In a statement the bean counters claim that chips have been through a long evolution process that will only continue into the future.
The report said that FinFET technology design chips are the breakthrough that could be monumental for the leaders in the field and those producing them.
Some believe the FinFET transistor structure promises to rejuvenate the chip industry by rescuing it from the short-channel effects that limit device scalability faced by current planar transistor structure, the report said.
The JPMorgan analysts said that with the ability to achieve higher performance designs at lower power, there will be a long string of FinFET-related equipment investments in the coming years.
FinFETs are estimated to be up to 37 per cent faster while using less than half the dynamic power or cut static leakage current by as much as 90 per cent.
It also thinks that any shareholder wanting to make a bob or two should invest in the three companies that are making them.
Despite reporting solid first-quarter earnings that were above consensus, and giving guidance that was in line with expectations, the stock has continued to underperform.
The difference between whether a firm is making FinFETs or not could be the best way of telling if a firm is going to do well.
JPMorgan analysts see continued FinFET capacity expansion and transition to 3D NAND, with DRAM spending remaining strong next year.
The PC maker Quanta Computer’s has reported a surprise hike in the sales of notebooks. According to the company its notebook shipments reached 3.4 million units in May, up 6.25 per cent on month from 3.2 million units in April. Quanta’s notebook shipments are estimated to grow 10 per cent sequentially to reach 10.89 million units in the second quarter. The outfit said that it will ship 4.29 million notebooks in June. Things might get even better in July when Windows 10 is scheduled to be released. The Tame Apple press is doing its best to play down the release, claiming that it is uncertain if the new operating system is able to attract consumers to purchase new PC devices. Part of this is because Redmond is allowing consumers to freely upgrade their existing PCs to Windows 10, making purchasing a new PC no longer important. Quanta is dependent on notebooks for 70 per cent of its revenues. The rest of its 14.1 per cent on-month revenue growth in May was mainly contributed by Apple Watch orders which could lead to tears if this market dries up. Courtesy-Fud
Acer held a news conference not for a new consumer product, but to promote an upcoming miniature PC that will be sold to developers.
The PC, called the aBeing One, will arrive in the third quarter, and is aimed at developers working in the IoT area. It’s designed to connect to smart home and wearable products, and act as a hub that can analyze incoming data from the devices.
The PC vendor has spoken to many IoT companies looking for an affordable hardware system they can develop on, said Robert Wang, a general manager with Acer.
“Fast-moving IoT developers keep running into this issue,” he said after Acer’s news conference. “Now they can buy from us.”
It’s a big change for the vendor, given that it once focused on selling consumer notebooks. However, with PC sales sagging and competition rife in the mobile devices area, the company has been shifting toward enterprise products.
That emphasis was apparent at this week’s Computex show in Taipei. Acer notebooks and tablets were still on display, but equal billing was given to itscloud computing business, which is starting to power IoT devices, not only from Acer, but also its clients.
In addition, Acer is hoping to pave the way for more third-party IoT devices. It has partnered with Canonical to install a version of Ubuntu on its aBeing product, so that the hardware can serve Ubuntu developers working on smart connected gadgets.
AT&T Inc is preparing to bring connected car users exclusive content such as videos and games that can be streamed onto personal mobile devices later this year, AT&T’s senior vice president of emerging devices Chris Penrose said.
“It’s no different than being able to hook onto a Wi-Fi hotspot anywhere and get access to content you already subscribe to and get unique content that you could only get in the back of the vehicle,” Penrose said.
AT&T has signed up eight automaker partners, including General Motors Co, Audi AG and Ford Motor Co, to hook up cars with Internet access. The goal is to offer free or paid content exclusively for connected car users and sell more data, Penrose said in a recent interview.
AT&T is talking to its auto industry partners and content companies to bring new content like “special” shows or gaming levels on phones and tablets in connected cars, Penrose said. This would be in addition to subscription services such as Hulu and Netflix that users can already stream on mobile devices.
