KGI Expects Intel to Be Exclusive Supplier of Modems in 2018 iPhones

Intel could be the exclusive supplier of LTE modems for all new iPhones launched in 2018, according to KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo.


The key takeaway of the research note, obtained by MacRumors:
We expect Intel to be the exclusive supplier of baseband chip for 2H18 new iPhone models, while Qualcomm may not have a share of the orders at all.
Kuo previously expected Intel to supply 70 percent of the modems, with Qualcomm providing the remaining 30 percent of orders, but he now believes Intel will be the sole supplier given several competitive advantages.

First and foremost, Intel's latest XMM 7560 modem [PDF] supports both GSM and CDMA, meaning that Apple could release a single iPhone model that works across AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, and Sprint. Intel modems previously lacked CDMA, meaning Apple could never fully ditch Qualcomm for all iPhone models.

Apple is also embroiled in a major lawsuit with Qualcomm over anticompetitive licensing practices, and Kuo believes the iPhone maker switching to Intel as its exclusive modem supplier will place added pressure on Qualcomm.

Kuo added that it's too early to tell if Intel will be able to maintain its position of exclusivity in the future, as Apple typically prefers to diversify its supply chain. He adds that Apple may give orders to Qualcomm again in exchange for concessions in the ongoing lawsuit between the two companies.

In order to make up for the lost iPhone business, Kuo expects Qualcomm will be more aggressive in securing orders from Chinese smartphone makers. However, he believes these Chinese companies don't want a monopolized market, so Qualcomm's ability to gain market share in the country may be limited.

Kuo also reiterated that LTE transmission speeds will increase significantly in new iPhone models released in the second half of 2018.

In a previous research note from November, Kuo highlighted that Intel's XMM 7560 modem supports 4x4 MIMO technology, compared to only 2x2 MIMO in the iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus, and iPhone X. The faster LTE speeds will also be made possible by an upgraded antenna design in the next iPhones.

Related Roundup: 2018 iPhones

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Intel CEO Pledges Commitment to Security Following Meltdown and Spectre Vulnerabilities

Intel CEO Brian Krzanich today wrote an open letter to Intel customers following the "Meltdown" and "Spectre" hardware-based vulnerabilities that impact its processors.

In the letter, Krzanich says that by January 15, updates will have been issued for at least 90 percent of Intel CPUs introduced in the past five years, with updates for the remainder coming at the end of January.

For Apple customers, macOS and iOS devices have been patched with protection against Spectre and Meltdown. Meltdown was addressed in macOS High Sierra 10.13.2 and iOS 11.2, while Spectre mitigations were introduced in a macOS 10.13.2 supplemental update and iOS 11.2.2, both of which were released this week. The vulnerabilities have also been addressed in older versions of macOS and OS X.

According to Krzanich, going forward, Intel promises to offer timely and transparent communications, with details on patch progress and performance data. Because Spectre and Meltdown are hardware-based vulnerabilities, they must be addressed through software workarounds. In some cases, these software patches cause machines to perform more slowly.

Apple users do not need to worry about performance impacts. According to Apple, Meltdown had no measurable reduction in performance on devices running macOS and iOS across several benchmarks. Spectre, fixed through a Safari mitigation, had no measurable impact on most tests, but did impact performance by less than 2.5% on the JetStream benchmark. Apple says it plans to continue to refine its mitigations going further.

In addition to remaining transparent about the performance impact of the software fixes, Krzanich says Intel will commit to disclosing security vulnerabilities and sharing hardware innovations that will, in the future, prevent such attacks.
Our customers' security is an ongoing priority, not a one-time event. To accelerate the security of the entire industry, we commit to publicly identify significant security vulnerabilities following rules of responsible disclosure and, further, we commit to working with the industry to share hardware innovations that will accelerate industry-level progress in dealing with side-channel attacks. We also commit to adding incremental funding for academic and independent research into potential security threats.
For those who missed the news last week, Spectre and Meltdown are serious hardware-based vulnerabilities that take advantage of the speculative execution mechanism of a CPU, potentially allowing hackers to gain access to sensitive information.

Spectre and Meltdown impact all modern processors, including those used in Mac and iOS devices, and these two vulnerabilities will continue to be an issue for the foreseeable future as addressing them entirely requires new hardware design. Apple has prevented Spectre and Meltdown from affecting customers through software updates, but all hardware and software manufacturers will need to be wary of additional speculative execution attacks going forward.

