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Samsung takes first place from Intel as chip supplier for Q2 2021

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IC Insights found, cited by DigiTimes, that Samsung took the number one spot for chip suppliers from Intel in the second quarter of 2021.

Samsung’s semiconductor sales increased 19 percent, driven by increased demand and prices for DRAM and flash memory. That amounts to $20.3 billion in the second quarter of the year, propelling Samsung past now-former number one spot Intel.

Samsung is no stranger to this place on the virtual podium, spending most of 2017 and 2018 in the number one position, thanks to an increase in the memory market.

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Projections are optimistic for Samsung. The company is expected to further increase 10 percent in the third quarter to $22.3 billion, widening the gap ahead of Intel in the second position.

Other key players like NVIDIA and MediaTek saw a 14- and 17 percent increase in revenue. Intel, TSMC, Qualcomm, and Broadcomm did see increases, however, these were insignificant, between three and one percent, respectively.

AMD didn’t make the top 10 with a 12 percent increase in sales. In order to make it to the top 10, a company is required to sell $4.3 billion worth in semiconductors in order to be ranked.

However, those who made it to the shortlist saw sales increase 10% combined sequentially to amount to a market worth US$95.5 billion in the second quarter of the year.

Source: DigiTimes

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Anton is the Editor-in-Chief of Pocketnow. As publication leader, he aims to bring Pocketnow even closer to you. His vision is mainly focused on, and oriented towards, the audience. Anton’s ambition, adopted by the entire team, is to transform Pocketnow into a reference media outlet.

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Qualcomm Snapdragon W5 Plus Gen 1 announced: All you should know

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Snapdragon W5 Gen 1 and W5 Plus Gen 1 images Source: Qualcomm

Qualcomm today unveiled the next generation of SoCs for wearables, the Snapdragon W5 Plus Gen 1 and Snapdragon W5 Gen 1. The company says that the new chipsets have been redesigned from the ground up and have been brought under the same naming structure as the flagship mobile processor. The Snapdragon W5 Gen 1 succeeds the 2020’s Snapdragon Wear 4100 platform, and the company promises 50% lower power consumption, two times higher performance, 2x richer features, and 30% smaller size compared to the previous generation.

Qualcomm Snapdragon W5 Plus Gen 1: Specifications

Specification Qualcomm Snapdragon W5 Plus Gen 1
Architecture 4nm
CPU 4x Cortex-A53 1.7GHz
GPU A702 1GHz
Memory 16GB LPDDR4
Machine learning ARM Ethos-U55
Bluetooth Bluetooth 5.3
Modem Release 13 LTE, Cat 1 bis

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The Snapdragon W5 Plus Gen 1 chipset is based on the much newer 4nm node process architecture. It is a giant leap forward compared to the Snapdragon Wear 4100+, which used a 12nm node process architecture. As for the specifics, Snapdragon W5 Plus Gen 1 features a quad-core ARM Cortex-A53 CPU clocked at 1.7GHz. While Cortex-A55 would have given the chipset a huge advantage over the previous gen, the new architecture coupled with the quad-core Cortex-A53 CPU should deliver a much-needed performance boost.

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Snapdragon W5 Gen 1 vs Wear 4100 Plus Source: Qualcomm

In addition to the new CPU, the SoC also comes with a new 22nm-based always-on co-processor. The new Cortex M55 co-processor on the chipset is also based on the newer architecture compared to the previous generation. Qualcomm says that it has managed to improve the operations the co-processor can perform all while decreasing power consumption. When you’re not interacting with the smartwatch, the co-processor can now handle tasks like always-on display, music, notifications, fitness tracking, sleep tracking, and more.

The new chip also comes with 1GHz Adreno 702 GPU (that enables 3D watch faces, 3D maps navigation, and 1080p video streaming), LPDDR5 RAM (vs. LPDDR3 on the Wear 4100+), and a new U55 machine learning chip — something that wasn’t present on the Wear 4100+ SoC. Coupled with a faster Wi-Fi chip, Bluetooth 5.3, and a “best-in-class” LTE modem, Qualcomm Snapdragon W5 Plus Gen 1 does seem like a huge upgrade over the previous generation.

Snapdragon W5 Plus Gen 1 Features Source: Qualcomm

While performance gains are nice to have, battery life was one of the main concerns of the Wear 4100+ smartwatches. Qualcomm is addressing those issues with the Snapdragon W5 Plus Gen 1. The company claims that smartwatches with a 300 mAh battery and W5 Plus Gen 1 could offer up to 43 hours of battery life, while smartwatches with a 600 mAh battery could offer up to 3 days of use. There are new Deep Sleep and Hibernate modes as well. These modes help by drastically reducing the power consumption, thus extending the battery life.

