Samsung Brings on Jim Keller as Chief Architect

When Jim Keller left AMD last month, there was a lot of speculation as to the reason for his departure. Given that we knew Zen was pretty much done, Keller probably wanted to work on something else as he lets AMD’s in-house engineers iterate on his design. Thank to recent reports, we now know that Keller has ended up at Samsung, presumably as Chief Architect of Research and Design. Keller will be joining the effort on mobile microprocessors.

While Keller is more well-known among the PC for his involvement with AMD, he does have mobile experience. Under Apple, Keller was part of the team responsible for the A4 and A5 SoCs, the chips powering the iPhone 4 and 4S among others. With Keller joining their team, it looks like Samsung may be serious about making their own CPU/GPU combo.

Just two weeks ago, we got word that Samsung was planning on building their own mobile-GPU. We speculated at that time that Samsung might also consider making their own mobile-CPUs. Right now, Samsung uses ARM’s own stock designs for their Exynos SoCs, with some modifications of course. With a more robust design team, Samsung may look to be more adventurous and think about making their own cores and challenging Qualcomm for the mobile SoC business. That however, is likely many months if not years away given the timeframes involved in designing CPUs.

Court Rules NVIDIA Did Not Invent the GPU

NVIDIA has lost two patent infringement lawsuits that accused Samsung of building GPUs without its permission – effectively claiming that NVIDIA itself invented the GPU – with a third suit being thrown out as invalid. The US International Trade Commission has ruled that Samsung did not infringe on NVIDIA’s patents because the GPU was not a new invention when those patents were filed.

NVIDIA, however, remains resolute, believing that the company still has grounds for its case. “We remain confident in our case,” Robert Sherbin, spokesperson for NVIDIA, said, adding that the ruling will be reviewed by the commission until February.

The patent infringement lawsuit was filed by NVIDIA in September 2014. It alleged that Samsung and Qualcomm were infringing on patents by producing GPUs, comparable to those registered by NVIDIA in 1999, without permission or compensation, and wanted Samsung’s Exynos and Qualcomm Snapdragon chips to be subject to an import ban, which falls within the ITC’s authority.

In response, Samsung, true to form, filed a countersuit last November in a Virginia federal court, accusing both NVIDIA and one of its customers of patent infringement.

Samsung has so far declined to comment on the ruling.

Thank you Reuters for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of Wikimedia.

Samsung Developing In-House Mobile GPU for 2017

According to the latest rumours, Samsung is planning on creating their very own in-house mobile GPU. Set to debut inside their Exynos series of SoCs, the new GPU will probably arrive in the 2017-2018 timeframe. The GPU was originally set to launch much earlier but it seems like those plans have been shelved.

One of the reasons for the delays is that making a new GPU from scratch is really hard and takes a long time and is even harder to get it right. Both AMD and Nvidia for instance, tend to build on their existing architectures and evolve them over time. AMD for instance, evolved their GCN architecture over time, fine-tuning and optimising it as their experience with it grew. Designing a new GPU is also a multi-year process that can take quite a while to bear fruit.

Right now Qualcomm with their Adreno series and ARM with their Mali lineup are the main mobile choices with Apple off doing their own thing. Samsung currently licences both their CPUs and GPUs from ARM but with this break on the GPU side,  Samsung may become more adventurous on the CPU side. While the Exynos lineup uses ARM designs for now, Samsung may choose to change things up to suit their needs given their core licence. It will be interesting to see if Samsung will develop more focus on say HSA or other technologies.

Thank you Fudzilla for providing us with this information 

Samsung Enters SOC Market by Opening Up Exynos to Third Parties

Folks at Qualcomm, MediaTek and other SoC producers may soon be having sleepless nights. According to a report, Samsung is set on releasing their in-house Exynos SoC including the latest 7420 to third parties, the first being Meizu. The Exynos 7420 is Samsung’s top Soc with 4 A57 and 4 A53 cores respectively tied to a Mali-T760 MP8 GPU. As a giant conglomerate, Samsung probably thinks that maximizing the chip and fab profits will outweigh any risks from supplying competitors with good chips.

