualcomm would choose the less powerful chip to serve as its initial integrated 5G product, leaving the next-generation mobile standard as a separate (albeit mandatory) component for its top-of-the-line flagship 865 model. Instead, the Snapdragon 865 will offer 5G support in a similar manner as the current-generation 855, by requiring a separate 5G modem (in this case, the second-generation X55 model). In fact, if manufacturers want to use the new Snapdragon 865, they’ll have to support 5G — Qualcomm tells The Verge that the 865 and X55 are a package deal, there’s no modem on board the 865 at all, and you can’t just make a 4G phone with the 865 by using a different 4G modem. Taken together, it’s a somewhat mixed bag for the still early days of the 5G rollout. With the 765 offering integrated 5G right out of the box, it means that we’ll start to finally see some midrange 5G phones (not just ultra high-end ones). On the other hand, it means that phone manufacturers like Samsung will still have to factor in a separate modem to add 5G to their best phones, with the additional space and power requirements that the extra chip requires. We will still have to wait for truly integrated 5G solutions. As has become tradition for Qualcomm’s annual Snapdragon Tech Summit, the hard details on the two new processors won’t come until the keynote on December 4th, but the announcement of new Qualcomm processors is a big deal. Nearly every major Android phone uses Qualcomm’s 800-series processors, which means that whatever Qualcomm announces for the 865 will also be a preview of what to expect from 2020 phones like the Galaxy S11, OnePlus 8, Pixel 5, Galaxy Note 11, LG G9, and more. We’ll have additional details on the Snapdragon 865 and 765 tomorrow as the Snapdragon Tech Summit continues, so check back for more information soon. Correction, 6:58PM ET: Qualcomm has confirmed to The Verge that the Snapdragon 865 will be exclusive for 5G phones and will require the companion X55 modem. This article originally stated that manufacturers would be able to offer 4G-only devices using the Snapdragon 865. We regret the error. Source: Qualcomm’s new Snapdragon 865 flagship is here — without integrated 5G Source: (The Verge)
  9. LG Electronics announced today that it will collaborate with Qualcomm Technologies on the development of its infotainment 'WebOS Auto' platform for use in commercial vehicles. The system will allow for connected cars to provide a vast range of entertainment and safety features. The deal was agreed at a meeting between the two companies at an event in downtown Seoul at LG Electronics Research and Development campus on October 29th. In the deal, Qualcomm will provide its latest 5G Snapdragon networking solutions and services, with LG incorporating the upgraded WebOS 2.0 platform allowing for a more streamlined experience for drivers and passengers to enjoy. In a statement LG Electronics president and CTO Dr. I.P Park said; LG acquired the Linux WebOS platform from HP back in February 2013 and has been using it ever since for a number of connected smart devices such as LG televisions, refrigerators, and smart projectors. At the event, LG also unveiled the WebOS open source edition 2.0 on its developer site. The two companies are likely to showcase the new system at CES 2020 which takes place in January 2020. Source: LG and Qualcomm join forces for car infotainment platform (via Neowin)
  10. Google’s Android OS for smartwatches, Wear OS, isn’t nearly as successful as Android for smartphones, tablets, or televisions, and there’s a lot of blame to go around for that. We can blame Google for not having enough confidence to launch its own smartwatch hardware or for barely giving Wear OS the time of day at its big developer conference, or we can blame Qualcomm for failing to design a competitive smartwatch SoC. Smartwatches from Samsung, Huawei, and Apple, with their custom operating systems and SoCs, tend to have much better battery life than smartwatches with Wear OS and Qualcomm’s Snapdragon Wear 2100 or 3100. Qualcomm’s current wearable platforms are manufactured on a 28nm fabrication process; in comparison, Samsung’s Exynos 9110, found in the Galaxy Watch series, is manufactured on a 10nm fabrication process. Qualcomm may be bridging the gap with its next SoC for wearables, however, and it could come in the form of the Snapdragon Wear 3300. We first heard about Qualcomm’s next wearable chipset back in July when WinFuture reported on the existence of two chipsets in a prototyping stage. It was believed that one of the chipsets could be marketed as the Snapdragon Wear 2700 and the other the Snapdragon 429 Wear, but the chipsets were still very early in development and there was no indication of when they would launch. Thanks to a tip from XDA Recognized Developer arter97, we know that Qualcomm is indeed preparing a chipset based on the mid-2018 Snapdragon 429 mobile platform, and it’ll likely be called the Snapdragon Wear 3300. Over on the Code Aurora Forum, where Qualcomm uploads the Linux kernel source code for its various chipsets, a commit was uploaded that adds a device tree for a “SDW3300 device.” The device tree source (DTS) file that was uploaded is titled “sdw3300-bg-1gb-wtp.dts,” and the code indicates the new platform is based on the Snapdragon 429, code-named “Spyro.” The Qualcomm Snapdragon 429 was introduced in mid-2018 as a 12nm chip with 4 ARM Cortex-A53 CPU cores clocked at up to 1.95GHz. Qualcomm will likely pair these 4 CPU cores with a low-power co-processor, a PMIC, an integrated DSP, and other components to form the new Snapdragon Wear platform. The biggest problem with the Snapdragon Wear 3100 was that its main application processor was still the 4 ARM Cortex-A7 CPU cores fabricated on a 28nm process, so the new wearable SoC should be much more power-efficient and thus provide better battery life. Paired with 1GB of RAM, future Wear OS smartwatches will also perform better than ever. Of course, this is still just a rumor at this point. Qualcomm has yet to officially confirm any details about its next wearable SoC. We reached out to Qualcomm for comment and will update this article if we hear back. Source: Qualcomm’s upcoming Snapdragon Wear 3300 may be the Wear OS smartwatch chip we’ve been waiting for (via XDA Developers)
  11. Inside Microsoft’s new custom Surface processors with AMD and Qualcomm Surface Ryzen Edition and SQ1 processors have been co-engineered Microsoft has just announced its new Surface Laptop 3 and Surface Pro X devices, and neither will come with an Intel processor. The software giant is diversifying its silicon for Surface this year by partnering closely with AMD and Qualcomm, respectively, to create custom processors for its Surface line. The Surface Laptop 3 has a custom Ryzen Surface Edition processor on the 15-inch model, while the Surface Pro X goes the ARM-powered route with a new SQ1 processor co-engineered with Qualcomm. It’s a big change for the Surface line, even if Intel will still power the Surface Pro 7 and the smaller 13-inch Surface Laptop 3 models. On the AMD side, this Ryzen processor will be available exclusively in the 15-inch model of the Surface Laptop 3, a notebook that also has a metal finish instead of the fabric we’ve seen on previous Surface Laptop models. Microsoft has worked closely with AMD to add an additional graphics core on the 12nm Ryzen 5 and Ryzen 7 Surface parts that are built on Zen+, and to optimize the chip to fit inside the slim-and-light chassis it uses for the Surface Laptop 3. Microsoft’s Surface Laptop 3 and Surface Pro X “Several years ago we met with Pavan Davuluri and Panos Panay, and we had a shared vision with Microsoft to reinvent the laptop and essentially create the best laptop in the world,” explains Jack Huynh, general manager of AMD’s semi-custom group, in an interview with The Verge. “We literally spent tens of thousands of hours of co-development and co-engineering hand-in-hand with Microsoft not just optimizing the CPU and GPU, but also the overall system power management, pen, touch, memory bandwidth, firmware, and drivers to deliver the highest graphics laptop performance ever in a very thin and light form factor.” At times, this has meant engineers from AMD and Microsoft both working in the same buildings, all trying to get a Surface Laptop with AMD parts to live up to the Surface brand. AMD isn’t exactly a popular choice for laptop makers to pick these days, and Microsoft has worked closely with the company on a custom Ryzen variant to ensure it all goes smoothly. “This work we did with the hardware team, the software team, and the silicon team allowed us to deliver AMD’s best marketed CPU performance in this form factor,” explains Pavan Davuluri, a Microsoft Surface engineer, in an interview with The Verge. “The reason we built the Ryzen AMD part was to be able to make sure we had best in class GPU performance in that same power and performance footprint that we’ve traditionally built the Surface Laptops on.” The Ryzen Surface Edition chip is designed to run at 15 watts, and it’s capable of scaling up to between 20 and 25 watts. Microsoft and AMD have also really focused on the GPU performance for the Surface Laptop 3, and the company is even claiming it will outperform a similar MacBook Pro by 70 percent. “Ryzen parts have dedicated GPU cores, and we’ve optimized the GPU performance,” says Davuluri. While Microsoft’s other 15-inch laptop, the Surface Book 2, has discrete graphics support, the