March 22, 2017
Extension Media, Qualcomm 5G, Broadcom vs. Qualcomm, Huawei Gets Burned, CES, MWC, Dell/VMWare, New Reports and White Papers, and more.
Happy Valentine’s Day! We’re still recovering from CES and a new season of conferences is already starting. Because it’s been two months since the last newsletter, this one is overstuffed with content. We’ve been busy! There’s links to new reports and white papers. CES is always too much to take in and could fill volumes, but we have some high-level observations and a couple of interesting designs notes. We’ve also recorded a number of podcasts. Viva Las Vegas!
We always encourage you to check our website at www.TIRIASResarch.com for our new reports and white papers.
Extension Media and TIRIAS Research team up for 2018 conferences
We’re excited to announce that TIRIAS Research and Extension Media have agreed to cooperate on the editorial planning for three Extension Media conferences in 2018: Machine Learning Devcon, IoT Devcon, and IoT Security Devcon. The call for papers is already out for MLDevcon and IoTDevcon (both conferences will be co-located this year). Please consider applying to present a paper or sponsoring one or more of these high-quality conferences.
The Broadcom vs. Qualcomm Drama Continues
Broadcom’s hostile takeover bid of Qualcomm is heating up as Qualcomm shareholder meeting on March 6 approaches. Broadcom is recommending a completely new suite of board members that would support its bid and has increased the offer from $70/share to $82/share bringing the total amount of the offer to an outrageous $121 billion. Both companies have also initiated a war of words. Broadcom is seeking to appeal to Wall Street and the institutional investors that hold a majority of Qualcomm shares that the management team has lied and underperformed. Qualcomm is seeking to appeal to investors and the broader public that the company has greater prospects for the future with 5G and a merger with NXP. Meanwhile, the NXP acquisition is still being held up by a regulatory review by the Chinese government. The decision of the shareholders will come down to weighing the short-term efficiencies and returns promised by Broadcom vs. the investment in long-term growth espoused by Qualcomm. Right now, the decision may hinge on the merger between Qualcomm and NXP, something Broadcom would prefer to avoid. But even if Broadcom is successful in pushing the acquisition through the shareholders, the deal faces regulatory scrutiny. In addition, there is the question of the huge debt Broadcom would have to assume to complete the deal. Will this be too much for Broadcom if smartphone growth continues to slow or if the broader economy goes through a recession? TRIAS Research is examining these issues and will be publishing an analysis on Forbes.com shortly. For additional articles on the proposed acquisition, please refer to the following links.
Qualcomm Announces 5G Trial Partners
Qualcomm’s 5G plans got a boost when it announced that 19 OEMs plan to use its Snapdragon X50 5G cellular modem for 5G trails. The company also announced 18 carriers will conduct 5G field trials with the X50.
The OEM list included top five smartphone vendors Oppo and Xiaomi, well as top 10 vendors LG and ZTE. Among the other 5G customers are: Asus, Fujitsu, HMD Global, HTC, Sharp, and Sony. Other customers for the X50 will use it for data communications devices such as modules, routers, gateways, and tablets for home or industrial use.
The 18 carriers that have committed to use the X50 chip in 5G New Radio (NR) field trails include: AT&T, British Telecom, China Telecom, China Mobile, China Unicom, Deutsche Telekom, KDDI, KT Corporation, LG Uplus, NTT Docomo, Orange, Singtel, SK Telecom, Sprint, Telstra, TIM, Verizon, and Vodafone Group.
Many of the carriers hope to roll out commercial 5G services next year. Having the X50 modem in these field trails will accelerate the use of X50-based OEM products on these networks.
Of particular note, the announcement demonstrates that Qualcomm has engaged with all of the major carriers and handset OEMs in China with the possible exception of Huawei.
At the Qualcomm 5G event, the company demonstrated data rates as high as 4.5 Gbits/second for the X50 in lab demos. The company will also show the X50 running at Mobile World Congress (MWC) later this month.
