08-01: Samsung says its Cat.18 6CA LTE modem technology will allow it to access up to 6 LTE bands at once; Meizu has invested USD2.5M for the tooling of the dual display PRO 7; etc.

Chipsets

Samsung has revealed that its next-generation mobile processors will include a new LTE modem that could achieve download speeds as fast as 1.2Gbps. Samsung says its Cat.18 6CA (Carrier aggregation) LTE modem technology will allow it to access up to 6 LTE bands at once. (Samsung, Android Authority, TechNews, Feng)

Analyst Pan Jiutang indicates that Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 built with 10nm process is more costly, which is more than SD820, and its cost is even 3~5 times of SD600. This has made vendors reluctant to choose SD835. (ZOL, Android Headlines, Sohu, My Drivers)

MediaTek has reported net profits for 2Q17 declined 66.7% sequentially and 66.5% on year to NTD2.21B (USD73M). MediaTek posted consolidated revenues of NTD58.08B for 2Q17, down 19.9% from a year earlier but up 3.6% on quarter. Gross margin grew to 35% in 2Q17 from 33.5% in the first, but fell from 35.2% from 2Q16. (UDN, C114, CTEE, Apple Daily, China Times, LTN, CNYES, MediaTek, Digitimes, press)

MediaTek P23 has been adopted by a number of vendors, and expects to ship in 4Q17. At the same time, deca-core Helio P30 has already entered mass production. Qualcomm is trying to challenge MediaTek, lowering its octa-core platform products to below USD10, which is a record new low. As for MediaTek Helio P3X, Qualcomm is preparing SD660 Lite to tackle. (My Drivers, Apple Daily, KK News)

Gartner predicts worldwide semiconductor revenues will exceed USD400B in 2017 for the first time, thanks largely to a 52% increase in the memory market, where Samsung has a dominant share. This gives Samsung its best shot at capturing the number one position from Intel for the first time over the year as a whole. IHS Markit believes that the semiconductor revenues Intel achieved in 2Q17 were USD14.7B. Samsung announced total semiconductor revenues of USD15.5B.  (Financial Times, article, Gartner, Digitimes, press)

Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) has reportedly shifted its server procurement orders for 2Q17 from the original supplier Lenovo to Supermicro Computer, according to Digitimes. In addition to Supermicro, Quanta Computer also has become a server supplier for TSMC, but its order volumes are not yet confirmed. (Digitimes, press, Laoyaoba)

Touch Display

To achieve the ideal experience of its back display, Meizu, working with a design consulting firm frog, has invested a huge amount of resource.  For this special display, with radius of 9mm that has the same cost of its front display, Meizu has invested USD2.5M for the tooling. To improve the accuracy of the process to make the back panel and body fit, the company has also invested tens of millions of RMB with the factory to upgrade production line. This 1.9” display is reportedly supplied by Everdisplay (EDO). (Weibo, My Drivers, QDaily)

Along with increasing use of in-car central information displays, heads-up displays and dashboard displays, sizes of automotive displays will increase from about 5” to 8”~10” and, due to advantages of flexible shapes and curved designs, as well as less power consumption, Mini LED  (regarded as a precursor to Micro LED chips) chips are likely to be used in 10”~13” automotive multi-display panels beginning 2H18, according to Digitimes. (Digitimes, press, Sohu)

Camera

Worldwide CMOS image sensor (CIS) shipments are forecast to grow through 2020 when shipments arrive at nearly USD13.8B in value, according to Digitimes Research. Sony and Samsung both plan to expand 12” fab production capacity for CIS. Sony, which took a 45% share of the global CIS market in 2016, has disclosed plans to expand CIS production capacity to 100,000 wafers by March 2018 from the current 85,000 units. (Digitimes, press, Digitimes)