Surface Laptop 3 is using AMD’s integrated GPU cores. It means GPU performance won’t come close to matching the Surface Book 2, but it’ll be a significant step up from what we’re used to seeing with Intel’s basic integrated graphics on the Surface Laptop line. Surface Ryzen Edition and SQ1 processors It also doesn’t mean the Surface Book is going away. “Across the board, Surface Book laptops are GPU-heavy and I think in the future you’ll see us continue to do more of that,” explains Davuluri. “This is us setting the bar for what the integrated graphics performance should be, but for sure you should expect the Surface Book experience to be better.” What Microsoft’s work with AMD means in terms of raw power is around 1.2 teraflops performance at peak, which is the equivalent of an Xbox One. This power is more geared toward creator tasks, like video editing and photo processing, but it should also be able to power some recent games at lower resolutions and settings. We’ll need to test it fully to find out what it’s really capable of, with the extra cores over similar Ryzen chips, and whether Microsoft and AMD have really nailed battery life here. The promise is all-day battery life, but we’ll definitely need to see how that plays out in reality. Microsoft’s second significant silicon partnership is with Qualcomm. We’ve seen Microsoft dip its toe into ARM-powered Surface devices before with the Surface RT and Surface 2, but those products never really had the performance or app compatibility to match the Pro line of Intel-powered Surfaces. Microsoft is using a custom variant of Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 8cx in its Surface Pro X, and it’s boldly using the Surface Pro moniker on this particular device. “At the time when we conceived the Surface Pro X, several years ago, there was no available silicon that could give us the performance we wanted with the power we wanted and the form factor we wanted,” explains Davuluri. Intel has struggled to get its chips into form factors that can compete with devices like the iPad Pro, and Microsoft has now looked elsewhere to bring a true next-generation Surface Pro to life. Surface Pro X processor Microsoft has built a custom 7nm SQ1 processor with Qualcomm, and it’s focused on improving both the CPU and GPU power over a regular Snapdragon 8cx. “Microsoft SQ1 brings the best CPU performance for Windows on Snapdragon devices,” reveals Davuluri. “It’s an octa-core processor, and it has the first and fastest ever Kryo CPU at 3GHz. These Kryo cores are also for Windows to balance the cores between high performance cores and energy efficient cores, and of course these energy efficient cores are great for background tasks which in turn contributes to fundamentally redesigning the platform for great battery life.” The GPU performance itself is 2.1 teraflops, which is surprisingly good for this type of thin-and-light device. However, Windows on ARM devices aren’t the types of hardware you’ll be doing much gaming on, particularly as OpenGL games aren’t even supported, and you might find yourself running a lot of traditional apps that are emulated in this ARM world. The GPU power is really there for emerging web experiences, future workloads, and even being able to power multiple 4K displays over a single USB-C cable. Perhaps we’ll eventually see native ARM versions of Adobe’s popular apps that can really take advantage of the GPU. “As the world switches from traditional apps to a lot of scripted applications and web engines, we’re finding workloads for web render can be a significant consumption of GPU capability,” explains Davuluri. “It’s to really think of Surface Pro X as a device that enables future workloads… for apps and services that haven’t been conceived today.” Some of those workloads will include artificial intelligence or machine learning tasks, and it’s something we’ll be hearing more about with Windows on ARM in the future. In terms of real-world performance, this could finally be a turning point for Qualcomm with Windows. App compatibility will still be shaky with apps that integrate into the Windows shell-like Dropbox, but Chromium is now being compiled natively for ARM and Microsoft is working on its own Edge browser that will be powered by Chromium. That’s a big change from the browser experience we’ve had before on Windows on ARM devices. Surface Pro X “We built this compute platform together and we’ve worked with Microsoft to create this custom experience and solution for the Surface Pro X,” says Miguel Nunes, head of mobile compute products at Qualcomm, in an interview with The Verge. While Microsoft and Qualcomm have worked closely on the SQ1, the specific graphics capabilities will be exclusive to Microsoft and the SQ1 won’t be available to OEMs. “We’re working on enabling a lot of these capabilities for the industry, but the work specific on SQ1 is for the Surface Pro X,” reveals Nunes. Microsoft and Qualcomm are both promising “PC-class performance” for the Surface Pro X, and if it delivers something close to what we see with the regular Surface Pro then it could be a viable option for many. “For us to be able to do this, we’ve had to redesign the entire SoC and even the tools you associate with the SoC itself with Qualcomm,” reveals Davuluri. “We’ve redesigned the entire platform to perform at 7 watts, with scalable bust performance up to 15 watts.” Especially with built-in LTE connectivity and all-day battery life, with a 13-inch display in a 12-inch chassis. The risk here for Microsoft is using the “Surface Pro” moniker and not having the performance and apps to back it up, and that’s something that it will have to lean on software developers to really improve. While previous Windows on ARM efforts have fallen a little flat, Microsoft’s backing with its own Surface hardware is a significant boost to Qualcomm’s plans for always-connected laptops. We’ve been waiting on a truly interesting Windows on ARM device, and the Surface Pro X looks like it could kick off a new era of ARM-powered Windows laptops. Source: Inside Microsoft’s new custom Surface processors with AMD and Qualcomm (The Verge)
  12. steven36

    The Heat Death of 5G

    Spend any time in wireless, or Technology in general, and the subject of 5G is almost certain to come up. We have written about it here (and here). The world is full of talk about fast 5G networks and all the incredible new things that 5G will unleash. A whole new Internet, they say. Here at D2D, we like to think of ourselves as practical, nuts-and-bolts-and-antenna people. So for us, a lot of this 5G discussion strikes us a bit breathless. Yes, 5G is coming and data rates will improve, but we, the mobile industry, still have a lot of work to do. We could regale you with litanies of woe about roaming and hand-offs, or belabor the small cell backhaul density logjam. But perhaps the best example of roadblocks to 5G is much easier to grasp – Heat. 5G phones get hot. Really hot. Probably not hot enough to ignite your battery (probably), but enough to generate a definite burning sensation in your pants pockets. At Mobile World Congress in February, we spoke with an engineer from Sony who was demo’ing a phone (behind glass) that was clocking 1 Gbps speeds. Wow, fast. We asked the engineer why it was not going faster and he said “It overheats.” A good solid answer, from a nuts-and-bolts-and-antenna person. We will wager any amount that at next year’s show, no one on the floor will be as open about this problem. The big improvement in data rates for 5G will only come with mmWave radios. This is a whole new spectrum band that allows for really high data rates (again, let’s set aside the whole densification issue for now). The trouble is that mmWave radios generate a lot of heat. To greatly oversimplify, mmWave frequencies are pretty close to microwave frequencies, as in the thing we use to reheat our lunches. From some of our very recent industry conversations we know that the handset industry is using a tried-and-tested method for dealing with this problem – ignoring it and hoping it goes away. The whole issue strikes us as one of those issues where middle management really does not want to raise the subject with senior management who have wrapped themselves so tightly around the 5G flagpole. “Uh boss, your pants are literally on fire.” There are other factors at play as well. We will spare you our Deep State conspiracy theories on this (Buy us a beer in Barcelona…), but there is a pretty clear disconnect in the supply chain on this topic right now. Of course there are some solutions, but none of them are complete and they all have serious drawbacks. It turns out that the way we cool electronics has not advanced in 40 years. There are really two methods used currently to cool Things down- Fans and Dissipation. Fans are what you think they are. Anyone who has ever opened up their desktop PC or overclocked their laptop knows what these look like. But fans have two problems: they are big and they have moving parts. Both of those require design decisions that go counter to every mobile design trend in the past 15 years. Dissipation is just the idea of moving the heat around to hasten air cooling. In a PC, this is typified by those funny looking prong-things that sit on top of CPUs. Those things are too tall to fit inside a 10mm thick phone. So for mobiles, OEMs are looking at using ‘straws’, or copper pipes that span the length of the phone. These take up a lot of space and inserting a large conductive element (copper!) inside a phone wreaks havoc on mobile radios, (i.e. hurting data rates). Before we can revel in the Fullness That Is 5G, the industry needs to find a solution to this problem. And that will likely mean a whole new approach to the problem. Source
