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Is Samsung Readying A 10nm SoC?

August 22, 2016 by  
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Of course, it is that time of the year. Apple, Qualcomm, MediaTek and now Samsung will have 10nm SoCs ready for  phones in early 2017. Of course Samsung wants to use its own 10nm SoC in the Galaxy S8 that is expected in late February 2017, but probably with a mix of 10nm Snapdragon too.

Samsung’s next generation Exynos’ name is very uninspired. You don’t call your much better chip just the Exynos 8895, but that might not be the final name.

The Korean giant went from Exynos 7420 for Galaxy S5 and first 14nm for Android followed a year after with Exynos 8890 still 14nm but witha  custom Exynos M1 “Mongoose” plus Cortex-A53eight core combination.

The new SoC is rumored to come with a 4GHz clock. The same leak suggests that the Snapdragon 830 can reach 3.6 GHz which would be quite an increase from the 2.15Ghz that the company gets with the Snapdragon 820. Samsung’s Exynos 8890 stops at 2.6GHz with one or two cores running while it drops to 2.3 GHz when three of four cores from the main cluster run. Calls us sceptics for this 4GHz number as it sounds like quite a leap from the previous generation.

Let us remind ourselves that the clock speed is quite irrelevant as it doesn’t mean anything, and is almost as irrelevant as an Antutu score. It tells you the maximal clock of a SoC but you really want to know the performance per watt or how much TFlops you can expect in the best case. A clock speed without knowing the architecture is insufficient to make any analysis. We’ve seen in the past that 4GHz processors were slower than 2.5GHz processors.

The fact that Samsung continued to use Snapdragon 820 for its latest greatest Galaxy Note 7 means that the company still needs Qualcomm and we don’t think this is going to change anytime soon. Qualcomm traditionally has a better quality modem tailored well for USA, China, Japan and even the complex Europe or the rest of the world.


GM Buys Cruise Automation

March 21, 2016 by  
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General Motors the acquisition Cruise Automation for Cruise’s deep software talent and rapid development capability — a move designed to further accelerate GM’s development of autonomous vehicle technology.

Over the past two months, GM has entered into a $500 million alliance with ride-sharing company Lyft; formed Maven — its personal mobility brand for car-sharing fleets in many U.S. cities — and established a separate unit for autonomous vehicle development.

“This acquisition announcement clearly shows that GM is serious about developing the technology and controlling its own path to self-driving and driverless vehicles,” said Egil Juliussen, research director for IHS Automotive.

While GM did not disclose the financial details of the Cruise acquisition, reports estimated the purchase to be in the $1 billion range.

Founded in 2013, Cruise sells an aftermarket product that is positioned as a highway autopilot, according to IHS Automotive.

Vehicles using Cruise’s software cannot automatically changes lanes, but the technology does work at low speed and highway speed, meaning it’s classified between Level 2 and Level 3 in the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s levels of autonomous driving.

The NHTSA’s Level 3 includes limited self-driving automation and allows a driver to cede full control of all safety-critical functions under certain traffic or environmental conditions; Level 4 indicates a fully autonomous vehicle.

Cruise’s software was initially offered by Audi in its A4 and S4 vehicles as a $10,000 option that required installation work by Cruise. The product consisted of a sensor unit on top of the car and a computer in the trunk.

GM’s purchase of Cruise is likely to spur other carmakers “to react and determine what their strategy should be,” Juliussen said.

Other carmakers are likely to seek to become partners with Google and license Google’s self-driving and driverless software technology. Multiple manufacturers are likely to opt for a Google partnership, IHS said.


Imagination Gives MIPS Warrior A Boost

November 24, 2015 by  
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Imagination Technologies has introduced three new additions to the MIPS Warrior CPU family, updating its embedded 32-bit M-class CPUS with the new M6200 and M6250, as well as the higher performing P-class CPU with the 64-bit P6600.

The MIPS P6600 is touted as “the next evolution” of the P-class family and is intended to “pave the way” to future generations of higher performance 64-bit processors.

The MIPS P6600 builds on the 32-bit P5600 CPU, which was the company’s first CPU core based on the MIPS Series 5 architecture and announced about two years ago. The MIPS Series 5 was designed to accelerate compute-intensive applications and thereby appeal to the embedded and mobile markets.

The P6600 CPU boasts a higher performing 64-bit architecture while other improvements over its predecessor include a deep 16-stage pipeline with multi-issue and Out-of-Order execution to deliver better computational throughput for complex software workloads.

“The P6600 CPU is the most balanced mainstream high-performance CPU choice, enabling powerful multicore 64-bit system of chips with optimal area efficiency for applications in segments including mobile, home entertainment, networking, automotive, HPC or servers, and more,” said the chip firm, adding that customers have already licensed the P6600 for applications including high-performance computing and advanced image and vision systems.

Like the P5600, MIPS P6600 is an OmniShield-ready design that supports full hardware virtualisation and security features. It is said to be able to handle up to 15 guest operating systems running simultaneously in fully isolated and trusted environments, too.

