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Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 Powers VR Headset

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Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 Powers VR Headset

Ahead of Mobile World Conference (MWC) 2018 Qualcomm announces plans a reference design for a VR headset-- one based on the Snapdragon 845 mobile device processor able to deliver "one-of-a-kind experiences."

"We continue to deliver new advancements in technologies for our customers to utilize as they aim to capitalise on the growing standalone and smartphone VR industry," the company says. "With the Snapdragon 845 Mobile VR Platform, we're supporting the next wave of smartphone and standalone VR headsets for our customers and developers to create the immersive applications and experiences of the future."

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Qualcomm Cross-Licenses With Samsung

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Qualcomm Cross-Licenses With Samsung

In a bid to sidestep some legal woes Qualcomm refreshes its cross-licensing agreement with Samsung-- leading to Samsung "withdrawing" interventions in a Qualcomm appeal of a Korean Fair Trade decision in the Seoul High Court.

Two years ago the Korean Fair Trade Commission (KFTC) fined Qualcomm to the tune of $845 million for forcing phone makers to pay royalties "for an unnecessarily broad set of patents." It also limited access to patents to rival chipmakers, hindering fair competition.

“We believe this amended agreement provides the foundation for a long-term, stable relationship with Samsung following the KFTC investigation,” Qualcomm says. “With our portfolio of leading technology inventions, we are committed to driving growth for the global ecosystem and we look forward to an expanded business relationship with Samsung.”

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Cloud Drives Microsoft Fiscal Q2 Results

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Cloud Drives Microsoft Fiscal Q2 Results

Microsoft beats Wall Street expectations in fiscal Q2 2018 (ending 31 December 2017), with profits worth $8.7 billion-- a 10% Y-o-Y increase-- from revenues growing by 12% Y-o-Y to $28.9 billion.

The company attributes good part to such results to the Productivity and Business Processes segment covering Office, Office 365 and the LinkedIn social network. The segment shows revenue growth of 25% Y-o-Y, while Office 365 subscribers total 29.2m. Also driving Microsoft growth are Azure cloud and Windows server server, since Intelligent Cloud revenues are up by 15% Y-o-Y, with Azure revenue growth reaching 98% Y-o-Y.

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EU Fines Qualcomm for Position Abuse

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EU Fines Qualcomm for Position Abuse

Qualcomm is the latest company to face the ire of the European Union-- following the €2.42 billion fine slapped at Google, the European Commission orders the chipmaker to pay €997 million for "abusing its market dominance."

"Qualcomm illegally shut out rivals from the market for LTE baseband chipsets for over five years, thereby cementing its market dominance." European commissioner in charge of competition policy Margrethe Vestager says. "Qualcomm paid billions of US Dollars to a key customer, Apple, so that it would not buy from rivals. These payments were not just reductions in price-- they were made on the condition that Apple would exclusively use Qualcomm's baseband chipsets in all its iPhones and iPads."

Technically monopolies are not against EU policy, but according to the EC Qualcomm got to dominate the market through means deemed abusive. How so? In 2011 Qualcomm started making "significant payments" to ensure the exclusive use of its LTE baseband chips in iPhones and iPads. If Apple started using chipsets supplied by a rival (such as Intel) the payments would not only stop, but the agreement dictated the iPhone maker would have to return "a large part" of payments received.

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Intel Meltdown-, Spectre-Proof to Launch in 2018

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Intel Meltdown-, Spectre-Proof to Launch in 2018

Intel reports record revenues for Q4 and full-year 2017, reaching $17.1 billion for Q4 and $62.8bn for the full year-- even if the fallout of Meltdown and Spectre might affect future financials.

Q4 2014 revenue growth is at 8% Y-o-Y, while 2017 growth reaches 9%. Chipzilla says most growth comes from "data-centric" operations, contrasting with PC-centric operation revenues declining by -2% Y-o-Y in Q4 2017 (or growing modestly by 3% for full-year 2017).

Also showing growth is IoT, with both Q4 and full-year 2017 revenues rising by 20% Y-o-Y. Non-volatile memory is up by 9% Y-o-Y in Q4 and 37% for the year, while programmable solutions revenues are up by 35% Y-o-Y for Q4 and 14% for overall 2017.

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Spectre Patch Affects New Core Chips After All

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Spectre Patch Affects New Core Chips After All

Intel eats back the words it said earlier this month as it admits newer Skylake and Kaby Lake CPUs are also affected by the patch released to fix the issues brought about Spectre and Meltdown.

According to a company blog post, while the firmware updates are "effective at mitigating exposure to the security issues," they also lead to more frequent reboots. Previously Intel insisted the issue was only noticeable on systems running on older Broadwell and Haswell CPUs, but tests have confirmed similar behaviours happen on Ivy Bridge-, Sandy Bridge-, Skywell- and Kaby Lake-based platforms.

That said, Intel insists it is close to identifying the root cause of the issue. In parallel, it is providing vendors with "beta microcode" for validation in the near future.

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Karma Leads to GoPro Drone Exit

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Karma Leads to GoPro Drone Exit

Business is not going too well for GoPro-- the action camera maker announces it is slashing nearly 300 jobs (or over 20% of its global workforce), citing the difficulty of making a profit in an "extremely competitive" market.

In addition, the company says it is quitting the drone business following the non-success that was Karma. Announced back in September 2016, the Karma was GoPro's first (and last) drone. Supposed to be a great profit driver, the Karma proved to be the exact opposite. A fault causing random power losses during operation led to a November 2016 mass recall, while the specialist press compared the drone unfavourably to rivals from the likes of DJI.

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EU Rejects US Intervention in Apple Tax Case

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EU Rejects US Intervention in Apple Tax Case

The European Union's General Court refuses US government intervention in the Apple appeal the 2016 European Commission ruling, Reuters reports-- the one with the tax bill worth up to €13 billion (plus interest).

The intervention in question was filed in April. It insists EU actions will impact US tax revenues, as well as hurt tax treaties with other EU member states and even affect global tax reform efforts. In turn, the court simply says "The United States of America has failed to establish the existence of a direct interest in the result of the case.”

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Intel to Cut Intel Inside Program?

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Intel to Cut Intel Inside Program?

According to CRN Intel plans to slash the "Intel Inside" program by 40-60%-- cuts that will "reverberate through the industry," bringing about anything from PC prices increases to marketing cutbacks.

An anonymous source described as a "top executive for a major Intel partner" says funds making the program are being shifted towards driving datacentre business, "giving more to the data side of the house instead of compute." This means Chipzilla is moving dollars in other areas or keeping them in house, all in the name of improving profit and margins.

Meanwhile, an unidentified "CEO of a major solution provider" adds the funding cut will bring a "ripple effect" across the Intel ecosystem, before saying it is "disappointing, but it's not surprising," considering the cost challenges the company currently faces. Another CRN source simply says that he has "moved on" and partnered with other CPU makers, such as AMD.

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