  13. (Reuters) - Qualcomm Inc won a partial stay against the enforcement of a sweeping antitrust ruling in a lawsuit brought by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC), according to a court filing on Friday. The company on May 21 lost in an antitrust lawsuit and has been fighting to have the ruling put on hold while it pursued an appeal. The San Diego-based company argued that letting the ruling stand could upend its talks with phone makers over chips for 5G, the next generation of wireless data networks. In the ruling issued on Friday, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals put on hold the provisions of the earlier ruling that required Qualcomm to grant patent licenses to rival chip suppliers and end its practice of requiring its chip customers to sign a patent license before purchasing chips. The earlier ruling would have required Qualcomm to renegotiate all of its existing chip and patent deals, as well as make new deals conform to the requirements. The stay granted Friday puts on hold the effect of parts of the ruling while the appeals process, which could take a year or more, plays out. The Qualcomm antitrust case was unique in that different parts of the U.S. government weighed in with differing views. The Department of Justice - the other primary antitrust regulator in the United States - said during the initial trial that it disagreed with the FTC’s legal theory. And after the trial judge handed down a decision, the Pentagon and the Department of Energy both made filings saying that enforcing the decision would harm national security. “The government itself is divided about the propriety of the judgment and its impact on the public interest,” the appeals court wrote in its ruling. Shares rose briefly after the news but then dropped 3.7% to $74.29 in afternoon trading on the Nasdaq. Shares have been volatile this year, rising from the mid-$50 range to above $85 after Qualcomm settled a major lawsuit with Apple Inc, but then dropping to the mid-$60 range after its loss of the case brought by the FTC. The company has not formally filed its appeal in the FTC lawsuit. After Qualcomm files its arguments, the appeal will take place in January. In a statement, Qualcomm general counsel Don Rosenberg said the company believes “the district court decision will be overturned once the merits of our appeal have been considered.” Source
  14. A long-running European antitrust investigation into whether Qualcomm used predatory pricing when selling UMTS baseband chips about a decade ago has landed the chipmaker with a fine of €242 million (~$271M) — aka, 1.27% of its global revenue for 2018. The EU regulator concluded Qualcomm used abusive pricing to force its main rival at the time, UK-based company Icera, out of the market — by selling certain quantities of three of its UMTS chipsets below cost to two strategically important customers: Chinese tech companies Huawei and ZTE. Commenting on the decision in a statement, competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager, said: “Baseband chipsets are key components so mobile devices can connect to the Internet. Qualcomm sold these products at a price below cost to key customers with the intention of eliminating a competitor. Qualcomm’s strategic behaviour prevented competition and innovation in this market, and limited the choice available to consumers in a sector with a huge demand and potential for innovative technologies. Since this is illegal under EU antitrust rules, we have today fined Qualcomm €242M.“ Qualcomm has come out fighting in response — dismissing what it dubs as the Commission’s “novel theory” and saying it plans to appeal. It also says it will provide a financial guarantee in lieu of paying the fine while this appeal is pending. The case — which was triggered by a complaint filed by Icera — dates back to 2015, and relates to Qualcomm business practices between 2009 and 2011. The baseband chipsets in question were used over the period for connecting smartphones and tablets to cellular networks, including 3G networks, and for both for voice and data transmission. The Commission says Icera had been offering advanced data rate performance vs Qualcomm’s chipsets, thereby posing a threat to the latter’s business. The EU regulator found Qualcomm held a dominant position in the global market for UMTS baseband chipset between 2009 and 2011 — when it had a marketshare of around 60% (almost 3x that of its biggest competitor), as well as on the high barriers to entry to the market — such as significant initial investments in R&D for designing such chipsets and IP barriers given the volume of related patents Qualcomm holds. European competition rules mean those holding a dominant position in a market have a special responsibility not to abuse their powerful position by restricting competition. The Commission says its conclusion that Qualcomm engaged in predatory pricing during the probe period is based on a price-cost test for the three Qualcomm chipsets concerned; and “a broad range of qualitative evidence demonstrating the anti-competitive rationale behind Qualcomm’s conduct, intended to prevent Icera from expanding and building market presence”. “The results of the price-cost test are consistent with the contemporaneous evidence gathered by the Commission in this case,” it writes. “The targeted nature of the price concessions made by Qualcomm allowed it to maximise the negative impact on Icera’s business, while minimising the effect on Qualcomm’s own overall revenues from the sale of UMTS chipsets. There was also no evidence that Qualcomm’s conduct created any efficiencies that would justify its practice. “On this basis, the Commission concluded that Qualcomm’s conduct had a significant detrimental impact on competition. It prevented Icera from competing in the market, stifled innovation and ultimately reduced choice for consumers.” In May 2011 Icera was acquired for $367M by US tech company Nvidia — which the Commission notes then decided to wind down the baseband chipset business line in 2015. In its press release responding to the decision, Qualcomm’s Don Rosenberg, executive vice president and general counsel, comes out throwing punches — claiming the Commission’s theory is without precedent and “inconsistent”. “The Commission spent years investigating sales to two customers, each of whom said that they favored Qualcomm chips not because of price but because rival chipsets were technologically inferior. This decision is unsupported by the law, economic principles or market facts, and we look forward to a reversal on appeal,” he writes. “The Commission’s decision is based on a novel theory of alleged below-cost pricing over a very short time period and for a very small volume of chips. There is no precedent for this theory, which is inconsistent with well-developed economic analysis of cost recovery, as well as Commission practice. “Contrary to the Commission’s findings, Qualcomm’s alleged conduct did not cause anticompetitive harm to Icera, the company that filed the complaint. Icera was later acquired by Nvidia for hundreds of millions of dollars and continued to compete in the relevant market for several years after the end of the alleged conduct. We cooperated with Commission officials every step of the way throughout the protracted investigation, confident that the Commission would recognize that there were no facts supporting a finding of anti-competitive conduct. On appeal we will expose the meritless nature of this decision.” The size of the fine being issued to Qualcomm — which is dwarfed by the $1.23BN fine also handed out to the company by EU regulators a year ago (for iPhone LTE chipset related market abuse) — has been calculated on the basis of the value of its direct and indirect sales of UMTS chipsets in the European Economic Area, with the Commission also factoring in the duration of the infringement it found to have taken place. In addition to being fined, the Commission decision orders Qualcomm not to engage in the same or equivalent practices in the future. Source
  15. If there’s one constant in the world of Android phones, it’s that the top phones all use Qualcomm’s best Snapdragon processor. This year, that’s the Snapdragon 855, a powerful system-on-chip that we’ve already seen in the Galaxy S10, One Plus 7 Pro, LG G8 ThinQ, and a few others. Naturally, we assumed that the premium handsets coming in the second half of the year, namely the Galaxy Note 10 and Pixel 4, would use the same processor. But that might not be the case. Qualcomm has announced a mid-year refresh to the Snapdragon 855 that it’s calling the 855 Plus. Because, you know, everything that’s better has a plus in its name these days. The new processor is built on the same architecture as the 855, with a few tweaks for “enhanced performance and deliver leading experiences in multi-gigabit 5G, gaming, AI and XR.” That breaks down to two main improvements over the 855: Snapdragon 855 Kryo 485 CPU Prime core clock speed at up to 2.84GHz Adreno 640 GPU at 585MHz Snapdragon 855 Plus Kryo 485 CPU Prime core clock speed at up to 2.96GHz Adreno 640 GPU at 672MHz As far as speed boosts, Qualcomm claims the Adreno GPU is 15 percent more powerful in the 855 Plus, which should make high-end gamers very happy. Additionally, the 855 Plus has a new “Elite Gaming Experience” that includes the Vulkan 1.1 Graphics Driver that is 20 percent more power efficient than Open GL ES. It also brings the 4th-gen AI Engine and the same 5G X50 modem as the 855, rather than the fully integrated 4G/5G x55 modem. We don’t usually see mid-year refreshes of Qualcomm’s top-of-the-line processor, but it’s not unheard of. When the original Pixel phone launched, it had the Snapdragon 821 inside, which delivered faster LTE upload speeds along with a 10-percent speed and 5-percent GPU boost over the 820, which powered other premium Android phones that year. The 855 Plus sounds like a bigger, though still modest, upgrade to the existing processor, so we’re looking forwards to getting our first look at at, presumably when the Galaxy Note 10 lands in August,. Source
