Qualcomm files suit against Apple, seeking import ban for infringing iProducts

Apple vs Qualcomm

The Apple vs Qualcomm drama has taken a turn for the dramatic. Today Qualcomm has fired back its own complaint against the ITC, and filed a suit in California, claiming that Apple is infringing on Qualcomm’s patents and that an import ban on the infringing products is justified. The suit is only against products which use modems “other than those supplied by Qualcomm’s affiliates,” which, presumably, means the Intel modems that Apple has chosen to use in some models. 

Qualcomm claims that the six patents included in the suit are not part of any industry standard and that it is therefore not obliged to offer to license them as part of those standards. Qualcomm also released an interesting infographic PDF about the suit, as well, for anyone interested in how the company is choosing to market the details of the case

Qualcomm suitt Apple

Most of the patents in question don’t seem to point to hardware (except #8,487, 658) but almost exclusively apply to optimizations in software to improve performance. Qualcomm’s marketing fact-sheet doesn’t do a great job of illustrating what each does since it reduces most things down to the technical level of “data super-highways,” but you can generally understand it. Generally, they apply to methods of saving power, often while transmitting data, by cutting the right corners.

Qualcomm expects the ITC to respond in August, and that the case filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California will begin next year. Both the ITC complaint and the lawsuit are almost assuredly a response to Apple’s suit filed earlier this year.

I hate to editorialize too much in this circumstance, but the content and complexity of this matter almost beg it. So if you don’t want my opinion on the subject, you can stop here and consider yourself informed about the general details of the case.

Even leaving aside the curiosity that Qualcomm isn’t also pursuing an action against Intel for being the manufacturer and supplier of the potentially infringing modems, I think it’s fairly clear that this is just a counter-claim being made to force Apple to back down or commit even more resources to the fight. While it’s possible their claims are legitimate, the timing is questionable. Meanwhile, Qualcomm is still in the middle of an FTC antitrust investigation, and in the press release for this lawsuit, it is advertising the fact that the patents involved aren’t being FRAND licensed. It’s stunning. That image alone, I think, is illustrative.

Regardless of opinion, this is definitely not the last that we will hear in the ongoing Qualcomm saga. The full press release is available below:

Qualcomm announces the Snapdragon 450, a major update to the 400-series platform

It’s been some time since Qualcomm issued the 400-series Snapdragon chip a generational update, but it looks like we’re finally getting one today. The new Snapdragon 450 sees Qualcomm’s mid-range smartphone platform move to a 14nm process, a change that should bring very significant efficiency gains, as current 400-series chips are on a 28nm process.

Like the outgoing Snapdragon 435, the current most-powerful 400-series chipset, the 450 still utilizes Cortex A53 cores, but on a smaller 14nm process. Qualcomm is also very substantially raising their max clock speed, up to 1.8GHz on the 450 versus a max of 1.4GHz on the 435. A new Hexagon 546 DSP will be up to five times as efficient as the DSP in previous 400-series chips, presumably a result of some higher-end parts from the 600 and 800 series trickling down into Qualcomm’s portfolio.

Snapdragon 450

The 450 also adds support for 60FPS video capture and playback, dual cameras, USB 3.0, and Qualcomm’s Quick Charge 3.0 technology. Like the 435, it features Qualcomm’s X9 LTE modem (announced last year), which provides a pretty robust radio feature set for something that’s going to end up in budget phones.

There’s a revised Adreno 506 GPU that adds support for things like Vulkan and DirectX 12 – this GPU is actually pulled from the Snapdragon 625, another case of trickle-down – that has twice the number of processing clusters and is built on the 14nm process (the 505 was 28nm, of course), resulting in very significant performance and efficiency gains.

Snapdragon 450

You can read more about the Snapdragon 450 in the press release below, but suffice it to say, this is probably the most significant revision to the platform since the 400-series moved from the old A7 and Krait cores to the current A53 design. Shifting to a smaller process and updating some of the core components should make for a serious experience upgrade even over the Snapdragon 435 – though that upgrade will entail a slight wait. Qualcomm says the first devices with the new Snapdragon 450 won’t begin shipping until Q4 of this year, so you won’t see them showing up until October at the very earliest. Still, good news for the budget segment.

Quick Charge 4+ is the next fast charging spec for your smartphone

Qualcomm’s 15% faster charging standard

Who doesn’t love fast charging? It’s certainly become a necessary requirement when buying a smartphone, at least in the Android world. But part of that is because Qualcomm has been pushing the specification in every new smartphone debut for years. Can you blame them? Once you go fast charging, you never go back.

