Contributed by Jim Morrison
We are constantly monitoring hot phones and their respective devices. Often we have specific devices we have been seeking out. The most recent target has been Qualcomm’s RF360 family of RF devices for smart phones and connected tablets. These devices promise to be a game changer for Qualcomm as these devices will allow Qualcomm to increase the total number of their own chips in smart and feature phones thus increasing their total overall mobile device revenue.
While looking for these RF360 family members today we stumbled across another Qualcomm device that was on our radar, the WCN3680 WiFi SoC feature single stream 802.11ac, BT 4.0 and FM. As we have spoken about in previous blogs this socket has been historically held by Broadcom with their BCM43xx series WiFi SoC’s. This socket numbers in the hundreds of millions if not billions per year and is a very lucrative socket. Broadcom has been the incumbent now for the better part of three years. We have seen the likes of Texas Instruments and MediaTek take a shot at winning this socket, but BCM always seems to stay on top.
Well not today folks, today in Samsung’s latest Galaxy Phablet line, the GT-I9205 and the GT-I9200. These phones feature a huge 6.3” screen and Samsung’s Android OS. But what the phone contains that really caught our eyes is the new Qualcomm WCN3680
Now comparing this die to the competitive BCM devices we see some advantages for the WCN3680.
Both the BCM4335 and the WCN3680 feature 802.11 ac, FM and BT 4.0. But the Qualcomm is significantly smaller in die area. The BCM4335 comes in at nearly 26 mm2 and the WCN3680 comes in at 14.4 mm2. Will the reduction in die area (and therefore die cost), and the power of going with an all Qualcomm chipset entice phone OEM’s to think twice about using the tried and true BCM solution, or will they switch over to Qualcomm’s WiFi solution?
We do not have the answers to these questions, but we will be tracking this socket to see how the battle plays out over the next several months. Good luck boys.
This report filtered its way through to the investing community, prompting a drop in Broadcom (BRCM) stock last week. Another analyst also suspects that Apple will drop Broadcom in favour of their own designs, causing another drop – the speculation is that Texas Instruments has licensed its WiFi technology to Apple, as well as hiring a bunch of TI engineers laid off last fall.
Such is the upside and downside of the chip business!
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