Chinese Vendors Feeling the Pinch from America
Over the past decade, the US government has blocked Chinese companies from participating in government contracts and in acquiring select American companies. Now it appears that the US government is using its influence to block Chinese companies in the consumer segment. Chinese OEMs faced a huge setback in January as first AT&T backed out of a deal to carry and support Huawei phones just before CES and later Verizon followed suit. While there is no official statement on why AT&T changed its stance at the last minute, there are reports that the US government issued concerns about the ability of the China government to use Chinese-made smartphones for spying activities. The decision of the AT&T and Verizon, the two largest US wireless operators, is unfortunate and bad for US consumers. TIRIAS Research has tested many of the smartphones by Huawei, Oppo, Vivo, Xiaomi, and other Chinese OEMs and found them to be equal to or better than many of the mid-range and premium devices offered by the likes of Apple and Samsung and at more reasonable prices.
Several trends stood out at CES. The first was a shift in the autonomous vehicle market from personal autos to general transportation for both people and goods. Everyone from start-ups to Toyota are shifting to focus on more general-purpose vehicles to carry many people like a bus or taxi service or for delivering goods to consumers. The vehicles look more like boxes on wheels, but they serve the purpose and are likely to help shift the business models for the automotive industry with the transition to autonomous vehicles.
Hearables, or the lack thereof. In the past few years, hearables (ear buds, headphones, etc.) have been one of the hottest products on display, but other than a select few like the Apple Airpods most have failed to attract wide consumer interest. As a result, there were considerably fewer vendors and solutions at CES.
Wireless charging goes long distance. Wireless charging has struggled to become mainstream because of competing standards and the desire to make everything smaller, thinner, and/or lighter, especially smartphones. However, wireless charging is making its way into more products and as it does many companies are offering solutions that now enabling wireless charging up to three meters or more depending on the applications and battery size. While still a nascent application, it is interesting to see the transmission of power similar to the transmission of data.
Printing technology still has a long way to go. Just when you think you’ve seen everything in printing technology, something else comes along. Many companies were demonstrating resin-based 3D printer that can generate a level of detail and quality that is unbelievable. One start-up from Taiwan, 3D Tech, was even using a smartphone as the light source for the 3D printer (the T3D), which significantly reduces the cost of the product and reuses readily available technology. Even Ricoh offered up a new printing solution for T-shirts, yes T-shirts. Ricoh is offer an enthusiast and professional printers for printing on clothes. As an alternative to traditional screen printing, the printers print directly on the clothes. The enthusiast product begins at $5k, but when you consider that the cost could be recovered with the first set of ink cartridges, the cost seems rather reasonable.
The Wall-E society is coming. Yes, the image of computers and robots doing everything for us is coming and we got our first glimpse at CES. The devices capturing everyone’s attention this year were machine, robots essentially, that fold your clothes. One on display, the Foldimate, required the user to mount the clothes individually for folding but a unit by Seven Dreamers just required dumping the clothes in a drawer and the unit would both identify the clothes and fold them appropriately without user intervention. But, the machines did not work every time and at a cost of up to $16,000, don’t expect to see these in every new house any time soon.
Artificial Intelligence/ Machine Learning are transforming our industry. A clear message at CES was that AI/ML are and will change the dynamics of our industry. AI/ML is driving everything from new semiconductor start-ups to end products and applications. AI/ML has become a race and those that can harness the power and the business models, will be the leaders going into the next decade. TIRIAS Research is doing extensive research around AI/ML technology, applications, and business models. Look for more information and research from TIRIAS Research soon.
Jim McGregor and Kevin Krewell recorded two podcasts prior to the conference, which can be found here.
While it is difficult to pick out the best of the best at CES, there are always a few products or technologies that stand out. On such product is the Matrix watch. This is a smart watch using thermal transfer technology to recharge the battery. The company was very protective about details of the technology but implementing energy harvesting technology into a consumer device makes for both and interesting technology and product. A few years ago, TI used energy harvesting technology to power sensors in a basketball for training purposes. So, hats off to Matrix. While we are not had the opportunity to test the product yet, it is one that caught our eye.
