Combo chipsets to suffer against new embedded WiFi chipsets

February 21, 2012 — Processors like Qualcomm’s Snapdragon will make an impact on future chip revenues, reports analyst firm In-Stat, an NPD Group company.
In November 2011, Qualcomm announced additions to its Snapdragon S4 class processors, which have baseband processors integrated into the SoC, for not only 3G/4G cellular standards, but also Bluetooth and Wi-Fi. NPD In-Stat believes that other processor manufacturers, which have been acquiring cellular and Wi-Fi intellectual property (IP) for two years, will soon follow suit.

Intel recently revealed its Rosepoint processor, which integrates Wi-Fi baseband and RF silicon into a dual-core Atom chip. By integrating more functions into the CPU, Intel will create better power efficiencies and make devices easier to design by cutting out the work of integrating two chips instead of just one. And while this processor is just a prototype at this point, it does paint an interesting picture of an upcoming clash between Qualcomm and Intel which may rival or exceed that of AMD vs. Intel.

The potential combo chipset revenue lost as new embedded Wi-Fi chipsets replace current chipsets could be as high as $590 million in 2015.

“One of the critical factors in determining the impact from these integrated processors is the impact on the bill-of-materials cost,” says Greg Potter, Analyst. “Not only do you eliminate the need for a Wi-Fi combo chip, you potentially simplify the PCB in phones, tablets, and similar devices. Other benefits include the potential to decrease the number of antennas and the elimination of potential signal interference. The initial markets for these chipsets will be high-end and mid-tier smartphones along with Android tablets. Moving forward, expect these chips to migrate down to low-end smartphones, low-end tablets, and even basic and feature phones.”

The introduction of low-power Wi-Fi chipsets presents a challenge to Bluetooth in certain markets. Monolithic chipset revenues and shipments will decline slightly from 2010 to 2011 as more cellular phones switch to combo chipsets. Combo chip prices will see a steady decline, and by 2015 they will decrease by over one fourth of 2010 pricing levels. 802.11ac will grow rapidly with shipments to surpass 650 million chipsets by 2015.

In-Stat’s new research, Wi-Fi Chipsets: Is 802.11ac The New Black?, provides recent news in Wi-Fi, analysis on new standards such as 802.11ac and Wi-Fi Direct, analysis of low-power chipsets, chipsets by type (embedded, combo, and monolithic), and more. Learn more here:

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