Last year, Huawei was the first artificial intelligence processor to rob the limelight. This time it decided not to make the same mistake again.
On the evening of August 22, Qualcomm officially announced that it will introduce a system-on-a-chip platform for the 7nm process technology, which can be paired with the Opteron X50 5G modem. In its official press release, Qualcomm described it as: “The first flagship mobile platform that supports 5G and targets the top smartphones and mobile devices. ”
Despite the vagueness of the official, the industry knows that this flagship mobile platform refers to the Snapdragon 855. Qualcomm said that the new mobile platform has been sampled by a number of OEMs to help them release new smartphones supporting 5G networks in the first half of 2019.
Technology patent licenses and semiconductor chips are the two main businesses of Qualcomm. Huawei is relatively diversified, with consumer electronics such as mobile phones and tablets, as well as communications equipment and cloud services. The two companies have no direct competition in the main business, and even inevitably have to cooperate with the company. In the past two years, there have been more gunpowder flavors in the dark.
Eaten & quot; dark losses & rdquo; Qualcomm
The same "error", no one wants to make another second.
In September 2017, Huawei released its annual flagship chip, the Kirin 970, in Berlin, Germany. The SoC uses TSMC's 10nm process and has a built-in independent NPU (Neural Network Unit). Intentionally or unintentionally, the Kirin 970 was promoted in China as “the world's first artificial intelligence mobile processor”.
On the other hand, Huawei rushed to run "artificial intelligence processor", this publicity point, Qualcomm is somewhat unprepared.
At the same time as the Kirin 970 was released, Qualcomm temporarily held a small media communication meeting. The core was to spread the artificial intelligence project that started in 2007, and it was already on the Snapdragon 820 two years ago. The first generation of artificial intelligence platform.
Of course, the spread of Qualcomm was quickly overwhelmed by the massive articles promoting the Kirin 970.
On the eve of the launch of Qualcomm Xiaolong 845 in December of the same year, the product manager of Qualcomm's flagship chip 8 series evaluated Huawei Kirin 970, and said to Phoenix Media Technology and other media: “Huawei has made some sounds in the chip field, but we are the best. of. ”
In the product announcement of Xiaolong 845, Qualcomm also regarded the improvement of artificial intelligence as one of the key points of publicity. Emphasizing this third-generation AI mobile platform, not only CPU, GPU, and DSP support AI algorithms, but the computing power is three times higher than that of the previous generation Xiaolong 835.
In fact, the tit-for-tat between Huawei and Qualcomm is not just superficially advertised. In addition to the chip business, the technology patent licensing business has been Qualcomm's largest source of profit. Apple, Samsung and other mobile phone giants have paid a high amount of royalties to Qualcomm, including Huawei.
Qualcomm is a company that started with technology research and development, and every mobile phone has Qualcomm's invention. According to Qualcomm's patent licensing model, technology transfer fees are required to be paid to them regardless of their use. That is to say, Huawei is currently using its own Kirin chips, but the patent fees for Qualcomm are still not enough.
Apple had a lawsuit against Qualcomm last year because of the patent fee. It is totally unreasonable for Qualcomm to claim the patent license fee for each iPhone. The lawsuit has not been settled until now. Huawei and Samsung have been complaining about this, and this is no longer a secret in the industry.
In November last year, Qualcomm lowered the standard required patent license fee rate including 5G. After the adjustment, the actual license rate for single-mode 5G handsets is 2.275% of the sales price; the actual license rate for multimode (3G/4G/5G) handsets is 3.25% of the sales price. With this adjustment, Qualcomm set a cap price of 400 US dollars (about 2,670 yuan) for the net price of each mobile phone, which means that the smartphone with a net price of 500 US dollars is also calculated according to 400 dollars.
But even if it is downgraded, for Huawei's last year's global shipments of 153 million units, this year's impact on 200 million mobile phone manufacturers, the patent fee is still a small expense. In the upcoming 5G era, Qualcomm wants to maintain its market position in the 3G and 4G eras, and Huawei and Samsung want to reverse the passive.
During the World Mobile Communications Conference held in Barcelona in February this year, the friction between the two sides began to come to the stage.
The smell of gunpowder is getting stronger
On February 25th, local time, Huawei opened a new product launch conference. The “One More Thing” was a 5G chip ——Balong 5G01. Huawei said in an official press release that this is "the first commercial 3G chip based on 3GPP standards".
On the second day of the 5G topic media communication meeting, Peter Carson, senior director of marketing at Qualcomm, retorted at the beginning: “The recent attention to 5G in the industry is getting higher and higher. We are also concerned that some friends hope to be able to ‘Rewrite history & rsquo;. ” Peter Carson said that "Friends" refers to Huawei.
He said that Qualcomm has released the world's first 5G modem & mdash; — Snapdragon X50 5G modem at last year's MWC; in October last year in Hong Kong announced the Snapdragon X50 5G modem chipset, the world's first 5G Data call.
