Report: Microsoft and Google Concerned that a Broadcom Acquisition of Qualcomm Would Stifle Innovation

By now, we are well-familiar with Broadcom’s proposed acquisition of Qualcomm. Broadcom proposed an unsolicited $105 billion acquisition bid of Qualcomm last month, but Qualcomm rejected it on account of the bid “significantly undervaluing the company.” News then emerged that Qualcomm wanted Broadcom to raise its bid by $10 a share. Then, in a significant escalation, Broadcom nominated a new slate of board of directors for Qualcomm—the first step in a potential hostile takeover of Qualcomm. Qualcomm responded by calling it a “blatant attempt to seize control of the […] board in order to advance Broadcom’s acquisition agenda.”

The ultimate fate of the deal could have far-reaching implications for the tech industry, and now, a CNBC report states that Microsoft and Google are among companies that have expressed private concerns to Qualcomm about a takeover of the company by Broadcom. According to the CNBC report, the companies are said to be wary of Apple’s potential influence over a deal. It also noted that regulators tend to ask for input from key players in an industry before making a judgment on whether or not to approve a deal.

CNBC report continued by stating that according to its sources, Qualcomm has told Microsoft, Google, and other companies not to make any public statements opposing a deal. This is because the U.S.-based chip maker wants to see if Broadcom will significantly increase its $70-per-share offer before standing up firmly against a possible deal.

The report added that a Broadcom takeover of Qualcomm may improve Apple’s relationship with Qualcomm. We have previously seen reports that Broadcom’s Chief Executive has said that in the event of having acquired Qualcomm, the patent disputes with Apple could be solved. Qualcomm provides modem chips used in Apple’s mobile devices, and the chip maker is involved in multiple lawsuits with Apple—the latest being a countersuit filed by Apple against Qualcomm for patent infringement.

One possible result of the litigation could result in Apple abandoning Qualcomm for future products, according to the report. However, it continued by stating that Broadcom Chief Executive Hock Tan has privately expressed optimism about an ongoing litigation settlement with Apple in the event of Broadcom acquiring Qualcomm.

So why are Microsoft and Google said to be have expressed concerns to Qualcomm about a possible acquisition by Broadcom? It’s simple: Microsoft and Google are Apple’s competitors. If Apple gains by settling its ongoing litigation with Qualcomm and gaining a stronger position in the industry, both Microsoft and Google could be adversely affected.

Google also has another reason for being concerned about a possible deal. Most Android smartphones use Qualcomm Snapdragon processors, from the Snapdragon 800 series in flagship smartphones down to the Snapdragon 200 series in entry-level smartphones. If Broadcom cuts costs instead of continuing R&D and trying to innovate on mobile processors, there will be a negative impact on Android phones—leading to a negative impact on Google.

Microsoft’s reason for being involved is because of its collaboration with Qualcomm. Qualcomm this week launched Always Connected PCs built using Windows on ARM. Windows on ARM is a collaboration by Microsoft and Qualcomm to make the full version of Windows (along with Win32 apps via emulation) run on Snapdragon processors. The first Snapdragon 835 laptops will soon be released in the market.

CNBC notes that despite being two of the largest companies in the world, Microsoft and Google can’t rival Apple or Samsung in terms of sales volume from either Qualcomm or Broadcom (as Microsoft and Google aren’t companies primarily dealing in hardware). According to the report, both Microsoft and Google are said to “perceive an independent Qualcomm as being more closely aligned with their interests than a Broadcom-owned Qualcomm that is [closer to] Apple.” It added that both companies have also privately expressed concerns with Mr. Tan’s reputation of cutting costs at the expense of increasing spending on innovation.

Finally, the report states that complaints about Broadcom’s proposed deal from third-parties like Microsoft and Google may result in the deal’s failure. This is because Mr. Tan noted that Broadcom, acquired by Avago in 2014, would not have made this offer if it was not confident that the company’s “common global customers would [accept] the proposed combination.” It seems that the Broadcom-Qualcomm acquisition saga isn’t going to end anytime soon, so we will have to wait and see how it goes.

Source: CNBC

Qualcomm Snapdragon Tech Summit Roundup: Snapdragon 845, Spectra 280 ISP, Hexagon 685 DSP, and More

The newest flagship in Qualcomm’s system-on-chip (SoC) lineup, the Snapdragon 845, was announced on Wednesday at the chipmaker’s Snapdragon Tech Summit in Hawaii. But that wasn’t the conference’s only highlight. Missed this week’s coverage? Don’t fret — we’ve summarized all of Qualcomm’s biggest announcements, including the Hexagon 685 DSP, the Adreno 630, and the Spectra 280 ISP.