Most Americans already own a mobile phone, and the $1.7 trillion U.S. wireless industry is turning to connected cars and devices for growth. Besides being the essential pipes that deliver data, telecom players such as AT&T are looking to extract revenue from content.
GM has begun testing new content on its OnStar in-vehicle service best known for connecting drivers to live operators for directions or emergency help.
The subscription-based service, which also sells data to drivers, has special offers and some exclusive content on apps such as Famigo, an educational app for kids, and TumblebooksTV, a children’s digital books app. It also has retail partnerships with Dunkin’ Donuts and travel booking site Priceline.com for location-based deals.
AT&T is exploring business models that include revenue share for data, content and advertising with automakers, content and retail partners, Penrose said without sharing specific details.
AT&T is working with automakers to design a landing page or a portal for users to log in to access content, get vehicle service updates and buy data, he said.
It appears that MediaTek’s move to bring out an octa-core processor has disturbed the mighty Qualcomm.
When the MT6797 SoC came out, there was much mirth amongst MediaTek’s rivals but it turns out that Qualcomm has followed suit after all.
Qualcomm’s version is called the Snapdragon 818, which will probably be a deca-core CPU. Word on the street is that the chip will depend on four low-1.2GHz Cortex-A53 power cores, two middle-range 1.6GHz Cortex-A53 cores, plus four high-power cores of the 2.0GHz Cortex A72 type. It will supports LPDDR4 RAM and will run the Adreno 532 GPU.
This should mean that it can run LTE Cat-10 when that hits the shops. The chip will use 20nm process technology.
If the rumors are correct then it means that the 818 SoC will be slower than MedaTek’s new chip.
Qualcomm is yet to confirm the existence of this piece of silicone, so it is all just rumors. However if it is true, it does mean that MedaTek’s effort was a lot more important than many of its rivals admitted.
The company noted this milestone in mobile computing in a blog post.
“Billions of times per day, consumers turn to Google for I want-to-know, I want-to-go, I want-to-do, and I want-to-buy moments,” wrote Jerry Dischler, Google’s vice president of product management. “And at these times, consumers are increasingly picking up their smartphones for answers. In fact, more Google searches take place on mobile devices than on computers in 10 countries including the U.S. and Japan.”
That, he added, presents what he calls a “tremendous opportunity” for businesses to reach people through this new touchpoint.
The news about mobile search overshadowing desktop searches means we’ve officially entered a “mobile-first” world, according to Zeus Kerravala, an analyst with ZK Research.
“Instead of using our PCs at home and augmenting them with mobile, we are mobile first, so no matter where we are or what we are doing we can find the information we need right then and there,” he added. “The phrases “I’ll take care of that when I get back to the office,” or “I’ll take care of that when I get home,” have been eradicated from our vocabulary.”
This week’s announcement puts Google’s recent mobile search changes into context.
Early last month, Google announced it was changing the algorithm it uses for mobile searches to give websites designed to be mobile friendly better positioning in search results.
Websites that aren’t designed to run well and look good on mobile devices simply won’t get good placement in search results — neither on mobile devices nor on desktops.
“The fact that Google is prioritizing mobile sites means Google’s ads need to be oriented around mobile,” said Kerravala. “I think it is changing what Google does with ads, meaning ads are going to need to become more localized.
The largest manufacturers of the machinery used to make semiconductors, Applied Materials and Tokyo Electron of Japan, have dumped a merger plans.
The proposed $10 billion deal was announced in September 2013, but it had nearly been impossible to come up with a deal which the US antitrust authorities would approve.
Part of the problem was that it would have combined two of the three largest players in a sector crucial to the production of chips.
Chip foundries are becoming expensive to build, even as prices for chips are falling. Pressure on suppliers of chip-making machinery is intense.
By joining forces, Applied Materials and Tokyo Electron hoped to streamline research and development operations and benefit from greater manufacturing scale.
They had also planned to save tens of millions of dollars in taxes by incorporating the new company in the Netherlands.
