China’s SMIC and Qualcomm 28-nm Deal

The collaboration between China’s SMIC and Qualcomm to manufacture 28-nm wafers in China is a big win for the Chinese foundry. Qualcomm is offering support to SMIC so that it could manufacture Snapdragon processors on 28-nm nodes.

SMIC is not new to Qualcomm as it has previously supported Qualcomm on power management, wireless and connectivity products at various process nodes. This strategic move brings the two companies closer, and allows SMIC to manufacture 3DIC as well as RF front-end ICs in addition to the Snapdragon products.

The supply constraints of 28 nm process at TSMC is sending companies like Mediatek and Qualcomm scrambling to secure capacities at SMIC, UMC and Globalfoundries.

In addition to the collaboration with SMIC, Qualcomm is also working with Samsung and Globalfoundries on 14 nm process, which is scheduled to go into production in early 2015.

On the acquisition front, Qualcomm is also making acquistions critical to its success in the future. It announced acquisition of WIlocity to acquire 60 GHz technology (IEEE802.11ad) also known as WiGig. Looks like Qualcomm is eyeing the60 GHz Gigabit WIFI market and to get a head-start against rivals.

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HP’s $99 Android Tablet

HP is trying to win consumers who want low cost tablets and offers them an Android Tablet Hp 7 Plus that costs only $99.

According to reviews, this tablet has low specs and poor battery life of only 5 hours and 30 minutes of usage.  At such rock bottom price, what can one expect?

Despite its shortcomings, it seems to be a popular tablet. It is out of stock on HP’s web site (it is the only way to get it). HP’s is certainly testing its ability to deliver low cost solutions and to compete against white box tablets from China. It may just be able to gain a foothold in this market if it can use its brand to attract cost sensitive buyers and do this at razor thin margins. Perhaps HP has figured out a way to make tablets at low cost and be profitable? Or, is it selling tablets at single digit margins via e-commerce?

 

 

‘iPad Pro’ rumored to be 12.9″.

I am wondering if there is a need for a large Tablet with screen size close to 13″. One of the issue with tablets is that as the size gets larger, it becomes a lot more difficult to carry it around everywhere you go.

Macbook Air vs ipad pro

It is interesting to see the rumored 12.9″ iPad Pro in comparison to a 12″ Macbook Air. It is increasingly difficult to differentiate a ultraportable PC with a larger tablet. Only difference is that the ultraportable PC has a keyboard and track pad. Maybe there are more ports on an Ultraportable PC, like HDMI, USB 3.0 or display port. Another difference maybe integrated 4G radio on the large tablet making it a lot more convenient to access the Internet anywhere 4G is available.

I wonder if road warriors will ditch the Ultra-portable PC in favor of a larger tablet. Most certainly, if the tablet can run all the applications that its PC counterpart, then, perhaps it is possible. The real question then becomes, why wouldn’t anyone do that? Is the Ultraportable PC really more powerful? Is it because it supports SSD with 256 GB of storage?

The Ultraportable is viewed as a necessity as a productivity tool but not a larger tablet PC? I guess consumers just view the tablet as something that they use after work? Like browsing the web or checking personal emails or playing games?

Read the article on MacRumer to get an idea of the size of the giant ipad vs a 13″ Macbook pro.

Alleged ‘iPad Pro’ Model Shows What the Giant Tablet Might Look Like In-Hand – Mac Rumors.

Semiconductor industry Face Tough Times?

According to Microchip’s CEO, Steve Sanghi, the semiconductor industry business model is really broken and he felt that there would be more belt tightening and consolidation ahead. He was quoted in EE times:

“Three years ago you wouldn’t have forecasted Texas Instruments would buy National, and Avago and LSI would merge. Who would have thought Fujitsu’s semiconductor group would be no more — now part of Spansion — or that Sanyo would not be making chips? It’s all a sign there’s not enough growth.”

He didn’t include the pending merger of RFMD and Triqiunt, acquisition of Mindspeed by MA/COM and the possible acquisition of Renasas by Apple. So, it seems like the chip industry will continue to face tough times ahead.

I can see his point of view but I am not as pessimistic and I feel that innovation and responding to market demands and solving real world problems are key to winning in the semiconductor industry. I feel that despite the tough environment, the future is still bright. Companies will find ways to innovate and to grow.

 

Smart TVs to overtake streaming devices in the US

RokuAccording to a new report by BI Intelligence, smart TV sales will grow significantly due to falling prices. Smart TVs will become standard in homes across US, Europe and Asia by 2020.

The breakdown between connected TVs via streaming devices vs smart TVs is roughly even today, with streaming devices accounting for 53% of all connected TVs. The other 47% are smart TV.

Popular streaming devices include Apple TV and Roku with Chromecast by Google slowing gaining share. Shipments of Apple TV in 2013 totaled 8 million, compared to 4.5 million Rokus.

The battle for connected TVs will shift to Smart TVs as TV manufacturers ship more and more highly value LCD and LED TVs in 2015 and beyond.

I personally think that the closed platform of Smart TVs is actually a bad thing. First of all, one has to live with the user interface that are shipped with the Smart TVs. Also, it is difficult for TV manufacturers to upgrade the software on a Smart TV after they are shipped to consumers. Having a separate streaming device allow users to upgrade as often as they like and not be tied to what was shipped in their TVs. Let the Apples and Rokus of the world to innovate and discover new ways to use their streaming devices, no sense getting stuck with what the TV manufacturers happen to ship. I like to treat my TV as a dumb display device and hope that it is as simple as possible to use.

Only thing that really matters is the video quality, all the bells and whistles that come with a TV are distractions to a superior viewing experience. Just ask anyone who enjoys watching TVs to see if they know that there are 2 broadcast tuners in their TVs and you will know that much of what is included in a TV is never used.

The Connected TV Landscape: Why Smart TVs And Streaming Gadgets Are Conquering The Living Room 2 – Business Insider.

How I built it: Stew Leonard’s

I thought much of the video is common sense and yet it is so important.

I like the way Stew put it: “Treat your customer like your own family and friend”. If customers are just numbers, then you can’t really succeed. The customers’ goals is not to make money, they want to solve their problems. A company that does that will be successful. I also like the 2 rules that Stew mentioned in the video:

Rule 1 the customer is always right.

Rule 2, if the customer is ever wrong, re-read Rule 1.

How I wish all companies think that way. It would certainly make me a happy customer 🙂

http://on.wsj.com/MbHmPK