The Qualcomm Snapdragon 845

Specs Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 Qualcomm Snapdragon 835
Chipset 845 (10nm LPP) 835 (10nm LPE)
CPU 4x 2.8GHz Kryo 385 (A75 “performance”), 4x 1.8GHz Kryo 385 (A55 “efficiency”) 4x 2.45GHz Kryo 280 (A73 big), 4x 1.9GHz Kryo 280 (A53 LITTLE)
GPU Adreno 630 GPU Adreno 540 GPU
Memory 4x 1866MHz 32-bit LPDDR4X 4x 1866MHz 32-bit LPDDR4X
ISP/Camera Dual 14-bit Spectra 280 ISP __ 32MP Dual 14-bit Spectra ISP 14-bit 32MP
Modem Snapdragon X20 LTE
(Cat 18 downlink, Cat 13 uplink)
Snapdragon X16 LTE (Cat 16 downlink, Cat 13 uplink)

Kryo 385 Cores

Kryo 385 Cores in the Snapdragon 845

The Snapdragon 845, Qualcomm’s most powerful system-on-chip yet, is a force to be reckoned with.

It features eight semi-custom Kyro 385 cores that make use of ARM’s Built on ARM Cortex Technology license, which allowed Qualcomm to implement CPU-level tweaks exclusively in the Snapdragon 845. And it’s the first to adopt ARM’s DynamIQ big.LITTLE organization, which hosts the cores in the same cluster.

Four low-power, low-performance “efficiency” A55 cores are clocked at 1.8GHz and four high-performance A75 cores are clocked at 2.8GHz (up from the Snapdragon 835’s 2.45GHz CPU cores), and they ramp across three voltage and frequency planes. Each has a private L2 cache in addition to a shared 2MB L3 cache and 3MB system cache, which cuts down on memory bandwidth consumption by as much as 75 percent compared to earlier Snapdragon generations. They’re fabricated on Samsung Foundry’s second-generation LPP (Low Power Plus) 10nm FinFET process, which translates to substantial gains in power efficiency.

Qualcomm claims that overall, the Snapdragon 845’s four A75 cores deliver 25 – 30 percent better performance than the previous generation, and that they’re 25 – 30 percent more power efficient. And it says the A55 cores are 15 percent faster than the low-power cores in the Snapdragon 835.

Adreno 630 GPU

adreno 630 snapdragon 845

The Adrena 630 — the new graphics chip in the Snapdragon 845 — boasts a 30 percent decrease in power consumption, a 30 percent increase in computing power, and 2.5 times the display throughput of the Snapdragon 835’s Adreno 540. Those are serious claims, and we’ve yet to put the Adreno 630 through its paces. But from what we’ve seen so far, it’s impressive.

Adreno puts an outsized focus on augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) experiences. Qualcomm’s Adreno Foveation, a tile-based rendering technique, cuts down on processing overhead in devices with eye-tracking sensors by rendering (1) only the areas in scenes that aren’t being viewed, and that (2) lie outside the foveoa of vision. Multiview rendering, another performance-saving feature of the Adreno 630, processes the left eye buffer first, mirroring it to the right eye buffer and adjusting postion, reflections, and rendered elements as needed. And lastly, the graphics gip’s support for fine-grained preemption — an essential part of techniques like front buffer strip rendering and asynchronous time warping — improves overall latency.

The Adreno 630 also scales to a wider range of VR headset configurations than its predecessors. Qualcomm says it can drive up to two 2k displays at 120 frames per second, compared to the Adreno 540’s max of two 1.5k displays at 60 frames per second.

The Spectra 280 ISP

Source: Qualcomm

The Spectra 280, Qualcomm’s second-generation image signal processor, is an upgraded version of the Snapdragon 835’s Spectra 180 ISP, and its headlining feature is support for high dynamic range recording. It’s the world’s first ISP capable of capturing 4K 60-frames-per-second video in the Ultra HD Premium format, which specifies an ultra-wide color gamut and 10-bit color (also known as deep color).

Here’s what that means in plain English: UHD Premium content delivers 30 bits per pixel, which equates to 1024 shades of each primary color for a total of 1.07 billion colors, or 64 times the 16.7 million colors that the average computer monitor and television set can display. It’s noticeably more detailed than non-UHD Premium video, and all but eliminates artifacts like color banding in photos and videos.