It was the second big technology merger deal to collapse in a week over antitrust concerns. Comcast abandoned its planned $45 billion takeover of Time Warner Cable in the face of skepticism from the Department and the Federal Communications Commission.
If Applied Materials, the larger of the two chip-equipment companies, had been allowed to take over Tokyo Electron, it would have been the biggest acquisition of a Japanese corporation by an American company outside the financial industry.
“Since these vulnerabilities affect default installations of WordPress, they naturally have a much wider reach, both on the public internet and in internal, intranet installations.”
The vulnerability also has similarities with one reported by Cedric Van Bockhaven in 2014, patched this week after 14 months.
Qualcomm has released a new Trepn Profiler app for Android which will profile Snapdragon processors and tinker with them.
The Trepn Profiler app identifies apps that overwork the CPU or are eating too much data. The app will pinpoint which of the apps drain the battery faster.
All data that will be obtained by this app can provide information you need to know which program is slowing down your phone.
Most Android phone users will not give a damn, but developers will find it useful. Those who are interested in testing roms, custom kernels, and their own apps can use the data gathered by the Trepn Profiler.
Developers can measure optimisation and performance on Snapdragon-powered mobile devices. Data are real-time include network usage, battery power, GPU frequency load, and CPU cores’ load. Key features also include six fast-loading profiling presets, and an advanced mode to manually select data points and save for analysis.
The Advanced Mode allows profiling a single app or device, offline data analysis, and increasing of data collection interval. This special mode also allows longer profiling sessions, displaying two data point in one overlay, and viewing of profile data.
All up this should enable developers to come up with more Snapdragon friendly apps.
In addition to offering bedside tables, floor- and table lamps, desks and simple charging pads, IKEA is also selling a DIY kit that lets users embed wireless chargers into furniture of their choice.
The furniture, and other items in IKEA’s wireless charging collection, ranges in price from $9.99 to $119.
The Wireless Charging collection will be rolled out globally, with U.S. stores seeing availability beginning in late spring, IKEA said today in a statement.
“With smartphones becoming such a natural part of our lives, we wanted the charging part to become a natural part of our homes,” Holly Harraway, IKEA’s lighting sales leader, said.
The furniture uses the most popular wireless charging specification, Qi, which is supported by brands such as Samsung and Energizer and has gotten an extension to its specification allowing it to charge devices at short distances
Users can check whether their mobile phone is compatible with the Qi standard at the Wireless Power Consortium’s this website.
The WPC with its Qi specification is up against two other industry organizations with their own wireless charging protocols: the Power Matters Alliance (PMA) and the Alliance for Wireless Power (A4WP.
The Qi spec transfers 5 watts of power for enabled mobile devices, such as the Galaxy S4 and S3, Nokia Lumia 1020, LG G2, Motorola Droid Maxx and Mini and the Google Nexus 5 phone and Nexus 7 tablet.
If a smartphone does not have native wireless charging capability, such as an iPhone, users can purchase a VITAHULT charging cover (for Apple iPhone or Samsung Galaxy only), or other Qi-enabled covers for use with the IKEA wireless charging furniture.
After less than two years at the helm of Zynga, Don Mattrick is on the move again. He’s picking up the best part of $20 million on his way out the revolving door, so don’t feel too bad for him, but after his catastrophic mis-management of the Xbox One’s development and launch, his failure to lift Zynga out of its post-IPO slump looks like yet another blot on the extremely expensive copybook of the former Microsoft executive.
There will be plenty of I-told-you-so’s over this news, but in truth, it wasn’t so predictable. Mattrick always looked like a better fit for Zynga than he was at Microsoft; the balls-up he made of the Xbox One could be attributed, if we’re feeling charitable, to having sensibilities far more in-tune with a broad mass-market than with the core audience a launching console needs to please. As such, the social- and (latterly) mobile-focused Zynga should have been a more suitable challenge for him; and indeed, while the company’s performance under his tenure hasn’t exactly been good, or even mediocre, there have been some important bright spots, most notably the (clever) acquisition of mobile specialists NaturalMotion, and the (achingly slow, but getting there) transition away from browser-based games to mobile platforms.
