FORWARD CONCEPTS WIRELESS/DSP NEWSLETTER.
April 15, 2015
By Will Strauss
Samsung Galaxy S6: A Banner Month for CEVA
It’s clear from the early rave reviews that Samsung’s LTE Galaxy S6 handsets will be selling very well. In a departure from its previous models for the U.S. and Europe, Samsung is not employing a Qualcomm LTE modem. Rather, The Galaxy S6 for AT&T and others employs Samsung’s own Shannon 333 LTE modem, along with its own PMIC, RF transceiver and envelope tracking IC. The Shannon 333 modem is based on licensed DSP cores from CEVA.
And last week China-based Spreadtrum announced volume shipments of its quad-core 5-mode LTE platform (SC9830A). And that platform is also based on licensed DSP cores from CEVA.
With shipments beginning last week, China-based Xiaomi released its ultra-affordable Redmi 2A handset based on Leadcore’s quad-core L1860C LTE chipset. Meanwhile the Redmi 2 and Redmi 1S devices continue shipping and are based on Qualcomm Snapdragon 410 and 400 chipsets, respectively. The L1860C includes an LTE modem also based on CEVA DSP cores. The Redmi 2A began shipping last week with an introductory price of $80, certainly the cheapest LTE smartphone on the planet.
LTE “Essential Patents” Ranking
In my January 2015 newsletter, I pointed out that LG claimed to have the most essential LTE patents, accounting for some 29% of them. However, others beg to differ. For example, Ericsson claims to have made the greatest number of LTE submissions to the 3GPP standards body, based on a November 2014 study prepared by Signals Research Group. Although a 1:1 correlation between standards body submissions and patents is not claimed, the report brings some doubt on LG’s #1 essential patent ranking. It should be noted that Ericsson claimed 25% of essential LTE patents in June, 2010, but undoubtedly has made many more patent applications since then. I have examined a number of essential patent ranking articles from 2010 until now and the top 5 companies mentioned tend to be Qualcomm, Huawei, Ericsson, Nokia and InterDigital, with LG further down in the list. Of course there are others with essential patents, including Nortel, Samsung, Panasonic, Motorola/Google, etc. There are consultants that track essential IPR for clients, but until patent aggregators, like Via Licensing, or 3GPP provide explicit information the rest of us will have to go with our gut feel.
Intel Takes Issue with Cavium’s Claim to be 1st to Market with C-RAN
In my March newsletter, I pointed out that Cavium claimed to be 1st with a working cloud radio access network (C-RAN) solution based on their MWC demo. However, Intel claims that their demos in the Alcatel-Lucent booth at MWC proved theirs to be first. AlcaLu calls their version of NFV-based virtualized RAN as vRAN and runs on Intel Xeon processors connected to remote radio heads which were on display at booths by Intel, China Mobile and Telefonica. vRAN systems will be available for customer trials this year with commercial operation in 2016.
ASUS ZenFone2: A First for Intel
ASUSTeK has announced the first smartphone in China powered by Intel’s 64-bit Atom (Moorefield) quad-core processor and the 5-mode Intel XMM7262 LTE modem. The Cat 4+ modem supports LTE-A, carrier aggregation and FDD & TDD for both China and global markets. Maybe we’ll finally see Intel’s LTE chips in the North American smartphone market.
Embedded Vision Summit
Forward Concepts readers are invited to attend the 2015 Embedded Vision Summit on May 12 in Santa Clara, California. The Summit is a full day of “how-to” presentations, product and technology demos, and insightful talks by industry leaders in one of the hottest areas of innovation today—computer vision. This year’s Summit has six conference tracks, including a one focused on applications, market trends, and business opportunities.
The Technology Showcase will feature dozens of demos of computer vision applications from 30 companies. Use the discount code, “EVS154FWD,” for 20% off the full Summit or the Showcase-only registration. Go to http://www.embeddedvisionsummit.com for more information and to register.
Our latest market study “GLOBAL 4G SMART DEVICE & SUBSCRIBER MARKETS." forecasts global smartphone and tablet markets, providing detail for 12 major global markets with forecasts for LTE subscribers and 5-year growth in each of those regions.
In addition, 3G/4G baseband chip supplier unit market shares in each of 40 smartphone brands are provided. For example, MediaTek’s largest customers in 2014 were Xiaomi, TCL/Alcatel, Huawei, LG and Lenovo, plus 27 others ranked by units.
The LTE smartphone market grew by 126% last year but is expected to slow to 13.5% in 2015 as markets begin to saturate. Globally, LTE subscribers are forecasted to grow 28% CAGR from 310 million in 2014 to 1.1 billion in 2019. The report also covers USB devices and hot spots as well as LTE-Wi-Fi routers. The report’s coverage is wide and deep. For a more detailed description as well as the extensive table of contents please click here.
As always, I encourage your feedback.
President & Principal Analyst