On the color gamut side of the equation, support for UHD Premium means the Spectra can take advantage of the ITU-R Rec. 2020 color space, which covers 75.8 percent of colors visible to the human eye (CIE XYZ). The end result is a much more immersive viewing experiences on devices that can play back the Spectra 280 ISP’s HDR format.

HDR video not your style? You might appreciate the Spectra 280’s enhanced slow-motion video: It’s capable of recording 480 frames per second at 720p or 240 frames per second at 1080p.

But that’s not all that’s improved in the second-generation Spectra ISP. Qualcomm’s integrated support for multi-frame noise reduction, much like what’s seen in the Google Pixel 2 and 2 XL’s HDR+ and the Xiaomi Mi Note 2‘s Handheld Twilight Mode. It’s also implemented motion compensated temporal filtering (MCTF) and improved electronic image stabilization (EIS), both of which improve overall image quality by tapping the Snapdragon 845’s heterogeneous computing capabilities.

The Spectra 280, like the Adreno 630, supports a range of AR and VR hardware. Parallax-based depth-sensing enables dual-camera devices to achieve competitive depth-sensing performance at a lower cost, according to Qualcomm, and sub-16 milliseconds of latency allows for single-frame responsiveness at a blazing 60 Hz.

In Spectra 280 isn’t just great for VR and AR. It natively supports iris scanning and depth sensing, and Qualcomm says that in the preferred configuration, it can authenticate an iris in as little as 40 milliseconds — even through sunglasses. In addition, the Spectra ISP allows devices to leverage their depth-mapping capabilities for facial scanning, but it’s up to manufacturers to implement that feature in software.

The Hexagon 685 DSP

hexagon dsp snapdragon 845

The Hexagon 685 DSP is controlled by Qualcomm’s AI engine, the Snapdragon Neural Processing Engine, and it can handle up to thousands of bits of vector units at a time. That far surpasses the Snapdragon CPU’s capabilities, which can only reach into the hundreds, and it’s a boon for vector-based neural networks.

“Vector math is the foundation of deep learning,” Travis Lanier, Senior Director of Product Management at Qualcomm, said.

With the Hexagon 685, Qualcomm’s aiming to improve the AI capabilities of its hardware offerings. There’s plenty of competition, but the chipmaker’s aiming to offer the most robust out there.

For a more in-depth view of the Hexagon 685 DSP, check out our deep dive.

Qualcomm Quick Charge 4.0

Unsurprisingly, the Snapdragon 845 supports the latest generation of Qualcomm’s Quick Charge technology, Quick Charge 4.0. Devices that support it can recharge to 50 percent capacity in 15 minutes, — a 20 percent improvement in charging speed, according to Qualcomm — and 30 percent more energy-efficiently than older versions of Quick Charge. On the average smartphone, that’ll translate to five extra hours of battery life in just five minutes of recharging.

Quick Charge 4.0 is fully compatible with both the USB Type-C and USB Power Delivery standards ratified by the USB-Implementers Forum, so USB PD devices can rapidly charge using Quick Charge 4.0 cables. It also adhere’s to Google’s latest Android Compatibility Definition Document, which requires that USB Type-C devices are fully interoperable with standard Type-C chargers.

X20 LTE Modem

Devices with Snapdragon 845 won’t just blaze through games and apps at lightning speed. They’ll also benefit from super-fast internet, courtesy Qualcomm’s gigabit-enabled modem.

Qualcomm says it’ll pair the 845 with the X20, and LTE chip which delivers download speeds up to 1.2Gbps and Cat. 13 upload speeds up to 150Mbps. Technologies like 5x carrier aggregation, 4×4 MIMO, and 12 LTE spatial steams help to cut down on wireless congestion, and the modem’s the first to support both Dual SIM Dual VoLTE (DSDV) and the new Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS), a US-based spectrum-sharing scheme.

Secure Processing Unit

The Snapdragon 845 improves on the security of past Qualcomm system-on-chips with the Secure Processing Unit (SPU), an isolated subsytem designed to protect biometric data, payment data, and other sensitive info. Here’s how it works: When you perform some kind of action on a Snapdragon 845-based device — say, download a file or edit a document — the SPU generates a unique private key that’s required to decrypt the data.

Applications like WeChat and Facebook can use the SPU to generate their own keys, and in the future, Qualcomm Snapdragon 845-based devices to store biometric data inside the SPU, run any necessary authenticator code inside the SPU, and terminate the data within the SPU itself. The chipmaker’s presenting it as a safer alternative to secure elements like ARM’s TrustZone, which have been exploited before.

