Apple sues Qualcomm over withholding $1B as ransom in Korean legal investigation

By Christian Zibreg on Jan 21, 2017

Apple on Friday announced it’s suing iPhone modem supplier Qualcomm, which owns many wireless patents, “after years of disagreement over what constitutes a fair and reasonable royalty”. The suit argues Qualcomm withheld nearly $1 billion in payments it owes to Apple as retaliation because Apple cooperated with the Korea Fair Trade Commission. Last month, Korean regulators slapped Qualcomm with a $850 million fine over its patent-licensing practices.

Apple’s suit, filed in federal district court in the Southern District of California, accuses Qualcomm of charging royalties for technologies “they have nothing to do with.” Responding to the complaint, Qualcomm called Apple’s claims groundless and said they “misrepresented facts”.

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iPhone 7 flash memory maker Toshiba could sell its NAND flash unit to Western Digital

By Christian Zibreg on Jan 20, 2017

DigiTimes estimated this week that flash memory chips for smartphones will remain in high demand throughout 2017 because supply shortages are reportedly “worse than expected” as chip makers are currently transitioning from older 2D NAND to newer 3D NAND technology.

According to a report Friday in The Korea Herald newspaper, citing Mirae Asset Daewoo Securities analysts, Toshiba may spin off of its lucrative NAND flash unit and sell the stake to Western Digital, narrowing the technology and market share gap with its bigger rival Samsung Electronics. Read More

 

Qualcomm denies FTC’s claims it bribed Apple into using its modem chips

By Christian Zibreg on Jan 18, 2017

Yesterday, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) charged Qualcomm with monopolizing baseband modems used in smartphones, basically saying the company bribed Apple into not making a WiMAX iPhone in exchange for better royalties. The chip maker in a subsequent press release denied any wrongdoing, saying the FTC doesn’t really understand how the mobile industry works. Read More

 

Qualcomm under fire from FTC over allegedly forcing Apple to use its baseband modem chips

By Christian Zibreg on Jan 17, 2017

Now we know why Apple has made the controversial decision to dual-source baseband modem chips for iPhone 7 from both Intel and Qualcomm. Tuesday, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) charged Qualcomm with monopolizing baseband modems used in smartphones, saying the firm’s leveraged its position to force Apple to use its baseband chips in exchange for lower patent royalties. Read More

 

iPhone processor supplier TSMC hints it might build chips in America

By Christian Zibreg on Jan 13, 2017

As we reported this morning, iPhone manufacturer Foxconn and its Japanese subsidiary Sharp are considering setting up an $8 billion LCD panel production plant in the United States. According to another report, semiconductor maker Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company Limited (TSMC) has also expressed interest in taking advantage of business-friendly incentives proposed by incoming U.S. President Trump.

As a reminder, TSMC currently churns out Apple-designed silicon for latest iOS devices and is also said to have landed a lucrative contract to build next-generation A11 chips for future Phones and iPads. Read More

 

Poor yields for TSMC’s 10-nanometer process could disrupt next iPad launch

By Christian Zibreg on Dec 23, 2016

Trade publication DigiTimes said Friday that Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) has received orders to kick off volume production of Apple-designed A10X Fusion chips for the next iPad. However, unsatisfactory yields for TSMC’s 10-nanometer process technology could disrupt planned March 2017 launch of the next iPad series.

The proportion of semiconductor devices on the silicon wafer found to perform properly is referred to as the yield. Yield rates in semiconductor fabrication can be as low as thirty percent due to process variation and many other reasons. Read More

 

TSMC posts record profits as iPhone 7 demand fuels orders for A10 Fusion chip

By Christian Zibreg on Nov 8, 2016

Chip manufacturer Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company Limited (TSMC) today posted record profits and its shares have climbed to their highest level on record as strong demand for the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus fuels orders for the handsets’ in-housed designed A10 Fusion processor. That TSMC is the sole supplier of the A10 has no doubt helped it capture record profits amid a global slowdown in the smartphone market. Read More

 

Apple’s new T1 chip that drives MacBook Pro’s Touch Bar runs “eOS”, a variant of watchOS

By Christian Zibreg on Oct 28, 2016

If early impressions are an indication, the Touch Bar on the new MacBook Pro is definitely not a gimmick. The time-saving feature lets you accomplish common tasks faster without needing to memorize a bunch of app-specific keyboard shortcuts.

Instead or remembering a shortcut or wasting time finding it in the menus, you just touch one of the system-wide or app-specific icons that are displayed on the Touch Bar.

For the hardware geeks among us, the more interesting aspect of the Touch Bar is the Apple-designed silicon behind it, dubbed the T1. As developer Steven Troughton-Smith has discovered, the Touch Bar is actually a mini Apple Watch. Read More

 

Qualcomm could buy NXP, which supplies iPhones with NFC and motion-tracking chips

By Christian Zibreg on Oct 21, 2016

Bloomberg’s Alex Sherman and Ian King reported yesterday that fabless chip designer and Apple supplier Qualcomm could be buying NXP Semiconductors, a global semiconductor and analog circuitry manufacturer headquartered in Eindhoven, The Netherlands.

NXP employs approximately 45,000 people in more than 35 countries and provides chips that give Apple devices features like power-efficient motion tracking and NFC for Apple Pay. Read More

 

Apple hires COO and engineers from iPhone graphics provider Imagination Technologies

By Christian Zibreg on Oct 13, 2016

Combing through multiple LinkedIn profiles, MacRumors has discovered that Imagination Technologies COO John Metcalfe left the company in June along with a bunch of engineers and is now listed as a Senior Director at Apple, where he started in July. Imagination GPUs are found in Apple’s in-house designed mobile chips for iOS devices. Read More

 

TSMC to start mass producing 10nm chips nearly a year ahead of Intel

By Christian Zibreg on Sep 30, 2016

Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company Limited (TSMC), which builds Apple’s in-house designed A10 Fusion chip that powers the iPhone 7, has confirmed mass production of ten-nanometer chips for clients will kick off by year-end, beating Intel by almost a year in terms of high-performance silicon.