While Samsung has long been designing and manufacturing their own Exynos Socs for their own use, they were not shy about using Qualcomm SOCs in certain markets. That practice has dwindled off however in recent years as Samsung moves towards using their Exynos chips exclusively. While cost is likely a big reason, Samsung has also been able to improve their chips be competitive in both the radio connectivity and CPU performance.

If Samsung starts expanding their Exynos business quickly, both Qualcomm and Mediatek should be worried. With the latest 14nm process and their own fabs, Samsung is able to leverage better power efficiency, cost and control their product cycle better. Qualcomm is also hurting heavily with their major misstep with the 810 though the 820 may soon come and save the day. Qualcomm has previously enjoyed a near monopolization, with most major smartphones using their chip. A new competitor that brings as many resources as Samsung does is probably the last thing they need right now.

Thank you Sammobile for providing us with this information

Samsung Galaxy Note 4 Benchmarked, Can’t Beat Tegra K1

Samsung’s upcoming Galaxy Note 4 was always going to be good but now we’ve managed to see some benchmarks of the new device that confirms this. The Galaxy Note 4 makes use of two processors, the Exynos 5433 and the Snapdragon 805 (depending on the region and model) and both processors are similarly powerful. The SM-910S model gets the Snapdragon chip and the SM-910C gets the Exynos chip. The benchmarks show that the Exynos device is slightly more powerful than the Snapdragon equivalent but neither processor can match Nvidia’s Tegra K1 superchip. The Galaxy Note 4 has to use a powerful chip as it will be powering an impressive QHD 2560 x 1140 display resolution.

Processor aside the Galaxy Note 4 makes use of a 5.7 inch QHD display, 3GB of RAM, Adreno 420 (Snapdragon 805) or Mali T706 (Exynos 5433) graphics, 32GB of internal memory, a 16MP rear camera, a microSD card slot, 3.6MP front facing camera and the latest version of Android. The slated release date is September where Samsung are expected to announce the phone at the IFA 2014 event in Berlin.

Source: Gimmick Mag, Via: Softpedia

Images courtesy of AnTuTu via GimmickMag

Samsung Reveals Upcoming Exynos SoCs, Exynos 5244 To Be 34 Percent Faster

Samsung has been silent about its upcoming Exynos SoCs in the past, mainly due to the fact that the technology is going to be behind the 2nd generation of Samsung Galaxy S5 handest. Now with MWC and companies showing off their ‘best of the best’ gadgets and technology, Samsung has officially released some details about the two upcoming Exynos, the 5422 and 5260.

The Exynos 5422 SoC is said to be an Octa-Core having the first Cortex A15 cores clocked at 2.1 GHz and the remaining Cortex A7 cores clocked at 1.5 GHz, while having the ability to use all eight cores at the same time. The chip supports samsung’s big.LITTLE Heterogeneous Multi Processing and is stated to be up to 34 percent faster than its predecessor, the Exynos 5 Octa.

The Exynos 5260, also known as the Exynos 5 Hexa announced in the upcoming Galaxy Note 3 Neo, which features six cores composed of two high-performance Cortex A15 cores clocked at 1.7 GHz and four Cortex A7 cores clocked at 1.3 GHz.

It is said that both the Exynos 5422 and 5260 support high-resolution displays including Quad HD 2560×1440 and the QWXGA 2560×1600 while Exynos 5422 also supports 4K video recording. In terms of availability, the Exynos 5 Hexa 5260 is said to be already in production having the Exynos 5422 at the point of entering it this quarter.

Thank you Ocaholic for providing us with this information
Image courtesy of Ocaholic

Octa-Core Exynos-based Chromebook To Be Released In 2014 By Samsung

Samsung Electronics is said to release a Chromebook equipped with its Exynos 5 Octa 5420 next year, according to an article from Business Korea. It is a successor to the Exynos 5250 Chromebook that hit the market last year.

