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14

Qualcomm, HTC, chipsets and features: An Insider Q + A

With the recent spate of Qualcomm info (they just showed a whole new lineup of next-gen chips, including an improved version of aGPS called

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Reader comments

Qualcomm, HTC, chipsets and features: An Insider Q + A

14 Comments

As an owner of a Sprint HTC Mogul, I've been following this issue.
If what this "Insider Q&A" is true then HTC certainly has a legal leg to stand on and call out Qualcomm to produced the drivers for free.
Summary:
HTC is given information of Qualcomm chips that can achieve certain performance (not even touching the driver issue).
Qualcomm has problems with the chip performing under par.
HTC produces units under expectation of certain performance based on Qualcomm's claims.
Units produced are now "crippled" because of under performance.
My conclusion:
It would be only right for Qualcomm to produce drivers that would allow the chips to achieve their stated performance.

I don't have direct contact with the insider, but what he/she is saying rings very true to me.
@scsl: I don't think a lawsuid would happen. My feeling is still that, while interesting to see inside the business, none of this really is going to change the fact that sometimes chip features don't get utilized on the devices that they're on. I don't think HTC was advertising more than they sold -- it was a realization after the fact that these chips could possibly have video acceleration. Or at least that's how I remember this all shaking out.

@Dieter:
I'm not saying a lawsuit should happen either between HTC/Qualcomm or class action/HTC. It could be easily resolved if Qualcomm stepped up and admit their ARM11 chips aren't up to par without workaround at the driver levels and make things right by providing that information to HTC.
There are two distinct issues here:
1. Chipset assisted video acceleration
2. Actual usability without appropriate video drivers
Most of the HTC Mogul users are NOT looking for "video acceleration" drivers which utilize on-board ATI Imageon hardware. They are looking for HTC to provide a video driver that does not slow the machine to a crawl.
If I am reading this Q&A right, the differences between the ARM9 and ARM11 was different enough that HTC's prior solutions targeting the ARM9 chips did not translate well to the new ARM11 chipset AND that Qualcomm knew about performance problems with the ARM11, needs some kind of work around at the driver level, but will not provide them unless HTC forks over a bunch of money for those driver level work arounds.

@Malatesta:
First of all, thanks for an informative article. This is the kind of information I want from WMExperts, not the one shot "look at this!" blurbs so common here and elsewhere like at Engadget and Gizmodo.
The true "victim" in all this is the end consumer, typically an enthusiast or user with the funds to pony up for a high end HTC WM device. HTC and Qualcomm can finger point all they want, the fact is they both traded on performance claims for their respective products, claims which unfortunately didn't fully pan out for their customers. We expect such behavior from the U.S. carrier cartel, it's unfortunate to learn that it extends to the handset manufacturers and their suppliers.
It would serve HTC and Qualcomm well to put aside the "it's your responsibility" debate and develop the drivers necessary to get the best performance from our phones, especially for those of us that buy unlocked HTC branded devices. Surely the development cost would be measured in the pennies per sold device.

@Malatesta:
First of all, thanks for an informative article. This is the kind of information I want from WMExperts, not the one shot "look at this!" blurbs so common here and elsewhere like at Engadget and Gizmodo.
lol, thanks. We're trying to gauge how "techy" these articles should be as a lot of my stuff veers on the very-techy level, plus it's hard to come by that kind of info often (though the more "off the record" the merrier for myself as I'm very interested in these carrier+OS+OEM+Qualcomm relationships).
I also agree with your conclusion 100%--some one should "take one for the team" but I'm not holding my breath--I think Qualcomm at this point has moved beyond the MSM-72/7500 technology and would rather forget it.scsl: you're summary post is dead on and I probably should have made that clearer in the article: video acceleration technically is not needed, it's the fact that the ARM11 just performs worse than the ARM9. Presumably either the software fix and/or video acceleration would help ameliorate the current problems.

@pelona
Point taken. We're working on it (note I went looking for more writers!). On the other hand, I'm a fanboy and sometimes it's tough not to get excited. ;)
@everybody
I like this @soandso thing. It's not as cool as the full vBulletin quote, but it's a heckuva lot quicker. :D

Maybe this Qualcomm/HTC episode will mark the beginning of mobile device consumer 'CPU awareness' in a similar fashion to desktop/notebook devices.
This will force CPU vendors to behave like Intel and AMD where having performance and features (available) sells their product - rather than having clever tiered pricing policies that cause performance and features to be disabled for commercial reasons.
Maybe we shouldn't trust the specifications until devices get reviewed and part of that review should be a benchmark suite - just like PCs?
Reading between the lines - it seems like Qualcomm developed a bit of a 'lemon' and they are happy that they are moving the stock out of the factory.

Thanks to all for the very informative article.
@mal: you can word these things however you want... I'll read them either way. thank you for providing info and insight on the inter-relationships between the different parts of the mobile industry, it sheds alot of light on how/why things are the way the are, and perhaps how they could be better.
quick thing: Not positive on the Qualcomm/hardware mfr relationship, but does this not open the door to a 3rd party software vendor who will buy the 'fancy' drivers from Qcomm and re-sell them to users? Unless the MSM7500 is forever an under-performer, I'd line-up to sign-up to pay-up for performance enhancing drivers... you take visa? lol

You're saying you'll buy an $500-$800 dollar phone and then pay more for drivers to get it working the way it was advertised?

quick thing: Not positive on the Qualcomm/hardware mfr relationship, but does this not open the door to a 3rd party software vendor who will buy the 'fancy' drivers from Qcomm and re-sell them to users? Unless the MSM7500 is forever an under-performer, I'd line-up to sign-up to pay-up for performance enhancing drivers... you take visa? lol
Whoa, that might be a good direction for the people that were organizing to petition HTC to point their efforts at...

I must say.
This is one of the most informative and intelligent written articles I've ever read.
Truly enjoyable to read, even though the outcome of the driver issue is uncertain.
Thanks

@Dieter
I'm a fanboy too, ever since the HP LX95. (It died an unfortunate death in a hot tub during and impromptu demo...) Until a few years ago I owned virtually every iPAQ until the operating system on phones was good enough to be useful. So like you, I'm an enthusiast and will forgive the occasional outburst of delight.
My point is that posts like this as well as the WM focus differentiates WMExperts from the pack. Your Touch vs. iPhone video is another example. Though there were similar comparisons out there, no one did it as well. The video led me to discover WMExperts and played a factor in my purchase of a Touch Enhanced. (One question WMExperts didn't answer was whether or not the GSM Touch is quadband. Though there were plenty of testimonials on Howards Forums and XDA Developers that it is, there was no definitive information. Even the HTC representative in the partners area of the Microsoft booth at CES this year didn't know, and he personally used the Touch! The answer is that for all practical purposes the GSM Touch is quad band, though I found out only by going back to the TI spec sheets. That's the kind of thing I hope to find out from WM Experts.)
Sorry to get off topic...

I'd say it's the greed of Qualcomm. They set out to meet performance levels they promised, then FAILED!? HELLO? That alone should be reason enough for them to give a discount of sorts on the features HTC won't pay for.
I don't see a resolve to this issue anytime soon. Instead, when other chipsets start coming out, qualcomm will need to get competitive and this sort of horse poo will go away.

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