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Thread: Anandtech News

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    #9371

    Anandtech: Intel Exits 5G Smartphone Modem Market; Other Client Modem Businesses to B

    With today’s announcement out of Apple and Qualcomm that the two fierce rivals have buried the hatchet for good, the situation immediately put into question the fate of Intel’s modem business. As Intel’s only major smartphone modem patron, Apple’s business and enormous order volume made Intel’s smartphone modem business an all-or-nothing affair. Now, as Apple and Qualcomm are seemingly reconciling towards Apple once again using Qualcomm’s modems, Intel has sent out an announcement this afternoon that they are bowing out of the 5G smartphone modem market entirely.
    In the brief announcement, Intel stated that it was scrubbing its plans to launch 5G modems for smartphones, including modems planned for next year, i.e. the smartphone version of XMM 8160. Intel’s rationale here, while not mentioning the Apple/Qualcomm deal, is rather simple, with Intel’s CEO, Bob Swan, noting that the company doesn’t see a “clear path to profitability and positive returns.” Without a major customer, there won’t be an opportunity for Intel to make back their R&D costs.
    Note however that this doesn’t mean Intel is getting out of smartphone modems entirely, at least not right away. The company’s announcement is also making it clear that Intel will continue delivering 4G modems to current customers (e.g. Apple) to meet their sales commitments. So while we won’t see any Intel-powered phones in the 5G era, Intel will remain a fixture in the 4G era – at least as long as Apple keeps buying modems from them.
    Meanwhile Intel is also announcing that alongside canceling their smartphone modem plans, they’re also going to use this opportunity to reevaluate the rest of their client modem portfolio. Intel’s plans for the XMM 8160 took it well beyond smartphones, with plans for putting it in devices like PCs and broadband access gateways as well. Now the company needs to figure out if these plans still make sense – if the XMM 8160 will be competitive in these markets, and if continued development and manufacturing make sense without a large smartphone customers. At this point Intel faces an uphill battle in the rest of the client modem market, and there’s a very good chance that Intel’s reevaluation will find that there’s no place for the company in this highly competitive market.
    Interestingly however, while Intel is on a path to throwing in the towel on client 5G entirely, the company is also making it clear that they intend to stay in the lucrative 5G infrastructure market, and that today’s announcement is only about client products. To use Intel’s favored buzzword here, the company is still driving hard on its data-centric approach to chips, which means they continue to be invested heavily in servers, infrastructure, and AI.
    Ultimately, if this is to be the end of Intel’s client modem business, it’s certainly been one heck of a ride for the group. After supplying modems for all of Apple’s 2G and 3G iPhones as Infineon’s wireless solutions group, the modem business was sold to Intel in 2011, who largely struggled with the business since then. Intel’s 4G modems were late to market, and there are still debates over whether they’re as good as the best 4G modems available today. As a result, Intel was never able to recapture the same kind of success the group saw in the 2G/3G era.


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    #9372

    Anandtech: CyberLink Launches PowerDVD 19 for UltraHD Blu-ray and 8K Videos

    CyberLink's PowerDVD remains the only legitimate Blu-ray playback software in the PC space. Over the last few years, the company has been trying to add value to the software with extra features such as support for VR HMDs and 360° videos. PowerDVD 19 is being launched today. It continues CyberLink's tradition of incremental improvements to the playback software.
    The improvements in PowerDVD 19 include the ability to play 8K videos, video postprocessing enabled for higher-resolution videos compared to PowerDVD 18, and the transition to a 64-bit playback engine. The new version also brings support for the HEIC/HEIF image format, and can play back HDR videos without taking over exclusive control of the desktop's HDR configuration. PowerDVD 19 also makes improvement in the YouTube interface, allowing for the selection of the video quality before making a title available for watching offline.
    While 8K playback is looking more into the future, CyberLink's advancements in TrueTheater (their video and audio postprocessing features set) can be seen by consumers right away. While PowerDVD 18 focused on TrueTheater effects mainly for HD videos, PowerDVD 19 brings 4K support for post-processing features related to color correction, contrast enhancement, and HDR.
    PowerDVD 19 also brings improvements to the VR HMD playback feature, with the 360° video support getting complemented with new support for 360° spatial audio.
    Similar to the previous PowerDVD versions, CyberLink plans to offer four different flavors of PowerDVD 19 in the market - the Ultra, Pro, and Standard versions are perpetual licenses at a one-time cost of $100, $80, and $60 respectively. The fourth flavor is the Live version, which is a subscription-based offering at $15 per quarter (or $45 per year). The exact differences in the features are brought out in the slides reproduced at the end of this piece.
    Usage Impressions

