Qualcomm Tech Summit 2020: Interview with Alex Katouzian

Inside right this moment’s Qualcomm Tech Summit 2020, we’ve seen the announcement of the brand new Snapdragon 888 which we’ve detailed extensively in our devoted protection article.

As a part of the present, we’ve had the chance to interview Alex Katouzian, Qualcomm’s SVP and GM of the cellular, compute and infrastructure enterprise – together with Handsets, XR, Compute, Edge/AI Cloud, 5G/4G companies.

Much like final 12 months’s interview, we have been capable of speak to Alex about this 12 months’s new bulletins, the 5G ecosystem, and the brand new applied sciences which allow these new era merchandise.

Alex Katouzian

Andrei Frumusanu

The Snapdragon 888 – What’s occurred thus far

Andrei F. : Let’s first begin with an introduction for the readers on the market, that are going to be studying this through the launch occasion.

Are you able to describe in a couple of temporary sentences, what the brand new Snapdragon 888 is all about?

Alex Ok. : In order you recognize, the entire Tech Summit is about showcasing our expertise. And what occurs, is that this premium tier expertise, together with the modem, and the system answer, begin to dictate what we don’t solely in all the opposite tiers of our merchandise and for cellular, however really a variety of the adjoining companies that we’re going after as nicely, they use all of this expertise. Actually, I can not see any enterprise that we’ve got, whether or not it being IoT, wearables, automotive, and even cloud edge, cellular broadband PCs, or XR – all of them use virtually the very same expertise throughout the board.

And so that is the this premium tier announcement, like yearly, which actually dictates what we do throughout a number of companies, and throughout a number of tiers of our merchandise. These options and people capabilities begin to waterfall all the best way down into into decrease and decrease tiers. I might say, someplace within the neighborhood of three to 6 months, you see a variety of these options water falling down. So we’re very, very enthusiastic about this.

I believe 5G now could be very nicely established, there’s like 40 nations, 100 plus operators with 5G round. It’s the case the place, we launched the brand new chipset and the end-unit options earlier than all of the networks have been able to go.

It is a actually good factor to have, as a result of now most of the service suppliers, so most of the app builders, so most of the ISVs, they’ve the autos to begin to develop stuff from the bottom up for 5G.

I believe we’ve got we’re anticipating someplace within the neighborhood of, about 180 million to possibly 220 million 5G telephones coming via in 2020, after which, about 450 to possibly 550 million models of 5G gadgets in 2021.

I believe I believe China goes full pace forward. Huge OEMs like Samsung, Apple, LG, Motorola, Vivo, Oppo and Xiaomi. I do not know what is going on to occur to to to Huawei, it is nonetheless up within the air. However I do not know in the event you noticed the information – there was a current sale of their sub-brand referred to as Honor. So, Honor is now like an organization owned by the Shenzen authorities. And they also’re gonna begin to get into the market, they need to get energetic in 5G very quick. So I believe we’ve got tremendous quantities of momentum.

Getting again to your query on the Snapdragon 888. It’s actually in all probability the probably the most superior half we have performed, with probably the most superior applied sciences throughout the board.

Together with 5G, we’ve got a 3rd era 5G modem going inside that. Now we have a number of totally different service aggregation modes between mmWave and Sub-6 between TDD and FDD.

Now we have, if I have a look at the pillars, if I have a look at AI, we’ve got a 26 TOPS AI engine that we’re placing in, that is the sixth era engine. Now we have a tensor processor actually designed from the bottom up for for cellular AI capabilities embedded in there.

Now we have our graphics core, that’s newest graphics core the place we’re seeing large enchancment from the 865 cellular processor that got here out final 12 months. Our elite gaming is advancing in an enormous means. Now we have a number of totally different companions that we’re working with now.

AF: So as a result of that is your third era 5G product, and you can just about say that 2020 has been the 12 months the place it is gone mainstream, have you ever gained any further learnings this 12 months?

It has been such a large deployment throughout so many corporations, so many nations. What have you ever really improved this 12 months, which is perhaps new, in comparison with the earlier two generations?

AK: So completely, I believe we have performed a hell of much more testing with the infrastructure distributors. You already know, we have been capable of optimize energy on a number of totally different use circumstances. We have been capable of, like I stated, work with so many service suppliers strive to determine the best way to have their companies be constructed with 5G in thoughts versus and agnostic method.

The handsets have gotten extra slick. Energy dissipation has grown and battery life has gotten longer. You already know, there have been some reviews, in the event you bear in mind, to start with, just like the telephones would warmth up – none of that stuff is a matter anymore, in our opinion.

