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Samsung smartphones tout 14nm Exynos SoC

Posted: 02 Mar 2015 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Exynos? Samsung Galaxy? S6 Edge? Mobile World Congress?

Samsung's new Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge smartphones, announced at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, will feature quite a number of technologies, including a 14nm Exynos applications processor. The handsets would enable the Korean tech giant to bounce back from its losses last year, at least before Apple unveils its next-generation iPhones later this year, according to analysts.

The Galaxy S6 and S6 Edgewhich has a much-rumoured curved displayinclude a 14nm Exynos application processor, a novel memory stack, a new fast-charging battery and new display and camera capabilities. Taking a page from Apple's playbook, users will not be able to swap out batteries or expand memory as they did with prior Galaxy handsets. The phones will be available in 20 countries on April 10, 2015 for an undisclosed price.

"I think after several iterative generations, they're really pouring all their advanced stuff into the S6," Envisioneering Research Director Rick Doherty told EE Times.

"Some companies have set themselves apart through designs, others through practicality, but people want both," Samsung President and CEO J.K. Shin told a crowd of thousands at its Unpacked event. "People want the best-in-class smartphone with best-in-class design, it's what we have set out to build and we did it," he said referring obliquely to archrival Apple.

While officials scarcely spoke about specs, Forbes has confirmed that the S6 and S6 Edge will use an Exynos 7 octacore processor with four cores running at 1.5GHz and four at 2.1GHz. These chips are 35 per cent more energy efficient than those in the Galaxy Note 4 and 20 per cent faster.

Exynos was previously unavailable outside Asia and now presents Samsung with an additional advantage over fabless competitors such as Qualcomm, Doherty said. Qualcomm has already taken a hit in negotiations over its royalty rates in China, and with Samsung supplying high quality silicon for its own smartphones and lower grade chips to its competitors, Qualcomm may be left in the dust.

The phones also may help Samsung regain market share lost in China last year to Apple and domestic OEMs such as Xiaomi.

Samsung smartphones

Unlike its rivals, Samsung smartphones have tech and design prowess, said CEO J.K. Shin.

Both new Samsung phones use 64bit SoCs built in the Korean giant's 14nm FinFet process. The phones pack a CAT-6 LTE modem running at 300Mbit/s downlink.

"Both versions of the Samsung 6 are important for Samsung as it helps them gain attention in the premium smartphone market again and allows them to compete with Apple and others in this area," Creative Strategies President Tim Bajarin told EE Times. "[Exynos] should keep them competitive and give a slight edge in mobile processes in speeds. However, Apple's new chip could be as fast when it comes out later this year," he said.

While Samsung presented some significant innovation, Galaxy champions may need to temper their excitement.

"Apple's momentum with the iPhone 6 and 6S will be very hard to break as the refresh cycle for Apple iPhone customers will be strong for another 12-18 months," Bajarin said.

Ironically, Apple is believed to be designing the applications processor for its next iPhone in Samsung's 14nm process. Samsung's foundry group is courting big fabless companies such as Qualcomm as customers, too. In this way, Samsung appears to be giving itself a slight advantage at the 14nm node with a few months lead over its handset and silicon rivals.

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