While Qualcomm did unveil the regular Snapdragon W5 Gen 1 chip alongside the Plus variant, it didn’t reveal a lot of details about the regular W5 Gen 1 chip. Instead, it says that the W5+ Gen 1 will be the go-to chipset for “mainstream smartwatches,” while the W5 Gen 1 is reserved for “segment-specific wearables”, which include kid and senior-focused watches and other health wearables.

First smartwatches with Snapdragon W5/W5 Plus Gen 1 chip

Snapdragon W5 Gen 1 Ref design Source: Qualcomm

Qualcomm has announced that OPPO and Mobvoi will be the first manufacturers to launch smartwatches with the new Snapdragon W5 Gen 1 and W5 Plus Gen 1 platform. OPPO will unveil its Watch 3 with Snapdragon W5 Gen 1 next month while Mobvoi will launch its next-gen TicWatch flagship smartwatch with the Plus variant of the chipset in the fall.

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To fasten up the process, Qualcomm has also announced two reference designs in partnership with Compal and Pegatron. Qualcomm says that the reference design will not only showcase the capabilities of the new platform, but it will also allow OEMs to develop products faster. While the next-generation Samsung Galaxy Watch lineup and even the Google Pixel Watch are said to use the Exynos W920 processor, the new Qualcomm chipset could convince the companies to switch to their offering in the future.

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These are the benefits of using 3nm chips, according to Samsung

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Samsung begins 3nm chip production
(From left) Michael Jeong, Corporate Vice President; Ja-Hum Ku, Corporate Executive Vice President; and Sang Bom Kang, Corporate Vice President at Samsung Foundry Business are holding up 3nm wafers at the production line of Samsung Electronics Hwaseong
Source: Samsung

We all know that Samsung makes some of the best smartphones on the market, but many users often prefer the Qualcomm chips over the Exynos variants as they’re more powerful and efficient. That, however, doesn’t stop Samsung from innovating and working on new fabrication processes, and it developed a new 3nm technology, paving the way for new more powerful, and more efficient chips to be manufactured at its facilities.

Samsung Foundry announced its beginning mass production of first-generation chips, based on the 3nm technology. The new chips will be based on the new Gate-All-Around (GAA) transistor architecture, replacing the previous FinFET. The new 3nm technology will offer significant improvements compared to the 5nm technology, namely a 23% performance update, and the chip will be up to 45W more power-efficient. The chip is also 16% smaller.

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“Optimized 3nm process achieves 45% reduced power usage, 23% improved performance and 16% smaller surface area compared to 5nm process”

The first-generation 3nm chips will initially be available for high-performance, low-power computing devices, but Samsung plans to expand it to mobile processors in the future. We look forward to seeing how this develops over the coming months and years, and we’re excited to see the doors this new technology opens for smartphones, tablets, and computers.

How does it work?

Samsung foundry's first 3nm chip production Source: Samsung

Samsung explains that the new proprietary technology utilizes nanosheets with wider channels, allowing for higher performance and greater energy efficiency compared to GAA technologies using nanowires with narrower channels. The new 3nm GAA technology will allow Samsung to adjust the width of the nanosheet to optimize the power usage and performance, increasing the power output and significantly improving the efficiency.

The company also said that the new GAA architecture offers more design flexibility, allowing for greater benefits for optimizing the power and boosting performance. The second-generation 3nm process is expected to reduce the power consumption by up to 50% while improving the performance by 30% in a 35% smaller area. These results are impressive, and appear to be better than the annual upgrades we see in chipsets, although the real-world use will likely differ based on the operating system and the purpose they’re used for.

What are the benefits?

Samsung manufacturing facility Source: Samsung

As mentioned above, Samsung claims to achieve 45% reduced power usage, 23% improved performance on a 16% smaller surface area, compared to the 5nm process. These numbers suggest that real-world applications will benefit greatly from the new architecture and the new process, proving to be better for all kinds of applications.

Smartphones, computers, tablets, and other devices will benefit from the new technology as they will be able to pack more power in a smaller area. As the power increases, the efficiency will also grow higher, making the devices last longer, while consuming less power. The functionality of these chips will also become more extensive, and OEMs will be able to offer more hardware and software features as a result.

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Current high-end smartphones have 4nm processors, such as the Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 SoC. These chips are already powerful and efficient, but there’s always room for improvement. Semiconductor factories, such as TSMC, are also working on delivering 3nm chips sometime this year, and it appears like Samsung managed to take over and announce the technology first. TSMC, and other semiconductor companies are also heavily investing in 2nm fabrication processes, and they will likely be available in the coming years, offering even better efficiency and performance.

