Supply chain
Digitimes Research: Intel 28nm SoFIA 4G AP delayed to early 2016; may face overlap issue with 14nm version
Eric Lin, DIGITIMES Research, Taipei

Despite the fact that the design is complete and the chip is ready for mass production, Intel's 28nm SoFIA 4G application processor (AP) is still unlikely to be launched until the beginning of 2016 due to the adjustments over the software part that is still not yet mature. For 2015, Intel will still need to rely on its SoFIA 3G/3G-R APs to prop up is mobile device AP business and may miss the business opportunities from the 4G market, which is expected to grow rapidly in the second half of this year.

Intel may face an even more problematic issue in 2016 as its 14nm SoFIA product line is already planned for late-2016 and could overlap with the 28nm one from early 2016 and affect each other's demand.

Intel currently only has solutions that pair an independent XMM baseband with an Atom AP for its 4G product lineup, but the solutions are unattractive to players in China due to its high prices. Intel has been working on integrating two chips into an SoC for its SoFIA product line since the end of 2014 to improve the BOM, Digitimes Research noted.

With the SoFIA 4G - which was originally scheduled for 2015 - being delayed until early 2016 and Intel only being able to provide baseband+AP solutions for 4G demand in 2015, the CPU giant may find it difficult to persuade clients to use its solutions for their 4G devices due to the high prices and its subsidies for using its solutions are unlikely to provide much persuasion.

Intel's second-generation SoFIA 4G AP, based on a 14nm process, will become available in late-2016 and could put the first-generation SoFIA 4G AP based on a Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company's (TSMC) 28nm process, in an awkward position and cause the 28nm AP to have an over-short lifecycle. Although Intel may offer cheap prices for the 28nm SoFIA 4G AP and push the 14nm one to the high-end market sector to create a boundary, the CPU giant will still see its profit impacted and its marketing for the processors will also be limited.

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