Fri, Apr. 3, 3:20 PM
- Whereas Qualcomm (NASDAQ:QCOM) had six chips designed into many Galaxy S5 models, a Chipworks teardown of Samsung's (OTC:SSNLF) Galaxy S6 didn't turn up a single Qualcomm part.
- In addition to eschewing the Snapdragon 810 app processor (widely reported, and hinted at by Qualcomm itself) in favor of its 8-core Exynos 7420, Samsung (possibly prioritizing margins over performance/battery life) replaced Qualcomm baseband modem, power management, RF transceiver, and envelope tracking chips with home-grown parts. As expected, Samsung is also using its own DRAM/NAND chips and image processor.
- Though Chipworks says it needs to confirm, the site believes Samsung is also using its own NFC controller. NXP (NASDAQ:NXPI) supplies the S5's NFC controller (as well as the iPhone 6's).
- Broadcom (NASDAQ:BRCM) might also be a casualty of Samsung's attempts to buy local: Whereas the S5 contained a Wi-Fi module from Broadcom combo chip client Murata, Chipworks uncovered a Samsung Wi-Fi module - Samsung has already been using home-grown combo chips in cheaper phones. On the other hand, a Broadcom GPS/GNSS chip is included.
- A Texas Instruments (NASDAQ:TXN) wireless power receiver handles wireless charging for the S6; many expected IDT (NASDAQ:IDTI), which supplies a transmitter chip for the S6's wireless charging pad, would score the design. Meanwhile, Cirrus Logic's (NASDAQ:CRUS) Wolfson unit supplies an audio codec IC, and Maxim (NASDAQ:MXIM) is providing an audio amplifier and complementary power management IC.
- Skyworks (NASDAQ:SWKS) and Avago (NASDAQ:AVGO) have won RF slots: The former provides a multi-mode/multi-band front-end module and antenna switch, and the latter two power amplifier modules. Both companies also had S5 design wins.
- Not surprisingly, InvenSense (NYSE:INVN) is providing a 6-axis gyroscope/accelerometer (the MPU-6500). As was rumored, STMicroelectronics (NYSE:STM) won the touch controller slot, beating out S5 supplier Synaptics.
- While Qualcomm lost out on the S6, the company has landed a number of other Snapdragon 810 design wins for high-end Android phones. The Snapdragon 820, which sports a next-gen ARM CPU core (Kryo) and Qualcomm's Zeroth neural networking tech, begins sampling in 2H15. 3D SoCs (said to enable a 50% shrink in die size) are expected to enter testing in 2016.
- The Chipworks teardown follows a long list of glowing reviews for the S6 - reviewers especially like the 2K display and Samsung's decision to go with a metal/glass body instead of the usual plastic - and reports of production hikes and strong pre-orders. Sales start on April 10.
- Update: A Chinese S6 teardown turned up a chip said to be an NXP NFC part; its name (the 66T05) is very different from the chips in NXP's announced NFC controller line. A Sprint RDF file indicates Sprint's version of the S6 features Qualcomm's MDM9635 modem. That suggests Samsung could use Qualcomm modems for phones requiring 3G EV-DO compatibility (those used by Sprint, Verizon, and a handful of overseas carriers).
Wed, Apr. 1, 1:24 AM
- "The iPhone 6 (NASDAQ:AAPL) Has Met Its Match," reads the headline for the WSJ's review of Samsung's (OTC:SSNLF) Galaxy S6.
- Reviewer/iPhone 6 owner Joanna Stern: "Like a child who just found out that Santa isn’t real, I have spent the past week questioning everything I know." She's a fan of the S6's glass/metal body with dual Gorilla Glass 4 (NYSE:GLW) panes, as well as its 2K OLED display, improved fingerprint sensor, rapid charging support, and 16MP OIS-capable camera. "The Galaxy S6 destroys HTC’s new One M9 and other flagship Android phones ... on photo quality."
- The Verge's Dieter Bohn gives the S6 8.8/10 stars. "Samsung finally copied the right thing: caring about design." Bohn declares the S6 to have "one of the finest screens I have ever seen on a phone," thanks to a 577 PPI pixel density and improved color awareness. He also calls the device (powered by an 8-core Exynos CPU) "probably the fastest Android phone I’ve ever used."
- BGR's Zach Epstein: "Samsung’s Galaxy S6 features a stunning design that manages to be sleek and elegant, yet modern ... Samsung has raised the bar when it comes to smartphone screens ... Samsung finally stopped obsessing about increasing its [camera] megapixel counts and instead focused on improving its optics, design and software performance ... I’ve never used a phone that charged from empty to full as quickly as this one."