The report states that the Exynos 5 Octo 5420 is an application processor based on “big.LITTLE” technology and has four low-power Cortex A7 at 1.3 GHz cores and four high-performance Cortex A15 at 1.8 GHz cores, having a built-in Mali-T628 graphics chip. The new Chromebook is likely to have an improved resolution of 2560×1600 with 3 GB RAM, a storage capacity of between 16GB and 32GB, and a screen of 12 inches or less. Also, it is predicted to support USB 3.0, have a built-in battery lasting for at least seven hours, and weigh slightly over 1 kg.

The chromebook is expected to be priced at between $250-300. However, the company said that they are not planning to unveil laptops at CES 2014, meaning that they are planning to unveil the Exunos 5 Octo 5420 later on this year.

Thank you Business Korea for providing us with this information
Image courtesy of Business Korea

64-bit Smartphones To Be Released By Samsung Next Year

It appears that a senior ARM official has confirmed for Korean Herald that the chip architecture developer has been working with Samsung to bring a 64-bit processor to its smartphones and tablets next year.

The CPU should belong to Samsung’s Exynos family, and is likely planned as a direct response to the 64-bit Apple A7 chipset, as found in the iPhone 5s and the new iPads. This does not come as a surprise since competitors need to keep pace with the newest tech in order to attract customers, and competition will most likely be in the customers’ advantage.

“Executives from Samsung and ARM had a meeting today. They discussed the ARM 64-bit chip, which is expected to be used in Samsung’s smartphone next year,” the senior manager stated.

Also, Cortex-M processors have been discussed during the meeting for devices such as a smart home system, where ARM’s executive vice president of commercial and global development, Antonio Viana, has allegedly been present. There is also word that 128-bit processors are being discussed at ARM as a possibility, but not for at least two years.

“As technology moves from, for example, shifting to face recognition on smartphones from the fingerprint scanner to unlock an iPhone, it requires more powerful memory capacity,” he added

Thank you Phone Arena and Korean Herald
Image courtesy of Tech24Seven

Nvidia’s Tegra 4 Gets Benchmarked

Nvidia’s Tegra 4 system on chip (SoC) has yet to find its way into any device that is currently on sale for consumers to purchase. Despite this, performance details about the Nvidia Tegra 4 have managed to emerge thanks to Project Shield developers and testers giving up some information.

A developer managed to run the AnTuTu benchmark on his Nvidia Project Shield device returning a score of 32150 with Nvidia’s Tegra 4 at 1.9GHz across all four cores running Android 4.2.1 Jelly Bean. This compares quite favourably to current mobile chips such as the Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 on the Samsung Galaxy S4 which score 23607 and the Galaxy S4 Exynos 5 variant which scores 28018 at 1.6GHz with a 1.8GHz variant of the Exynos 5 being made available in Korea that is rumoured to push 30000 and upwards.

However, on Project Shield Nvidia’s Tegra 4 is only powering a 720p display whereas the Samsung Galaxy S4 is powering a full HD 1080p display. In effect if Nvidia’s Tegra 4 were to run the same test at 1080p it would probably lose a fair bit of ground. Although that said the AnTuTu benchmark isn’t a specific GPU test so we cannot tell how powerful the CPU and GPU component of the Tegra 4 is, this only measures a combination. It is quite possible, given this is Nvidia we are talking about, that the GPU component will be significantly more powerful than any of the competition.

It is also worth mentioning that Nvidia did claim the final product will be in the 36K region so there could be improvements yet to come. These are only pre-production engineering samples that are being tested, the final thing may get a lot of tweaking and tuning.

Or to totally kill it all for you, this could just be one elaborate hoax. We have seen a tendency in recent times to fake benchmarks so I guess, as always, you should take this with a pinch of salt.

What are your thoughts on the Nvidia Tegra 4 AnTuTu score?