Samsung is expected to begin the mass production of 3nm chips in the second half of 2022, and we could see new computing applications arrive with the new chips soon. It’s unclear what devices will receive it first, and we’re unlikely to see new devices equipped with such chips this year.

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Arm Cortex-X3 CPU & Immortalis GPU announced: What does it mean for future Android smartphones?

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ARM Cortex A715 X3 CPU Source: ARM

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Arm, the chipset design provider for many companies, including Qualcomm, MediaTek, Apple, and others, has just announced the second generation of Armv9 processors and the new Immortalis GPU for smartphones with ray-tracing capabilities. The new set of CPUs and GPUs from Arm come with a number of advantages over the previous generation and could prove to be significant for the next generation of Android smartphones. Here’s everything you need to know about Arm Cortex-X3 and the company’s new flagship line of GPU, Immortalis.

Arm Cortex-X3 and Cortex-A715

ARM Cortex X3 Source: ARM

Arm introduced the first generation of Armv9 architecture last year. At the time, Arm said that the v9 architecture would bring improved performance, security, AI, and Digital Signal Processing (DSP) capabilities. The company has now introduced the second generation of Armv9 architecture, which aims to build on the legacy of the first-gen Armv9 architecture, and brings in major performance improvements.

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Cortex-X3 and Cortex-A715 are the two new CPUs based on the latest 2nd gen Armv9 architecture. Cortex-X3 is the company’s third-generation Cortex-X CPU. For those unaware, the Cortex-X program of Arm allows chip-making companies, such as Qualcomm and Apple, to partner with the firm and finalize the design of their CPUs.

The new Cortex-X3 promises a performance jump of up to 25% over the Cortex-X2. The Cortex-X2 CPU cores can be found on the latest Android smartphones powered by Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 and the Mediatek Dimensity 9000. In addition to offering a performance jump, the new CPU also claims to be more efficient, promising the same level of performance at a lower power consumption — though Arm did not dive into the particulars of this claim.

Arm Cortex X3 numbers Source: Arm

Alongside Cortex-X3, Arm also unveiled Cortex-A715 based on the new architecture. While it doesn’t offer major performance improvements — only about 5% — the company claims that the new A700 processor is much more energy-efficient. Arm claims that the Cortex-A715 CPU is 20% more energy-efficient in comparison to the previous Cortex-A710 CPU.

Overall, the processors based on the new second-generation Armv9 architecture should deliver improved performance and better battery life. The performance gains could be even more when chip manufacturers switch to the 3nm node process next year. Even though the gains look good on paper, it remains to be seen how the other companies make use of the new architecture. The first generation of SoCs based on the new Armv9 architecture is touted to be announced in fall 2022, with the first consumer products arriving in 2023.

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Arm Immortalis GPU

ARM GPU 2022 Source: ARM

In addition to the new Armv9 architecture, the company has also introduced the new flagship GPU called Immortalis. With Immortalis, Arm aims to change the dynamics of gaming on mobile. Most of the Android smartphones sold nowadays come with a GPU that is based on Arm’s Mali graphics processing units. The company is now taking up a notch with the launch of Immortalis GPU, which is based on Mali GPU but brings more features with it.

Immortalis-G715 is the company’s first GPU to offer hardware-based Ray Tracing support on mobile. For those unaware, the ray tracing feature tracks how a light ray would reflect in the real life. Though it sounds quite simple, it’s a much-complicated physics model to implement on a PC, let alone on a smartphone GPU. It requires high amounts of processing, but the end result is that it allows developers to make better-looking games and 3D models. You can check out Arm’s ray tracing demo down below:

Those wondering about the increased power consumption, Arm says that the Immortalis-A715 uses 4% of the shader core area and yet it delivers an improvement of over 300% in comparison to software-based ray tracing solutions. You may remember some chipsets from last year that claimed to support ray-tracing, however, those chips used software-based ray-tracing. The new Arm GPU enables the hardware-based ray-tracing, which is more accurate, faster, and realistic.

Arm says that enabling ray-tracing on smartphones will prove to be a paradigm shift in the mobile gaming industry. While it depends on a lot of factors — how OEMs such as Qualcomm and MediaTek use it in their chipsets and how soon the developers update their apps to support ray-tracing — as consumers, you can expect the next generation of Android flagship smartphones to offer better-looking games and longer playtime thanks to less power-hungry cores.

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