Perhaps some of the things are still unfinished, Peter Carson added: "We also saw that our business launched their 5G chipset, the volume is still relatively large, not suitable for the needs of mobile terminals. Our goal has always been that the 5G chipset must meet the mobile terminal's need for size, performance and connection speed. ”
It seems that I feel the subtle relationship between the two companies. This year, Huawei’s rotating chairman Xu Zhijun and founder Ren Zhengfei have stated that Huawei and Qualcomm are good partners.
First, at the Huawei Global Analyst Conference in April this year, Xu Zhijun said that Huawei does not position the chip as an independent business and will not generate revenue based on the chip. At that time, he said that Huawei has always been a multi-chip supply strategy in terms of smart phones. Until now, Huawei has no idea or plan to sell Kirin chips.
“Can't hang on a tree. If you hang on a tree, which day the Kirin chip is behind, what should we do with our smartphone? & rdquo; Xu Zhijun said. The implication is that Huawei's mid-to-high-end mobile phones and tablets are almost all using their own Kirin chips, but there is no commercial competition with Qualcomm in the chip business.
As the founder of Huawei, Ren Zhengfei’s statement is more direct. On July 3 this year, Ren Zhengfei gave a speech at the symposium of Fellow and some European Institutes. The theme was "Strive for Resilience, Rejuvenation for Ten Years". In his speech, he said that Huawei will buy 50,000 sets of Qualcomm chips this year. “We will never go to the opposite, we are all created for humanity. We will always be friends with Intel, Broadcom, Apple, Samsung, Microsoft, Google, Qualcomm … … ” Ren Zhengfei said.
At this point, Qualcomm seems to be relieved: Huawei will not be a competitor. But forever friends, there is still an occasional rush in business.
At the semi-annual performance communication meeting of Huawei's consumer business at the beginning of this month, Huawei's consumer business CEO Yu Chengdong had already released the words, saying that Xiaolong 855 had not released a good evaluation, but Huawei's Kirin 980 would be far away. Leading Qualcomm's Xiaolong 845”. He said at the time: "I will blow the cow out first, then you will see it." "For mobile phone processors, the chip process is about small, which means the performance is stronger. This time, Huawei claims that the Kirin 980 will be the world's first mobile platform using 7nm technology.
But this time, Qualcomm did not want Huawei to grab the first 7nm process, and the most important thing was the limelight of the world's first 5G mobile processor.
Therefore, the first Huawei Huawei Kirin 980 conference was held for more than three months ahead of the official release. Qualcomm announced that its next-generation flagship SoC will also adopt a new generation 7nm process and support 5G network connection. At the same time, Qualcomm also announced that the industry has already given mobile phone manufacturers a sample. In the first half of next year, consumers will continue to see 5G mobile phones equipped with Xiaolong 855.
5G chip manufacturers' contest
In order to take advantage of the next-generation mobile communication technology 5G network, not only Qualcomm, Samsung, MediaTek and other manufacturers are also accelerating the speed of the layout.
On August 15th, Samsung introduced its first 5G baseband chip, the Exynos Modem 5100, with a 10nm process. According to Samsung, this is the world's first 5G baseband chip that fully complies with the 3GPP R155G international standard, and has successfully passed the wireless call test between the 5G prototype terminal and the 5G base station.
Samsung said that the chip will be officially launched at the end of 2018, and the device equipped with this chip will be shipped in the first quarter of 2019. This is another big step after Samsung announced the 3.5GHz 5GNR base station in July this year. The intention behind it is obvious —— the sword refers to 5G.
At the Taipei International Computer Show in June this year, another chip company MediaTek also released the first 5G baseband chip M70, also based on TSMC 7nm process, will support 5G NR (New Radio), and meet the latest standards of 3GPP Release 15 Specification, but will be officially commercialized by the beginning of 2019.
Compared to the 5G progress of the Qualcomm Xiaolong X50, MediaTek is slower. Prior to this, Qualcomm has signed a large purchase intention agreement with mobile phone companies such as Xiaomi, OPPO and vivo. For MediaTek, whose chip market share has been squeezed in the past two years, it may still be suppressed by Qualcomm on the 5G chip in the future.
According to the timetable given by the three major operators of China Mobile, China Unicom and China Telecom, the 5G network will begin commercial trials in the first half of next year and will be officially commercialized in 2020. At present, the three major operators have also started the 5G network pilot in many hot cities across the country.
According to market research firm Digitimes Research, 5G terminal devices, including smartphones, CPE and WiFi devices, will be available in large-scale shipments until 2021 after they are launched in the market in 2019.
As the chip giants continue to accelerate their pace in 5G commercialization, the timetable for the release of 5G smartphones becomes clearer, and the first batch of 5G smartphones are becoming more and more fierce. For example, Samsung said that it will launch 5G mobile phones in March 2019. Huawei said that it will launch 5G mobile phones in June 2019. OPPO and vivo also indicated that they will become the first manufacturers to launch 5G mobile phones in 2019.
At the same time as the giants compete with each other, the era of 5G mobile phones is coming.
[This article comes from Phoenix Technologies, author: Chen Yi]