    CyberLink's PowerDVD and UltraHD Blu-ray Advisor Tool are used in every HTPC review published on AnandTech, as physical disk playback evaluation continues to be an oft-requested point in our reader feedback. The company offered us an early look at PowerDVD 19, and we took it out for a spin on a couple of different systems - on the Kaby Lake Beebox which plays UHD Blu-rays perfectly with PowerDVD 17, the newer version forced us to update our drivers. We also installed the software on the Bean Canyon NUC. On both machines, attempting the playback of a UHD Blu-ray triggered the 'Initiating components for Ultra HD Blu-ray' pop-up box and the progress bar ended up getting stuck close to completion (similar to the issue reported here for an older version. After 6 hours, I gave up attempting to use the software on the Beebox. On the Bean Canyon NUC, I let the system idle with the program active. Eventually, after more than 24 hours, the pop-up box disappeared, and the playback started. All in all, it was not great user experience. But, once past that initial stage, UHD Blu-ray playback was relatively painless. The TrueTheater effects are taxing on both the GPU and the CPU, and it is useful to have for user-generated content, rather than Blu-rays. PowerDVD's TV mode, with a 10-foot UI, is very intuitive to use, though not as flexible as Kodi's.
    A lot of the UX issues with PowerDVD are a result of the onerous content protection schemes mandated by the Blu-ray Disc Association. As Netflix and many other OTT content providers have shown, it is possible to keep users relatively satisfied while still protecting the content, and the BDA / CyberLink could learn from them. That said, for people who don't watch protected content, it is a bit difficult to justify the cost of a PowerDVD purchase (given that open-source software like Kodi, VLC, and MPC-HC with LAV Filters do a great job for local media playback). The TrueTheater features go up against the capabilities offered by renderers such as madVR. While PowerDVD 19 / TrueTheater is perfect for the average consumer (working out of the box), madVR is definitely much more flexible (users can even use madVR with Kodi). That said, some of PowerDVD's features such as VR HMD support and 360° video support are unique. They offer a definite value proposition to consumers with a need for playback of such content on specific devices. While the direct-to-consumer appeal may appear limited, CyberLink can continue to target OEMs and bundled sales with the new set of features in PowerDVD 19.
    PowerDVD 19 Versions - Feature Set Comparison



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    Anandtech: Apple and Qualcomm Bury the Hatchet; Sign New Patent and Chip Supply Agree

    Putting an end to one of the most intense high tech legal battles in recent memory, this afternoon Apple and Qualcomm announced that the two firms were burying the hatchet. Effective immediately, all litigation between the two companies has been dropped, and the two have signed new patent license and chip supply agreements. As a result, the face of the cellular modem market is changing in an instant, as Apple’s shift in allegiances will have repercussions throughout the industry.
    Overall, the joint press release put out by the two companies is very short on details, as the agreement is largely a private matter. To settle their legal affairs, Apple will be making a one-time payment to Qualcomm, presumably to cover any IP use since Apple cut off payments to Qualcomm in 2017. Replacing those lawsuits, Apple has signed a 6-year patent license agreement with Qualcomm, which is being backdated to April 1st. The agreement includes a further 2-year extension option, which if Apple eventually chooses to exercise it, would take the agreement through April of 2027.
    Along with licensing Qualcomm’s patents, Apple is also going to resume buying chips from Qualcomm. A separate chipset supply agreement has been inked; though the official announcement doesn’t say for how long beyond the fact that it’s a “multiyear” agreement. Interestingly the word “modem” does not appear once in the press release itself, but from the nature of the two companies’ conflict and Apple’s own needs, clearly Qualcomm is once again going to be supplying modems for Apple’s iPhones and iPads.
    As noted by Reuters, the sudden nature of the deal took many people by surprise. Apple and Qualcomm announced the deal as the two companies were simultaneously in federal court in San Diego, arguing their cases on day 2 of what was their ongoing trial. That trial is now over, as are all of Qualcomm and Apple’s other legal tussles across the world.
    Apple and Qualcomm are not announcing the overall financial details of the deal – how much Apple is paying in royalties, nor how much the one-time payment is. However Qualcomm has put out a summary slide disclosing that as product shipments ramp, the company is expecting the deal to bring the company’s incremental earnings to around two dollars per share. Which goes to show just how big of a deal this is in terms of sales and volume, and how important it was for Qualcomm to bring Apple back on board. Accordingly, as noted by CNBC, Qualcomm’s stock had its best day since 1999, with the stock jumping up 23% during market hours, and a further 7% after-hours.
    Overall, the consequences of the deal are significant. Qualcomm has been accused across the globe of FRAND violations and other anti-competitive behavior, with Apple serving as Qualcomm’s fiercest critic in this area. While various regulatory cases are still going on – particularly in the US – settling with Apple means that the company will no longer be petitioning regulators and government officials to rule against Qualcomm. So while indirect, this could remove a lot of pressure against Qualcomm in their ongoing regulatory cases.
    Meanwhile, Apple’s shift in allegiances has led to their alternative modem supplier, Intel, to drop out of the 5G smartphone market entirely. A few hours after the Qualcomm settlement was announced, Intel made its own announcement that it was exiting the 5G smartphone modem business, and will be reevaluating the rest of its client modem business. So in the span of a day, the 5G modem market has already lost a competitor.
    On that note, however, it’s interesting that the chip supply agreement between Apple and Qualcomm isn’t for the same fixed length as their patent agreement. Apple has developed a well-earned reputation for going their own way in chip development, and this may be a sign that Apple intends to eventually develop their own modem technology. This could prove especially prudent, as it would allow Apple to integrate a modem directly into their A-series SoCs, doing away with the need for an external modem and freeing up some valuable PCB space. Fittingly, this is one of Qualcomm’s greatest strengths in the Android SoC space, as the company routinely offers SoCs with various integrated modems.