- Samsung's software, though declared to be improved from the S5's (less bloatware, and what remains is often buried), still gets some criticism. Epstein reports seeing a lag with some UI features, and Stern is critical of Samsung's icons and keyboard. Also: Reviewers generally see little reason to pay an extra $100 for the curved S6 Edge, and some Android users might not like the S6's lack of a removable battery or microSD slot.
- Ahead of the reviews, there have been reports Samsung has upped S6 production due to strong early interest. The phone goes on sale on April 10.
- Other reviews: TechCrunch, CNET, Re/code, TechRadar
- Expected S6 suppliers: BRCM, INVN, OLED, SYNA, MXIM, IDTI
- A month ago: Samsung launches metal/glass S6 with Gorilla Glass 4, 2K display, new fingerprint sensor
Wed, Mar. 25, 12:03 PM
- Chip stocks are particularly hard-hit (SOXX -3.6%) on a rough day for tech. The Nasdaq is down 1.3%, and the S&P 0.7%. Going into today, good earnings reports and ongoing M&A activity had led the Philadelphia Semi Index to rise 10% from its Jan. 30 close; the index remains up nearly 2x from its fall 2012 lows.
- AMD (AMD -7.2%) is a major decliner following a UBS downgrade. AMD rival/GPU giant Nvidia (NVDA -5.2%) and memory giant Micron (MU -3.7%) are also selling off, as are merger partners NXP (NXPI -3.8%) and Freescale (FSL -3.4%), RF chipmakers Avago (AVGO -5.2%), Skyworks (SWKS -5.3%), and Qorvo (QRVO -7.1%), LED/RF chipmaker Cree (CREE -4.1%), and high-flying video processor developer Ambarella (AMBA -4.3%).
- Other decliners include telecom chipmakers/ARM server CPU vendors Cavium (CAVM -4.8%) and AppliedMicro (AMCC -4.4%), microcontroller vendors Atmel (ATML -3.5%), Cypress (CY -5.5%), and STMicroelectronics (STM -3.5%), voice processor developer Audience (ADNC -3.7%), analog/mixed-signal chipmakers Linear (LLTC -3.7%), Maxim (MXIM -3%), and Intersil (ISIL -3.5%), FPGA maker Lattice (LSCC -3.9%), and mixed-signal/wireless charging IC developer IDT (IDTI -5.4%).
- Chip equipment, IP, and foundry providers are also underperforming. Big decliners include ARM (ARMH -4.4%), KLA-Tencor (KLAC -4.2%), Lam Research (LRCX -5.4%), ASML (ASML -4.1%), TowerJazz (TSEM -4.3%), Mattson (MTSN -4.5%), Ultratech (UTEK -4.7%), and Tessera (TSRA -6.1%). ASML has been downgraded to Hold by Banco Santander.
- TSMC (TSM -4.6%) is among the decliners in spite of a Digitimes report stating the foundry giant's sales are expected to rise 0%-5% Q/Q in Q2 - consensus is for a 2% drop - with strong Apple A8 CPU orders offsetting soft Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 orders.
- Chip ETFs: SMH, XSD, PSI, SOXL, USD, SOXS, SSG
Tue, Mar. 3, 12:26 AM
- IDT (NASDAQ:IDTI) announced today (amidst the Mobile World Congress) the wireless charging pad for Samsung's Galaxy phones - the company just launched the wireless charging-capable S6 and S6 Edge - uses an IDT transmitter IC.
- No word on whether IDT is the charging IC supplier for the S6 itself. Dougherty previously argued such a deal could deliver $112M-$135M in annual revenue. For reference, IDT's 2015 revenue consensus is at $572.5M.
- Also: IDT has launched Wireless PowerShare, a transmitter/receiver chip that supports multiple charging standards and allows a mobile device to be charged simply by placing it on top of another device - for example, a smartwatch can be charged by placing it on top of a smartphone or tablet.
- The announcements come shortly after IDT unveiled new transmitter and receiver charging chips that can respectively handle 15W and 10W of power, with the former able to power multiple devices.
- Shares were volatile today, but closed up 2.8%. A broader chip stock rally sparked by the NXP/Freescale deal helped out.
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.
Mon, Feb. 2, 5:47 PM
- IDT (NASDAQ:IDTI) has guided on its FQ3 CC for FQ4 revenue of $154M-$162M, well above a $141.9M consensus. Consumer, computing, and telecom chip sales are respectively expected to rise 8%, 6%, and 3% during the seasonally weak quarter.
