TD-LTE Licensing Is Imminent, and Global Semiconductor Manufacturers Launch a Fierce Attack

The advent of TD-LTE era will open a new battlefield for competition among semiconductor manufacturers. Chinese mainland China's Ministry of industry and commerce is about to issue the Chinese mainland's three largest telecom operators, China Mobile, China Telecom and China Unicom's TD-LTE licences. Now, three major telecom operators have already done their best to purchase equipment, among which China Mobile is most active.

Mobile TD-LTE offensive with the help of baseband chip manufacturers

In order to avoid repeating the 3G era, China Mobile has actively attracted mobile baseband chip manufacturers to join the TD-LTE camp due to the lack of TD-SCDMA chip solutions. At present, companies including Qualcomm, Marvell, MediaTek, Spreadtrum and Lianxin have released relevant solutions and successively introduced mass production, which has become a strong backing for China Mobile's sprint into the 4G market.

Figure 1 Xu Yifei, a researcher at the Shanghai subsidiary of tuoyi Industry Research Institute, said that in order to avoid falling into the dilemma of unstable chip supply in the 3G era, China Mobile is making every effort to deploy the TD-LTE chip market.

Xu Yifei, a researcher at the Shanghai subsidiary of tuoyi Industry Research Institute (Fig. 1), said that in the 3G era, due to the fact that large international IC design manufacturers did not pay attention to the research and development of TD-SCDMA chips at the beginning, the supply source of 3G chips of China Mobile was limited, resulting in the loss of customers due to the insufficient variety of mobile phones. In order to avoid repeating the mistakes in the TD-LTE era, China Mobile attracted large chip manufacturers such as Qualcomm, MediaTek, Marvell, ZTE, Lianxin and Spreadtrum to ensure the supply of TD-LTE chips, which is expected to reproduce the prestige of the 2G era in the TD-LTE market.

It is worth mentioning that among the above-mentioned manufacturers cooperating with China Mobile, in addition to Qualcomm and MediaTek, which have adopted 28 nm process nodes to mass produce multi-frequency and multi-mode LTE chips, Spreadtrum, Marvell, Lianxin and other manufacturers will also follow up to reduce chip power consumption with high dielectric metal gate (HKMG) process. Among them, Spreadtrum and Marvell are expected to mass produce in the fourth quarter of this year, Lianxin is scheduled to catch up in the first quarter of next year.

In addition to actively establishing a TD-LTE chip supply relationship with major chip manufacturers, China Mobile has also conducted large-scale centralized procurement for terminal products, and the first two centralized procurement bidding ended in November last year and July this year, focusing on Netcom products such as MiFi and customer premise equipment (CPE). The industry estimates that before the Chinese government issues the license, the company will start another wave of terminal centralized purchase, and since 2014, the focus of China Mobile's centralized purchase will shift from Netcom equipment to mobile phones.

According to the Research Report of TD industry alliance, the number of commercial TD-LTE smart phones will increase significantly in 2013. As of June this year, a total of 15 manufacturers around the world have published 29 TD-LTE smart phones. It is expected that eleven mobile phone TD-LTE will be listed in Chinese mainland in the third quarter of this year, and the other six will be listed in Japan. In addition to smart phones, other TD-LTE terminal products, including data cards, CPE, MiFi and tablets, have also shipped more than 4 million units, and the overall TD-LTE market output value is rising rapidly.

Chinese mainland China has clearly set out the target of four hundred and fifty million Chinese mainland users in 2015 and increased to one billion and two hundred million in 2020. It is very likely that three TD-LTE licenses will be issued to China Mobile, China Telecom and China Unicom in October this year. 3G/LTE

Optimistic about the huge business opportunities brought by the release of TD-LTE, China Mobile has made every effort to start the strategic layout and launched large-scale bidding for telecommunications equipment. It plans to achieve the construction goal of more than 200000 base stations in the first phase and covering 100 cities in China in 2013, with an investment of more than 20 billion yuan. It is expected to build another 200000 base stations in 2014, It is clearly proposed that the time for large-scale commercialization of TD-LTE network is 2015.

With the large-scale procurement of TD-LTE equipment by telecom operators, the demand for medium and low price intelligent equipment has also increased rapidly, which has driven the synchronous rise of shipments of key mobile phone components. Among them, complementary metal oxide semiconductor power amplifier (CMOS PA) is the biggest beneficiary of this wave of business opportunities.

The trend of medium and low price mobile phones is coming, and CMOS Pa shows its edge

CMOS PA is taking advantage of size and cost to seize the city and land in the medium and low price mobile phone market, and the market share is expected to increase to 15%? 20%, and in order to further prevent and block the opponent's offensive, GaAs PA manufacturers will comprehensively start the Fab Lite strategy to consolidate the market share of high-end mobile phones and medium and low-cost mobile phones at the same time.

