EE Times: Does that explain why we aren’t seeing any smartphones on the market using your LTE modem?
Schlett:Yes. It does take a lot of time and resources. But we’ve also gone
through a lot of ups and downs -- with one project started, then it’s
gotten off, then it’s back up again and so on. We are expecting
smartphones using our single-chip apps processor/LTE modem chip to
appear in shops in the second half of 2013.
EE Times: Considering that LTE isn’t a full-fledged market, shouldn’t Renesas Mobile have gone after apps processor/3G modem market? Do you think your
focus on LTE has cost you?
Schlett: Yes, we were hit by that. But
we’ve always said that our focus is on LTE. We believe that we’ve done
absolutely the right thing. Had we done other projects that don’t
require our LTE modems, we would have been distracted, and we would have
become just another apps processor/modem company – like ST-Ericsson or
EE Times: What’s your strategy going forward?
Schlett: We will need a few key OEMs.
EE Times: You mean, Apple or Samsung?
Schlett: Why not? But seriously, we do need a key volume OEM. Then, we want to play an active role in the ODM market.
EE Times: What do you mean by that?
We actually have a very strong support team of our own in Taiwan. We
expect the smartphone market to become more like a traditional PC value
chain. We want to position ourselves to be able to add more value in
EE Times: You have many multistandard,
multifrequency modem solutions – except for China Mobile’s SC-TDMA.
What are you going to do about that? Is an M&A an option?
Schlett: Yes, we’re looking into that.
EE Times: What’s your premium and mid-range product strategy?
We already have a premium platform that plugs in our LTE and Nvidia’s
apps processor. But, of course, when the high-end smartphone market is
totally dominated by Apple and Samsung, a high-end solution like ours
has suffered. For the mid-range market, we have a one-chip modem/apps
processor solution using dual-core ARM A9.
EE Times: In your single-chip solution, which graphics technology do you use?
Schlett: Imagination Technologies'. We've always used theirs and we will continue to use it.
EE Times: And your roadmap for the products rolling out in 2013?
We will be announcing shortly a quad-core single-chip apps
processor/LTE modem solution using ARM A15 and ARM A7 [both dual
core]. This is designed for higher performance smartphones. As for the
cost optimized version, we have yet to make our final decision… But it’s
logical to assume developing a single-chip solution based on the dual
EE Times: And these are for handsets to be launched in 2014?
Yes, by 2014 our LTE modem chip will be the third to fourth
generation, giving us at least a one-year advantage on most of our
EE Times: Your parent company, Renesas Electronics,
has been going through a lot of turmoil. Is Renesas Mobile going to be a part of a
new SoC-focused joint venture after the parent company spins off its SoC division not pertinent to its MCU-focused business?
The truth is, we don’t know. But we’re confident that there will be an
intelligent solution to that. Our mission is clear. For [Renesas Mobile], set up for
the global market, it’s our responsibility to take our modem technology
to the world.
"Describing it as “the best quality multistandard LTE modem that exists in the market -- after Qualcomm,”"
That's quite some honesty. Otherwise companies usually try to hype their product as the be all and end all of components around. Likewise when he says that they will be one year ahead of most of the competition and not all the competition.
I like honesty and hope that the japanese semi-industry get their act together.
Your comment is interesting. Forgive me for being skeptical, how can you tell that the guy was not hyping, or in a reality-distortion field of his own?
Customers want a solution at a specific time frame. Quite often, the solution does not need to be the best or all encompassing. It is because the solution must be stable. As such, a solution which has gone through field tests and through significant volume shipment is the one which every OEM/ODM love. Given the minute market share or actual shipment of the Renesas solution, a device product manager really has to make a sizable gamble to take on the Renesas Mobile solution. On top, has Renesas Mobile ever showed the world a trustworthy and consistent roadmap since it was created in year 2010? On top, the major stake-holder in the world of mobile cellular market like Qualcomm, MediaTek, ST-E, Broadcom, Marvell, they have consistently released both discrete APs / Modem and integrated AP+Modem in the past. Plus these all have extremely strong WLAN and Bluetooth solutions. In contrast, Renesas Mobile consistently offered "pieces" here and there. Don't be fooled by the bits and pieces. Whoever don't have a complete solution is simply wasting money and time of their investors and their own dear employees!
Interesting comment, considering, at least according to Renesas Mobile webpages, the technology of Renesas Mobile has been deployed in over 2 billion mobile devices.
It is even more interesting that the STE U8500 chipset used e.g. in Samsung Galaxy SIII Mini, the modem (according to this: http://www.linleygroup.com/newsletters/newsletter_detail.php?num=688&year=2010&t
ag=2) seems to be the ex-Nokia one - that I presume is the same one now owned by Renesas Mobile.
Anyhow, it'd be very interesting to learn more about the design wins and the progress of
the operator certifications of the chipset vendors here in eetimes.
Renesas bought Nokia's modem team and yes, Renesas Mobile already has a sizeable presence in the modem/apps processor market. This particular article is focused on LTE ... as that's most likely to be the focus of the next mobiel chip battleground.
Please be aware that ST-E also acquired stuff from Nokia when it off-loaded the modem team. The announcement from Nokia was vague at the time. My assumption is that Renesas Mobile and ST-E divided up the previously Nokia's modem technologies.
This interesting, do you happen to have more details on this?
Anyhow, do you still agree with your own criticism on the stability in the sense that this is something Renesas (including via STE U8500) does not have but STE does?
Narrowing it down to LTE, where are STE LTE chipsets (slim modem or CP i.e. APE+modem) ?
According to this article, Renesas has certification (for LTE/HSPA/EDGE I presume) from both AT&T and Docomo, how about STE - (who is mainly promoting its U8500 EDGE/HSPA platform based on ex-Nokia, nowadays Renesas modem technology) ?
@ DINapp. I believe that the whole Renesas Mobile operation turns out to be a losing proposition, though the original intention was to make it successful. It is headquartered in Japan, managed by a bunch of losers who, over the year, fail to demonstrate persistent success on mobile communication. The cost structure of Renesas Mobile is fundamentally flawed to begin with and no drastic action has ever been taken to right the wrong. Given the world is not stagnant, it would be a pipe-dream for Renesas Mobile to survive.
Unfortunately, I didn't keep the announcement made by ST-E/Nokia at the time. In the last 6 months, I noticed that ST-E managed to design in several smartphones from Samsung, Nokia, and those in China. As such, ST-E is definitely more successful than Renesas Mobile who has been blowing vapourware consistently since day one.
I think what often gets lost in our coverage is this. We write about companies' new products or roadmaps all the time. Then we write about design wins. We rarely report where chips are at any given time in times of a verification process -- done by operators... The interview with Renesas Mobile executives was informative and educational for me.