That the company’s performance in terms of finances and share price alike failed to pick up under Mattrick’s tenure, though, is something easily presented as an outright failure; and after the mess he made at Microsoft, it would be straightforward to roll our eyes at the spectacle of yet another overpaid exec with bugger all knowledge about games being given an enormous sack full of $100 bills with which to break his falls after a gentle defenestration from his latest failure. That’s not entirely an unfair characterisation, but not entirely fair either, I suspect, because no sooner was Mattrick out of the CEO’s chair than Zynga founder and former CEO Mark Pincus had his backside back in the seat – and that, to me, sets off all sorts of alarm bells.
For a CEO to depart and to be instantly replaced is not entirely unusual, but it does raise some eyebrows; for a CEO to depart after a short and unfruitful period, only to be replaced instantly by the company founder whom they replaced in the role, strongly suggests that the company founder never actually took their fingers out of the pie. The reasons for Pincus leaving the CEO’s role were pretty clear; he was broadly seen by investors as a millstone around the company’s neck, his dictatorial nature, inflexibility and tendency to make stupid, inflammatory statements in public being pretty damaging to a firm struggling to recover from an overheated IPO. That he’s been waiting in the wings for Mattrick to depart raises troubling questions over just who has actually been running Zynga for the past two years; it’s not hard to imagine Mattrick finding his hands tied by the presence of a highly opinionated and influential founder who never actually wanted to let go of the reins in the first place, something which might explain a good deal about the tardy pace of Zynga’s turnaround.
The markets, unsurprisingly, reacted to the news by dumping Zynga stock; the founder who was doing a miserable job of being CEO has stepped back up to replace the new guy who was also doing a poor (but better) job of being CEO? It’s a net negative, not merely because for all his faults Mattrick was broadly considered a better CEO than Pincus, but because it suggests that the upper echelons of Zynga’s management are in absolute disarray.
Still, though; even this latest dump of Zynga’s stock is only going to bring the company back to depths it already plumbed back in February… and in December… oh, and last October, too. Zynga is bumping along the bottom, and has been since mid-2012, in share price terms. It looked like it might climb off the floor around the start of 2014, but since the middle of last year it’s traded at around $3 and under; frankly, the depths to which it can fall off the back of this executive-revolving-door farce are severely limited by the fact that it’s already at rock bottom. That’s because Zynga’s real problems, although they may well start from its dysfunctional management, are much more deeply rooted. The company hasn’t had a hit in years – even more problematically, it has never had a bona fide, honest to god hit on a mobile platform. It bought some smaller developers with mobile hits, and then failed to grow or develop them (in some embarrassing cases, they flopped almost immediately after being purchased). FarmVille, a game franchise whose existence you had entirely forgotten until I just mentioned its name at the start of this sentence, remains the jewel in Zynga’s crown. The “Games” section on Zynga’s website reads embarrassingly like a blow-by-blow account of games everyone seemed to be into for a few months, years ago.
There might – might – be light at the end of the tunnel. It would be easy to dismiss Zynga’s new Great Hope, the action strategy title Dawn of Titans, as absolute folly; the “Clash of Clans” market, so utterly saturated that top games in the category have ended up spending millions on Superbowl commercials to try and soak up the last remaining dregs of the market, is a horrible place to be launching a new product. Dawn of Titans, though, is just branded and presented a little like Clash of Clans; the game itself looks quite different, and most of all, it’s from the genuinely brilliant NaturalMotion. If I were to pick the most likely source of a Zynga renewal, it would be NaturalMotion; one can only hope that, in a similar manner to the Activision / Blizard relationship, Zynga’s management has the good sense to let NaturalMotion do their jobs and keep their paws off to the greatest extent possible.