- CEO Greg Waters: "We have become the clear leader in the latest generation of DDR4 memory interface, and our [Serial RapidIO] business is benefiting from the continued deployment of 4G LTE base stations on a global basis." He asserts IDT gained share "at key customers across all of our key business lines" in FQ3. No "meaningful contribution" was provided by IDT's wireless charging IC business, which is expected to ramp in 2015.
- Gross margin was 61.5%, up from 61.2% in FQ2 and down from 62.4% a year ago. R&D spend rose by $400K Y/Y to $29.7M, and SG&A spend by $2.8M to $23.9M.
- Shares are up to $19.92 in AH trading. The 52-week high is $20.41.
- FQ3 results, PR
Mon, Feb. 2, 5:35 PM
Mon, Feb. 2, 4:06 PM
Sun, Feb. 1, 5:35 PM
Thu, Jan. 22, 1:15 AM
- Citing a "trusted source," BGR has provided a detailed list of specs for Samsung's (OTC:SSNLF) upcoming Galaxy S6. Among the specs: A 5.1" quad HD (2560x1440) display, an 8-core CPU (presumably Samsung Exynos) that relies on Samsung/Globalfoundries' new 14nm manufacturing process, a 20MP rear camera with optical image stabilization, and a 5MP front camera with a large f/1.8 aperture (good for low-light shots).
- Samsung's next-gen flagship is also said to use Corning's (NYSE:GLW) Gorilla Glass 4, which was launched only in November and offers improved durability. With other reports stating the S6 will have glass panels on both its front and back (to go with a metal frame), two Gorilla Glass 4 panels might be used.
- Wireless charging is reportedly supported, along with a rapid charging feature that enables four hours of usage on a 10-minute charge. Dougherty thinks IDT (NASDAQ:IDTI) has a decent chance of being the S6's wireless charging IC supplier, and that a design win could yield $112M-$135M in annual revenue.
- Samsung is believed to be prepping both a standard S6 model, and one with curved edges. The S6 is expected to be revealed on March 2, the first day of this year's Mobile World Congress.
- Following a rough 2014, the Korean tech giant appears hungry to deliver new high-end models that stand out relative to the offerings of share-gaining Chinese OEMs. IDC estimates Samsung had a 23.8% Q4 global smartphone share, down from 32.5% a year earlier.
Wed, Jan. 7, 6:11 PM
- Clobbered yesterday amid wireless charging-related concerns, IDT (NASDAQ:IDTI) closed up 5.9% today after Stephens and Craig-Hallum came to the company's defense. The former hiked its target by $6 to $25.
- Both Stephens and CH argue concerns about the inclusion (per Dougherty) of ON Semi (NASDAQ:ONNN) wireless charging ICs in a Qualcomm reference design - IDT has been a Qualcomm partner since 2012 - are overblown. Stephens' Harsh Kumar: "We fully expected the inclusion of other vendors such as ON Semi. It doesn't mean that other vendors are kicked out."
- CH asserts the ON design has been available for months, and has gained little traction. ON rose fractionally yesterday and 1.6% today.
Tue, Jan. 6, 11:06 AM
- Two of the standards bodies battling for the future of wireless charging - A4WP/Rezence and PMA - have announced at CES they're burying the hatchet and plan to form a single entity that supports each group's charging technology.
- A third group, the Wireless Power Consortium (Qi), remains out of the picture, though talks to add it to the alliance are believed to be in the cards. PMA and Qi, which have made the most real-world progress to date, can only support the charging of a single device at a time. Rezence solutions could potentially recharge multiple devices at once.
- Starbucks recently began a rollout of PMA-based wireless chargers. Meanwhile, a number of Android and Windows Phones support Qi.
- IDT (NASDAQ:IDTI), which has developed wireless power transmitter and receiver ICs for all three standards, has sold off hard; a cautious Dougherty note on CES developments is contributing.
- Energous (NASDAQ:WATT), which is working on a proprietary charging solution (still in development stage) that doesn't require mats, is also off. Energous joined PMA last month as the chair of a new Uncoupled Power Working Group.
- IDT rolled out new Qi and PMA transmitter ICs in November, including a dual-mode solution. The company says it's "working cooperatively with prominent industry players" to create Rezence products.
- Update: Dougherty believes ON Semi's wireless charging ICs have been included in a Qualcomm reference design, and views this as a negative for IDT.
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