WIRELESS/DSP NEWSLETTER for April 21, 2017

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  22nd-Apr-2017
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TIRIAS RESEARCH
WIRELESS/DSP NEWSLETTER
April 21, 2017

This Edition: Intel Makes Big Changes, ARM Has a New Heterogeneous Architecture; 22nm Choices, Autonomous Vehicle Platforms, MediaTek Brings ML to Phones

This is the 3rd Wireless/DSP Newsletter produced by TIRIAS Research after Will Strauss from Forward Concepts passed the baton. We can really use reader feedback. We’re still tweaking the new format and want to product a newsletter that you find value in. Let us know what works, what doesn’t work, what’s just downright annoying to you. This includes subject manner, format, email service, etc. But our picture is non-negotiable. :)

But first, a word from the newsletter’s founder:

Forward Concepts Publishes Major Global Smartphone & Tablet Market Study
The report also covers the Modems that enable them and global shipments by air interface
Mesa, AZ, U.S.A. April 18, 2017: Forward Concepts, a leader in DSP and wireless market research is proud to announce the publication of its newest report, “SMARTPHONE, TABLET & MODEM MARKET '17”. The 237-page report provides a detailed market analysis of all significant smartphones, connected-tablets and the modem chips that enable them. Vendor market shares for all vendors are provided with quarterly shipments through Q4/2016. Product forecasts in units and revenue are provided for 2017 through 2021

This report provides a detailed market analysis of all significant smartphones, wireless-connected tablets (cellular & Wi-Fi) and the modems that enable them. Five-year forecasts are provided in considerable detail for each. In addition, smartphone and non-smart cellphones are forecast for all global regions and the report discusses the 2017 market positioning of the major vendors.
The report reveals that 2016 smartphone shipments grew by 7% overall from 1.3 billion to 1.4 billion units. The 4G LTE smartphone shipments grew by 13% from 645.7 million to 741 million. Fifty one percent of smartphone shipments are now 4G growing from 48% in 2015.

The top suppliers of smartphone shipments for 2016 were Samsung at 21%, Apple 15.1%, Huawei 9%, Oppo 6.4%, Vivo/Vsun 4.8%, LG 4.2%, Xiaomi 4%, Lenovo 3.8%, ZTE 3.7%, and Alcatel (TCL) at 2.6%.

Exhibiting the largest volume growth rates were newcomers Oppo at 122%, LeEco 136%, Lava 103%, Vivo 93%, and Gionee at 39%. Growing at 36% Transsion, a leading Chinese supplier of non-OS voice centric phones into Africa, is ranked globally in the top 15 in smartphones for the first time.


Smartphone baseband processors, both integrated (like Qualcomm’s Snapdragons) and stand-alone “slim” modems (such as those employed by Apple) were led by Qualcomm, with 59% of 2016 shipments, followed by MediaTek at 23%. The more advanced 2017/2018 modems discussed in the report incorporate Category 15 Gigabit-class down-link data rates as well as advanced features like VoLTE and ViLTE.

Although Intel’s modem chips garnered only a small share for the 2016 $26 billion market, their 2017 market share will be boosted significantly as they are now incorporated in a large portion of Apple’s iPhone 7 shipments (and Qualcomm has the other part of iPhone modem shipments).

Uniquely, this report also covers global smartphone (and non-smart cellphone) shipments by region. Country and air interface. Major operators in each country are also discussed. This valuable report is aggressively priced at $3,500 for an enterprise-wide digital PDF copy.

For an overview of this expansive report and the detailed table of contents, please click here.

Intel Cancels IDF
After 20 years, Intel’s long-running developer conference is no more. It’s passed on. It’s kicked the bucket. IDF is an ex-conference. It had a good life – in dog years. The problem for IDF is that it had trouble adapting to the changing Intel. After purchasing Altera, it was difficult to meld the FPGA content into the computer heavy show. Now with the acquisition of AI company Nervana and the forthcoming acquisition of automotive vision leader MobileEye, it is getting more difficult to blend all these companies together into one developer conference.

Post-IDF, Intel will focus on smaller, more targeted events and leveraging industry event. Intel already has a major presence at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES). Intel isn’t the only company cancelling major developer conferences this year – NXP also cancelled its “FTF conference, ahead of acquisition by Qualcomm.

In place of IDF, you can consider going to the more academic Hot Chips for the latest in chip designs. The leader in machine learning accelerators, NVIDIA, has its GTC coming in May. The leader in licensed IP, ARM, has its TechCon developer conference in October. The classic conference for the PC ecosystem is still Computex in late May in Taipei.

Intel Names Former Nervana Executive Head Of Its New AI Group
In an interview with EE Times, Kevin Krewell said "I think it's a good sign that Intel recognizes that AI is one of the most important challenges for the computer industry." The appointment of (Naveen) Rao to head the group rather than a long time Intel executive, is "another symbol of the changing Intel."
Krewell of Tirias Research said the announcement also suggests that Intel is investing in the Nervana custom silicon development, codenamed Lake Crest, "which is a recognition that machine learning will require a more heterogeneous approach to computing."
Krewell added that one of the challenges for Intel will be attracting talent to the AI lab. "There is a critical shortage in high-quality AI talent," he said.

ARM’s new system architecture is DynamIQ.
ARM’s new DynamIQ architecture will affect the use of Cortex A series processors on phones, computers, networking gear, and other machines that require more robust processing. “On any Cortex-A device you now have eight CPUs (as opposed to four) which is good for high performance computing,” said Kevin Krewell, principal analyst at Tirias Research. “You also could use lower power cores for speed control and power management which is good for mobile phones.”