Facing fierce competition from Mainland China such as O-Film, Sunny Optical, QTech and Truly, Taiwan-based Lite-On shipment has dropped from leadership. Huawei’s orders to Lite-On are reportedly shifted to O-Film. Mainland China is reportedly increasing its COB production line, and O-Film has already added 120 additional lines. Monthly production of one COB line is 750K, so 120 lines would reach 90M monthly production. (Laoyaoba, EE World)

Memory

Because of the shortage of NAND Flash, at the same the demand from data center, enterprise, mobile devices are increasing, 1H17 NAND Flash costs continue to rise. According to ZDC, NAND Flash cost has increased 26% accumulatively, and consumer segment every 1GB cost has exceeded USD0.3. In 2017 Micron, SK Hynix, Samsung and Toshiba are aggressively developing their 3d NAND, 64- / 72-layer 3D NAND begins to see some effects, but only till 3Q17 we will see the increase in production. (ZDC, article, CN Beta)

Sensory

Oculus VR Chief Scientist Michael Abrash concentrates on Focus. Human eyes are designed to rapidly adjust their focal distance, but modern headsets are mostly fixed at a single focal length, so if a VR user tries to focus on a virtual object that is too close, it can produce eyestrain. VR headsets have fixed lenses focused at 2m, which has the effect of making everything within 1m blurry and uncomfortable to look at for extended periods. (VR Focus, Laoyaoba, Gamasutra, Oculus)

Battery

Drexel University’s College of Engineering is working on a special material that will one day provide the capacity for instant battery charging. This is made possible by super-conductive two-dimensional MXene material. They have demonstrated charging of thin MXene electrodes in tens of milliseconds. (CN Beta, The Next Web, Futurism)

Connectivity

Charter Communications has rebuffed Softbank’s proposal to combine the company with Sprint, which SoftBank controls. Undeterred, the Softbank CEO Masayoshi Son is now mustering an offer from SoftBank to buy Charter outright. (CN Beta, Reuters, Business Insider, USA Today, Bloomberg)

Smartphones

According CAICT, in 2016 China mobile phone shipment has reached 560M units. Consumers change their phone each 15~18 months, and expects that in the following years there will be 400M~500M old phones being replaced. Currently, the old phone recycle rate in China is less than 2%. The whole phone recycle market is huge, and there are a lot of companies entering this segment. (CN Beta, KK News, China News)

VIA Technologies has announced it has settled its lawsuits with Asustek Computer in Taiwan and the US, with Asustek agreeing to pay VIA USD15M. VIA filed lawsuits against ASMedia Technology, an affiliate of Asustek, and its employees in 2012, alleging infringement on its USB 3.0 patents. (Digitimes, Laoyaoba)

According to Strategy Analytics, Strategy Analytics, the average price of Samsung came to USD235 over the 2Q17. Strategy Analytics estimated the combined sales of the Galaxy S8 / S8 Plus over 2Q17 reached 19.2M units. Samsung sold 93M units of mobile phones over 2Q17 period, taking up 21% of the global market.  It also accounted for 22% of the smartphone market on the back of the steady sales of its budget models. (The Investor, Korea Herald, Laoyaoba)

Sony announced its consolidated financial results for 2Q17, i.e. F1Q17, boasting a massive surge in profits driven by its recovering imaging sensor business. The Japanese tech giant recorded USD1.43B in profit in the 3-month period ending June 30. (Laoyaoba, Android Headlines, Sony)

Internet of Things

AI investment is growing fast, dominated by digital giants such as Google and Baidu. Globally, McKinsey estimates tech giants spent USD20B~30B on AI in 2016, with 90% of this spent on R&D and deployment, and 10% on AI acquisitions. (McKinsey, report, Laoyaoba)

Facebook has acquired Ozlo, a Palo Alto-based artificial intelligence startup, to help Messenger build out a more elaborate virtual assistant for users. Ozlo specializes in understanding text-based conversations, and claims it can understand and provide answers to questions that do not necessarily have simple yes or no answers. (CN Beta, Re/code, Business Insider)

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