Mon, Mar. 2, 6:39 PM
- Intel (NASDAQ:INTC) has been busy on the first day of the Mobile World Congress, announcing refreshes (and new names) for its mobile processor and modem lineups, as well as new security software OEM deals and alliances with telecom equipment vendors.
- Intel's SoFIA baseband/app processor line, aimed at low-end Android devices, has launched as the Atom x3 line. Three processors are offered - one has a dual-core, 1GHz. CPU and 3G modem, another (made by partner Rockchip) a quad-core, 1.2GHz. CPU and 3G modem, and a third a quad-core 1.4GHz. CPU and 4G modem. Notably, SoFIA uses ARM's (NASDAQ:ARMH) Mali GPU cores, and relies on an older 28nm manufacturing process.
- Also officially launched: Cherry Trail, the 14nm successor to the 22nm Bay Trail line as Intel's entry for the tablet and small-screen convertible market, and whose processors will be sold under the Atom x5 and x7 monikers.
- Relatively few details were provided about x5/x7 parts, which leads AnandTech to suspect they're aimed at late 1H15 and 2H15 products. Intel does note x5/x7 processors will sport powerful Gen 8 GPUs, and (as rumored) the company's next-gen Airmont CPU core.
- The XMM 7360, the latest entry for Intel's standalone baseband modem line, supports Cat-10 LTE (peak speeds of 450Mbps). The prior-gen XMM 7260 topped out at Cat-6 (peak speeds of 300Mbps); Qualcomm (NASDAQ:QCOM) unveiled a Cat-10 modem last November.
- Other announcements: 1) Intel's McAfee unit's VirusScan Mobile software will be pre-installed on Samsung's Galaxy S6, and McAfee's Mobile Security software will be bundled with an LG smartwatch; a pre-install deal already exists for LG smartphones. 2) Intel is partnering with Alcatel-Lucent, Ericsson, and Huawei on creating a variety of network management and radio network hardware running on (Intel-powered) servers.
- Intel is hoping the efforts will bolster a mobile chip division that (thanks in large part to marketing subsidies) posted a $1.1B op. loss in Q4, and a $4.2B op. loss for 2014. Nomura and Wells Fargo are optimistic SoFIA can provide a lift.
- Shares rose 2.4% today to $34.06, aided by a chip stock rally that followed the NXP/Freescale deal.
Sat, Feb. 28, 3:33 PM
- Plenty of chipmakers and related IP providers have unveiled new products this week in tandem with the industry's ISSCC conference, and in advance of the Mobile World Congress (runs from Monday-Thursday).
- ARM (NASDAQ:ARMH) has furthered its embedded/IoT push by launching IFC (short for Intelligent Flexible Cloud), a hardware/software framework for creating intelligent, reliable networks of Web-connected, ARM-powered devices.
- IFC includes networking protocols for ARM-based processors, as well as support for software-defined networking (SDN - the offloading of network management to software-based controllers) and network functions virtualization (NFV - allows commodity hardware to be turned into a networking appliance). It complements ARM's mbed IoT platform for embedded/wearable devices.
- ARM server CPU vendors Cavium, Marvell, and AppliedMicro support IFC, as does network processor vendor EZchip's (NASDAQ:EZCH) Tilera unit, which just unveiled a new line of processors (the TILE-Mx family) that supports up to 100 64-bit ARM cores and 200Gbps of throughput; it begins sampling in 2H16. Benchmark is upbeat about the TILE-Mx line's potential.
- Broadcom (NASDAQ:BRCM) has launched: 1) A smartwatch platform featuring an app processor with 2G/3G modem support, a Wi-Fi/Bluetooth combo chip, a GPS SoC with an integrated sensor hub, an NFC radio, and a wireless charging IC. 2) An SoC for virtual (software-based) broadband customer premise equipment. 3) Two SoCs for wireless backhaul hardware that are declared to be the first to support 5Gbps of throughput.
- NXP (NASDAQ:NXPI) has launched: 1) Embedded microcontrollers with advanced security features meant to protect against theft/cloning. Targeted products include smart meter hubs, home/factory automation devices, and aftermarket auto hardware; SemiAccurate likes what it sees. 2) An RF transceiver that enables fully wireless earbud headphones (no wires between earbuds).
