As the wireless industry hurtles toward a 5G future, silicon companies have been working this week to stake out better positions. Underscoring all these activities is a common desire to improve products and gain new customers.
First up is NXP Semiconductors' new $1.76 billion purchase of Marvell’s Wireless Connectivity portfolio. The purchase covers Marvell's WiFi, Bluetooth and NFC technologies, which NXP said it will use to target the IoT, automotive and communication markets. NXP said the transaction ought to close by next year. The purchase is notable considering Qualcomm for years sought a purchase of NXP only to have the transaction fall apart after it failed to obtain regulatory approval from Chinese authorities. Thus, NXP's purchase of Marvell appears to be part of that company's efforts to move beyond the Qualcomm transaction and shore up its wireless position in its core market of automotive.
Separately, MediaTek announced its first integrated 5G chipset, one that sports support for both a modem and a processor. The action essentially positions MediaTek as Qualcomm's only real competitor in the field of 5G chips now that Intel has officially bowed out of the business. A MediaTek executive told Cnet that the company's 5G chip likely will be available in devices in China first, starting in the first quarter of next year, and that at least initially the company's unnamed product will support only spectrum bands below 6GHz. That's important considering operators like Verizon and others are building 5G networks initially in millimeter-wave spectrum bands, those above 20GHz.
As Qualcomm faces MediaTek on the 5G chipset front, the company is also working to fight against a US Federal Trade Commission antitrust case against its patent-licensing practices. A federal judge recently ruled against Qualcomm in the case, and now the company is preparing to mount an appeal, according to a new report from Reuters. But Qualcomm isn't letting its legal troubles stymie its efforts to stomp out new opportunities: For example, the company recently announced a reference design for a virtual reality headset that would connect to its Snapdragon chipsets. And Qualcomm said Lenovo will build a laptop running its 5G Snapdragon processor.
— Mike Dano, Editorial Director, 5G & Mobile Strategies, Light Reading | @mikeddano