AF: So on that time, I bear in mind early this 12 months when the primary 5G gadgets got here out, particularly within the US, these with the mmWave, that there was some blended response. I imply, the speeds have been implausible. But in addition many individuals stated that the gadgets heating up, that battery life will not be pretty much as good. Is that one thing solved on this era?

Completely solved. And let me let you know what the issue was. They might take the telephones, and they might run full pace mmWave wave for 2 hours straight on one thing. After all, the telephone would warmth up, you recognize, even even working a recreation with out mmWave, in the event you’re going for like two hours straight, full blast, the telephone heats up.

So I believe they put it via some excessive forms of testing. However now, we’ve got optimizations throughout the networks which have been put up, we’ve got a number of totally different networks that we’re working with. Now we have developed totally different strategies by which, we are able to scale back not solely the die space of the modem itself, however then strategies to strive to determine the best way to optimize all of the channel optimizations and all the information optimizations that we’re going via. All of these issues are huge learnings for us over the previous two years,

AF: For networks the place you’ve got each mmWave wave and sub-6. How do you’re employed to stability out the visitors between the 2 the 2 sides of the community? Is that one thing which it’s a must to work carefully with the service, or is that one thing which you in your website can management extra?

AK: Effectively, each. So so for instance, the service lays out their networks, to strive to determine the best way to greatest serve probably the most quantity of visitors. Once you go into dense city areas, that is the place mmWave kicks in probably the most, as a result of they need to have the utmost quantity of bandwidth out there to most quantity of individuals. And so, based mostly on their layouts, and based mostly on their maps, we are able to determine with the infrastructure vendor and the service the best way to change over from one to the opposite.

AF: Okay, however what I imply is for instance, in the event you’re shopping your Twitter, possibly you do not want the bandwidth from mmWave, do you’ve got some sensible mechanisms to direct the visitors over to Sub-6 or LTE in these use circumstances?

AK: Not significantly from Qualcomm, however we do work with the carriers to attempt to accommodate what they need to do. And if there’s, if there’s any technical points with the infrastructure, we work with the distributors there to determine that out.

AF: However the chipsets themselves would be capable to assist such a factor, proper?

AK: Appropriate. Yeah. Anytime we get a sign from the service to modify to one thing else we we accommodate immediately.

Manufacturing Applied sciences and Moore’s Regulation

AF: So that you talked about the 888 represents the top of the latest applied sciences. One huge facet of that’s the new course of node, the brand new chip is your first flagship SoC on an EUV node. I do know final era, you had the 765 on EUV, however this one is like the massive prestigious design.

Up to now, we talked about course of nodes, and the way Moore’s Regulation is slowing down. How do you see, within the broad sense of phrases, how the expertise is evolving? Is it getting more durable, is getting dearer? What’s your view?

AK: Excellent query. It’s slowing down. And by once I say slowing down, we’re additionally slowing down in transferring into superior nodes. And the explanation for it’s precisely what you described; Moore’s Regulation will not be because it was earlier than, you are not getting the shrinks as you probably did earlier than, you do get some energy dissipation benefits, and also you get some shrink benefits, however not as huge returns as is including performance yearly. And the performance will get added yearly.

So this is the cool half. When you’ve got a course of expertise, and it is forefront, what occurs is whenever you attempt to squeeze the utmost quantity of efficiency out of it, and also you attempt to maximize your energy dissipation, your yields to start with will not be excellent. And so what occurs is, you are on a studying curve on these yields. It seems to be like a bell formed curve. So, because the bell formed curve tightens up, you possibly can improve efficiency and reduce energy.

However each course of, these days, we, and fabrication amenities like TSMC, and Samsung and others, we are able to squeeze these curves down over like a two to 3 12 months interval.

So a course of, when it first comes out, it is nice, as a result of it provides you some benefits, nevertheless it’s not at its most functionality. So over two or three years, they introduce greatest recognized strategies, higher transistor capabilitiees, they’re simply barely higher transistor capabilities, however you are not really shrinking the transistor.

So our designs begin to movement with that. So possibly you may see one or two generations at the very least of the same course of. So like 5 nanometer will not be precisely the identical as 7 nanometre, nevertheless it reuses a variety of the expertise studying curves of seven into 5. So not solely is the transistor getting barely smaller, however we’re squeezing increasingly efficiency out of it. And so, because the migration from course of to course of begins to decelerate, we additionally discover ways to get higher efficiency and higher energy out of the identical, or very comparable course of.