Source, Via

Samsung Says Public Can’t Tell Difference Between 4 and 8 Core Galaxy S4

Samsung’s Galaxy S4, for those who don’t know, will be coming to the market in two variants. The first will be based around Samsung’s very own ARM-based Exynos 5 eight core CPU while the second is going to be based around Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 600 quad (4) core CPU.

The reason for this is that Samsung have stated they want to have multiple sources for their components. What they dub as a “sourcing issue” essentially translates into the fact they may not be able to produce enough Exynos 5 eight core CPUs to meet the demand of the Samsung Galaxy S4 so they need Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 600 to fill in that gap.

The European and American markets will be getting the Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 models while all other countries will get the Exynos 8 core based models. This means that most Samsung Galaxy S4 handsets will ship with Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 CPUs, suggesting Samsung’s ability to mass produce their Exynos 8 core CPUs is currently in primitive stages.

Interestingly Samsung co-CEO JK Shin said that it doesn’t really matter because the general public will not be able to tell the difference between the two models. Indeed he may have a valid point but ultimately the Exynos 5 is a much better CPU than the Snapdragon 600 in most benchmarks.

When you are shelling out a tonne of money for the Samsung Galaxy S4 you want the best of the best, and I don’t know about you but I would feel slightly short changed here.

What do you think of JK Shin’s comments? Does he have a point? Or are his words insulting?

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Intel Launches Clover Trail+ Platform and Mentions the Next-Gen Merrifield Platform

Intel brought the 22nm architecture to the desktop in the form of “Ivy Bridge” back on April the 29th 2012. The transition to 22nm represented a large step forward in power efficiency and a modest step forward in clock-per-clock performance. Now Intel is promising that this transition will hit their Atom processors by the end of this year and this is particularly exciting news for mobile and tablet users. Intel Atom processors are designed from the ground up with power consumption in mind, they have to be incredibly power efficient for the sake of battery life and that often means Intel have to reduce clock speeds to get the right balance. However, the introduction of 22nm means that Intel can now hit these same power envelopes with much more performance. As well as being able to offer lower-powered options to really squeeze the absolute maximum battery life out of these 22nm tri-gate Atom System-on-Chips (SoCs).

However, as we wait for these new 22nm Atom SoCs to be released, Intel has just announced three new SoCs based the 32nm Clover Trail+ Atom micro-architecture at the Mobile World Congress (MWC) event in Spain. The Intel Atom Z2580, Z2560 and Z2520 are the three new SoCs to hit the market.

Intel are claiming double the compute performance and three times the graphical capabilities over the previous generation of mobile Atom processors – all while maintaining “competitive low power”. New features include support for 16 Megapixel (MP)  image sensors, burst mode capabilities capturing 8MP images at 15 frames per second (FPS), hardware acceleration for 1080p video encoding and decoding at 30 FPS and enhanced High Dynamic Range (HDR) capabilities – something Intel needed to include because Nvidia’s Tegra 4 is also promising this. However, integrated LTE support didn’t materialise although Intel does offer the 4G capable XMM 7160 modem. As an extra Intel is also providing real-time facial recognition technology as part of the Clover Trail+ platform.

Lenovo’s IdeaPhone K900 will be the first phone to boast Intel’s flagship Z2580 Atom SoC on its 5.5″ high resolution display. More products using these SoCs have been promised by ASUS and ZTE, while Intel claims Android tablets will be powered by these in the not-so-distant future.

The main story from the even though is Intel’s Merrfield 22nm Atom SoCs which Intel will start producing this year. If ARM progress is anything to go by, Intel are really going to need the lowered power and improved performance that the 22nm process has to offer. Add to that the fact Intel is already having a hard time encouraging App and OS developers to opt for x86 instruction set support – the pathway to mobile success for Intel looks long and obstacle filled.

Production begins in late 2013 meaning finished products will not arrive until Q2 of 2014. By then Nvidia’s Tegra 4 and Samsung’s Exynos 5 Octa (eight core) SoCs will already be established in the market. Best of luck Intel – you’re going to need it.

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