Thursday, May 26, 2016

Why Didn't Win This New Phone?

By Ashraf ssa

A while back, (NASDAQ: INTC ) and longtime PC partner announced the ZenFone series of smart. The ZenFone 4, 5, and 6 all sported older eration Clover Trail+ Atom processors along with 's 3G modems. Around the same time as this family of launched, announced that it had signed a multiyr, multidevice strategic relationship with for a whole family of smartphone and tablets. Interestingly enough, according to VR-Zone China, ' next smartphone -- an LTE-capable 4.5-inch device that looks similar to the -powered ZenFone line -- will be powered by Qualcomm (NASDAQ:QCOM ) silicon.

It's that integration
The low-cost, LTE-capable phone from will sport a low-end Qualcomm Snapdragon 400. This chipset has proven exceptionally popular and has powered everything from 's Galaxy S4 Mini to hordes of white-box smart in Asia. It is not a particularly zippy chip, sporting four low-end ARM (NASDAQ: ARMH ) Cortex A7 cores, but it is highly integrated and comes with a Qualcomm LTE modem as well as 802.11ac connectivity built right onto the processor.

What does have to offer in this space? Well, for a low-cost LTE product, would have two main options:
's prior-eration 32-nanometer Clover Trail+ platform paired with discrete connectivity combo and 's XMM 7160 modem; and
's latest-eration 22-nanometer Merrifield platform paired with discrete connectivity and 's XMM 7160 LTE modem.

With the Qualcomm processor, gets a lot of value integrated onto a single chip. With the platform, needs to not only buy 's processor, but it also needs to buy a separate LTE modem and a connectivity combo chip. Not only does this incrse the printed circuit board footprint, but it also likely impacts power consumption to some non-trivial degree.

Why is this? In Qualcomm's case, both the Wi-Fi and cellular modem are built on the lower-power 28-nanometer LP process. In 's case, the discrete modem as well as the connectivity combo are likely built on the aging 40-nanometer process for Merrifield, although for Moorefield the situation gets a lot better as the modem is built on 28-nanometer. That said, in order to fully capture the manufacturing ld that it has, needs all of the performance/power sensitive components in the platform need to be built on the latest manufacturing technology.

Do you now see why needs SoFIA?
One of the first "big" moves that 's new CEO, Brian Krzanich, made was to put a product known as SoFIA on the smartphone/tablet road map. This is a TSMC-built 28-nanometer high-K/metal gate (this is the faster of the two 28-nanometer mobile offerings from TSMC) part that integrates the cellular modem into the main processor and the connectivity into the RF transceiver.

While the apps processor doesn't get the benefit of 's latest-and-grtest process technology, the entire platform should be much cer and potentially lower power relative to the Merrifield (22-nanometer) + XMM 7160 (40-nanometer baseband/65-nanometer RF transceiver) combination. This would finally allow to compete on even-footing for mass-market smart.

's SoFIA is a game changer, but this could be even bigger
While 's smartphone product pipeline continues to improve, just wait until you see this. The next big thing after smart is on the way, and just like buying before it became the world-class PC and server chip house, you now have an opportunity to get in on this opportunity before the world ches on! Click here to get the full story in this eye-opening new report.


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