Chip maker Intel’s own ten-nanometer chips are due in second half of 2017. Read More

 

Apple has ramped up chip and component orders for Apple Watch Series 2

By Christian Zibreg on Sep 9, 2016

Apple appears confident that the new Apple Watch Series 2 will be twice as successful as the original model and has reportedly ramped up chip and component orders for the device, according to Taiwanese trade publication DigiTimes that has solid sources in Asian supply chain. Read More

 

Intel could begin fabricating iPhone and iPad chips as early as 2018

By Christian Zibreg on Aug 26, 2016

Both in-house designed ‘A10’ and ‘A11’ chips for this year’s iPhone 7 and 2017 iPhones/iPads, respectively, are believed to be manufactured solely by Taiwan’s semiconductor foundry TSMC (sorry, Samsung).

According to Nikkei Asian Review, Intel is now perfectly poised to give TSMC a good run for its money in as little as two years because any Apple chips after the A10/A11 should be fabricated by Intel.

The recently signed licensing deal between Intel and UK-based ARM Holdings lets the former fabricate chips for smartphones based on the latter’s CPU technology. Read More

 

TSMC to build Apple’s in-house designed AMOLED driver chips for 10th Anniversary iPhone

By Christian Zibreg on Aug 17, 2016

TSMC is believed to have secured orders for an Apple-designed ‘A11’ system-on-a-chip expected to power so-called Tenth Anniversary iPhone and new iPads in 2017, trade publication DigiTimes reports. The chip should be fabricated on TSMC’s ten-nanometer process technology and use its backend integrated fan-out (InFO) wafer-level packaging technology. Additionally, TSMC should build Apple-designed circuitry to drive 2017 iPhone’s AMOLED panel. Read More

 

Deal with ARM would theoretically let Intel build 10nm iPhone and iPad chips

By Christian Zibreg on Aug 16, 2016

Chip giant Intel announced today at its Intel Developer Forum in San Francisco an important deal with UK-based fabless semiconductor maker ARM Holdings that will permit other foundries to build chips based on ARM’s most advanced Cortex-series CPU cores using Intel’s sophisticated ten-nanometer process technology.

Given that Apple’s in-house designed A-series chips include fully customized 64-bit CPU cores based on ARM technology, the announcement expands Apple’s options by letting its contract silicon manufacturers such as Samsung and TSMC fabricate iPhone and iPad chips using Intel’s foundry services. Read More

 

Intel unveils new Kaby Lake chips, VR headset for merged reality, drone platform & more

By Christian Zibreg on Aug 16, 2016

At Intel Developer Forum today, chip giant Intel announced a seventh-generation Core processors, code-named Kaby Lake, along with a new drone platform, an exciting open-source virtual reality project and a bunch of other goodies.

During an opening keynote presentation, Intel CEO Brian Krzanich said the new Kaby Lake chips, due later this year, will let users stream movies in 4K resolution with smooth playback and long battery life.

The company did not say when a low-power edition of the latest Kaby Lake chips suitable for use in Mac notebooks and iMacs might become available to vendors. Read More

 

DigiTimes: TSMC to build 16nm Apple Watch 2 chip

By Christian Zibreg on Aug 10, 2016

An Apple-designed ‘S2’ system-in-package that will power a second-generation Apple Watch won’t be produced by Samsung, like the original Apple Watch’s S1 chip. According to a new report by Taiwanese trade publication DigiTimes, semiconductor foundry Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) has managed to beat Samsung in securing S2 orders. In fact, both the second-generation Apple Watch and an enhanced version of the original Apple Watch will be driven by the S2 chip, built using TSMC’s 16-nanometer process technology. Read More

 

Is this our first glimpse at iPhone 7 motherboard?

By Christian Zibreg on Aug 8, 2016

The same source that posted images allegedly showing a claimed iPhone 7 chassis alongside a bunch of SIM trays in Apple Watch-like Space Black finish has now re-published a new photo that seems to picture iPhone 7 logic boards, obtained from Ming Technology on Weibo. Prolific leakster Steve Hemmerstoffer also posted his own iPhone 7 motherboard images. Read More

 

TSMC reportedly wins exclusive contract to build A11 chips for 2017 iPhones and iPads

By Christian Zibreg on Jul 19, 2016

Citing a story in the Chinese-language Economic Daily News newspaper, Taiwanese trade publication DigiTimes reported yesterday that Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) will be the sole supplier of an Apple-designed ‘A11’ chip, which should power 2017 iPhone and iPad models.

In other words, Samsung could be on the outs for the next two generations of iPhone processors as both this year’s A10 and next year’s A11 are now said to be exclusively manufactured by TSMC. The A11 chip will be built on the foundry’s cutting-edge ten-nanometer FinFET process. Read More

 

Early CPU scores suggest modest gains for iPhone 7’s A10 chip vs. iPad Pro’s A9X

By Christian Zibreg on Jul 14, 2016

Early Geekbench 3 benchmark of the Apple-designed A10 system-on-a-chip—which will be the next iPhone and iPad’s engine—was posted Thursday by Dutch blog TechTastic.nl. Purported scores suggest the device may not be much speedier than the iPhone 6s and iPad Pro. The upcoming chip scored a tad more than last year’s A9 powering the iPhone 6s series and a little bit faster than the A9X in the iPad Pro.

On the other hand, the benchmarked A10 is almost certainly a prototype unit so final scores should be higher than is currently the case. Read More

 
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