Tuesday, April 16th 2019

Intel to Exit 5G Smartphone Modem Business, Focus on 5G Network Infrastructure

Intel Corporation today announced its intention to exit the 5G smartphone modem business and complete an assessment of the opportunities for 4G and 5G modems in PCs, internet of things devices and other data-centric devices. Intel will also continue to invest in its 5G network infrastructure business. The company will continue to meet current customer commitments for its existing 4G smartphone modem product line, but does not expect to launch 5G modem products in the smartphone space, including those originally planned for launches in 2020.

"We are very excited about the opportunity in 5G and the 'cloudification' of the network, but in the smartphone modem business it has become apparent that there is no clear path to profitability and positive returns," said Intel CEO Bob Swan. "5G continues to be a strategic priority across Intel, and our team has developed a valuable portfolio of wireless products and intellectual property. We are assessing our options to realize the value we have created, including the opportunities in a wide variety of data-centric platforms and devices in a 5G world." Intel expects to provide additional details in its upcoming first-quarter 2019 earnings release and conference call, scheduled for April 25.
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23 Comments on Intel to Exit 5G Smartphone Modem Business, Focus on 5G Network Infrastructure

#1
windwhirl
No wonder Apple and Qualcomm settled out of courts, then.
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#2
mtcn77
In local news, it was relayed it being almost impossible to upheave Huawei from the network grid. I don't know the details, but that is it for today's Turkish news section.
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#3
eidairaman1
The Exiled Airman
They Couldn't compete.
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#4
Xzibit
Intel: We had one customer that would pay our high prices and you took that away from us Qualcomm.

Qualcomm: Say hi to Nvidia will you
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#5
R0H1T
Intel's modem business was not worth much anyway, also they might've spent millions if not billions trying to get 5G & that contract from Apple!
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#6
londiste
Profit margins? Smartphone modem business, especially with Apple is likely to have high volume but low margins. Even if Intel has the technology the effort is better spent somewhere else.
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#7
TheLostSwede
Also keep in mind that they lost a lot of CPU production capacity due to making the modem chips for Apple. This will give them back that, over time.
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#8
R0H1T
Modem chips are small & IIRC this was supposed to be on 10nm, so no this doesn't help them much. They;ll have to transition some of the 14nm & many 10nm fabs to 7nm & take it from there.
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#9
Xzibit
R0H1T, post: 4032076, member: 131092"
Modem chips are small & IIRC this was supposed to be on 10nm, so no this doesn't help them much. They;ll have to transition some of the 14nm & many 10nm fabs to 7nm & take it from there.
Apple was probably feed up with their inability to transition to 10nm and meet their needs. Also analyst pegged Intel to be atleast 1yr behind Qualcomm in 5g development. Left them no choice but to make up with their bitter Ex.
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#10
notb
A good decision if Intel did the first move (and forced Apple and Qualcomm to grow up).
A great coincidence if Apple and Qualcomm agreement forced this.

There are some rumors that Intel may scrap the whole modem division. That's very, very unlikely given their position and importance of it for their ecosystem.
But the smartphone was a burden.
The original plan was to make SoCs for smartphones. It didn't work out and Intel was left with a very low margin product and very long contract with Apple...
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#11
mtcn77
notb, post: 4032123, member: 165619"
A good decision if Intel did the first move (and forced Apple and Qualcomm to grow up).
A great coincidence if Apple and Qualcomm agreement forced this.

There are some rumors that Intel may scrap the whole modem division. That's very, very unlikely given their position and importance of it for their ecosystem.
But the smartphone was a burden.
The original plan was to make SoCs for smartphones. It didn't work out and Intel was left with a very low margin product and very long contract with Apple...
I think a common theme is task energy expenditure. Qualcomm is even better than Apple at this and we are not even considering their inhouse broadband IP, just their Arm licensee SnapDragon cpus.
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#12
notb
mtcn77, post: 4032127, member: 85046"
I think a common theme is task energy expenditure. Qualcomm is even better than Apple at this and we are not even considering their inhouse broadband IP, just their Arm licensee SnapDragon cpus.
Well who knows... Certainly I don't - I'm not that much into smartphones, I don't track the latest news. But we know iPhone was lagging behind Android smartphones in LTE performance.
So Intel was making a chip that either wasn't very good or Apple could implement it properly. Maybe they'll have more luck with Qualcomm. That said, Android phones have modems integrated in SoC, so they may be hard to beat even using the same tech.

What matters on the Intel side is that they're quitting a bad business and can focus on something else.
I think this sums it up pretty well:

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#13
Unter_Dog
Infineon must feel like they robbed a bank after selling that unit to Intel
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#14
yakk
Guess Qualcomm called Apple's & Intel's bluff.