  16. How Qualcomm shook down the cell phone industry for almost 20 years We did a deep-dive into the 233-page ruling declaring Qualcomm a monopolist. Enlarge Getty / Aurich Lawson In 2005, Apple contacted Qualcomm as a potential supplier for modem chips in the first iPhone. Qualcomm's response was unusual: a letter demanding that Apple sign a patent licensing agreement before Qualcomm would even consider supplying chips. "I'd spent 20 years in the industry, I had never seen a letter like this," said Tony Blevins, Apple's vice president of procurement. Most suppliers are eager to talk to new customers—especially customers as big and prestigious as Apple. But Qualcomm wasn't like other suppliers; it enjoyed a dominant position in the market for cellular chips. That gave Qualcomm a lot of leverage, and the company wasn't afraid to use it. Blevins' comments came when he testified earlier this year in the Federal Trade Commission's blockbuster antitrust case against Qualcomm. The FTC filed this lawsuit in 2017 partly at the urging of Apple, which had chafed under Qualcomm's wireless chip dominance for a decade. Last week, a California federal judge provided the FTC and Apple with sweet vindication. In a scathing 233-page opinion [PDF], Judge Lucy Koh ruled that Qualcomm's aggressive licensing tactics had violated American antitrust law. I read every word of Judge Koh's book-length opinion, which portrays Qualcomm as a ruthless monopolist. The legal document outlines a nearly 20-year history of overcharging smartphone makers for cellular chips. Qualcomm structured its contracts with smartphone makers in ways that made it almost impossible for other chipmakers to challenge Qualcomm's dominance. Customers who didn't go along with Qualcomm's one-sided terms were threatened with an abrupt and crippling loss of access to modem chips. "Qualcomm has monopoly power over certain cell phone chips, and they use that monopoly power to charge people too much money," says Charles Duan, a patent expert at the free-market R Street Institute. "Instead of just charging more for the chips themselves, they required people to buy a patent license and overcharged for the patent license." Now, all of that dominance might be coming to an end. In her ruling, Koh ordered Qualcomm to stop threatening customers with chip cutoffs. Qualcomm must now re-negotiate all of its agreements with customers and license its patents to competitors on reasonable terms. And if Koh's ruling survives the appeals process, it could produce a truly competitive market for wireless chips for the first time in this century. Qualcomm’s perfect profit machine Enlarge JeanbaptisteM Different cellular networks operate on different wireless networking standards, and these standards change every few years. For much of the last 20 years, Qualcomm has enjoyed a lead—and in some cases a stranglehold—on chips that support major cellular standards. So if a smartphone company aspired to sell its wares around the world, it had little choice but to do business with Qualcomm. For example, in the early 2010s Qualcomm enjoyed a big lead on chips for the CDMA standards favored by Verizon and Sprint in the US and some other carriers overseas. Qualcomm Chief Technology Officer James Thompson bluntly explained in an internal 2014 email to CEO Steve Mollenkopf how this gave the company leverage over Apple. "We are the only supplier today that can give them a global launch," Thompson wrote, according to court documents. "In fact, without us they would lose big parts of North America, Japan and China. That would really hurt them." It wasn't just Apple. BlackBerry was in a similar predicament around 2010. In a deposition, BlackBerry executive John Grubbs stated that without access to Qualcomm's chips, "30 percent of our device sales would have gone away overnight if we couldn't have supplied CDMA devices." Over the last two decades, Qualcomm has had deals in place with most of the leading cell phone makers, including LG, Sony, Samsung, Huawei, Motorola, Lenovo, ZTE, and Nokia. These deals gave Qualcomm enormous leverage over these companies—leverage that allowed Qualcomm to extract patent royalty rates that were far higher than those earned by other companies with similar patent portfolios. Qualcomm's patent licensing fees were calculated based on the value of the entire phone, not just the value of chips that embodied Qualcomm's patented technology. This effectively meant that Qualcomm got a cut of every component of a smartphone—most of which had nothing to do with Qualcomm's cellular patents. "Qualcomm charges us more than everybody else put together," Apple executive Jeff Williams said. "We've never seen such a significant licensing fee tied to any other IP we license," said Motorola's Todd Madderom. Internal Qualcomm documents supported these claims. One showed that Qualcomm's patent licensing operation brought in $7.7 billion in 2016—more than the combined patent licensing revenue of 12 other companies with significant patent portfolios. No license, no chips Enlarge Qualcomm These high royalties reflected an unusual negotiating tactic called "no license, no chips." No one could buy Qualcomm's cellular chips unless they first signed a license to Qualcomm's patent portfolio. And the terms of these patent deals were heavily tilted in Qualcomm's favor. Once a phone maker had signed its first deal with Qualcomm, Qualcomm gained even more leverage. Qualcomm had the right to unilaterally terminate a smartphone maker's chip supply once the patent licensing deal expired. "If we are unable to source the modem, we are unable to ship the handset," said Motorola executive Todd Madderom in a deposition. "It takes many months of engineering work to design a replacement solution, if there is even a viable one on the market that supports the need." That made Qualcomm's customers extremely vulnerable as they neared the expiration of a patent licensing deal. If a customer tried to negotiate more favorable terms—to say nothing of formally challenging Qualcomm's patent claims in court—Qualcomm could abruptly cut off the company's chip supply. "We explained that we were contemplating terminating the license," Lenovo executive Ira Blumberg testified during the trial. A senior Qualcomm executive "was very calm about it, and said we should feel free to do that, but if we did, we would no longer be able to purchase Qualcomm chips." "You're looking at months and months, if not a year or more, without supply," Blumberg said in a deposition. That "would be, if not fatal, then nearly fatal to almost any company in this business." Judge Koh found that Qualcomm used this tactic over and over again over the last 20 years: Qualcomm threatened to cut off Samsung's chip supply in 2001, LG's chip supply in 2004, Sony and ZTE's chip supplies in 2012, Huawei and Lenovo's chip supplies in 2013, and Motorola's chip supply in 2015. Qualcomm’s chip deals boxed out competitors Enlarge Getty Images | Boonrit Panyaphinitnugoon An obvious question is how Qualcomm maintained its stranglehold over the supply of modem chips. Partly, Qualcomm employed talented engineers and spent billions of dollars keeping its chips on the cutting edge. Qualcomm also bolstered its dominant position by selling systems on a chip that included a CPU and other functions as well as modem functionality. This yielded significant cost and power savings, and it was hard for smaller chipmakers to compete with. But besides these technical reasons, Qualcomm also structured its agreements with customers to make it difficult for other companies to break into the cellular modem chip business. Qualcomm's first weapon against competitors: patent licensing terms requiring customers to pay a royalty on every phone sold—not just phones that contained Qualcomm's wireless chips. This gave Qualcomm an inherent advantage in competition with other chipmakers. If another chipmaker tried to undercut Qualcomm's chips on price, Qualcomm could easily afford to cut the price of its own chips, knowing that the customer would still be paying Qualcomm a hefty patent licensing fee on every phone. Judge Koh draws a direct parallel to licensing behavior that got Microsoft in legal trouble in the 1990s. Microsoft would offer PC makers a discount if they agreed to pay Microsoft a licensing fee for every PC sold—whether or not the PC shipped with a copy of MS-DOS. This effectively meant that a PC maker had to pay twice if it shipped a PC running a non-Microsoft operating system. In 1999, a federal judge ruled that a reasonable jury could conclude this arrangement violated antitrust