Apple customers should make sure to keep their Macs and iOS devices up to date with the latest software to remain protected from malicious attacks that might take advantage of the exploits.


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Intel Says New Software Updates Make Computers ‘Immune’ to Meltdown and Spectre Vulnerabilities

Intel today announced that the firmware updates and software patches that are being released for its CPUs render Intel-based computer systems "immune" to both the Spectre and Meltdown exploits that were widely publicized this week.
Intel has developed and is rapidly issuing updates for all types of Intel-based computer systems -- including personal computers and servers -- that render those systems immune from both exploits (referred to as "Spectre" and "Meltdown") reported by Google Project Zero. Intel and its partners have made significant progress in deploying updates as both software patches and firmware updates.
Intel says updates have been issued for the majority of Intel processor products introduced within the past five years, and by the end of next week, more than 90 percent of processor products from the last five years will be patched.

For Mac users, Apple has already addressed some of the vulnerabilities in the macOS High Sierra 10.13.2 update, and further updates will come in macOS High Sierra 10.13.3. To make sure you're protected as a Mac user, install all of the latest operating system updates and firmware patches. As always, it's also worth avoiding suspicious programs, websites, and links.

Intel today also reiterated that the updates that are being released for Mac, PC, and Linux machines should not significantly impact day to day usage and should, for the most part, be unnoticeable. That seems to be true of the macOS High Sierra 10.13.2 update, as there have been no reports of slowdowns from Mac users.
Intel continues to believe that the performance impact of these updates is highly workload-dependent and, for the average computer user, should not be significant and will be mitigated over time. While on some discrete workloads the performance impact from the software updates may initially be higher, additional post-deployment identification, testing and improvement of the software updates should mitigate that impact.
While hints of an Intel CPU design flaw and security vulnerability surfaced on Tuesday, it wasn't until Wednesday that full details were shared on the Meltdown and Spectre exploits, which take advantage of the speculative execution mechanism of a CPU.

Meltdown impacts Intel CPUs, allowing a malicious program to access data from the memory of running apps, providing passwords, emails, documents, photos, and more. Meltdown can be exploited to read the entire physical memory of a target machine, and it can be done through something as simple as a website. The vulnerability is particularly problematic for cloud-based services.

Spectre, which breaks the isolation between different applications, is a wider hardware-based problem impacting all modern Intel, ARM, and AMD processors. Spectre is harder to exploit than Meltdown, but it is also harder to mitigate.

While patches are going out that appear to prevent the current known Meltdown and Spectre exploits, these speculative execution vulnerabilities will continue to be a problem for years to come, according to security researchers. Similar vulnerabilities will surface, and while performance impacts from software-based workarounds are minor, they're still present.

Paul Kocher, one of the security researchers who helped discover the flaws, told The New York Times that this will be a "festering problem over hardware life cycles." "It's not going to change tomorrow or the day after," he said. "It's going to take awhile."

Tag: Intel

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Intel Memory Access Design Flaw Already Addressed by Apple in macOS 10.13.2

A serious design flaw and security vulnerability discovered in Intel CPUs has reportedly already been partially addressed by Apple in the recent macOS 10.13.2 update, which was released to the public on December 6.


According to developer Alex Ionescu, Apple introduced a fix in macOS 10.13.2, with additional tweaks set to be introduced in macOS 10.13.3, currently in beta testing. AppleInsider also says that it has heard from "multiple sources within Apple" that updates made in macOS 10.13.2 have mitigated "most" security concerns associated with the KPTI vulnerability.

Publicized yesterday, the design flaw in Intel chips allows normal user programs to see some of the contents of the protected kernel memory, potentially giving hackers and malicious programs access to sensitive information like passwords, login keys, and more.

Full details on the vulnerability continue to be unavailable and under embargo, so it's not yet clear just how serious it is, but fixing it involves isolating the kernel's memory from user processes using Kernel Page Table Isolation at the OS level. Implementing Kernel Page Table Isolation could cause a performance hit on some machines.

According to The Register, which first shared details on the vulnerability, Windows and Linux machines will see a 5 to 30 percent slowdown once a fix is in place. It appears Macs may not be hit as heavily, as no noticeable performance slowdowns have been reported since the launch of macOS 10.13.2.