- Xilinx (NASDAQ:XLNX) has refreshed its UltraScale+ FPGA and programmable SoC lines with chips made using TSMC's next-gen 16nm FinFET+ (3D transistor) process. The chips improve performance/power draw via SRAM integration and new interconnect optimizations, begin shipping in Q4, and aim to keep Xilinx competitive on the high-end as Altera launches FPGAs using Intel's 14nm process.
- IDT (NASDAQ:IDTI), an early leader in the wireless charging IC market, has rolled out new charging transmitter and receiver ICs that can respectively handle 15W and 10W of power. The transmitter contains a low-power ARM Cortex-M0 CPU core, and is contained within a tiny 5mm x 5mm package.
Wed, Feb. 18, 7:02 PM
- Looking to fend off MediaTek, Intel (NASDAQ:INTC), and other hungry rivals, Qualcomm (NASDAQ:QCOM) has launched two new 4G baseband/app processors apiece for its mid-range Snapdragon 400 and 600 lines. It has also abandoned its Gobi baseband modem brand in favor of a branding scheme featuring the letter X followed by a number.
- The Snapdragon 618 and 620 are the first announced parts to use ARM's (NASDAQ:ARMH) recently-launched, high-end, Cortex-A72, CPU core: The 618 features two of them at speeds of up to 1.8GHz., and the 620 four of them at up to 1.8GHz. Both chips also contain four low-power Cortex-A53 cores for less demanding tasks, and an X8 Cat-7 LTE modem (300Mbps downlink). The Gobi 9x45, announced in November, supports Cat-10 LTE (450Mbps downlink).
- The Snapdragon 415 and 425 each sport four high-power and four low-power Cortex-A53 cores, with the high-power cores respectively clocked at 1.4GHz. and 1.7GHz. The 415 has an X5 Cat. 4 LTE modem (150Mbps downlink), and the 425 an X8 modem.
- Qualcomm notes the 415/425 are the first 8-core 400 series parts, and that the 618/620 "include features previously only available in the Snapdragon 800 tier, including dual ISP camera, 4K video capture and playback, HEVC hardware encoding, richer gaming ... and advanced Wi-Fi connectivity." AnandTech: "Today Qualcomm raised the bar for low- and mid-range SoCs."
- The company is just three weeks removed from stating it's "seeing heightened competition in China at the mid and high tiers," as it deals with aggressive pricing from MediaTek, Spreadtrum, and others. Intel is also trying hard to gain ground in China and other emerging markets, both through its low-end SoFIA processors and alliances with Chinese chipmakers.
Wed, Feb. 18, 1:35 PM
- Fresh off acquiring IBM's x86 server unit, Lenovo (OTCPK:LNVGY) plans to create an ARM (NASDAQ:ARMH) server prototype for its IBM-developed NeXtScale high-density server line (used in scale-out data centers running Web/cloud, HPC, and analytics workloads). The effort is part of a collaboration with a U.K. HPC R&D lab.
- Lenovo's server will run on Cavium's (NASDAQ:CAVM) ThunderX ARM server CPU line, which supports up to 48 cores per chip and clock speeds of up to 2.5GHz. Lenovo asserts 12 of its ARM servers will support up to 1,152 CPU cores and occupy a modest 6U of rack space.
- The deal gives Cavium a high-profile client as it battles against AppliedMicro, AMD, Qualcomm, and others in the budding ARM server CPU market. Cavium has tried to differentiate itself from rivals in part by creating ThunderX CPUs optimized for storage, networking, and security appliances, as well as by providing high levels of I/O bandwidth. Shares have made new highs.
Wed, Feb. 11, 4:29 AM
- "License revenue momentum has continued throughout the year," said ARM Holdings' (NASDAQ:ARMH) CFO Tim Score, as the company posted strong Q4 results.
- With processor royalty revenue up 16% Y/Y, net profit came in at £72.8M ($111M), compared to a loss of £6.2M a year earlier.
- The semiconductor giant also said it expects revenue to be up 10% Y/Y in Q1, reflecting revenue stemming from robust sales of Apple's iPhone 6.
