Wednesday, 17 April 2019

Intel quits 5G modem business hours after Apple settles with Qualcomm

quote [ Intel says it is canceling a line of smartphone 5G chips that had been slated for 2020 launches. The announcement comes on the same day Apple announced a wide-ranging settlement with Qualcomm over patent issues.

Qualcomm has long been a dominant player in the wireless chip business for smartphones. Apple worries about becoming too dependent on a single supplier. So in recent years, Apple has encouraged Intel to expand its wireless chip offerings and offered Intel a significant share of its business for 4G chips in the iPhone. ]

Apple pretty much had to swallow their pride and basically admit that they had been stealing patent information and licenses for the past few years. Intel's response - Awww-fuckit.
[SFW] [science & technology] [+2 Insightful]
[by knumbknutz@1:50pmGMT]

Comments

Ankylosaur said @ 4:06pm GMT on 17th Apr
How 5G is Likely to Put Weather Forecasting at Risk:
Everything on Earth – the plants, the soil, the surface water, and particularly the gases in the atmosphere – both absorb and, to a lesser degree, emit microwave radiation. Measuring those signals from space is the business of satellites carrying microwave radiometers, essentially sensitive radio receivers tuned to microwave frequencies. By looking at the signals received at different wavelengths, and by adding in information about the polarization of the signal, microwave radiometry can tell us what’s going on within a vertical column of the atmosphere.

For water vapor, 23.8-GHz turns out to be very useful, and very much in danger of picking up interference from 5G, which will use frequencies very close to that. Since microwave radiometers are passive receivers, they’ll see pretty much everything that emits microwave signals in that range, like the thousands of cell sites that will be needed to support a full 5G rollout. Losing faint but reliable water vapor signals in a sea of 5G noise is the essential problem facing weather forecasters, and it’s one they’ve faced before.
rhesusmonkey said @ 5:20am GMT on 22nd Apr
Contrarian perspective:
Qualcomm is required to license Standards Essential Patents (SEP) under FRAND terms. But they have a fuck ton of other patents totally unrelated to cellular communication, and they require that any licensee of their SEP has to pay them for the rest of their IP as well, and they will dictate the terms of that agreement such that their royalty is a percentage of the ASP of the product. This has been their position for close to two decades.

Now, if you were to buy a cellular modem chipset from Intel, or Mediatek, or whoever, you would still be required to pay into a royalty pool covering the SEP for 3GPP, and some of that money goes to Qualcomm, and some of it goes to people you might not expect, like Nokia and BlackBerry. If your design happens to infringe on narrowband CDMA, then you would also need to pay Qualcomm directly, assuming they would grant you a license since CDMA2000 is not a glo al standard (3gpp2 notwithstanding). Thankfully most of that technology was developed in 1994-95 and the 25year patents on it are about up.

Apple's case here was pretty simple: They only wanted to pay Qualcomm for the SEP, and they wanted to cut the royalty rate to be less than what was asked based on their increasingly asinine ASPs. To make that possible, they went back to their original Modem supplier of iPhone and iPhone 3G: Infineon, nee Intel after they were acquired circa 2008. Intel thought they had a great gig: they would take the modem IP from Infineon, mix it up with some Freescle LTE tech, throw in a splash of CDMA they licensed from Via, and put the whole thing on their leading-edge 14nm technology. And if they had kept their schedule to ship that part in 2016, things would have been different. As it happened, migrating to FinFETs was much more difficult than expected, and it took them an additional two years to get that design to market (after having the goal posts shifted a bit, of course). So in 2018 you have all iPhones running on a 14nm Intel modem processor with a TSMC 7nm produced Apple CPU, and kn 2019 you will have the same thing. 2017 Intel got part of the iPhone business but with a 28nm based solution when Qualcomm was shipping on Samsung 14nm (which, while not as good as Intel's, is much better than TSMC 28).

So back to "Who came first". It is instructive to see the language used by Bob Swan of Intel, paraphrased as: "we can't make enough money from Smartphone baseband 5G processors, so we're getting out of that part of 5G".

He didn't say they were cancelling the project that was supposed to go knto the 2020 iPhone, he just said they wouldn't be selling that into phones anymore, because they can't make enough money. Because Apple, their biggest (and only) smartphone customer controls massive volume but doesn't want to pay their suppliers sweet fuck all. There is an HP laptop that has a single Intel processor SKU that includes three dice all built on Intel 14nm sharing a package, and one of those dice is the same part they have been shipping (in a different package) in the 2018 iPhone. So Intel will continue to build and deploy 5G chipsets for mobile stations, jut not packaged for phones. And the straw that broke the camel's back in the Qualcomm dispute is... Intel. Despite claiming that they would have their 5G ME solution ready for 2020 customers, apparently that customer list didn't include Apple. So if Intel was going to be late, and none of the other options looked good, then Apple really didn't have a choice but to crawl back to Qualcomm. And once Qualcomm has part of the iPhone socket, well then the economics for Intel just go from bad to worse, and the Bean counter in chief decides that zero units sold is more profitable when you have to wrap every sale with some dollar bills.

And at the end of this all, you have Intel with some functional 5G IP, part of the SEP royalty pool, you have Qualcomm back selling parts to Apple at exhorbitant rates, you have a one-time payment from Apple to smooth over the old license rates, and Apple has 6 years to build their own MultiRAT cellular modem from scratch. Or they just license the IP from Intel.

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