Still; the fate of a company is a big thing to rest on one development team, no matter how talented. What Zynga needs is a hit, undoubtedly. What it really, really needs is hits – plural. Once upon a time, there was a formula for social gaming success, based on just the right balance of compelling game design (yes, Farmville really was compelling in its own way), pulling the right social levers, monetising intelligently and with a light touch, and spreading through some fairly nakedly unpleasant viral approaches on Facebook. Mark Pincus got that formula down perfectly; that is, thus far, the only thing that Zynga has ever executed perfectly. That formula, of course, is part of the history books now; it doesn’t work any more and never will again.
The new formula that Zynga needs to discover is actually a much trickier one, one which game companies have struggled with for decades; the formula for making great games people actually want to play and actually want to recommend to their friends. The CEO who could potentially turn Zynga into a company where that happens would have to create an environment of intense creativity and freedom, utilising the short development cycles, rapid prototyping and start-up style Minimum Viable Product soft-launching strategies enabled by mobile platforms to let creators exercise their imaginations and try many different ideas in search of the hits; a CEO who truly valued creativity and understood how to let it thrive. Mark Pincus wasn’t that CEO first time around. He’s going to have to work hard to prove that Pincus 2.0 is any better.
The new Braswell chips include new Celeron and Pentium processors, which will support both Chrome OS and Windows, said sources familiar with Intel’s product plans. More details on Braswell will be shared at the Intel Developer Forum in Shenzhen this week.
New Chromebooks running Braswell are expected in the coming months from top PC makers, as well as from low-cost manufacturers China who might bring the price point down to less than $200. Braswell will also appear in low-cost Windows laptops, desktops and tablets.
Intel first announced the Braswell chips a year ago, but shipments were delayed due to problems with the company’s 14-nanometer manufacturing process.
Chromebooks, favored by some who do most of their computing on the Internet, are powered by a range of Intel or ARM processors. Most Chromebooks priced starting at $200 to $300 have aging Celeron processors based on the Bay Trail architecture, which Braswell will replace. The fastest and most expensive Chromebooks such as Google’s Chromebook Pixel have Intel’s Core chip, which packs more horsepower than Celeron or Pentium processors.
The new Celeron and Pentium chips could also be Intel’s answer to last week’s release of sub-$200 ARM-based Chromebooks from Haier, HiSense and Asustek. Chromebook shipments are rising in a flat PC market, and have become a new battleground for Intel and ARM, who also compete in servers and mobile devices.
Braswell should deliver better graphics performance, though battery life may not get a boost. The chips may be a good fit for Chromebooks, in which the speed of a wireless connection is most important with the bulk of processing happening not locally but on remote servers hosting applications. That may change as Google is making available more applications that work offline.
The 64-bit Cortex-A57 core is ARM’s latest and greatest CPU design, but very few chipmakers are actually building products based on this flagship core. In fact, many are skipping it altogether, so what’s going on here?
There is one thing to keep in mind. The Cortex-A57 is by no means a new design. In fact, it was announced in October 2012, with availability slated for 2014. As we all know, the roll-out wasn’t very smooth and the only Cortex-A57 consumer part ready to ship in 2014 was the Exynos 7410 of Galaxy Note 4 fame. It was followed by the Snapdragon 810 and Exynos 7420, which hardly need an introduction.
Cortex-A57 is on almost schedule, so what’s the big deal?
While it is true that the Cortex-A57 was almost on time, our concern isn’t the rollout schedule – it’s the lack of designs. For a product announced 30 months ago, it has relatively few design wins and this is not going to change. In fact, at this point it is more or less obvious that a number of major SoC makers will skip it altogether.
MediaTek recently announced its first Cortex-A72 tablet part and the company is planning to bring Cortex-A72 to smartphone SoCs by the end of the year.
Another relatively big player, Huawei HiSilicon, also appears to be skipping the A57. The company’s upcoming Kirin 940 and Kirin 950 parts should end up with Cortex-A72 cores instead. That’s not all, because some outfits like Nvidia have their own custom cores. Qualcomm is also expected to employ a custom core in the Snapdragon 820, while rumours of a Samsung custom ARMv8 core have been floating around for ages.