- ARMH +3.5% premarket
Tue, Feb. 10, 5:30 PM
Mon, Feb. 9, 12:27 PM
- ARM (ARMH -0.5%) has acquired Offspark, a Dutch provider of software that allows smartphones, communications modules, and sensor modules to support the Transport Layer Security protocol (TLS, the successor to SSL). Terms are undisclosed.
- Offspark's PolarSSL TLS solution will be integrated with ARM recently-launched mbed IoT platform, which provides an OS, device server software, and developer tools for embedded devices running on chips sporting ARM CPU cores.
- Though typically using less powerful cores carrying lower royalty rates, microcontrollers going into embedded devices are driving much of ARM's unit growth. Shipments of ARM-based chips rose 19% Y/Y in Q2 to ~3B, with microcontrollers and smart cards accounting for more than 1.1B.
- ARM bought embedded Web connectivity software provider Sensinode last summer. Earnings are due on Wednesday morning.
Tue, Feb. 3, 7:25 PM
- ARM's (NASDAQ:ARMH) new Cortex-A72 CPU core, aimed at processors going into high-end mobile devices in 2016 and later, is said to deliver a ~90% performance boost relative to devices with processors relying on the prior-gen Cortex-A57, and 3.5x the performance of the older/widely-used Cortex-A15. ARM also claims a 75% cut in power draw relative to A15 processors, if performance is kept equal. (PR)
- A clock speed of 2.5GHz. is delivered when using TSMC's 16nm manufacturing process within a "mobile power envelope," and higher speeds when used in larger devices (servers?) with less demanding power constraints. ARM promises enough horsepower to play 4K video at 120fps.
- Also launched: The Mali-T880, a high-end mobile GPU core said to offer an 80% performance gain relative to the prior-gen T760 - it will compete against Imagination's (OTCPK:IGNMF) high-end PowerVR cores - and the CoreLink CCI-500, an SoC interconnect that provides twice the peak memory bandwidth as its predecessor and consumes less power.
- ARM is counting on the offerings to help it stave off Intel (NASDAQ:INTC), which (with the help of generous marketing subsidies) has grabbed a decent chunk of the Android tablet CPU market (it has made less progress with smartphones). It's also looking to keep its CPU core lineup competitive with the custom ARM cores developed by Apple, Qualcomm, and Nvidia.
- Q4 results arrive on Feb. 11.
Thu, Jan. 22, 2:54 PM
- Amazon (AMZN +4.3%) has acquired Annapurna Labs, an Israeli chipmaker that has provided few details about the silicon it's working on. The NYT reports the purchase price is $350M. The WSJ previously reported of a $350M deal price, while adding the final tab could be $375M if certain conditions are met.
- According to the WSJ's sources, Annapurna is developing "midrange networking chips for data centers, offering improvements over existing products in terms of information-transmission rates and power consumption." Israel's Calcalist reports the company is developing "microprocessors that allow fast data traffic for low-power computing servers and storage servers." It also notes CPU core giant ARM (NASDAQ:ARMH) is an investor.
- AWS' data centers contain hundreds of thousands of servers running Intel (NASDAQ:INTC) x86 CPUs. Though Amazon has downplayed the efforts of 3rd-party ARM server CPU vendors, it has also hired several key engineers from defunct ARM CPU vendor Calxeda, a move that has fueled speculation Amazon is prepping its own ARM server chips. Annapurna could assist with the effort.
- The news comes on a day in which Piper has assigned AWS a ~$32B valuation.
- Earlier: Amazon rallies following eBay's earnings
Wed, Jan. 21, 12:12 PM
- Citi's Amit Harchandani has upgraded ARM (ARMH +1.9%) ahead of its Feb. 11 Q4 report, and upped his target by £3.50 to £12 (shares currently go for £10.43 in London).
- Harchandani thinks ARM's CPU cores will maintain a 75%+ tablet share and a 90%+ smartphone share in the face of Intel's efforts to gain ground, and forecasts a ~33% free cash flow CAGR from 2014-2017. He also sees room for ARM to "optimize the balance sheet and enhance capital allocation."
- ARM, long afforded steep multiples on account of its near-monopoly position in the CPU core IP space, currently trades for 33x 2015E EPS. The 2015 revenue growth consensus is at 16.9%.
Tue, Jan. 6, 1:36 PM
- Up 30% in 2014, the Philadelphia Semi Index (SOXX -2.2%) has fallen over 4% thus far in 2015. Today's decline comes as the Nasdaq drops 1.6%.