“This unprecedented level of scalability for virtualisation and security gives the MIPS Warrior family another unique advantage in the battle for supremacy in the processor space,” added the firm.

The P6600 packs a faster SIMD engine for accelerating multimedia processing as well as branch prediction and a load/store instruction bonding mechanism: two technologies that Imagination said will provide a boost in real-world workloads while keeping silicon area and power consumption in check.

As for the MIPS M6200 and M6250 chips, these are the latest additions to Imagination’s less powerful M-class family processors for MCUs/MPUs, further broadening the M-class roadmap for high-performance deeply embedded designs in segments requiring higher performance and larger address space.

Imagination said this could include things like wired/wireless modems, GPU supervisor processors, flash and SSD controllers, industrial and motor control, and advanced audio voice processing.


Ericsson And Cisco Join Forces

November 20, 2015 by  
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Mobile equipment maker Ericsson and U.S. networking company Cisco Systems Inc announced that they have agreed to a business and technology partnership that should generate additional revenues of $1 billion for each company by 2018.

Ericsson, whose like-for-like sales are down 7 percent so far this year and were roughly flat over the previous three years, said the partnership means new areas of revenue as it will boost its addressable market, mainly in professional services, software and the resale of Cisco products.

“We are the wireless No. 1 in the world,” Ericsson Chief Executive Hans Vestberg told Reuters.

“Cisco is by far the No. 1 in the world when it comes to IP routers. Together we can create innovative solutions.”

The companies said in a statement they would together offer routing, data center, networking, cloud, mobility, management and control, and global services capabilities.

“The strategic partnership will be a key driver of growth and value for the next decade, with each company benefiting from incremental revenue in calendar year 2016 and expected to ramp (up) to $1 billion or more for each by 2018,” they said.

Ericsson expects full-year cost synergies of 1 billion Swedish crowns ($115 million) in 2018 due to the partnership and said it would continue to explore further joint business opportunities with Cisco.


Chipmakers Advocating MIPS Open Source Moves

May 27, 2015 by  
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Qualcomm Atheros, Lantiq (part of Intel) and Broadcom have joined the Prpl Foundation.

For those who came in late Prple is the organisation set-up by Imagination Technologies to support open-source software on the MIPS architecture.

The big names follow CUPP Computing, Elliptic Technologies, Imperas Software, Kernkonzept and Seltech joined the foundation at lower levels.

In a statement the Foundation said that the newcomers to the prpl Foundation’s board of directors will participate at the executive level and appoint representatives to the technical steering committee and to engineering groups including the security.

So in other words the key players will be advocating an open source approach to MIPS.

Prpl, is open to other architectures, and focuses on “datacenter-to-device portable software and visualized architectures”, it said. Initial domains oem its hit list are: datacenter, networking, storage, connected consumer, embedded and IoT.


Is The EU Going After Qualcomm

September 9, 2014 by  
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Qualcomm faces an antitrust investigation in Europe, even as it seeks to end a probe of its alleged monopoly practices in China.

Reuters reported that Qualcomm is looking for an amicable resolution of an investigation conducted by China’s National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) over suspicions that it holds a monopoly in the Chinese telecoms market.

The investigation involves allegations that Qualcomm’s China subsidiary has been overcharging and exploiting its position in the wireless communications sector.

The antitrust probe of Qualcomm has been ongoing since last November, when the firm revealed that it was under investigation by the NDRC, though at the time it said the NDRC had not revealed the substance of the investigation.

In February, the NDRC declared it had received complaints against Qualcomm from the China Communications Industry Association, regarding its market position and patent fees it charged Chinese mobile phone manufacturers.

While the NDRC has ruled that Qualcomm does hold a monopoly in China, it has yet to decide whether the company has abused its position in the market.

Under China’s 2008 anti-monopoly laws, Qualcomm could face high fines, potentially topping $1bn.

In a statement to Reuters, Qualcomm said that it is seeking an amicable conclusion to the investigation. “Qualcomm executives discussed with NDRC officials several topics in an effort to reach a comprehensive resolution. We are continuing to cooperate with NDRC and cannot comment further,” the firm said.

Given that the NDRC is targeting at least another 30 foreign firms with antitrust investigations, including Microsoft and Volkswagen, critics have suggested that the monopoly law is being used to unfairly target overseas firms so that China can protect its native businesses.

Even if the China case is settled Qualcomm is now facing the prospect of a monopoly probe in Europe. Reuters has also reported the company could face a European Commission antitrust investigation following a complaint made four years ago by British software defined modem company Icera, a subsidiary of Nvidia.

Icera alleged that Qualcomm had engaged in anti-competitive behaviour by discouraging customers from doing businesses with Icera through patent related incentives and exclusionary pricing of chipsets.

While it was thought that the allegations had dropped from the European Commission’s agenda, the issue has resurfaced. It could even be fast-tracked following a similar monopoly case and subsequent fine made against Intel, which cost the company €1.1bn.