Thermal barrier and economics stall ARM SoC evolution
There are a few possible explanations for the lack of Cortex-A57 design wins, and they involve physics and economics.
From a technical perspective, the A57 requires too much effort and does not provide huge performance gains. Used in a big.LITTLE octa-core, the Cortex-A57 necessitates the use of four additional Cortex-A53 cores, a big GPU to match its potential, and the customary 4G modem found on high-end devices. All this results in a relatively big die with a lot of transistors, especially on planar nodes.
Thermal and power efficiency issues are another concern, as such a chip simply can’t reach its full potential on planar nodes, unless consumers suddenly become interested in buying big and thick phones, with oversized heatsinks and batteries.
The Cortex-A57 really isn’t an option at 28nm. It can, however, be successfully deployed on 20nm and 14/16nm FinFET nodes. This makes it an unattractive proposition for all but the most expensive devices, since it’s an elaborate design that requires an expensive, cutting-edge node to be implemented. By the time FinFET matures and foundry costs go down, ARM will already have another design to take its place – the Cortex-A72.
Cortex-A57 vs. Cortex-A72
The Cortex-A72 was announced in February 2015 and ARM expects to see it in commercially available devices by early 2016. Some chipmakers would like to get their hands on it even sooner, even using it on 28nm nodes rather than FinFET nodes it was originally designed for.
In some respects, the Cortex-A57 shared a similar fate to that of its predecessor, the Cortex-A15. The latter debuted on Samsung’s 32nm parts, but due to thermal issues the core wasn’t widely used until 28nm nodes became available (and cheap). However, it was all a matter of good timing – the A15 arrived just in time for 28nm, while the A57 sort of missed its window of opportunity.
Worse, Android 5.0 brought 64-bit support last year, prompting Google to tap Nvidia for its Nexus 9 tablet, as its Denver core was practically the only 64-bit ARM “big core” Google could use. Consumers could get affordable Cortex-A53 devices with 64-bit support, but they couldn’t get flagship 64-devoces. This may not be an important distinction for the average Fudzilla reader, since tech enthusiasts know 64-bit support simply wasn’t too relevant in 2014 (and still isn’t). However, it was a lot easier to market 64-bit parts based on small cores than big 32-bit cores.
So, will the Cortex-A72 end up with more design wins than the A57? Is it really much better than the A57?
Personally, I am inclined to say that the Cortex-A72 will be a lot more successful, not by virtue of its design, but thanks to better timing and the limited appeal of the Cortex-A57. ARM did not reveal a lot of information on the A72, other than to state that new core will be vastly more efficient than the A15 and A57, but its numbers were based on different nodes (28nm for A15, 20nm for A57, 16nm for A72).
We simply don’t know much about the Cortex-A72 yet and it’s too early to jump to conclusions.
What does this mean for 2015?
Moving forward, the lack of a viable 64-bit ARM core for mid-range, and even some high-end devices on 28nm, is bound have a number of implications on the smartphone SoC market and smartphone design in general.
The Cortex-A57 simply won’t end up in a lot of devices, as it only makes sense on 20nm and 14/16nm FinFET nodes, so chipmakers will have only one choice – churn out more Cortex-A53 parts at higher clocks, with faster GPUs and better LTE support. Unlike last year, they don’t have the option of using four cores (A15, A17, A9 and A7), as they can only use A57 and A53 cores, but the A57 simply doesn’t work for most market segments. The Cortex-A17 looks like a very tempting alternative and MediaTek already tapped it for some parts, but this is a 32-bit core, positioned below the Cortex-A15 and Cortex-A57. While the A17 is a good performer with a good price/performance ratio, consumers demand 64-bit chips, plain and simple.
This will obviously have the effect of blurring the line between low- and mid-end devices, as many of them will have to share similar silicon – consumers will get A53 cores whether they’re buying a $100 phone or a $300 phone.
Companies like Huawei and MediaTek have already hinted at, or revealed chips designed to address the problem, by including four A53 cores at higher clocks (Huawei calls them A53e or enhanced cores). These cores will be backed by four slower A53 cores, and Qualcomm already uses such a layout in the Snapdragon 615.