- Many names are posting 3%+ losses. SWKS -4.2%. QRVO -5.8%. AMAT -3.4%. KLAC -3.1%. SYNA -5.4%. IPHI -9%. ARMH -5.4%. SIMO -4.5%. MCRL -3.9%. AMCC -3.9%. CODE -5.1%. CY -4.6%. QUIK -7.9%.
- This morning, Gartner estimated global chip sales rose 7.9% in 2014 to $339.8B, a little less than the 9.4% recently estimated by IHS. Sell-side firms have forecast industry growth will fall to the ~5% range in 2015.
- Gartner thinks memory sales rose 16.9%, fueled by a 31.7% increase in DRAM sales. All other chip markets rose by 5.4%, a marked improvement from 2013's 0.8%. Intel (15% share) and Samsung (10.4%) claimed over a quarter of industry sales between them. Qualcomm (5.6%), Micron (4.9%), and SK Hynix (4.7%) rounded out the top-5.
- Chip ETFs: SMH, XSD, PSI, SOXL, USD, SOXS, SSG
Dec. 30, 2014, 6:05 PM
- French carrier Iliad's (OTC:ILIAF) Online.net unit plans to launch a cloud infrastructure service next month that runs on servers featuring ARM-based (NASDAQ:ARMH) CPUs supplied by Marvell (NASDAQ:MRVL). Making good on ARM's promise of high densities, 18 servers - each sporting one quad-core CPU - can fit onto a blade, and 16 blades can fit within a chassis.
- Though it's no Google or Amazon, Iliad provides a useful reference win for ARM server CPU vendors as they try to take share from Intel (NASDAQ:INTC), whose Xeon CPUs claim the lion's share of the server market, including most Web/cloud data center deployments.
- Canaccord has forecast ARM server CPUs, still in their infancy, will grab a 20% share by 2018. Hyperscale data centers and application-specific server appliances are seen as areas where ARM-based solutions could stand out.
- Intel is looking to head off the ARM threat both by developing low-power Atom server CPUs, maintaining a manufacturing process edge, and (notably) providing a variety of custom CPUs to Internet giants such as Amazon, Google, Facebook, and eBay; the latest offerings are packaged with Altera (NASDAQ:ALTR) FPGAs to provide on-the-fly programmability.
- Nonetheless, Facebook's Open Compute Project supports both ARM and x86 CPUs, and Google has been reported to be thinking of building its own ARM chip. An Amazon VP recently stated ARM vendors aren't keeping pace with Intel. But Amazon might simply be opting to create its own ARM designs, given it has hired several key engineers from defunct ARM vendor Calxeda.
- Cavium (NASDAQ:CAVM) and AppliedMicro (NASDAQ:AMCC) are often viewed as ARM server CPU plays. AMD, Qualcomm, and Texas Instruments are also competing in this space.
Dec. 9, 2014, 6:14 PM
- The Intel IoT Platform (NASDAQ:INTC), launched today, aims to provide a "reference model" for Web-connected embedded devices (the proverbial Internet of Things), along with related software and services.
- The solution includes: 1) An updated version of the Intel IoT Gateway (launched last year), which provides Web connectivity and data sharing for embedded devices. The gateways will be offered by 20 ODMs by early 2015. 2) Management software from Intel's Wind River (embedded software) unit. 3) Security tools from McAfee. 4) An API and traffic management tools for developers (enabled by the Mashery acquisition).
- Intel is also partnering with Dell, Accenture, SAP, Wipro, and others to create solutions that "provide a repeatable foundation" for the IoT Platform that developers can build customer-specific solutions on top of.
- The chip giant's main goal, of course, is to drive CPU sales - partly for gateways, but primarily for the devices they interact with. Intel offers Atom CPUs for more powerful embedded devices, and Quark CPUs for smaller, low-power products.
- The Intel IoT Platform will face off against ARM's (NASDAQ:ARMH) mbed IoT platform (launched in October). ARM, whose CPU cores claim a large and growing share of the microcontroller market, has provided mbed with an OS, device server software, and developer tools. The solution is meant to run on ARM's low-power Cortex-M CPU cores.