As yet, no official investigation has been opened by the European Comission. Qualcomm was contacted for a statement on both antitrust investigations, but the company has not yet responded.

Patents and their subsequent enforcement tend to play a major part in the technology industry as companies vie for market shares or state their supremacy. Qualcomm is no different, with the company having snapped up 2,400 patents from HP, including one for the now-defunct Palm technology, earlier this year.


Is Snapdragon A Security Flaw?

August 21, 2014 by  
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Security researcher Dan Rosenberg has told a Black Hat conference how it is possible to permanently unlock the bootloader on Android phones – provided they use a Qualcomm Snapdragon chip.

Rosenberg said that the flaw is in ARM’s TrustZone technology, which runs a trusted operating system and another for normal apps. This is supposed to improve device security, but in Qualcomm’s implementation, they cocked it up. It means that if a hacker gets access to the trusted operation part of the chip, it can run whatever application he or she likes.

This affects all known Android devices with a Qualcomm Snapdragon SoC, including the Nexus 5, the HTC One, and Samsung’s Galaxy Note 3, as well as the Moto X. The Samsung Galaxy S5 and the HTC One M8 have already been patched.


AMD Buys Mobile Patents

April 2, 2014 by  
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China’s Lenovo is acquiring patents related to 3G and 4G technologies from U.S.-based Unwired Planet for $100 million, as the company sets about expanding with its proposed Motorola Mobility acquisition.

The 21 patent families that Lenovo is purchasing from Unwired Planet will help the Chinese company grow its smartphone and mobile business in new markets, it said Thursday.

In addition, Unwired Planet is licensing its patent portfolio to Lenovo for an unspecified number of years. The Nevada-based company develops mobile technologies in use by carriers including AT&T and Sprint. After its deal with Lenovo closes, Unwired Planet said it will have about 2,500 issued and pending international patents in its portfolio.

Although Lenovo is best known as a PC maker, the company is aiming to becoming a major vendor of mobile phones. Already, in its home market of China, Lenovo ranks as one of the biggest smartphone vendors, and has dozens of different models on the local market.

Lenovo’s mobile phone business is set to grow even larger. In January, the company announced it planned to buy Motorola Mobility from Google for $2.9 billion.

With the proposed acquisition, Lenovo’s handset business will get a foothold in the North American market. The company plans to keep the Motorola business intact, and even use the business to sell phones in its home market of China.

The Motorola deal will also help Lenovo shield itself from patent-related lawsuits that have been used to try to stymie the businesses of other handset makers. By buying Motorola, Lenovo will take ownership of more than 2,000 patent assets and also gain access to Google’s own patent portfolio.

Lenovo’s deal with Unwired Planet is expected to close in 30 days.


Did Qualcomm Snub Intel?

December 24, 2013 by  
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Earlier this year Intel made a lot of noise about leasing its foundries to third parties, but at least one big played does not appear to be interested.

Speaking at a tech conference, Qualcomm CEO Paul Jacobs said his company is not interested in using Intel fabs and that it will continue to cooperate with established foundries like TSMC.

Jacobs argued that Intel is great at building huge volumes of equally huge cores, but TSMC is a tad more flexible. He pointed out that foundries like TSMC can run build multiple different products simultaneously, controlling the process using software.
“Intel is famous, has been known for having a copy-exact model, so they need very large volumes of a particular chip to run through that,” Jacobs said, reports ITProPortal.

However, Jacobs did point out that he was glad to hear Intel is joining the foundry space and that it will be interesting to see how it plays out.


Is Qualcomm’s Adreno 400 Coming in 2014?

November 14, 2013 by  
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Qualcomm’s Adreno 330 GPU will be replaced by new Adreno 400-series parts and naturally the new generation will be faster than the one that sits inside the Snapdragon 800.

Our sources are telling us that Adreno 400 is expected with the new version of Snapdragon that is set to debut in early 2014. Traditionally Qualcomm uses CES to showcase its new chips and CES 2014 starts on January 7th, so it sounds like the right time for it.

The only key detail that we learned about Adreno 400 is that despite a significant increase in GPU performance the chip won’t have a compute part and it doesn’t support OpenCL. Many will see this as a handicap, but to be honest we see limited uses for OpenCL in mobile chips, at least for now.

Nvidia’s Logan comes with Open CL 1.1 as well as Open GL 4.4 support. Adreno 330 can push 3.6 Gigapixels a second making it one of the fastest GPUs in mobile market, capable of going head to head with the Tegra 4. Adreno 400 naturally ends up faster.

Then again we expect that Logan Tegra 5 has what it takes to dominate the mobile GPU market in 2014. Let’s not forget about PowerVR 6-series parts, ARM’s recently announced Mali 700-series or Vivante’s upcoming mobile GPU designs, either.

Unlike the AMD-Nvidia duopoly in the PC GPU market, right now there are five players vying for the top spot in the mobile space and things are bound to get interesting.


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