Ionescu also says that performance drop on a system with PCID (Process-Context Identifiers), available on most modern Macs, is "minimal," so most users may not see an impact on day-to-day Mac usage.

Tag: Intel

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Intel Chips Have ‘Kernel Memory Leaking’ Design Flaw and Fix Could Lead to Performance Drop

A serious design flaw and security vulnerability has been discovered in Intel's CPUs that will require an update at the operating system level to fix, reports The Register. All modern computers with Intel chips from the last 10 years appear to be affected, including those running Windows, Linux, and macOS.

Similar operating systems, such as Apple's 64-bit macOS, will also need to be updated - the flaw is in the Intel x86 hardware, and it appears a microcode update can't address it. It has to be fixed in software at the OS level, or go buy a new processor without the design blunder.
Full details on the vulnerability aren't yet known as the information is currently under embargo until later in the month. The Register has unearthed some data, however, and it seems the bug allows normal user programs to see some of the contents of the protected kernel memory.

This means malicious programs can potentially, in a worst case scenario, read the contents of the kernel memory, which can include information like passwords, login keys, and more. It's not yet clear how severe the bug is, but The Register speculates that it's significant given the rapid changes being made to Windows and Linux.
At worst, the hole could be abused by programs and logged-in users to read the contents of the kernel's memory. Suffice to say, this is not great. The kernel's memory space is hidden from user processes and programs because it may contain all sorts of secrets, such as passwords, login keys, files cached from disk, and so on. Imagine a piece of JavaScript running in a browser, or malicious software running on a shared public cloud server, able to sniff sensitive kernel-protected data.
To fix the bug, the kernel's memory needs to be isolated from user processes using Kernel Page Table Isolation, which could cause a performance hit on some machines. According to The Register, Linux and Windows machines will see a 5 to 30 percent slowdown once the fix is in place.

It's not yet clear how Macs will be impacted, as there is little information available at this time. Software updates are in the works for Linux and Windows, and though not mentioned, Apple is also likely working on a fix for the issue.

Full details on what's known about the vulnerability can be found at The Register, and additional information will be available later this month when complete details on the design flaw are shared.

Tag: Intel

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iPhone X Models With Qualcomm Modem Still Have Faster LTE Speeds Than Those With Intel Modems

iPhone X models equipped with Qualcomm's Snapdragon X16 modem get consistently better LTE speeds than versions with Intel's XMM7480 modem, according to wireless signal testing firm Cellular Insights.


For context, Cellular Insights used professional measurement equipment equipped with four Vivaldi antennas to simulate LTE performance at different distances from a cellular tower with the Qualcomm and Intel models.

Cellular Insights started with a LTE signal from a strong -85dBm, and gradually reduced the power level to simulate moving away from a cellular tower where signal is weaker, until the modems lost their cellular connectivity.

The testing, shared with PC Magazine, was based on performance on LTE Band 4, which is used by every major carrier in the United States except Sprint, as well as in Canada and parts of Latin America.

The results reveal that with only limited attenuation, or signal reduction in simple terms, the iPhone X with an Intel modem started to experience lower LTE download speeds than the iPhone X with a Qualcomm modem.
While both modems started out with 195Mbps of download throughput on a 20MHz carrier, the Qualcomm difference appeared quickly, as the Intel modem dropped to 169Mbps at -87dBm. The Qualcomm modem took an additional -6dBm of attenuation to get to that speed.
Cellular Insights said the difference is most noticeable in very weak signal conditions, in which the iPhone X with a Qualcomm modem experienced 67 percent faster LTE download speeds on average compared to the Intel model.
At very weak signal strength, below -120dBm, the Qualcomm modem got speeds on average 67 percent faster than the Intel modem. The Intel modem finally died at -129dBm and the Qualcomm modem died at -130dBm, so we didn't find a lot of difference in when the modems finally gave out.
iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus models with Qualcomm modems also had faster LTE download speeds than their Intel counterparts last year, but Cellular Insights said the gap was narrower between iPhone X models.

PC Magazine speculated that Apple could be artificially crippling the Qualcomm modem to have similar performance as the Intel modem, given the controversy that arose with the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus last year.

Qualcomm's Snapdragon X16 is a gigabit-class modem that supports 4x4 MIMO, for example, but the functionality is disabled in the iPhone X. The result is that both the Qualcomm and Intel versions of the iPhone X have a peak theoretical download speed of 600 Mbps in most countries.