law by making it difficult for Microsoft's competitors to break into the market. And some of Qualcomm's licensing deals included terms that explicitly discouraged companies from using non-Qualcomm wireless chips. Qualcomm would offer cell phone makers rebates on every Qualcomm chip they sold. But cell phone makers would only get those rebates if they used Qualcomm chips for at least 85 percent—or in some cases even 100 percent—of the phones they sold. For example, Apple signed a deal with Qualcomm in 2013 that effectively guaranteed that Apple would exclusively use Qualcomm's wireless chips. Under the deal, Qualcomm paid Apple hundreds of millions of dollars in rebates and marketing incentives between 2013 and 2016. However, Qualcomm would stop making those payments if Apple started selling an iPhone or iPad with a non-Qualcomm cellular chip. Apple was even required to pay back some of those funds if it used non-Qualcomm cellular chips before February 2016. One internal Qualcomm email calculated that Apple would owe $645 million if it launched an iPhone with a non-Qualcomm cellular chip in 2015. Qualcomm made similar deals with other major cell phone makers. In 2003, Qualcomm signed a 10-year deal granting Huawei a reduced royalty rate of 2.65 percent if Huawei purchased 100 percent of its CDMA chips for the Chinese market from Qualcomm. If Huawei bought non-Qualcomm CDMA chips, the royalty rate jumped to five percent or more. A 2004 deal gave LG rebates if LG purchased at least 85 percent of its CDMA chips from Qualcomm. The deal also required LG to pay a higher patent royalty rate when it sold phones with non-Qualcomm cellular chips. A 2018 deal makes incentive payments to Samsung if the company buys 100 percent of its "premium" cellular chips from Qualcomm—as well as lower thresholds (the exact percentages are redacted) for lower-tier chips. “It is unlikely there will be enough standalone modem volume” Enlarge Ken Hawkins These exclusive or near-exclusive terms were important because huge scale is required to profitably enter the cellular modem business. It costs hundreds of millions of dollars to design a competitive cellular chip from scratch. And designs are only useful for a few years before they become obsolete. This means that it only makes sense for a company to enter this business if it already has some major customers lined up—customers willing and able to order millions of chips in the first year. And there are only a few customers capable of placing those kinds of orders. Qualcomm's executives clearly understood this. In a 2010 internal email, Qualcomm's Steve Mollenkopf wrote that "there are significant strategic benefits" to signing an exclusive deal with Apple because "it is unlikely that there will be enough standalone modem volume to sustain a viable competitor without that slot." This was more than a theoretical issue. Apple hated being dependent on Qualcomm and was looking to cultivate a second source for modem chips. The strongest candidate was Intel—which didn't have a significant modem chip business but was interested in building one. By 2012, Apple was already planning to have Intel design a cellular chip for the 2014 iPad. Apple's 2013 deal with Qualcomm forced the company to put that plan—and its larger relationship with Intel's cellular team—on the back burner. Apple's Blevins testified that "we cut off the work we were doing with Intel on an iPad" after it was signed. And without Apple as an anchor customer, Intel had to put its own modem chip work on the back burner as well. Intel and Apple resumed their collaboration ahead of the 2016 expiration of Apple's deal with Qualcomm. That year Apple introduced the iPhone 7. Some units shipped with Qualcomm modems while others used new Intel modems. Apple's commitment to buy millions of Intel wireless chips allowed Intel to pour resources into its development efforts. After securing its deal with Apple, Intel acquired VIA Telecom, one of the few companies struggling to compete with Qualcomm in the CDMA chip market. Intel needed CDMA chips to make its wireless offerings competitive worldwide and lacked the capacity to develop them internally on the schedule Apple demanded. Acquiring VIA helped Intel accelerate its CDMA work. But Intel's own projections showed that the VIA acquisition would not have been financially viable without the volume of business Apple promised to Intel. The relationship with Apple helped Intel in other ways, too. The knowledge that the next iPhone would sport Intel cellular chips motivated network operators to help Intel test its chips on their networks. Intel also found that its status as an Apple supplier gave it more clout in standard-setting organizations. The empire strikes back Enlarge / A 5G Intel logo is seen during the Mobile World Congress on February 26, 2019 in Barcelona. Miquel Benitez/Getty Images Apple's deal with Intel posed a serious threat to Qualcomm's dominance of the cellular chip business. Once Intel developed the full range of cellular chips Apple needed for the iPhone, Intel could turn around and offer the same chips to other smartphone makers. That would improve every smartphone maker's leverage when it came time for them to renew their patent licenses with Qualcomm. So, Qualcomm went to war with Apple and Intel. Freed of Qualcomm's chip supply threat, Apple began to challenge Qualcomm's high patent royalty rates. Qualcomm responded by cutting Apple off from access to Qualcomm's chips for new iPhone models, forcing Apple to rely entirely on Intel for the cellular chips in its 2018 models. Qualcomm sued Apple for patent infringement in courts around the world, while Apple pressed the Federal Trade Commission to investigate Qualcomm's business practices. The dispute put both Apple and Intel in a precarious position. Qualcomm was trying to use its patent arsenal to get iPhone sales banned in jurisdictions around the world. If Qualcomm scored a win in a major market, it could force Apple to come to the table. Then Qualcomm might force Apple to buy fewer Intel chips, endangering Intel's wireless chip business—especially since other potential customers would be wary of leaping in front of Qualcomm's patent buzzsaw. At the same time, Apple was relying on Intel to keep its phones on the cutting edge of wireless technology. Intel successfully developed modem chips suitable for the 2017 and 2018 iPhone models, but the wireless industry is due to make a transition to 5G wireless technology over the next couple of years. The iPhone is a premium product that needs to support the latest wireless standards. If Intel failed to develop 5G chips quickly enough for use in the 2020 iPhone model, it could put Apple in an untenable position. It appears that this latter scenario is what ultimately happened. Last month, Apple announced a wide-ranging settlement with Qualcomm that required Apple to pay for a six-year license to Qualcomm's patents. Hours later, Intel announced that it was canceling work on 5G modem chips. While we don't know all the behind-the-scenes details, it appears that earlier this year Apple started to doubt Intel's ability to deliver 5G modem chips quickly enough to meet Apple's needs. That made Apple's confrontational posture toward Qualcomm unviable, and Apple decided to cut a deal while it still had some leverage. Apple's decision to make peace with Qualcomm instantly cut the legs out from Intel's modem chip efforts. Qualcomm has long refused to license its patents to competitors The story of Qualcomm's battle with Apple and Intel illustrates how Qualcomm has used its patent portfolio to buttress its chip monopoly. Chipmakers are ordinarily expected to acquire patents related to their chips and indemnify their customers for patent problems. But Qualcomm refused to license its patents to competitors, putting them in a difficult position. "The prevailing message from all of the customers I engaged with was that they expected us to have a license agreement with Qualcomm before they would consider purchasing 3G chipsets from MediaTek," said Finbarr Moynihan, an executive at chipmaker MediaTek. If a chipmaker asked to license Qualcomm's patents, Qualcomm would only offer a promise not to sue the chipmaker itself—not the chipmaker's customers. Qualcomm also demanded that chipmakers—its own competitors—only sell chips to a Qualcomm-supplied list of "Authorized Purchasers" who had already licensed Qualcomm's patents. Needless to say this put Qualcomm's competitors—and would-be competitors—at a disadvantage. Qualcomm's patent licensing regime not only allowed it to impose a de facto tax on its competitors' sales, it effectively let Qualcomm choose its competitors' customers. Indeed, Qualcomm demanded that other chipmakers provide it with data on how many chips it had sold to each of its customers—sensitive commercial data that would allow Qualcomm to figure out exactly how much pressure it needed to apply to prevent a rival from gaining traction. An internal Qualcomm presentation prepared within days of a 2009 deal with MediaTek ("MTK" in this slide) provides a comically candid visualization of Qualcomm's anticompetitive approach: Enlarge "WCDMA SULA" refers to a Qualcomm patent license. Qualcomm believed that limiting MediaTek to Qualcomm-licensed companies would prevent MediaTek from getting more than 50 customers for its forthcoming 3G chips. Meanwhile, Qualcomm aimed to deprive MediaTek of cash it could invest in the chips. A few smaller chipmakers like MediaTek and VIA