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11-29: The first OPPO foldable smartphone will be revealed at MWC in Feb 2019; GIS and O-film are likely to share the orders for ultrasonic in-display fingerprint sensors from Samsung; etc.

Chipsets

Qualcomm Ventures, the corporate venture capital arm of Qualcomm, has plans to invest up to USD100M in artificial intelligence (AI). Qualcomm says it will provide capital to startups building on-device AI, which is AI that runs on the end device, like a smartphone or vehicle, rather than in the cloud. The fund’s leader, Qualcomm investment director Albert Wang, says on-device AI is the future. (TechCrunch, VentureBeat, Huanqiu, CCIDNet)

Google Glass Edition version 2 reportedly will not use Qualcomm Snapdragon 710, but the expansion thereof. Qualcomm is allegedly developing new SoC for AR, VR as well as PC. For PC, the new SoC is dubbed Snapdragon 8180, codenamed “Poipu”, having 8.5B transistors, sized 20×15mm, manufactured by TSMC based on 7nm process. This SoC is allegedly to appear along Snapdragon 8150. (My Drivers, CN Beta, GSM Arena, PC Mag, Fudzilla)

Qualcomm CEO Steve Mollenkopf reveals that Qualcomm and Apple are “on the doorstep” of resolving their ongoing issues. Hes ays he would also like to see Qualcomm 5G in Apple phones. (GSM Arena, CNBC, Caijing)

Taiwan-based IC design houses expect to see a new wave of orders from downstream PC and notebook clients before the Lunar New Year holidays in early Feb 2019 at the earliest, as the tight supply of Intel’s processors is expected to ease in 1Q19, according to Digitimes.  Intel’s CPU supply shortfalls seen since the beginning of 3Q18 have disrupted the shipment schedules of Taiwan PC and notebook ODMs. The US-China trade conflicts have further frustrated the supply chain players, including chipmakers, preventing them from enjoying the peak season effect in 3Q18. (My Drivers, Digitimes, press, Extreme Tech, Seeking Alpha)

VP of MediaTek Beijing, Xiaofeng Su, indicates that it is still too soon since the 5G standards are released for the chipset vendors providing a solution that considers costs and size. From 2018 till 2019, 5G smart device would commonly use 4G SoC with 5G Modem combination. The mature AP+MD 5G SoC is expected to emerge in 2020. He also indicates that MediaTek is the pilot of commercializing 5G and NB-IoT. (CN Beta, CCIDNet)

Amazon’s cloud chief Andy Jassy debuts a new custom machine-learning chip called AWS Inferentia, designed specifically for inference tasks, in which machine-learning systems actually start to put patterns together after having been trained on a data set. AWS Inferentia will support the TensorFlow, Apache MXNet, and PyTorch deep learning frameworks, as well as models that use the ONNX format.  (My Drivers, Amazon, Fortune, CNBC, Bit-Tech, Forbes)

Touch Display

Chuck Wang, product manager of OPPO, reveals that the first OPPO foldable smartphone will be revealed at MWC 2019 in Feb 2019. OPPO has filed various patents over time. (CN Beta, The Verge, LetsGoDigital, Android Community, Tweakers)

BOE Technology and Stream TV jointly launch 65” 8K Glasses-Free 3D display, 10.1” Glasses-Free 3D display and other naked-eye 3D series products. New products not only support 8K resolution, but also could transform 2D content into 3D content in real time. The all new 8K naked-eye 3D new products use BOE’s LCD display, equipped with Stream TV exclusive Seecube3D display technology. (CN Beta, Huanqiu, Sina)

Memory

UBS analyst Timothy Arcuri indicates that the decline in DRAM prices is faster and steeper than UBS previously forecast. The analyst projects a 12%~15% sequential decline in DRAM blended contract pricing in 1Q19 versus expectations for a 10%~12% drop, while NAND flash is expected to see a 10%~15% fall. UBS attributes the downside in DRAM to the worsening impact of a CPU shortage on PC build rates and weakening server and mobile DRAM demand. (CN Beta, Benzinga, Street Insider)

Biometrics

General Interface Solution (GIS) and O-film Tech are likely to share the orders for ultrasonic in-display fingerprint sensors from Samsung for Galaxy S10 lineup slated for launch in early 2019, according to Digitimes. While GIS and O-film both have tied up with Qualcomm for developing ultrasonic in-display fingerprint sensor technology, GIS has an advantage of having a high yield rate in production and O-film is strong for its high production capacity at lower production cost. (GSM Arena, Digitimes, press, GizChina, Digitimes, 52RD)

Connectivity

According to Ericsson, on a global level, major 5G network deployments are anticipated from 2020, and by the end of 2024 Ericsson project 1.5B 5G subscriptions for enhanced mobile broadband. This will account for close to 17% of all mobile subscriptions at that time. With global mobile data traffic forecast to increase more than 5 times in 2018~2024, key drivers for 5G deployment include increased network capacity and decreased cost per byte. (Ericsson, report, VentureBeat)

Ericsson predicts that there will be at least 10 smartphones with 5G by the end of 2019, with most launching around Apr, and others following in Jun / Jul. They will be trailed by a handful of 5G-capable PCs and industrial solutions. Ericsson expects the global 5G market to be dominated by “mid-band” devices using radio frequencies under 6GHz, rather than high-band millimeter wave (mmWave) devices, which will constitute a solid minority of options — primarily in North America. The company also expects that there will only be 1 or 2 low-band 5G devices by the end of 2019, such as smartphones developed specifically for T-Mobile’s 600MHz spectrum. (Ericsson, report, VentureBeat)

Phone

Gionee is on the verge of bankruptcy after owing money to financial institutions, suppliers, and advertising and marketing agencies. The total debt is around CNY17B (about USD2.45B), not without the handy help of its chairman Liu Lirong, who lost CNY1B while gambling in a casino. There are 20 major suppliers filed a lawsuit with the Shenzhen People’s Court for missed payments from Gionee. (GSM Arena, China News, iiMedia, JRJ)

ZTE’s gaming smartphone nubia Red Magic Mars is launched – 6” 1080×2160 FHD+ LTPS IPS, Qualcomm Snapdragon 845, rear 16MP + front 8MP, 6+64GB (offers up to 10+256GB), Android 9.0, rear fingerprint scanner, ICE systme (dual heat pipe and convection cooling), 3800mAh, from CNY2700. (GSM Arena, nubia)

Augmented / Virtual Reality

Microsoft has won a USD480M contract to supply prototypes for augmented reality (AR) systems to the Army for use on combat missions and in training. The contract, which could eventually lead to the military purchasing over 100,000 headsets, is intended to “increase lethality by enhancing the ability to detect, decide and engage before the enemy”. (Neowin, Bloomberg, Business Times)

Caltech researchers have developed a Cognitive Augmented Reality Assistant (CARA) that uses Microsoft HoloLens to make objects “talks”.  CARA uses computer vision to identify objects in a given space and say their names, thanks to spatialized sound. CARA could help the blind to navigate. (Engadget, Caltech, Engadget CN)

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