With 5G devices not anticipated until 2019, 2018 will be the gap year for the wireless industry. That, however, doesn’t mean that there won’t be plenty of new demos and gadgets at MWC. Samsung has already teased the Galaxy 9 smartphone. Look for a new wave of smartphones supporting Gigabit LTE now that more than 40 carriers are rolling it out worldwide and Qualcomm has a suite of chipsets and modems supporting the technology. Also look for the carriers to start promoting 5G equipment. The first 5G spec was approved in December. While there are still more specifications to come, infrastructure equipment vendors will start promoting new equipment for the 5G trials that may start as early as late 2018. While we are not expecting any earth-shattering announcements, TIRIAS Research will be covering all the news coming out of MWC.
Here's What Happens To Private Cloud If VMware Reverse Merges With Dell
Recently it was reported that one option for Dell Technologies to reemerge as a public company would be for VMware to buy Dell Technologies in a “reverse merger.” A reverse merger makes sense, given that Dell EMC is behind in developing compelling private cloud and multi-cloud solutions, and VMware is not.
VMware has been positioned as strongly independent of Dell EMC. CEO Pat Gelsinger said last year “We were an independent company, and we remain an independent company.” Such a reverse merger would throw that independence away.
The effect could be profound on Dell Technologies’ enterprise private cloud hardware competitors (Cisco, HPE, Huawei, IBM, Lenovo and Oracle) and VMware’s private cloud software competitors (primarily Cloud Foundry, Microsoft Azure Stack and Red Hat OpenStack).
Memory Driven Computing
Paul gives a short definition of memory-driven computing, where compute resources are brought to a pool of data, with an accompanying animation on HPE’s Twitter account.
Managing Public and Private Cloud Datacenters
Paul Teich was interviewed by Dana Gardner, Principal Analyst, Interarbor Solutions, on behalf of HP Enterprise (HPE) about the burgeoning complexity of public cloud and hybrid cloud usage models, and the lack of multi-cloud services management. Read Connect Converge (C2), Winter 2017, pages 21-25 (Adobe Flash Player required).
Paul Teich was interviewed by Rob Hirschfeld, Founder and CEO of RackN on a range of cloud datacenter topics, the resulting insightful podcast is here.
MIPS Attempting to Make a Comeback
EE Times has reported that after being spun back out of Imagination Technology, a new management team is trying to reinvigorate the prospects for this iconic RISC instruction set. The renewed interest in MIPS was driven by the involvement of Dado Banatao, the managing partner of Tallwood Venture Capital and now chairman of the board for MIPS. The company even convinced Dr. John Hennessey, original co-founder of MIPS Computer Systems, to join a technical advisory board.
Kevin Krewell, principal analyst at Tirias Research, told EE Times, “MIPS can certainly remain relevant. It's still a classic RISC architecture that has been used for years. There's still support for MIPS by Microchip for microcontrollers. The architecture is extensible, so it's possible to add instructions for inference acceleration.”
Krewell added, “What's missing is mainstream operating system support (Android and Windows). Even embedded OS support is starting to wane.” Further, the problem, as he sees it, is “that the trajectory for MIPS was heading in the wrong direction and with the rise of RISC-V, there was less and less reason to support MIPS as an alternative to Arm.”
He added, “Many high-performance MIPS designs for networking were all moving to Arm64 and support from Cisco was going away.”
The MIPS plan appears to build on existing designs at Microchip, MediaTek (modem design), and MobileEye (now an Intel company), and adding additional machine learning emphasis for future developments.