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    #9374

    Anandtech: Intel's Interconnected Future: Combining Chiplets, EMIB, and Foveros

    While Intel works on getting its main manufacturing process technology on track, it is spending just as much time and effort in researching and developing the rest of the chip ecosystem and how it is all connected. On a call with Intel's process and product team, the company confirmed a few details about how Intel is pushing the boundaries of new technologies with its upcoming high profile graphics products.

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    Anandtech: TSMC Reveals 6 nm Process Technology: 7 nm with Higher Transistor Density

    TSMC this week unveiled its new 6 nm (CLN6FF, N6) manufacturing technology, which is set to deliver a considerably higher transistor density when compared to the company's 7 nm (CLN7FF, N7) fabrication process. An evolution of TSMC's 7nm node, N6 will continue to use the same design rules, making it easier for companies to get started on the new process. The technology will be used for risk production of chips starting Q1 2020.


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    Anandtech: HP’s Security Push: Sure Sense & Endpoint Security Controller

    Antivirus software is getting more robust, but so does malware. In a bid to make its PCs more secure, HP is introducing a set of hardware and software-based methods that include use of deep learning AI.


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    Anandtech: HP Announces EliteDisplay E324q: a $430 31.5-Inch QHD Monitor

    HP has introduced its new display for offices that combines large dimensions and a relatively low price. The EliteDisplay E324q is a 31.5-inch QHD monitor that costs less than $450 and is designed primarily for productivity applications. Apart from its price and size, an important feature of the LCD are its thin bezels making it easier to work in multi-monitor configurations.
    HP’s EliteDisplay E324q relies on a panel featuring a 2560x1440 resolution as well as standard contrast and brightness. The monitor has a DisplayPort, HDMI, and USB-C input. In addition, it has a dual-port USB 3.0 Type-A hub. Meanwhile, the display comes with a stand that can adjust height, tilt, and swivel. Besides, the monitor can be rotated by 90 degrees.
    HP notes that thin bezels on three sides of the EliteDisplay E324q make it more comfortable to use it in dual display configuration to boost workers’ efficiency.
    HP plans to start sales of its EliteDisplay E324q in June for a price of $429. Unfortunately HP has not provided any other specifications on the display.
    Related Reading


    Source: HP
    Gallery: HP Announces EliteDisplay E324q: a Sub-$450 31.5-Inch QHD Monitor




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    Anandtech: New HP ZBook 14u & ZBook 15u Portable Workstations

    HP has introduced its new ZBook 14u G6 and ZBook 15u G6 mobile workstations. The new laptops use the same chassis as 14-inch and 15.6-inch ZBook machines introduced a year ago, but they offer a higher performance because of updated components. In addition, the new ZBooks feature improved security capabilities and a new selection of displays.



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    Anandtech: Samsung Completes Development of 5nm EUV Process Technology

    Samsung Foundry this week announced that it has completed development of its first-generation 5 nm fabrication process (previously dubbed 5LPE). The manufacturing technology uses extreme ultraviolet lithography (EUVL) and is set to provide significant performance, power, and area advantages when compared to Samsung’s 7 nm process (known as 7LPP). Meanwhile, Samsung stresses that IP developed for 7LPP can be also used for chips to be made using 5LPE.


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    Anandtech: ASUS Shows Off Dolby Vision Monitors: The ProArt PQ22UC & ProArt PA32UCX

    At the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) 2019 trade show this week, ASUS announced that it had added support for Dolby Vision high dynamic range (HDR) transport to its professional ProArt PQ22UC and ProArt PA32UCX monitors. The screens will be among the first displays in the industry to support this technology.


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