20 Years Later, Qualcomm Will Return to the Wireless Infrastructure Market. How Will Qualcomm Lead t

At the turn of this century, Qualcomm strategically abandoned wireless system equipment and terminal services for comprehensive consideration in all aspects.

However, in the following 20 years, Qualcomm has not only grown into an industry giant with a market value of US $100 billion, but also laid a foundation for the development and prosperity of the mobile communication industry to a certain extent.

Today, 20 years later, Qualcomm is back. Yesterday, Qualcomm announced the launch of 5g network infrastructure series chip platform, which is an overall scheme for a new generation of open integrated virtual ran (vran) network, including RF units, distributed units and distributed RF units, and supports a wide deployment scenario from large-scale MIMO macro base stations to compact small base stations.

In my opinion, although Qualcomm has been evolving small base station products, the release of the whole product portfolio including macro station is a completely different concept. It can be said that Qualcomm has returned to the wireless infrastructure market that has been away for 20 years.

Why did Qualcomm choose to enter the 5gran market at this time? What does Qualcomm's entry mean for the market? What barriers does Qualcomm need to overcome in order to make a breakthrough in the 5gran market?

Long track: Organic encounter should have strength

From the content released by Qualcomm, Qualcomm 5gran Series platform provides a fully scalable and highly flexible architecture for macro base station and small base station deployment, supports all 5g function division options between Du and Ru, and supports existing and emerging network equipment manufacturers to accelerate the deployment and commercialization of vran equipment and characteristics, so as to meet the 5g requirements of public and private networks.

From the perspective of schedule, the engineering sample of Qualcomm 5gran platform is expected to be provided to some network equipment manufacturers in the first half of 2022.

In my opinion, Qualcomm chose to "attack" at this time for several reasons.

First, Qualcomm needs to continue to grow. The openran / vran market is large enough and the track is long enough.

For many years, Qualcomm has been the king of the global smartphone chip market. According to the data of strategy analytics, a Market Research Institute, the global baseband processor market sales in 2019 was US $20.9 billion, and the top five manufacturers were Qualcomm, Huawei Hisilicon, Intel, MediaTek and Samsung LSI.

Among them, Intel's exit and Huawei's dilemma, although to a certain extent the gains brought by Qualcomm, Qualcomm needs more market space. Qualcomm needs to "go out of the circle", but it is difficult to completely "cross-border". Therefore, it focuses on the infrastructure market. In this field, Qualcomm can fully reuse its wireless technology expertise.

Moreover, the market scale is large enough and the track is long enough. With the transition of the telecommunications industry to 5g, the next round of network transformation will give birth to a $25 billion chip market by 2023.

According to the latest report released by Dell 'orogroup, the global sales of virtualization openran technology is expected to grow at a double-digit percentage rate in the next five years. During the forecast period, the cumulative investment of openran is expected to exceed US $5 billion.

ABI research is more optimistic and believes that openranru devices will flourish in the next few years. The market will surge to more than $47 billion by 2026 and will surpass the traditional ran device market for the first time from 2027 to 2028.

Moreover, now the industrial ecology of openran has taken shape, the enthusiasm of operators to participate has improved, and downstream system equipment manufacturers or system integration manufacturers have begun to appear.

Secondly, Qualcomm has such strength, and the market also needs powerful new entrants.

In my opinion, Qualcomm's strength is still prominent. First, strictly speaking, Qualcomm has never completely left the system equipment market. Its small station product solutions have been evolving and are not unfamiliar with system equipment; Moreover, mobile communication pursues the whole network. It is impossible to make a terminal chip without understanding the system.

Second, at the level of standard evolution, there is no doubt about Qualcomm's voice in industry standards organizations such as 3GPP.

Third, it is very good at chip design and function realization. 5gran chip is also a chip in essence. It also emphasizes higher energy efficiency ratio and cost performance, and focuses on the combination of power consumption, computing power, performance, cost and technology.

Fourth, it is certain that the introduction of open ran / vran should start from small stations, which Qualcomm is good at.

It is not difficult to understand why the market also needs entrants like Qualcomm. Openran or vran, although they are very popular now; If we strip the cocoon, there is not much choice in the market on the underlying chip and computing platform. Especially for ARM architecture, there is no mature and commercially available solution.

New market: good products better mentality

In the early stage of the global wireless industry, Qualcomm once sold chips and even system level products to the network infrastructure market. Now, with the introduction of 5g and the development of openran technology, Qualcomm has returned to this field.

Between one retreat and one advance, the market has undergone earth shaking changes. Qualcomm's journey in the 5gran market is not easy.

First, openran / vran has to prove itself.

Road choice is the core topic. If this is not the right direction, no amount of investment is meaningful. Of course, this is not a "job" that a Qualcomm manufacturer can complete. At present, in terms of performance and power consumption, there is still a big gap between the new architecture and the traditional architecture, and the cost performance ratio and energy efficiency ratio are not high.

Behind the popularity of openran / vran, it is more or less driven by political factors and has become a chess piece in the game of great powers. However, the author must say that in the future technological evolution path of mobile communication, politics can not replace the market to make choices. The division of global technology and industrial chain will only harm industries and consumers.

Secondly, the products need to be polished, and there are countless pits to go through.

Openran / vran advocates openness (open architecture / open capability), which requires hierarchical decoupling; However, for operators, hierarchical decoupling is only a means rather than an end. The ultimate goal is high performance, high reliability, deliverability, operation and maintenance and low cost. On this road, x86 architecture has gone for many years. In the face of complex application scenarios, generation by generation chip iteration, version by version optimization software, and increasingly rich open source stack, all these need to be verified and optimized by practice.

In this regard, arm architecture started relatively late, and the architecture itself has congenital deficiencies in performance and computing power. To overcome these difficulties is a problem that Qualcomm must face.

Third, the reconstruction of industrial chain and ecosystem.

Qualcomm's position and appeal in the smart terminal industry chain are self-evident. Although they are 2B, the playing methods of this market are very different from those of players and system equipment manufacturers.

The mentality of "boss" is not important. How to integrate and be integrated well and meet the customized needs of equipment manufacturers or integration manufacturers need to change the team and culture. Editor ajx

20 Years Later, Qualcomm Will Return to the Wireless Infrastructure Market. How Will Qualcomm Lead t 1

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