Ampere Comes Out of Stealth
When AppliedMicro was bought by MACON, it was reported that the new owners wanted to sell off the X-Gene Arm server business. AppliedMicro was the first company to deliver a 64-bit Arm server processor, but it was too early to market and the market was slow to develop. Soon it had competition from Cavium and, more recently, Qualcomm entered the market with its Centriq processor. MACON found a buyer for the 64-bit ARM server-on-a-chip business in October 2017 to an entity call Project Denver Holdings, with financing from The Carlyle Group. That company was officially renamed Ampere and came out of stealth mode with a new CEO – Renee James, former President of Intel. In an interview with Data Center Knowledge, Kevin Krewell was quoted as saying: “She’s got the name and the connections. Her experience and her recognition with the customer base will be a significant asset for Ampere’s ability to get into companies and into data centers.”
“They have a solid product," he said. "Over 3 GHz is a good clock speed and 125 watts is very efficient. It’s got good price, performance and power. With the new design team and the new management team, they have a reasonable chance.”
New Research Reports
TIRIAS Research announces the publication of TIRIAS Research Machine Learning Overview, the first report in the new TIRIAS Research Machine Learning service. Machine learning (ML) is beginning to have a major impact on the technology sector. Infrastructure to applications are being designed to leverage the benefits of machine learning. But what is machine learning? This first report seeks to address that question by providing an overview of ML today. It will describe the stack, from business need, through software and algorithms, to the infrastructure and chips needed to support a new way of processing information. In conjunction with the report, we are offering 30 minutes of consulting time with David Teich, the Senior Analyst for the service to discuss the service and answer questions about machine learning, the market, and the outlook.
David Teich, Machine Learning Analyst
With more than 35 years of high-tech industry experience focused on B2B software, David’s experience spans development, systems consulting, sales, and marketing on platforms spanning mainframes, mid-sized systems (UNIX, Linux, and other), Apple and Wintel PCs, and mobile devices.
Report Price: US$400.00
To purchase this report and schedule a time with the analyst, please contact Kendra McGregor at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The new AR/VR research service has had a great reception. In The Cloud is the New Training Ground for Virtual Reality, we look at the potential for VR to move to the cloud to enable mobile clients to deliver high-performance experiences otherwise inaccessible for the next decade. In Virtual Reality is the New Training Ground for Artificial Intelligence, we examine the intersection of VR and AI in the cloud to advance AI training through advanced visual and sensor simulation.
The TIRIAS Research AR/VR service is led by Simon Solotko, an accomplished VR and AR pioneer who serves as a mentor at the German Accelerator.
For more information on the TIRIAS Research AR/VR service, please refer to the attached information or contact Simon Solotko at email@example.com or by phone at 512-508-1054.
TIRIAS Research White Papers
Two recent white papers of note:
TIRIAS Research has published a new white paper, eSilicon Builds ASIC Business on Leading Edge Chip Design, that explores how advanced application specific integrated circuits (ASIC) chip design and manufacturing for leading-edge applications such as networking and artificial intelligence can be successfully outsourced.
The First Billion Users: Powering Virtual Reality with Advanced Video Encoding & Rendering sponsored by NGCodec. TIRIAS Research believes cloud VR is the only viable path to delivering virtual reality to the first billion users. In the mobile cloud VR paradigm, powerful cloud edge servers stream VR experiences to mobile clients using low-latency video transfer on Wi-Fi and upcoming 5G wireless networks. Achieving a sub-20ms motion-to-photon latency for VR, with the insertion of actively encoded video between the server and client, requires a new, high performance video encode to decode pathway. The NGCodec team has spent the last ten years developing such a solution, demonstrating high quality, ultra-low latency streaming of PC-class VR experiences to thin, network-based clients using 250:1 compression. The NGCodec solution delivers sub-10ms latency driving 2K+ horizontal resolution on the HTC VIVE and Oculus Rift and is targeting sub-5ms latency for future 8K resolution systems.
All our white papers can be found here:
TIRIAS Research can be found in public!
You’ll also spot TIRIAS Research’s Principal Analysts attending these events over the next few months:
· ISSCC, San Francisco
· International Conference on Quantum Communication, Measurement and Computing (QCMC)
· SXSW Interactive
· OpenPOWER Summit
· IBM Think
· OCP Summit
· VRDC & GDC
· NVIDIA GTC
Say Hi when you see us!