agreed to Qualcomm's one-sided terms. Even more significant, a number of more formidable companies were deterred from entering the market—or encouraged to exit—by Qualcomm's tactics. Qualcomm twice refused to grant patent licenses to Intel—in 2004 and 2009—delaying Intel's entry into the wireless modem business. A joint chip venture between Samsung and NTT DoCoMo called Project Dragonfly was rebuffed by Qualcomm in 2011; Samsung wound up making some modem chips for its own use but not offering them to others. Qualcomm refused LG a patent license for a potential modem chip in 2015. Qualcomm refused patent licenses to Texas Instruments and Broadcom ahead of their departures from the modem business in 2012 and 2014, respectively. Fair, reasonable, and non-discriminatory Enlarge Brent Lewin/Bloomberg via Getty Images When a standards group is developing a new wireless standard, it assembles a list of patents that are essential to implement the standard—these are known as standards essential patents. It then asks patent holders to promise to license those patents on fair, reasonable, and non-discriminatory (FRAND) terms. Patent holders usually agree to these terms because incorporating a patent into a standard enhances its value. But Qualcomm doesn't seem to be honoring its FRAND commitments. FRAND patents are supposed to be available on the same terms to anyone who wants to license them—either customers or competitors. But Qualcomm refuses to license its standards-essential patents to other chipmakers. And when handset manufacturers tried to license Qualcomm's standard-essential patents, Qualcomm usually bundled them together with its larger patent portfolio, which included patents that were not subject to FRAND commitments and in many cases had nothing to do with modem chips. As a result, handset makers effectively had to pay inflated prices for Qualcomm's standards-essential patents. But no one was in a good position to challenge Qualcomm's creative interpretation of FRAND requirements. Qualcomm didn't directly sue other chipmakers, so there was no easy way for them to challenge Qualcomm's policies. Meanwhile, Qualcomm's chip supply threats deterred customers from challenging Qualcomm's licensing practices. Judge Koh ruled that Qualcomm's failure to honor its FRAND commitments was a violation of antitrust law. Qualcomm had an obligation to license its patents to anyone who wanted to, she ruled, and Qualcomm had an obligation to do so at reasonable rates—rates far lower than those Qualcomm has been charging in recent years. No more “no license, no chips” Enlarge / Judge Lucy Koh. Pelicanbrieflaw Judge Koh orders several changes that are designed to stop Qualcomm's anticompetitive conduct and restore some competitive balance to the marketplace. The most important change is to decouple Qualcomm's patent licensing efforts from its chip business. Koh ordered Qualcomm not to "condition the supply of modem chips on a customer's patent license status." Qualcomm must renegotiate all of its patent licenses without threatening anyone's supply of modem chips. Koh also ordered Qualcomm to license its standards-essential patents to other chipmakers on FRAND terms, submitting to arbitration, if necessary, to determine fair royalty rates. These licenses must be "exhaustive"—meaning that Qualcomm is precluded from suing a chipmaker's customers for violating patents licensed by the chipmaker. Third, Koh bans Qualcomm from entering into exclusivity deals with customers. That means no more rebates if a customer buys 85 or 100 percent of its chips from Qualcomm. Patent expert Charles Duan argues that Koh's ruling "deals with the largest problems that people have observed in terms of Qualcomm's behavior." A big winner here could be Samsung, one of the few major technology companies to have retained significant in-house modem capabilities. In recent years, Samsung has often shipped smartphones with its own Exynos chips in some markets, while selling Qualcomm chips in others—particularly the United States and China. It's not clear exactly why it does this, but a reasonable guess is that Samsung believes that it's more vulnerable to Qualcomm's patent threats in those countries. Now it'll be easier for Samsung to use its own chips worldwide, simplifying product design and giving the company greater economies of scale for its own chips. Eventually, Samsung might start offering those chips to other smartphone makers—as it tried to do back in 2011. On the other hand, Koh's ruling might come too late for Intel, which announced it was shuttering its 5G chip efforts last month and may not have the appetite (or enough time) to restart them. Koh's most important requirements, however, may be her mandate for seven years of monitoring by the FTC and the courts. "I imagine that over the next year or so Qualcomm will come up with some new way to get back to [its] old revenue model," Duan told Ars in an email. It will take continued vigilance by the authorities to ensure Qualcomm complies with both the letter and the spirit of Koh's ruling. But first the ruling must survive an appeal to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. On Tuesday, Qualcomm asked Koh to put her ruling on hold until the appeals court has a chance to weigh in. Qualcomm's customers and competitors won't be able to truly breathe easy until the appeals process is over. Source: How Qualcomm shook down the cell phone industry for almost 20 years (Ars Technica)
  17. Huge Windows 10 boost as your PC is about to get infinitely faster Your next Windows 10 PC could be 5G ready (Image: MICROSOF) MICROSOFT Windows fans have been shown the future of PCs this morning with Qualcomm and Lenovo announcing the first 5G-ready devices. Lenovo recently released its latest Windows-powered C630 laptop which is joining the growing trend in always-connected Windows 10 PCs. Powered by Qualcomm's Snapdragon 850 chip, this portable laptop includes a 4G SIM which means you should never be without access to the web no matter where you are. It's impressive stuff but it's about to get even better. Qualcomm and Lenovo have now announced the world’s first 5G connected PC. This device will allow users to access superfast speeds when on the road and it could transform laptops of the future. 5G is the future of mobile networks with it able to beam data to devices at speeds you'd normally expect from fibre broadband. In fact, 5G looks set to be faster than many fixed-line services with speeds that could easily exceed 200Mbps. “Our collaboration with Lenovo will deliver transformative PC user experiences," said Alex Katouzian, senior vice president and general manager, mobile business unit, Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. “Bandwidth-intensive tasks that involve downloading and uploading large files over a wireless connection can be exponentially faster, thanks to the platform’s impressive performance and power efficiency, this will change the way users interact, connect and communicate with their computing devices.” The new PC will be powered by the Snapdragon 8cx 5G compute platform which Qualcomm is boasting will offer extreme performance, extreme battery life, and extreme connectivity. “5G PCs powered by Snapdragon demonstrate how our ongoing collaboration with Qualcomm Technologies continues to deliver trailblazing PC innovation,” said Johnson Jia, senior vice president, PC Business Group, Lenovo. “Lenovo 5G PCs built on the Snapdragon 8cx 5G compute platform will feature ultra-low latency, remarkable performance, battery life and 5G connectivity that will revolutionize the way we work and play.” EE 5G is launching this week (Image: EE) In addition to the Snapdragon X55 5G modem, the Snapdragon 8cx also incorporates the Snapdragon X24 LTE modem, for connectivity when a 5G network is not available. The modem supports Category 20 LTE, achieving peak download speeds of up to 2 Gbps. And because it’s compatible with more than 90 per cent of global operators, users can rely on their 5G PC to stay connected almost anywhere in the world. The news of this launch comes as EE has revealed that it will be switching on its 5G signal later this week. Thursday 30 May is when customers will begin getting access to the new speeds with 5G initially rolling out in London, Birmingham, Cardiff, Manchester, Edinburgh and Belfast. EE says it will continue to roll out this upgrade throughout the year. Source