Dec. 3, 2014, 1:48 PM
- The Philadelphia Semi Index (SOXX +1.7%) is making fresh highs after Microchip (MCHP +4.1%) slightly upped its calendar Q4 guidance, and stated it continues to "see an improvement in our bookings and billings since our earnings call on October 30, 2014."
- Chip stocks had also jumped following that earnings call, during which Microchip said it believed the inventory correction that triggered an Oct. 9 warning (and a major chip stock selloff) was mostly over. While a slew of chipmakers provided soft Q4 guidance after Microchip's warning, fears of a major correction didn't pan out.
- The group outperformed a bit yesterday after Cypress (CY +2.9%) announced it's merging with Spansion (CODE +2.5%), continuing the chip industry's consolidation wave. Several firms have upgraded Cypress and/or Spansion in response, praising the deal's cost synergies.
- Notable gainers include not only chipmakers, but also chip equipment, test/assembly, and IP licensing firms: ARMH +3.8%. AMBA +3%. MX +9%. MXIM +4.2%. AMCC +3.5%. ADI +3.1%. SIMG +3.7%. AMKR +4.2%. SPIL +3.3%. SYNA +2.7%. ATML +3.7%. ENTR +3.8%. AMAT +2.7%. KLAC +2.5%.
- Chip ETFs: SMH, XSD, PSI, SOXL, USD, SOXS, SSG
- Last week: Chip stocks rally after ADI's earnings
Nov. 13, 2014, 6:36 AM
- Makers of chips that use ARM's (NASDAQ:ARMH) technology aren’t keeping up with Intel's (NASDAQ:INTC) pace of innovation, announced James Hamilton, vice president of Amazon Web Services. "It’s just not quite moving fast enough."
- As a result, Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) isn’t ready to start using alternatives to Intel’s chips in its servers.
- Data-center operators are also looking for more efficient components, not just cheaper ones, due to the price of powering and cooling warehouses. "Any time I work out the cost models, it’s not quite there," said Hamilton.
Oct. 31, 2014, 11:31 AM
- Three weeks after providing a calendar Q3 warning that triggered a massive chip stock rout, Microchip (MCHP +7.3%) has provided Q4 guidance that's in-line with lowered estimates. The microcontroller vendor, which has often seen trends emerge ahead of peers, also said it saw most of its inventory correction in Q3, and expects Q4 sales to be just "slightly below typical seasonal levels."
- Chip stocks are up strongly (SOXX +4%) on a day the Nasdaq is up 1.4%. Since Microchip's warning, a slew of analog chipmakers and microcontroller firms (e.g. Atmel, Freescale, STMicro, Intersil, Linear) have offered light Q4 guidance, and other firms have reported seeing high-end Android weakness (e.g. Synaptics, Cirrus Logic, Amkor).
- On the other hand, several mobile chipmakers (Skyworks, RF Micro, TriQuint, Silicon Motion), some of which have decent iPhone exposure, have provided strong results and/or guidance. Other chipmakers, such as Broadcom, Texas Instruments, and Xilinx, have rallied after delivering in-line guidance.
- Susquehanna's Chris Caso: "By now, we think it’s clear that the weakness MCHP saw in September is not company specific ... The question now is if the full extent of the weakness has been dialed into estimates. If it has, then this would be among the shortest and mildest downturns in many years."
- Notable gainers: SNDK +3.9%. MU +4.1%. AMAT +3.9%. TXN +4.7%. NXPI +3.9%. NVDA +3.5%. MXIM +4.7%. LLTC +5.1%. FCS +9.6%. FSL +8.8%. ADI +6.5%. TQNT +6.8%. RFMD +6.5%. ATML +5.9%. AVGO +5.1%. MRVL +4.7%. AMCC +8.9%. BRCM +3.6%. TSM +4.4%. ARMH +3.3%.
- Intel (INTC +3.5%) has recovered most of the losses it saw yesterday due to Intesil's (ISIL +3.3%) results and guidance, and related comments about a PC chip inventory correction.
- Chip ETFs: SMH, XSD, PSI, SOXL, USD, SOXS, SSG
ARMH vs. ETF Alternatives
ARM Holdings PLC designs microprocessors, physical IP and related technology and software, and sells development tools to enhance the performance and energy-efficiency of high-volume embedded applications.
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