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Galaxy S6 teardown: Discovering Samsung's Shannon chip

Posted: 10 Apr 2015 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Samsung? Shannon? chipset? Galaxy S6? has gotten hold of one of the 10 different models of the flagship phone from Samsung, the Galaxy S6. Our first phone is one of at least two U.S. versions of the Galaxy S6 devices expected to be released this month.

Back in mid-February of this year, we heard rumours Qualcomm may have lost its spot in Samsung's flagship phone. Even at Samsung's high-energy event at Mobile World Congress, the company would not confirm or deny the rumours. Like (most of) the rest of the world, we were left to "wait and see" if Samsung was about to say good-bye to one of the world's leading wireless semiconductor manufacturers.

Samsung Galaxy S6

If the rumours were true, we felt we had had hints from our past teardowns as to who Samsung would use in lieu of Qualcomm; we believed Samsung would use their own design, the Samsung Shannon chipset.

Since the waiting left us with idle hands, curious minds and our 2,000 device library, we went back to look at the mobile devices where we first discovered the Shannon chipset. We found three devices we'd torn down, with a total 10 Shannon IC appearances: Samsung Galaxy Light SGH-T399, Samsung Galaxy S5 mini SM-G800F and Samsung Galaxy Note 4 SM-N910K.

Samsung Galaxy S6 IC design wins


Our data paints a very clear picture of how Samsung has invested in maturing its Shannon architecture and as such has ousted Qualcomm and others as the phone's core chipset and system architecture. This didn't come at a cost, but has the potential to disrupt the mobile semiconductor industry with the perennial players such as Qualcomm, Broadcom, Texas Instruments and others being left out of key sockets of this likely bestselling device.

But before we jump into the details of Shannon, it wouldn't be a Galaxy S6 teardown without first comparing it to the market's mainstay, the Apple iPhone 6.

First and foremost is the cost comparison between these two popular devices. Did Samsung create its flagship device, using many of its own ICs, for less than Apple created the iPhone 6? The answer is no. Based on our teardown costing methodology, the Samsung Galaxy S6 costs about $275.50 to produce, while the Apple iPhone 6 bill of materials only adds up to $228. Disregarding the possibility of Samsung Mobile getting preferred pricing from its own semiconductor division, we used our standard costing methodology and processes to determine these estimates.

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