Qualcomm qiuck charge 4

This time, we’re hearing about Qualcomm’s Quick Charge 4+, the evolutionary successor to last year’s Quick Charge 4. This one is referred to as plus, however, because of its additional enhancements:

Dual Charge: Already an option in earlier versions, but now more powerful, Dual Charge includes a second power management IC in the device. Charging a device via Dual Charge divides the charge current, allowing for lower thermal dissipation and reduced charge time

Intelligent Thermal Balancing: A further enhancement to Dual Charge, intelligent thermal balancing is engineered to move current via the coolest path autonomously, eliminating hot spots for optimized power delivery

Advanced Safety Features: Quick Charge 4 already includes rigorous built-in safety protocols. Quick Charge 4+ goes one step further and is designed to monitor both the case and connector temperature levels simultaneously. This extra layer of protection helps ward against overheating and short-circuit or damage to the Type-C connector.

Qualcomm adds the claim that devices utilizing Quick Charge 4+ will charge up to 15% faster than their predecessors and at 30% more efficiently. Charging will also be cooler, which could bode well for those of you in the hottest climates wielding scorching hot phones. Ouch.

Anyway, there aren’t many devices using Qualcomm’s Quick Charge 4+. At present, only the newly-announced Nubia Z17 is compatible, and that’s arriving in July.

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Qualcomm to pay BlackBerry almost billion dollars in post arbitration final award

Qualcomm to pay BlackBerry almost billion dollars

Qualcomm’s arbitration with BlackBerry has been determined. In previous coverage of the arbitration settlement, the quantity owed by Qualcomm to BlackBerry for overpayment of royalties was pegged at $814 million. Now that interest and attorneys fees have been added in, the total amount to be paid out has been set at $940 million. That’s almost a billion dollars that Qualcomm has to pay BlackBerry by May 31st.

Qualcomm to pay BlackBerry

Qualcomm agreed to arbitration, or fees to be added in might have been even higher. Long, drawn-out lawsuits tend to be more expensive to litigate than arbitrations. Yesterday’s announcement made a decent dent in Qualcomm’s stock, pulling off almost a dollar or a bit under 2%. BlackBerry’s stock price saw a corresponding increase at around 25 cents (or a bit over 2%), though it was much smaller than Qualcomm’s loss. Unfortunately for BlackBerry, it seems its price suffered some corrections in after-hours trading, and it’s right back where it was before.

The short spike did bring BlackBerry to a four-year high. Combined with the recently released KEYone, perhaps things are looking up for the company. Unfortunately for Qualcomm, the lawsuitswith Apple and pending FTC antitrust litigation probably won’t spell great news for it in the future.

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Qualcomm announces the Snapdragon 660 and 630

Qualcomm Snapdragon 660 and 630

Qualcomm has announced two new platforms today, the Snapdragon 660 and 630. Both are built on the company’s latest 14nm FinFET process. They are also each part of Qualcomm’s so-called “High tier,” which rests — as one would numerically assume — between the 800 and 400 tiers. I don’t want to oversimplify too many details of this release since it is very nifty, but at the same time I would like to ensure the information I’m presenting is accessible, so forgive me if I occasionally digress and/or geek out.

snapdragon 660
snapdragon 660

Both platforms will include new features like Bluetooth 5 support and the All-Ways Aware hub, which is a collection of low-power sensors tied to the rest of Qualcomm’s platform and Hexagon DSP (wiki-hole, cool stuff). The latter is basically the low-power processor inside the platform that provides things like step counting, location tracking, and other background activities without killing battery life. It supports Google’s Awareness API, a set of APIs for contextual actions. They both also include USB-C 3.1 support, a bump to Quick Charge 4, and the X12 LTE Modem which peaks at 600Mbps, as well as some new video chops via the Spectra 160 ISPs (this processes the raw data from the camera).

The 660, in particular, brings some large changes. It’s replacing the reference A72/A53 cores from the 653 with Qualcomm’s Kryo 260 in-house design. I’ve been a big fan of the increased performance from Qualcomm’s custom cores, and I hope that holds true with the 660. Qualcomm alleges that it sees 20% gains over the 650, so that would appear to be the case. It also has Dual Band Simultaneous 2×2 MIMO WiFi (read: fast). The Adreno 510 in the 653 has been tossed for the Adreno 512, with a supposed 30% increase in GPU performance.

snapdragon 630
snapdragon 630

The consanguineous 630 won’t see the same fancy new Kryo cores. It has eight ARM reference A53s, just like the model it replaces, but adds LPDDR4x support. Four of those are at 2.2GHz and four at 1.8GHz, with an advertised 10% bump in overall performance. It features the Adreno 508 GPU which has the same supposed 30% gains over the previous model, and the max resolution is also a bit higher than the 626 it is replacing, as it now supports up to QXGA (2048 x 1536).The best part for hardware makers is that both of these platforms are software and pin-compatible with the models they replace, so new devices should arrive that much more quickly. These specifications make the 660 look like a good contender, but the 630 is certainly no slouch, either. The 660 is available now and should be in devices arriving as soon as this quarter, while the 630 is not going to be available until the end of May, so expect to see it landing in phones sometime next quarter.
Source: Qualcomm

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