Xu Hanzhou, a researcher at the semiconductor research center of Tuolong Industry Research Institute, said that the business opportunity for smart phones to replace functional phones is about to break out in emerging markets and become the driving force for the growth of global smart phone shipments in the future. It can be imagined that component prices will be the decisive factor if component manufacturers want to seize the market first. Under the trend of low-cost components, CMOS PA manufacturers are expected to take advantage of the double advantages of price and size to make a big profit in the medium and low-cost mobile phone market. It is estimated that the proportion of CMOS PA market is expected to increase to 15% in 2016? 20%。

Xu Hanzhou further takes Qualcomm's RF 360 solution (Figure 2) supporting the long range evolution project (LTE) as an example, which uses envelope power tracking technology to improve the efficiency of CMOS PA and 0.18 micron( μ m) The optimized additional power efficiency (PAE) of CMOS insulating layer silicon coating (SOI) process can not only reduce the occupation area by more than half compared with the traditional PA, but also reduce the radio frequency (RF) power consumption by up to 30%.

Figure 2 Qualcomm RF 360 solution

However, although CMOS PA has the advantages of size and price, its efficiency is still lower than that of GaAs Pa. therefore, high-end smart phones focusing on high standby time will still mainly adopt GaAs scheme, and GaAs PA manufacturers will also add packet power tracking technology to the design of GaAs PA to highlight the differences in component characteristics between CMOS PA and CMOS PA. It is understood that the Samsung Galaxy note 3 adopts the GaAs PA scheme with packet power tracker.

Xu Hanzhou believes that in addition to packet power tracking technology to strengthen the penetration of products in the high-end mobile phone market, GaAs PA operators will also accelerate the research and development of multi frequency multi-mode power amplifier (MMPA). As for the medium and low price mobile phone market, GaAs PA manufacturers may simultaneously develop CMOS PA technology and move towards the light wafer OEM mode to narrow the price gap with CMOS PA.

Xu Hanzhou pointed out that GaAs PA manufacturers use the vertical division of labor mode to hand over a large and low-cost market to professional GaAs wafer foundry manufacturing, which will avoid spending too much capital expenditure on the construction of wafer factory capacity. This mode will be the main strategy of most GaAs PA manufacturers. As long as Taiwan's GaAs wafer contract manufacturers keep up with the pace of process R & D and carefully expand production, they will seize an important industrial position under this trend.

According to the latest research report of Tuolong Industry Research Institute, smart phones with a value of more than $450 accounted for 55% of the total shipments in 2012. However, with the rapid growth of medium and low-cost mobile phone shipments driven by emerging markets, the proportion will only remain 47% in 2013 and 40% in 2014, while the proportion of shipments under $300 will increase significantly to 32%, The change in mobile phone prices will bring opportunities for Chinese mainland component manufacturers to develop.

The rise of Chinese chip manufacturers

Chinese mainland component manufacturers Chinese market is late because they start late, and most of them take advantage of low price strategy to win the low price mobile phone business opportunities. But at the same time, Chinese mainland chip makers such as Hass, rdike and Yun Ying valley have broken technical shackles in the domain of baseband chips, processors and displays, and have cast war posts to international chip makers. To accelerate the consumption of Chinese mainland mobile phone market.

Xu Yifei said Chinese mainland mobile phone market is sensitive to cost, and attracted local IC designers who have long cost control capabilities. This kind of manufacturers mostly invest in the market with low price strategy, and then have a certain market share, and then expand the mobile phone market with high cost performance by the new generation of Technology.

Xu Yifei, for example, by the end of 2013, the Chinese mainland government Ministry of industry and commerce was about to issue TD-LTE licenses. Although at present, the company still has the largest integration scheme of application processor (AP) and baseband chip, if we observe China Mobile's tender results, we will find that the proportion of procurement of Hass products has gradually increased. It is understood that at present, Hisilicon's latest technology can make a five mode and ten frequency scheme, and it is possible to gradually enter the Qualcomm market from the medium and low price mobile phone market in the future. Not only Hisilicon, but also radico is rising rapidly. Radico is good at hardware design and integration technology, and has always been a market bargaining expert. In the second half of this year, radico has officially stepped into the smart phone processor market, and the latest products have been listed. The industry expects that radico's ultra-low price processor scheme will push the price of smart phones to a new low.

In fact, Chinese mainland mobile phone brands such as millet, Newman, Trafford, TCL and so on, besides grabbing multi core processors, have begun to use the five million Pixel (front) lens, one thousand million pixel pictures and FHD screen to highlight the characteristics of high cost performance. In view of this, the Chinese mainland Shenzhen manufacturer Yun Ying Valley has produced a batch of monitors in the second half of this year, using the algorithm to enhance the brightness of the panel and remove redundant colors, so that the amorphous silicon (a-Si) panel can be upgraded directly from WVGA resolution to HD or FHD display, while maintaining the color saturation of the color rendering surface.

As for the smart phone lens market, two manufacturers, gekewei and sibico, are good at winning. The former adopts back illuminated (BSI) technology and the latter adopts front illuminated (FSI) technology. This year, they successively launched five megapixel complementary metal oxide semiconductor (CMOS) image sensors for low-cost smart phones, which are packaged in cob (chip on board), The unit price is about 1.4? US $1.6, which is expected to aggressively attack the ultra-low price smart phone market in 2014.

Obviously, the Chinese mainland semiconductor market will be significantly increased by the IC design partners and the foundry. The output value will become a huge new force that international chip makers can not ignore. How will international semiconductor manufacturers change their business strategies to the business opportunities of medium and low price mobile phone in the TD-LTE era will become an important factor for the company to make profits.

TD-LTE Licensing Is Imminent, and Global Semiconductor Manufacturers Launch a Fierce Attack 1

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