AF: At which level do you see that the return on funding would not be sufficient to only depend on course of enhancements, and when do you go to look into extra unique options, issues like new packaging expertise, or disaggregated designs like chiplets? Is that one thing which is on the radar for the cellular? Or do you continue to attempt to maintain every little thing collectively in a monolithic design due to energy effectivity?

AK: Excellent query. Look, I believe we’ve got a couple of years. And the explanation for it’s, let me offer you an analogy, you recognize, how you place up photo voltaic panels. Say you’ve got 100% effectivity, otherwise you’re near no matter you are spending. You would add extra, however you get diminishing returns. On the method expertise, I believe we’ve got a couple of years left till we are saying that we’ll not going to combine an SoC, with software processor and modem and a bunch of different issues.

Clearly, the die space begins to develop. However the shrinking of the transistor cannot sustain as a lot because the performance is rising. However, like I stated, the effectivity of reusing a course of or a tweaked course of can also be yielding us fairly a little bit of functionality. So I believe we’ve got a couple of years earlier than we’ve got to consider separating the die in such a means that it is sensible for us to partition.

The opposite factor it’s a must to think about is, you are speaking a few heterogeneous system on a chip, which implies elements of elements of the die rely on different elements of the die to function. So it is not so simple as saying, I will lower graphics out and put it someplace else, or I am simply going to chop CPU and put it someplace else. We’re within the technique of that – I might say within the subsequent three or 4 years, our structure and partitioning will change. However I believe we’ve got a couple of years earlier than that occurs.

AF: This era, you are utilizing the Cortex-X1 which is principally like a brand new class inside Arm’s CPU IP providing. Out of your aspect, by way of a product segmentation and advertising and marketing facet, does that help you go greater up in product vary?

We clearly may not see it go into lower-range Snapdragon. How do you see that differentiation with new CPU expertise?

AK: I believe that core does assist, and particularly on the premium tier. Let me additionally clarify; the premium tiers life would not finish within the first 12 months. So, folks use that, folks look to make use of these premium tier elements within the following 12 months for designs which are inbetween excessive tier and premium tier.

The suggestions from our clients in our ecosystem has been constant, there are 4 or 5 applied sciences that they hone in on: CPU, GPU, digital camera, AI, modem. However, high of that checklist it is all the time, all the time CPU and GPU. And so, the efficiency means that you can prolong the lifetime of these designs, and it helps you set a precedent. So it completely helps us, and it additionally helps us for the size of the lifetime of the system.

Snapdragon on Home windows and Apple’s M1

AF: Shifting on from cellular to the laptop computer aspect of Snapdragon, corresponding to final 12 months’s 8CX.

It has been a 12 months now, and pick-up and adoption hasn’t been that nice. We have not seen that many designs, those which are out there aren’t that widespread. What’s your view of that phase, and is Qualcomm as motivated as you have been one 12 months in the past by way of partaking that ecosystem?

AK: For positive 100% behind it. Let me let me additionally clarify – the laptops nowadays are actually transferring in the direction of cellular. The digital camera is tremendous vital. The audio is tremendous vital. The battery life is tremendous vital. Not having a fan is tremendous vital. Portability, thinness, connectivity, always-on always-connected, all these traits of cellular are transferring to the PC.

And folks say, imitation is one of the best type of flattery. Take a look at look what occurred with the [Apple] M1. Their product pitch is nearly a reproduction of what we have been saying for the previous two or three years.

It is virtually precisely the identical; like I’ve an SoC, and you do not have to have something on the surface, every little thing’s built-in, multimedia functionality, AI functionality, digital camera functionality, you recognize, nice battery life, the entire thing.

And now, I believe the momentum of getting so many alternative apps, and so many alternative capabilities working on an Arm-based answer that has a number of traits related to it, and low energy functionality, and with the ability to do video conferencing and have nice audio readability.

I am speaking to you from a Samsung Guide S (with 8CX processor), I have been utilizing it for a 12 months and a half, top-of-the-line laptops ever had. You are right in saying that the patron hasn’t but caught up. Enterprises are catching up. Our channel push has been stronger than ever, carriers are beginning to notice that this can be a good factor to have.

After which this is one thing else that actually goes to catch. We will have small cells based mostly on 5G going inside enterprises, we will have entry factors which have 5G backhaul going within enterprises. Having the potential of that 5G PC with the small cells to enter an enterprise is a really, very enticing formulation for all the carriers. In order that channel goes to begin to open up, Microsoft is 100% behind us as a accomplice to attempt to get all the apps, all the 64 bit emulations up and working and resolve all these points. And on high of that, there’s Apple who’s now out there and everybody desires to react to it.