Krewell sees the new design being relatively weak for the sensors and wearables that can act as endpoints in the internet of things, since many of those run on the Cortex-M architecture. However, as those devices, or slightly smarter devices such as cameras need to do more computer vision or implement other machine learning models, this technology could gain ground.

Krewell says this is a big program for ARM, and he expects the chip design firm to announce a new Cortex-A architecture based on DynamiQ even sooner than ARM’s annual tech conference held in October.

The 22nm Battle Heats Up
Over the past year, GlobalFoundries has been aggressively targeting low-power applications that do not require the latest process technology with FD-SOI (referred to as FDX by GlobalFoundries). The FD-SOI allows vendors to stay on planer transistor technology but continue to scale in power, performance, and density. It would appear that the other foundries have taken note.

Samsung, the only other FD-SOI foundry, recently indicated that it would remain committed to FD-SOI and would offer future process nodes. But more interesting are the announcements by TSMC and Intel. TSMC will focus on 22nm with a Bulk CMOS process and Intel will offer a competitive 22FFL process for foundry using the company’s FinFET technology. Interestingly enough, all the different processes have benefits depending on the application, cost, and log-term product objectives. The positive side of this new foundry competition is that many of the products that have remained stuck at older process nodes like 40nm, typically because of leakage current, now have new process node migration paths.

EETimes has an extensive write up on the recent SOI conference where NXP revealed its first FD-SOI i.MX processors on the Samsung process. NXP touted the wide dynamic range of the FD-SOI process and its lower design and manufacturing costs as the reasons it choose to commit to new products on the process.

Intel Doubles Down On Foundry Business
In addition to the announcement about the new 22FFL process at its Technology and Manufacturing Day conference, Intel also announced that it is adopting industry standard EDA process flows. This is a very significant announcement that will make it easier for other companies to utilize Intel for foundry services. This will also give Intel a boost in the foundry business. Intel has not induscated which facilities it will use for the new process or foundry services, but with excess capacity, it is feasible that Intel will dedicate a specific facility to foundry services.

This comes on the heels of Intel’s announcement that it will begin equipping the fab 42 megafab in Chandler, Arizona after sitting empty since the facility’s completion in 2014. The new fab will target 7nm and future process starting in the 2020 timeframe.

The Autonomous Vehicle Chip Market is Getting Crowded
Two more companies have recently joined the market for platforms for future autonomous vehicle. Mentor Graphics and Renesas both announced new platforms for autonomous vehicles. They join Intel (which recently purchased Mobileye), NVIDIA, NXP (soon to be part of Qualcomm), Qualcomm, STMicroelectronics, and others all hoping to gain a footing as the automotive market makes a dramatic shift toward autonomous vehicle. Mentor Graphics introduced the DRS360 Autonomous Driving Platform for a centralized sensor fusion. Mentor believes its platform can support Level 5 autonomy with ISO 26262 ASIL D-compliant systems. For companies rolling their own autonomous platforms, this can be an important option. On the processor side, Renesas announced its Renesas Autonomy platform for ADAS and autonomous driving. The company’s solution is built around the R-Car V3M SoC with dual Cortex-A53 and dual Cortex-R7 CPUs, along with an image processor and computer vision processor.
Look for more information from TIRIAS Research on autonomous vehicles and the smart infrastructure that will be required to support them in the near future.


MediaTek Brings Neural Networks to you Pocket
In just the past two years, the industry has made great strides in artificial intelligence (AI) using artificial neural networks, better known as deep learning. Most artificial intelligent applications, like Amazon Echo using Alexa, perform all or part of the processing in the cloud. While this is satisfactory for solutions that are always connected to power and a network, there are many other applications, particularly consumer applications, that require local processing. Local processing also offers addition security of the data because it not be transferred over a network and potentially accessible to other parties. Like many others in the industry, MediaTek is looking to make local neural net data processing a reality.

First announced with the Helio X20, MediaTek developed what it calls the Deep Learning SDK for developers. The SDK is optimized to work with the TensorFlow and Caffe deep learning frameworks. Thus far, MediaTek has worked with undisclosed partners on developing solutions for image and voice recognition that leverage the heterogenous computing capabilities of the Helio X family of mobile SoCs. The Helio X family features ten CPU Cores, combined with GPU cores, Image Signal Processing (ISP) cores, and Digital Signal Processing (DSP) cores. Working in conjunction with MediaTek’s CorePilot technology, the various compute resources are used efficiently to perform the required tasks. Ideally, the local solution should be able to continue learning and modifying the models being used, but it does not appear that the MediaTek platform, like most other device platforms, allow for continued learning on the device without the aid of cloud-based resource. However, with so many compute resources on a single chip, on-device learning may not be far away.

Read the whole story at Forbes Tech.

TIRIAS Research Can Be Found in Public
Paul Teich will speak on Wednesday next week (4/26) in Santa Clara at the collocated IoT DevCon and Machine Learning (ML) DevCon events:

Teich will also speak at SEMI Texas Spring Forum on Thu 5/25 in Austin.

You’ll also spot TIRIAS Research’s Principal Analysts attending these events over the next month:

  • NVIDIA GPU Technology Conference (GTC)
  • OpenStack Summit Boston
  • Embedded Vision Summit
  • NIWeek

Sadly, there's no prize if you spot us.

As always, we encourage your feedback
Kevin Krewell, Jim McGregor, Paul Teich
TIRIAS Research is a high-tech research and advisory firm, an independent third-party resource to high-tech companies. We provide custom research and advisory services on technologies, markets and ecosystems to a select group of technology industry leaders. Our Principal Analysts have decades of in-depth expertise in silicon, software, and systems specification, design and deployment.

About us.

Copyright © 2017 Tirias Research, All rights reserved.
The newsletter formerly written by Will Strauss on DSP and wireless technology.

Domain: Electronics
Category: Mobile

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