Edit: and WOW looks like Qualcomm gave Apple quite a spanking in the process!
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#15
Prima.Vera
Unter_Dog, post: 4032406, member: 165942"
Infineon must feel like they robbed a bank after selling that unit to Intel
Just like Dre after scamming Apple for a couple of Billions with those shitty overrated "Beats" headphones... :laugh::laugh::laugh:
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#16
notb
Prima.Vera, post: 4032799, member: 98685"
Just like Dre after scamming Apple for a couple of Billions with those shitty overrated "Beats" headphones... :laugh::laugh::laugh:
"Beats" most likely already earned Apple few times more than they paid for the brand. Not the best comparison.
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#17
stimpy88
Can't make much these days, can you Intel? When was the last new CPU architecture released? Do you still know how to make a new one? I really wonder...

But how the mighty have fallen. Apple will ditch Intel ASAP now, and to be honest, it will be the best thing they can do. The A13X will match or beat anything Intel have planed in the consumer desktop space for the next 2 years, and by then, Apple will have released the A14X, which will beat anything Intel has for the next 5 years.

You're all done now Intel, it's just a matter of time.
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#18
notb
stimpy88, post: 4032896, member: 178509"
Can't make much these days, can you Intel?
(...)
Try there:
forums.intel.com
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#19
stimpy88
notb, post: 4032919, member: 165619"
Try there:
forums.intel.com
And nearly all of it simple iterations on designs approaching 5+ years old.

And before you post their earnings report, I fully understand that they make buckets of cash. One day, somebody else will overtake them, then those profits will fall. Intel has done nothing of note for 10 years now, unless you count Optane, but that was a lot of Micron work as well...
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#20
notb
stimpy88, post: 4033678, member: 178509"
And nearly all of it simple iterations on designs approaching 5+ years old.

And before you post their earnings report, I fully understand that they make buckets of cash. One day, somebody else will overtake them, then those profits will fall. Intel has done nothing of note for 10 years now, unless you count Optane, but that was a lot of Micron work as well...
Yeah, I don't get your point.
Intel is a company and their goal is to earn money.
I don't know what you expect from them. More importantly: do you expect the same from e.g. shoe manufacturers? Why is Intel so special?
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#21
mtcn77
notb, post: 4033751, member: 165619"
Yeah, I don't get your point.
Intel is a company and their goal is to earn money.
I don't know what you expect from them. More importantly: do you expect the same from e.g. shoe manufacturers? Why is Intel so special?
Which shoe brands did you have in mind, out of interest?
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#22
stimpy88
notb, post: 4033751, member: 165619"
Yeah, I don't get your point.
Intel is a company and their goal is to earn money.
I don't know what you expect from them. More importantly: do you expect the same from e.g. shoe manufacturers? Why is Intel so special?
Do I really need to spoon feed you like this...?

Intel are at the top of the microprocessor industry, mainly by making the best products, sometimes better by miles. That WAS Intel, upto 11+ years ago, and since then, they have all but given up on high end architecture design. They struck gold with Nehalem (Core i7) in 2008, like they struck gold many times before then, however this was the last new, built from the ground up architecture they have released ever since. Most say this is due to zero competition, and this is probably true. However, Intel do have competition now, and have shown themselves unable to answer AMD, and instead create a fake demand for their CPUs by saying they can't make enough bs etc...

The point is, we have serious security exploits in all modern Intel CPUs, and customers years later, still cannot buy an Intel CPU with all of these exploits patched in hardware, not firmware, despite Intel promising hardware level fixes in the interim, followed by a new architecture some time soon. We are still waiting, and Intel are about to get some very serious competition, with seemingly no answer for it, apart from gluing more power hungry, hot, ancient cores together, something they said was an amature approach when AMD did it first, with great success!

If you don't want to look at CPUs, look at the shit their graphics are in! Now they have bought and paid for most of the industories experts to try and reset their floundering business decisions over the past 12 years, at massive cost to them, most likely in the billions.

Intel of today owe all they have to those that did all the work years ago. Even their Ethernet chips are no different year after year. Look it up on their ARK if you don't believe me. Same old chips, different model numbers.

Their mb chipsets are no better, most being based on 10 year old designs, with USB3 bolted on extra, and legacy stuff fused off, instead of a new design.

Intel are fast approaching the time where their old stuff will simply not be as good as other peoples, and they will have to spend serious money and take years in designing true, next gen products.

This is successful for them now, but how much longer can they keep this up for? Billions of dollars wasted due to the incompetence of their graphics department, the CPU department are not much better off either, and will cost billions to design a new CPU architecture. Meanwhile, competition is coming, and it's not shit anymore, as Apple, Qualcomm, AMD etc will show us.

And to answer your shoe question, if Nike pulled an Intel, and sold the exact same shoes, except for upto 5% longer laces every 2 years, for nearly 12 years, do you think we would all still be buying them today? Do you think Adidas would have handed it to them, or Puma or Reebok? Come on.
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#23
R-T-B
stimpy88, post: 4033773, member: 178509"
They struck gold with Nehalem (Core i7) in 2008, like they struck gold many times before then, however this was the last new, built from the ground up architecture they have released ever since.
Actually that would be Sandy Bridge.

Nehalem was a heavily adapted Pentium era core with the memory controller integrated.

Sandy Bridge was the first true ground up redesign.
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