All in all, what this all means is that customers who want to ensure they receive the absolute highest LTE speeds in areas with weaker signal reception should put some thought into which iPhone model they purchase.


Apple offers the iPhone X, iPhone 8, and iPhone 8 Plus in two models everywhere but Japan. The first is the Qualcomm-based model A1865, which works with CDMA networks like Verizon and Sprint in the United States. The second is the Intel-based A1901, which works with GSM networks like AT&T and T-Mobile.

If you want the best possible LTE performance, purchasing the A1865 model is the best option. For now, this requires ordering the Verizon model if you want an unlocked device in the United States. In many other countries, and in the U.S. soon enough, Apple sells an unlocked SIM-free A1865 model.

Related Roundup: iPhone X
Buyer's Guide: iPhone X (Buy Now)

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Apple Working With Intel on 5G Hardware for Future iPhones

Apple is "leaning heavily" towards choosing Intel's 5G modems for its future iPhones, according to Fast Company. Apple engineers are said to be already working with Intel on upcoming 5G technology.

Apple's discussions with Qualcomm about 5G modems, meanwhile, have been described as "limited."


Citing a source with knowledge of Apple's plans, Fast Company says that while Qualcomm 5G modems will offer more specialized carrier features, many of those features will not be adopted by carriers, leading Apple to believe Intel's hardware will be sufficient for future devices.
The end game, multiple sources have said, is to build the Intel modem onto an integrated system-on-a-chip (SoC) that would also contain the CPU, GPU, and other iPhone components. The SoC would be co-designed by Intel and Apple and would be fabricated at an Intel facility.
Intel reportedly has "multiple thousands" of people working on 5G technology in an effort to catch up with Qualcomm and win the contract from Apple.

Intel this morning said that it had made "substantial advances" in its wireless product roadmap to accelerate the adoption of 5G. According to Intel, an end-to-end 5G call based on early 5G silicon has been completed successfully, which Intel says is a "key milestone in its development."

Intel expects its first 5G chips to roll out in 2019, ahead of the wide rollout of 5G networks. T-Mobile just today said that it is planning to roll out its fifth-generation network across the United States by 2020, and most of the carriers in the United States are already experimenting with limited trials.

5G is expected to deliver speeds that are 10 to 100 times faster than the average 4G connection, at a gigabit per second or higher, along with lower latency and other benefits.

Rumors that Apple is considering Intel's 5G technology are in line with previous reports that have suggested Apple is considering eliminating Qualcomm chips from its 2018 iPhones and iPads.

Apple and Qualcomm have been embroiled in a bitter legal battle since the beginning of the year, which has continued to escalate over the months. Apple believes Qualcomm charges unfair royalties for "technologies they have nothing to do with," while Qualcomm claims its technology is "at the heart of every iPhone."

Apple and Apple suppliers have ceased paying royalties to Qualcomm amid the dispute, while Qualcomm has filed several patent infringement lawsuits against Apple and has asked for import/export bans in the United States and China.

Related Roundup: iPhone X
Tags: Intel, Qualcomm, 5G
Buyer's Guide: iPhone X (Buy Now)

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Intel Teams Up With AMD for New 8th-Generation Processors With AMD GPUs

Longtime rivals Intel and AMD are joining forces to produce new 8th-Generation H-Series Intel mobile processors paired with stacked second-generation High Bandwidth Memory and custom-built discrete graphics from AMD, Intel announced today.

For the new H-Series chips, which feature all of the above listed components in a single processor package, Intel says is using its Embedded Multi-Die Interconnect Bridge (EMIB), a power-sharing framework that reduces the standard silicon footprint to less than half that of standard discrete components on a motherboard.
At the heart of this new design is EMIB, a small intelligent bridge that allows heterogeneous silicon to quickly pass information in extremely close proximity. EMIB eliminates height impact as well as manufacturing and design complexities, enabling faster, more powerful and more efficient products in smaller sizes. This is the first consumer product that takes advantage of EMIB.
Intel has also developed unique software drivers and interfaces for the discrete GPU to coordinate information among all package elements, managing temperature and power delivery along with allowing system designers to optimize the power sharing between processor and graphics for specific tasks like performance gaming.