AF: And so do you suppose that Apple’s announcement now has pushed an ecosystem ahead to be extra motivated? There’s variety of some issues occurring on the similar time proper now, corresponding to Microsoft bringing 64 bit emulation to Home windows, and that is going to open up an enormous swath of software program compatibility. Do these various things coming in on the similar, do you suppose that it’ll decide up the ecosystem for Home windows on Snapdragon?

AK: Sure, large momentum, large momentum. And the vital factor is we’re persevering with to place collectively roadmaps of gadgets which are going to be aggressive out there, they are going to be greater efficiency, they are going to be higher and higher yearly. And you will notice our upcoming SoCs sooner or later.

AF: So that you’re saying yearly, however you are still on a unique cadence than on the cellular SoC aspect, as a result of the 8CX Gen2, the refresh, it is the identical chip, proper? So that you’re on a unique cadence – when would we see one thing means greater efficiency to allow extra use circumstances?

AK: I can not let you know precise dates, however I can let you know, it is coming.

And, and I am going to say this, too. We’re 100% devoted to this market. I believe Microsoft is 100% devoted to us, to make it possible for that is going to occur. And I believe that, you’ve got a $2 trillion firm coming into the market and saying, that is the best way to go.

We’re solely $170 billion, however you recognize, it helps to have a $2 trillion firm saying, “Yeah, that is the best factor to do”. And guess what, we’re inundated with calls to make it possible for that is going to occur. So we’re 100% behind these items.

AF: Talking of Microsoft, when do you see you is perhaps designing SoCs with the brand new safety IP from Microsoft, Pluton?

AK: We’re positively working with them on that. I can not predict, however you recognize, our working relationship with them is tremendous tight. So we’re working with them on that, however I can not predict to you when that is going to occur.

AF: On the x86-64 emulation aspect, is there some collaboration you’ve got with them by way of optimizing the efficiency to your chips?

AK: 100%. And also you noticed SQ1 and SQ2, we work with them tremendous tightly. Despite the fact that every little thing is predicated on Qualcomm expertise, our optimizations with them is second to none. Our working relationship with them, and attempting to determine how we match our {hardware} layers of their stack, and the way the APIs are optimized that means, to current a full system answer to a shopper. And I believe it is gonna get even higher from now.

AF: So, out of your view, what is the greatest development market? On one aspect, we’ve got 5G. On the opposite aspect, we’ve got this upcoming Home windows on Snapdragon market, possibly, hopefully, that is going to choose up far more now. What is the greatest path for alternative proper now?

Effectively, I believe the PC marketplace for us as supplementary market. As a result of if I can not develop in cellular, and present applied sciences in cellular, then I believe the PC aspect will endure. So I believe quantity smart, hundred % of the cellular market is the most important market by far.

However I believe, probably the most profitable a part of the cellular market, identical to virtually another market is, actually, the premium tier and the excessive tier. As applied sciences change into higher and higher, that top tier half can also be getting higher and higher. Like, the excessive tier half we’ve got this 12 months is healthier than our premium half tier we had two years in the past. In order that enchancment by itself is kicking it up a notch. And you recognize, these excessive tier equal sort of gadgets, they’re additionally going to decrease tier PCs.

So I have a look at the PC market as a supplementary market. And consider it this manner, if I can seize 10% of that market, 15% of that market, it is nonetheless a small participant, nevertheless it’s an enormous development for us. So I positively see the chance in each, however completely the cellular market is the larger one.

AF: What about on the low finish aspect? How low-cost can we get 5G gadgets in 2021? Are we going to see a $250 5G telephone?

AK: Completely. $250 is is certainly a goal. When you have a look at the 400-series half that we introduced with 5G – 100% going into that market. I additionally suppose you are in all probability gonna see $300 PCs with LTE.

AF: $300 PCs with LTE? That may be fairly one thing.

AK: Training sort PCs, and, you recognize, decrease decrease finish, inexpensive PCs. Sure.

AF: Final query, what occurred to the Snapdragon 875? Clarify that!

AK: (laughs) Look, the quantity eight is the illustration for premium tier for the previous 10 years, there’s there is no doubt behind that.

And that has gained a lot momentum with customers, simply purely by advertising and marketing, by us, advertising and marketing by our OEM companions. So the eight has received an enormous attraction. And since we’ve got, I believe, in all probability one of the best half we have performed this 12 months, we wished to, assign a premium tier quantity and title to it, and 888 is an effective one.

We thank Alex Katouzian and the Qualcomm staff for his or her time and solutions.

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