MADISON, Wis. — Samsung took the wraps off a new LTE radio chip this week. The chip, supporting both FDD and TDD, is built on the 28-nm HKMG process. It's noteworthy that Samsung has integrated its own quad-core application processor and called it Exynos ModAP.
In short, Samsung is consolidating its cellular components under the Exynos brand, mimicking Qualcomm's Snapdragon family of mobile chips. The intention is clear: Get Qualcomm.
However, the amount of damage Samsung can wreak in today's totally Qualcomm-dominated LTE market remains unclear.
Samsung's move is destined to design Qualcomm's chips out of Samsung's handsets and tablets. But the LTE-app processor combo chip, which hasn't even hit the market yet, has already delivered the biggest blow. The casualty isn't Qualcomm. It's Broadcom, which announced plans in early June to shut down its cellular baseband business.
No matter how you slice the LTE market, Qualcomm still has a solid lock on the mobile chip market. "Qualcomm still enjoys over 95% of the multimode LTE market, even with new entries announced in 2014," Will Strauss, president of Forward Concepts, told us.
Strategy Analytics reported (subscription required) that Samsung ranked fourth in the LTE baseband market in the first quarter with a revenue share of just 1.7%.
Multi-mode and single-mode FDD-LTE baseband supplier share in 2013.
(Source: Forward Concepts)
Samsung isn't new to the LTE modem business. It has been shipping its own multimode 4G modem used inside its Galaxy 4 and 5 handsets, but the company has done so "only in Korea," according to Forward Concepts.
For handsets and tablets sold in the rest of the world, Samsung has relied on competitors' LTE modem chips. "Depending on the region, Samsung employed Qualcomm 4G modems, while they have employed 4G modems from Intel -- actually, the Galaxy Tab 3 10-inch socket -- and Marvell's and Renesas/Broadcom 4G modems in Galaxy Tab 3 seven-ince sockets," Strauss said.
That picture is about to change.