Wednesday, April 9, 2008
The web is abuzz with the news that the latest iPhone 2.0 beta software revealed whose chipset was at the heart of the impending 3G iPhone. The fairly innocuous and cryptic word ‘SGOLD3’ embedded in the code points to Infineon’s SGOLD-3H baseband processor. While this is news for many enthusiastically expecting the 3G iPhone, it is only a confirmation of what I have been saying since last fall – Infineon and InterDigital will be at the heart of the next iPhone.
The Infineon SGOLD-3H together with the MP-EH platform is a natural solution for Apple. Infineon’s SGOLD2 and the MP-EU platform form the basis of iPhone V1 and Apple has spent considerable time and energy optimizing it for performance, stability and power consumption. It makes sense to carry the good work forward with MP-EH which looks very identical to MP-EU rather than reset it with another new platform. You can read the rest of my prediction analysis from last fall here and here.
While Infineon’s SGOLD-3H appears to have been the default solution for the 3G iPhone, Apple definitely will not regret its choice. The Infineon solution is a Category 8 HSDPA solution, meaning that it supports incoming data rates (equals download speeds) of up to 7.2 Mbps. It has a fractionally spaced equalizer implementation of the receiver (which I think is predominantly InterDigital’s IP) that allows the realization of nominal data rates in mobile conditions. Not surprisingly, Infineon was one of the three companies picked as the 3G performance leaders by Signals Research. You can read more of my SGOLD3 musings here.
It is also important to acknowledge the other winners if the MP-EH and SGOLD-3H are in the next iPhone. First and perhaps the biggest will be InterDigital. Infineon’s 3G solutions use InterDigital’s stack. InterDigital is bound to get per-unit royalty and its deal with Apple last summer is a good pointer towards this direction. The
Marvell, I think, will continue to supply the WiFi provided the interoperability issues it faced with its previous offerings are ironed out. With the Garmin Nuvifone round the corner, it is quite possible that iPhone will have GPS too. Broadcom is in a nice position to offer a bundle of its WiFi, Bluetooth and GPS offerings and may come out a big winner despite losing on the baseband front. As with the chipset itself, I expect Apple to retain most current component vendors who have met Apple’s serious performance expectations last time around. More on the iPhone 3G potential features can be found here.
I am glad that my iPhone 3G predictions are expected to be true. While the actual winners will not be determined until a tear-down, this is good intermediate information. Infineon is trading close at $7.37, close to its 52-week low of $6.26. InterDigital is trading around $20 today. If you have not read my InterDigital valuation series, this is perhaps a good time to do it from here. With the details of the iPhone 3G consolidating, now is perhaps a good time to pick this stock up even if you are looking at some quick short-term profits.
[Long InterDigital at the time of writing]