  18. United States has waged a war against Chinese telecom giant Huawei for some time now. But now the big guys are joining the fight. According to reports, Google will stop all collaboration with Huawei. Decision means that Huawei phones wont get any new Android updates, ever. It also means that all future Huawei phones will be blocked from accessing Google services. No access to Gmail, no access to Google Play store, etc. Huawei will still have an access to open sourced versions of Android, but without the access to Google's proprietary services and APIs. Google will also cease all collaboration and support for Huawei that involves Android development and testing, Reuters' sources say. Google's decision comes shortly after United States officially added Huawei to the U.S. trade blacklist. Huawei also owns popular sister phone brand, Honor, and the decision applies to that brand, too. UPDATE Google has confirmed the yesterday's news about Google revoking Huawei's Android license. Company said that the decision is based on United States adding Huawei officially to the country's trade blacklist on Thursday and that it is simply obeying the decision made by the U.S. It also states that the decision wont affect the current Huawei phones and that those will still have access to Google's services and updates. However, it is not clear whether the current Huawei phones will continue to receive Android updates or updates to Google services. Huawei losing its Android license means that it has to rely on open sourced version of Android (AOSP) for its Android updates. This means that all new Android versions will arrive to Huawei models with considerable delay - sometimes the delays between the official Android update and AOSP update have been almost a year or so. More importantly, Huawei will lose its access to Google services. This means that all future models of Huawei phones must ship without Google services: Google Play Store, YouTube, Google search and Gmail. Google also denies all support to Huawei's Android device development. The decision also applies to Huawei's other brand, Honor. INTEL and Qualcomm After yesterday's decision by Google to revoke Huawei's Android license, more bad news are piling for Huawei. Now, U.S. semiconductor giants Intel and Qualcomm have stopped supplying parts to Huawei. Even though Huawei has its own chip manufacturing business that produced Kirin chips and others for mobile phones, the company still relies heavily on U.S. chips for most of its other products. Effectively, the decision by Qualcomm and Intel will mean that the Huawei's PC manufacturing business ceases to exist. Only U.S. companies produce chips needed to build x86 compatible computers, at least in scale that is required by a giant like Huawei. Furthermore, some of the Huawei's phone models - especially those in the high end - use at least some U.S. -made chips - and this will mean trouble for those models, too. The decision is based on U.S. administration putting Huawei officially to its trade blacklist on Thursday, making it illegal for any U.S. company to do business with Huawei. Article 1 Article 2 Article 3
  19. Qualcomm is working on standalone wireless VR headsets that can also connect to PCs Qualcomm’s new VR headset will be one of the first to work as a standalone mobile headset and also connect to PCs wirelessly. The headsets will be demoed at the Game Developers Conference that’s currently going on in San Francisco, and they could arrive in stores in Asia as early as later this year, as spotted by CNET. Most mobile VR headsets don’t let you plug into your PC for a connection to additional VR gaming libraries, but Qualcomm envisions it to be possible in its new reference design called “Boundless XR.” The new headset reference design Qualcomm has laid out will work on its own as a mobile standalone headset with six degrees of freedom which also links to PCs for PC VR gaming through a 60GHz connection. The headsets are powered by Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 processors. IN THEORY, THE HEADSET COULD FREE UP SOME PC PROCESSING POWER Latency is kept at a low 16ms, according to Qualcomm’s claims. The headset is also designed to process VR technology while connected to a PC. So, in theory, it could help free up some processing power in your PC, although it isn’t clear how much. Any PCs and consoles you decide to use the headset with will also need to support 802.11ad Wi-Fi and run Qualcomm software. The games should be able to support the new headset without any changes, Qualcomm told CNET. Qualcomm makes a lot of VR referencedesigns, but only a handful of companies have taken up Qualcomm on those designs, including HTC, Lenovo, and Facebook. Many OEMs prefer to stick to making phones, tablets, and other devices. Qualcomm says the first headset with the new reference design will be a Pico Neo2 VR headset from the Chinese company Pico VR. It also says HTC Vive is another partner working to “support the new specification through hardware and content,” although since this is just a reference design, it’s possible we may never see it come to stores. If it does arrive, Qualcomm will have helped to make VR gaming just a little more convenient than before. Source
  20. Apple Loses Another Patent Violation Lawsuit Against Qualcomm The war between Apple and Qualcomm continues, and this time the one celebrating the victory is the San Diego-based chipmaker. The court ruled against Apple, as the jury explains that the company violated three different patents and must pay a total of $31 million in damages. This is also the amount that Qualcomm was hoping to obtain as part of the legal dispute. The lawsuit was started in 2017 by Qualcomm due to what it described as an infringement on three patents covering technology also used on an iPhone. Qualcomm said Apple used its systems to allow a smartphone connect to the Internet after powering on, graphics processing and battery life, and traffic management features for the processor and modem. The chipmaker was trying to obtain $1.41 per infringing iPhone, while Apple explained during the trial that one of its engineers, Arjuna Siva, was involved in the development of one patent that Qualcomm claimed it violated.Next legal battle in a monthWhile Apple lost this lawsuit, it’s expected the company would appeal the ruling. In a statement for Bloomberg, Cupertino accused Qualcomm of trying to switch the attention from what it describes as “larger issues,” all using such patent violation claims. “Qualcomm's ongoing campaign of patent infringement claims is nothing more than an attempt to distract from the larger issues they face with investigations into their business practices in US federal court, and around the world,” Apple said. Qualcomm, on the other hand, says the ruling is living proof that Apple used its technology without paying for it. “Today's unanimous jury verdict is the latest victory in our worldwide patent litigation directed at holding Apple accountable for using our valuable technologies without paying for them,” Qualcomm general counsel Don Rosenberg explained. “The technologies invented by Qualcomm and others are what made it possible for Apple to enter the market and become so successful so quickly.” Apple previously sued Qualcomm in a separate lawsuit, with the iPhone maker claiming its partner refused to pay no less than $1 billion in rebate payments. The two will appear in court in this case next month. Source
  21. Qualcomm filed a motion calling for a German court to levy fines against Apple for not complying with a December import ban barring iPhone 7 and iPhone 8 models from being sold in Germany, reports Bloomberg. According to Qualcomm, Apple failed to properly recall the banned iPhones from third-party sellers and continued to sell them in some Apple Stores in early January. Qualcomm in early January posted 1.34 billion euros in security bonds to enforce the ban, and Apple pulled its iPhones entirely from the country the next day. Qualcomm general counsel Don Rosenberg said that Apple "intentionally" defied the court order and continued to sell iPhones in some stores, and that the company "obviously" doesn't consider itself "bound by the injunction." "Significant fines must be imposed to put a check on that," he wrote in a statement to Bloomberg. To prove Apple's non-compliance with the order, Qualcomm pointed towards a December press release that Apple has already been forced to retract. In the press release, Apple said that while the iPhone 7 and iPhone 8 models would be unavailable for purchase at its own retail stores, the devices would be available from carriers and third-party retailers. Qualcomm and Apple have been embroiled in an increasingly tense legal battle since January 2017. Qualcomm has thus far won sales bans on older devices in China and Germany, rulings that Apple is fighting against. Over the course of the last month, representatives from both companies were in a Northern California court for the Qualcomm v. FTC antitrust lawsuit. The FTC has accused Qualcomm of using anticompetitive tactics to remain the main supplier for baseband processors for smartphones, an argument similar to Apple's. The Qualcomm/FTC trial wrapped up yesterday, and we are awaiting a verdict from the presiding judge, Lucy Koh, who also handled Apple v. Samsung. Source