Through this collaboration, Intel and AMD are aiming to create a chip that will enable thinner, lighter, more powerful mobile devices through a better combination of performance-level processors and discrete graphics in a smaller form factor. The end goal is to create laptops that are thin and portable, but still powerful enough to handle serious gaming and other GPU intensive tasks.

The partnership will allow AMD and Intel to better compete with Nvidia in the high-end laptop/compact desktop market.

There are, however, still a lot of unknowns about the chip, and Intel says more information will be available in the future. The first machines that use the new technology will be released in the first quarter of 2018.

Tags: Intel, AMD

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Qualcomm Accuses Apple of Helping Intel Using Qualcomm Software

Qualcomm on Wednesday filed yet another lawsuit against Apple, this time accusing the company of breaching software licensing terms and using Qualcomm code to help Intel, reports Bloomberg.

According to Qualcomm, Apple breached a contract that dictates the use of software that's designed to make Qualcomm chips work with other iPhone components. Qualcomm also believes Apple may have used its access to that software to help Intel with its own modem chip development.


Since 2016, Apple has been using LTE chips from both Intel and Qualcomm in an effort to diversify its supply chain and move some production away from Qualcomm. The iPhone 7, 7 Plus, 8, and 8 Plus all use a mix of Qualcomm and Intel chips.

In light of the ongoing legal battle with Qualcomm, Apple is said to be considering eliminating Qualcomm chips from its devices all together, instead adopting chips from Intel and possibly MediaTek. Rumors suggest Qualcomm has been withholding software from Apple that Apple needs to test prototype devices for next year, forcing Apple's hand.

Qualcomm and Apple have been involved in an escalating legal fight since the beginning of the year after Apple sued Qualcomm for $1 billion. Apple has accused Qualcomm of charging unfair royalties for "technologies they have nothing to do with" and failing to pay for quarterly rebates.

Apple has since stopped paying royalties to Qualcomm until new licensing fees have been worked out, as have Apple suppliers, significantly impacting Qualcomm's profits.

Qualcomm has since levied several lawsuits against Apple, accusing the company of patent infringement and asking both the United States and China to block imports and exports of some iPhone models.


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iMac Pros With Custom Xeon Chips Possibly Appear on Geekbench Ahead of December Launch

While the iMac Pro doesn't launch for another six weeks or so, possible benchmarks for the computer may have already surfaced on Geekbench. The results provide us with an early look at just how powerful Apple's $4,999-and-up desktop workstation will be when it is released in December.


Interestingly, the iMac Pro models benchmarked appear to have custom, downclocked Xeon chips that Intel hasn't publicly announced yet. There is a benchmark result for a model with a 3.2GHz 8-core Xeon W-2140B processor, while a third listing exists for a model with a 3.0GHz 10-core Xeon W-2150B chip.

All of the models are identified as "AAPJ1371,1," and unlike other Xeon chips, the processors have a "B" suffix. A few of the benchmark results are from late August, while the rest are from October.


MacRumors spoke with Geekbench founder John Poole, who speculated that the iMac Pro may require chips with lower thermal design power, and thus lower frequencies, due to its all-in-one form factor. He noted that the other chips in the Xeon Processor W family have relatively high TDPs of up to 140W.

The multi-core Geekbench score for the 8-core model averages out to 23,536, which is the highest performance of any iMac ever. It's nearly 22 percent faster than the latest 5K iMac equipped with a maxed-out 4.2GHz quad-core Core i7 processor, which has an average multi-core score of 19,336.

The higher-end 10-core iMac Pro has a multi-core score of 35,917, which is roughly 41 percent faster than the latest Mac Pro maxed out with a 2.7GHz 12-core Xeon E5 processor. Even its single-core score of 5,345 is faster than all but the highest-end 5K iMac released earlier this year.

All in all, the benchmarks point to the iMac Pro being unsurprisingly powerful from top to bottom. And that's not even looking at the 18-core iMac Pro, which hasn't been benchmarked yet and will surely blow every other Mac out of the water—at least until the modular Mac Pro is ready.

Apple said the iMac Pro will also feature top-of-the-line Radeon Pro Vega graphics, up to 4TB of SSD storage, and up to 128GB of ECC RAM. The computer will share the same design as the standard iMac, but with an all-flash architecture, a new thermal design, and four Thunderbolt 3 ports.

Related Roundup: iMac Pro

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