The AQT1000 DAC

Qualcomm had a bit of surprise in store at the Snapdragon Technology Summit: A dedicated Hi-Fi digital-to-analog converter called the AQT1000. It’s a compact DAC that the chipmaker plans to sell to manufacturers “for 2018 products”, and it doesn’t skimp on hardware: It supports 32-bit audio, has a dynamic range of 123 decibels, and natively supports the DSD, or direct stream digital, file format. It also plays back audio up to 384KHz.

Qualcomm’s also designed a new codec for USB Type-C headphones that cuts down on power consumption, and that supports active noise cancellation and advanced recording features.

So that’s it! Have thoughts on Qualcomm’s new products? Let us know the comments!


Qualcomm wants to make headphone dongles with HiFi DACs

We all know and love Qualcomm for their Snapdragon processors in nearly every Android device, but that’s not all the company does. One of the things they showed off this week at the Tech Summit was headphones with HiFi DACs built right in. The HiFi DAC they showed off is powered by USB Type-C and will be ready for products next year.

Phones that don’t have 3.5mm jacks rely on the headphones to do most of the heavy lifting when it comes to audio quality. That’s why a lot of USB-C headphones don’t usually sound great. Qualcomm’s AQT1000 HiFi DAC can stream music at 32-bit quality. It has a dynamic range of 123 decibels and supports DSD. This should help USB-C headphones a lot.

Qualcomm will have this ready for manufacturers next year. Look to see some headphones with this tech included. Are you interested in USB-C headphones?

[via Engadget]

Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 845 focuses on immersion and AI enhancements

Earlier this week Qualcomm officially announced the Snapdragon 845 mobile processor at their conference being held in Hawaii. They have now released more details about the new features and improvements they are including in the Snapdragon 845 and what kinds of changes consumers may enjoy when they purchase a device with the new flagship level […]

Come comment on this article: Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 845 focuses on immersion and AI enhancements

Snapdragon 845 details announced by Qualcomm

Yesterday Qualcomm confirmed the existence of the Snapdragon 845, but it didn’t say much else about the chipset that’ll likely power many of 2018′s flagship smartphones. Today, though, Qualcomm let loose all of the details of the SD845.

The Snapdragon 845 includes an octa-core Kryo 385 CPU with four performance cores up to 2.8GHz, which is a 25 percent performance increase from the previous generation Snapdragon chipset, as well as four efficiency cores up to 1.8GHz.

Also included is an Adreno 630 visual processing subsystem that Qualcomm touts has 30 percent improved graphics/video rendering and power reduction compared to the previous generation. There’s room-scale 6 degrees of freedom (6DoF) as well as improved 6DoF with hand-tracking and controller support.

The Qualcomm Spectra 280 image signal processor (ISP) included with the Snapdragon 845 is capable of 4K HDR video capture at 60fps as well as 16MP image capture at 60fps. Slow motion video capture is offered at 720p at 480fps.


On the modem side, there’s a Snapdragon X20 LTE modem included on the SD845 that supports 1.2Gbps LTE Category 18 download speeds. There’s support for License Assisted Access (LAA) LTE in there, too, as well as Dual SIM-Dual VoLTE capabilities and 4×4 MIMO on up to 3 aggregated carriers.

Other wireless capabilities include integrated 2×2 802.11ac Wi-Fi with Dual Band Simultaneous support and Bluetooth 5 with proprietary enhancements. These enhancements allow users to broadcast Bluetooth audio simultaneously to multiple speakers or other devices and are designed to reduce the battery consumption of wireless earbuds by up to 50 percent.

The Snapdragon 845 includes support for Quick Charge 4+, which can give your phone up to a 50 percent charge in 15 minutes. There’s the Qualcomm Secure Processing Unit in there, too, for biometric authentication and user and app data protection.

All in all, the Snapdragon 845 looks like a pretty feature-packed chipset, though you’d expect no less from Qualcomm’s flagship mobile processor. Many folks are probably wondering when they’ll be able to buy a device powered by the Snapdragon 845, and Qualcomm says that the SD845 is expected to begin shipping in commercial devices in early 2018. Xiaomi has already confirmed that its next flagship smartphone will be powered by the Snapdragon 845.

To get more nitty-gritty on the Snapdragon 845 while we wait for the first devices powered by the chipset to come to market, hit the links below.

Sources: Qualcomm (1), (2)