  22. Qualcomm CEO Mollenkopf defends company's chip licensing practices in court The U.S. District Court in San Jose rolled out the red carpet yesterday, as Qualcomm CEO Steve Mollenkopf showed up to testify. According to CNET, the executive appeared in front of Judge Lucy Koh, who is presiding over the 10 day non-jury FTC v. Qualcomm trial. The government agency says that the methods used by Qualcomm to license its patents are anti-competitive, especially its "no license, no chips" policy. Phonemanufacturers who want to buy modem chips from Qualcomm are forced to buy a license from the company before they are allowed to purchase the components. On the stand, Mollenkopf said that Qualcomm requires that a license be purchased because purchasing a chip doesn't cover all of Qualcomm's intellectual property. Talking about the security structure in place when a phone connects to a network, Mollenkopf said that Qualcomm patents are involved. "It's not embodied in the chip, it's not in the phones, but it's in all these things. There's a tremendous amount of IP we generate that makes the system work." Apple supply chain executive Tony Blevins, whose testimony previously revealed that Apple considered buying 5G modem chips from Samsung and MediaTek for the 2019 iPhone models, told Judge Koh that Qualcomm is the only chip maker that uses the "no license, no chips" policy. He noted that one other chip maker tried once to do the same thing with Apple, but Blevins called the unnamed firm's CEO and put an end to that. Mollenkopf testified that prior to 2011, Apple approached it about getting Qualcomm's modem chips for the iPhone on an exclusive basis. The Qualcomm CEO said under oath that Apple had offered a $1 billion payment to the chip maker in exchange for the exclusivity. But Apple's Blevins had said something entirely different when he was on the stand before Mollenkopf. According to Blevins, Apple normally seeks anywhere from two to six sources for a component in order to get leverage over pricing, and to guarantee that Apple will have enough supply to cover its needs. "As we source components, we typically strive to get at least two sources and probably not more than six. We think competition and market forces are very important to us to achieve the best leverage. With exclusivity, there would be no competition."-Tony Blevins, supply chain executive, Apple It will be up to Judge Koh to determine whether Mollenkopf or Blevins are telling the truth. If the FTC wins this suit, Qualcomm could be forced to change the way it sells its chips in the future. Source
  23. (Reuters) - Qualcomm Inc has responded to comments made by Apple Inc Chief Executive Tim Cook in an interview, in which he said there had been no recent settlement talks between the iPhone maker and chip supplier in their global legal battle, calling Cook’s remarks “misleading.” Apple on Wednesday said it stood by Cook’s comments. The two companies are disputing comments their respective CEOs have made over settlement talks. Apple’s chief on Tuesday said any talks ended in September 2018. Qualcomm’s Chief Executive Steve Mollenkopf in November made comments about the supplier’s efforts to resolve the dispute. But Qualcomm on Tuesday said Cook had miscast Mollenkopf’s remarks, which did not mention a settlement and which Qualcomm maintains are accurate. The war of words is unlikely to play a major role in the outcome of the legal fight between the two firms. But it signals the high stakes and deeply entrenched positions of each side, with Apple arguing in court that Qualcomm charges an unfair “tax” on its phones while Qualcomm fights to protect a patent licensing model it argues has helped bring connectivity to billions of new users through wireless networks. In a television interview on CNBC earlier on Tuesday, Cook responded to a question from host Jim Cramer about whether Apple would settle with Qualcomm after Qualcomm had announced legal victories against Apple in patent cases in China and Germany. “Look, the truth is, we haven’t been in any settlement discussions with them since the third calendar quarter of last year. That is the truth. So I’m not sure where that thinking is coming from,” Cook said. Cook’s comments contrasted with those Mollenkopf made in November on CNBC. “We do talk as companies, and I think what you’re seeing, really, are activities consistent, really, with the fourth quarter of the game, and not the first quarter,” Mollenkopf told CNBC then. “We always talk about - and I’ve been very consistent that this second half of (2018) and into (2019), is when we’re really on the doorstep of finding a resolution.” In a statement, Qualcomm said the company stands by Mollenkopf’s remarks. “We have been consistent for the last 18 months in making clear that we have, at various times, been in discussions with Apple about a possible resolution to our licensing dispute,” a Qualcomm spokesperson said in a statement. “We have also stated clearly on several occasions that we believe it will be resolved, one way or the other, in the near future, either through a settlement or court decisions.” Apple on Wednesday said Cook’s comments were accurate. “Qualcomm is desperate to obfuscate the tales it has been telling its investors. Their accusations are a red herring,” Apple said in a statement to Reuters. Apple has accused Qualcomm of engaging in illegal patent licensing practices to preserve a dominant market position in so-called modem chips, which help mobile phones connect to wireless data networks. Qualcomm has argued that its practices followed decades-long tech industry norms and that Apple has not compensated it fairly for its intellectual property. The primary case in Apple and Qualcomm’s legal battle goes to trial in April. Source
  24. But no one has ever said that about Intel In a moment showing a complete lack of self-examination, Chipzilla is moaning to anyone who will listen that the chipmaker Qualcomm is an evil monopolist which is stifling competition. In an official statement, Intel called out Qualcomm for continuing to pursue its use of patent lawsuits and threatening lawsuits against its customers and competitors even as multiple antitrust agencies have found Qualcomm to be violating competition laws with these tactics. Steven Rodgers, Intel EVP and general counsel, said that despite Qualcomm being fined by multiple governments around the world over its abuse of patents against other companies, the company continues the same aggressive legal strategy against its partners and competitors. This, Intel said, will only lead to higher prices for consumers and less innovation. Intel pointed out that Qualcomm has been fined a billion dollars in China, $850 million in Korea, $1.2 billion in the European Union and $773 million in Taiwan over the company's anti-competitive practices. While this might be true, Intel is no stranger to those antitrust courts itself, and its actions against AMD over the years have been equally as nasty. US chipmaker Intel was hit with a fine of €1.06 billion euro after the European Commission found that the company had offered clients price rebates to use its computer chips in preference to those of its rival AMD. Historically Intel has been accused of similar antitrust activities. In 1998, the FTC found that Intel stopped providing important technical information about its products to Digital Equipment, Compaq Computer and Intergraph after the three companies took legal action against Intel to enforce microprocessor patents they held. Intel also threatened to stop selling microprocessors to those companies, the FTC said. In 2005 the Japanese FTC ruled that Intel violated Japanese antitrust laws and hurt competition in the country's processor market. In 2009 New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo filed a federal antitrust lawsuit against Intel in the US District Court in Delaware, alleging that company engaged in a "systematic campaign" of illegal conduct to protect a monopoly. Cuomo alleged that Intel extracted exclusive agreements from large computer makers and threatened to punish those perceived to be working too closely with Intel competitors. In 2009 the US Federal Trade Commission filed antitrust lawsuit against Intel, alleging that Intel has waged a "systematic campaign" to cut off rivals' access to the marketplace and prevent adoption of superior products produced by competitors. "Intel has engaged in a deliberate campaign to hamstring competitive threats to its monopoly," Richard Feinstein, director of the FTC's Bureau of Competition, said in a statement. "It's been running roughshod over the principles of fair play and the laws protecting competition on the merits. The commission's action today seeks to remedy the damage that Intel has done to competition, innovation, and, ultimately, the American consumer." According to Intel, Qualcomm's goal is not to vindicate its IP rights, but to drive competition out of the market completely. For those who came in late, Intel is a rival of Qualcomm in the wireless modem space, said that it hopes the actions taken by global authorities against Qualcomm will preserve competition in the 5G market. source
  25. The United States International Trade Commission will not be blocking imports of the iPhone in the ongoing Apple v. Qualcomm case, reports Reuters. Qualcomm had asked the ITC to ban imports of the AT&T and T-Mobile iPhone 7, iPhone 7 Plus, iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus, and iPhone X models that use chips from Intel, citing multiple patent violations. Qualcomm did not ask for a ban on iPhones that use Qualcomm LTE chips, with the reasoning that a more limited exclusion order was more likely to be granted. An ITC judge said on Friday that while Apple's iPhones infringe on a patent related to power management technology, a ban will not be put in place. The judge cited "public interest factors" as one of the reasons why the court ruled against Qualcomm. Neither Apple nor Qualcomm have commented on the decision as of yet, but it marks a major victory for Apple in its months-long legal battle with Qualcomm. The two companies have been embroiled in an increasingly tense legal feud that kicked off in January 2017. Qualcomm and Apple have filed several more than a dozen lawsuits against one another since then. Apple has accused Qualcomm of charging unfair royalties for "technologies they have nothing to do with," while Qualcomm claims that its inventions form the "very core" of modern mobile communication. Earlier this week, Qualcomm further escalated the dispute by accusing Apple of providing confidential trade information and trade secrets stolen from Qualcomm to Intel. Source
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