back to article NXP becomes N-nixed-P, Apple snubs Qualcomm modems for Intel chips

Qualcomm has abandoned its long-planned, long-stalled $44bn acquisition of Dutch chip maker NXP Semiconductors – and in its place, Qualy today announced a $30bn share buyback. That was part one of Qualcomm's double-whammy Wednesday. Here's the second-half: Qualcomm's chief financial officer George Davis said on a conference …

  1. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

    Yes but...

    Were there not a load of stories in the past few months claiming at 'Old Fruity' was going to ditch Intel as well and go it alone with 3G/4G/5G modems?

    What a wonderful tangled web we weave. Shame that the only winners are Scumbag/Shyster Lawyers.

    1. DougS Silver badge

      Re: Yes but...

      There are rumors that Apple is working on its own modems, but that would take them a few years. At least if they wait it will be a bit less difficult because they'd only need to support LTE & 5G, and they could ignore 2G/3G stuff.

      I'm not sure it makes sense for Apple to design the chips themselves, what they really want is to license the IP. That would allow them to build the modem into their SoC to reduce cost / power draw, and allow them to control the software so they can remove any backdoors that Qualcomm may have set aside for spooks to do bad things to phones over the air (I say "may have" because it is known there are some serious security shortcomings in Qualcomm's baseband, but whether that's accidental or deliberate isn't known...)

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Yes but...

        it is known there are some serious security shortcomings in Qualcomm's baseband

        That may be so, but if ANYBODY is going to be in bed with the TLAs, then it's going to be Intel. Not to mention the Intel own goals of IME, Spectre/Meltdown, the Puma chipset fiasco, and a long and apparently continuing problem over ethics.

        I'd agree that Qualcomm have "form" in terms of ethics and technical faults, but if I were Apple I'd be looking for somebody else altogether - which rather supports the idea that they'd prefer to design their own silicon.

        1. DougS Silver badge

          Re: Yes but...

          The security holes come from the software, not the hardware which is basically just a DSP on steroids, so if they had control of the software they could make it secure (well, they could try, but no software that complex will ever be bug free...)

          The choice of Intel wouldn't have been "oh Qualcomm leaves in backdoors, let's go with Intel because they don't" it was more "Qualcomm used to be our only option for a standalone baseband, now Intel is in the game too".

          There have been rumors they've been talking to HiSilicon, who doesn't have a standalone baseband today, but would presumably be willing to offer one if sold at Apple's purchase volumes (even if only for the Chinese market, and their special TD-LTE and TD-SCDMA flavors) HiSilicon also might be willing to license the IP, giving them another alternative if Intel proves unwilling to do so at a price Apple considers reasonable.

    2. theblackhand

      Re: Yes but...

      Unless Apple have got some IP from somewhere, I would have expected their licencing costs to by a significant component of the total modem cost.

      The only real reason for Apple designing their own would likely be power savings or some additional functionality (better vSIM's?) that reduced the chip size. But even then, the costs of validating your design with third parties would probably exceed any real benefit when compared to contracting an existing supplier to do it for you.

      1. DougS Silver badge

        Re: Yes but...

        Apple acquired a lot of LTE patents from Nortel's bankruptcy sale, so they aren't without cellular IP but they haven't (as far as I know) actively doing any research into that area so they wouldn't have anything for 5G.

        They've been trying to get software SIMs approved by the 3GPP for years with no luck - it is basically owned by the wireless carriers who have strong incentives to not make it any easier for people to switch carriers or save money by having a phone choose a "SIM" with the lowest cost for a particular location. Without that approval, carriers don't have to support it so they'd sitll have to support physical SIMs (though virtual + one physical SIM might be a good way to support dual SIM without two physical slots)

  2. Paul Crawford Silver badge

    Good to see NXP still there

    The trend for borging semiconductor houses is bad for all: they asset-strip the acquisition for its most profitable lines and dump the rest. Not because they are not in-use by designers world-wide and valuable to many, but simply because they are not "profitable enough" for the new owners.

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