It is highly unlikely that any of these chips will be manufactured using expensive 20nm or FinFET nodes, at least not in the foreseeable future (at least four quarters, possibly five due to high demand for flagship chips in Q1 2016). Capacity is limited, cost will remain prohibitively high for months, and 28nm works just fine for Cortex-A53 parts. As a result, SoC designers are already doubling down on 28nm capacity, as it is obvious the node will have to soldier on well into 2016.
So here are Fudzilla’s predictions for 2015 SoCs and smartphones:
Cutthroat competition in 28nm low- to mid-range SoCs, every penny counts.
Use of octa-core Cortex-A53 processors in some flagship and quasi-flagship devices, especially in China.
Limited demand for Cortex-A57 products.
Lack of Cortex-A17 designs (a 64-bit alternative is needed).
Upswing in Q4 2015 and beyond, as Cortex-A72 and custom core designs come online.
Even more 28nm Cortex-A53 designs with tweaked cores, updated graphics and modems.
Smartphone makers will have to devise new ways of differentiating non-flagship products.
Prices of mid-range devices are likely to drop.
No Cortex-A53 parts on 20nm or 14/16nm nodes.
28nm node will continue to dominate the mobile landscape for at least 4 quarters and start tapering off in the second half of 2016.
Soft demand for limited capacity FinFET nodes over the next 2-3 quarters due to lack of Cortex-A57 designs.
Intel could benefit from stalled ARM development.
There are a few caveats. Some small-core chips could make it to a new node later this year, but we are talking about niche products (perhaps some wearable SoCs, or in-house designs for certain low-volume smartphones). If demand for FinFET parts proves to be much lower than anticipated, it is possible that foundries will have to reduce pricing as more capacity comes online – but this depends on a wide range of factors and we doubt anyone can make a good forecast for at least the next quarter or so.
2015 will not be a very eventful year for the ARM SoC market, but it might turn out to be a race to the bottom.
A lot of rumors regarding an alleged upcoming Qualcomm Snapdragon 815 SoC have been floating around, and now the chipmaker has informed us that that no such chip exists.
Qualcomm’s Senior Director of Public Relations Jon Carvill said that there is no Snapdragon 815 in the works:
Carvill was clear:
“There are no plans for a Snapdragon 815 processor.”
Snapdragon 815 filed under creative journalism
The Snapdragon 815 rumours spread like wildfire, but since they didn’t make much sense, we decided not to carry them. Basically the alleged Snapdragon 815 was supposed to be a 16nm SoC with four Cortex-A72 and Cortex-A53 cores, but the rest of the spec was hard to swallow.
Long story short, there is no such thing as a Snapdragon 815. The company never had such a product, and if you know a thing of two about SoC development, it takes years to make a new SoC design from scratch – you don’t just design a new one for a new node out of the blue.
It would be very convenient if the company managed to pull off something like this, but it’s simply not possible.
Qualcomm’s next flagship is the Snapdragon 820
Now that we debunked this rumor, we should focus on Qualcomm’s real next generation flagship SoC – the Snapdragon 820.
The company mentioned the Snapdragon 820 at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, but it looks like that it will be a while before we see this chip shipping in actual devices. Qualcomm expects the new part to sample sometime in the second half of the year, so in the best case scenario we might see the first devices by the end of the year, but most products based on the new chip will start shipping in early 2016.
The 20nm Snapdragon 810 is not overheating, it works just fine, and we tested it inside the HTC One M9. We can confirm that it ends up significantly faster than the Snapdragon 801, which we had a chance to try in a few phones.
Toshiba has announced the world’s first 48-layer Bit Cost Scalable (BiCS) flash memory chip.
The BiCS is a two-bit-per-cell, 128Gb (16GB) device with a 3D-stacked cell structure flash that improves density and significantly reduces the overall size of the chip.
Toshiba is already using 15nm dies so, despite the layering, the finished product will be competitively thin.
24 hours after the first announcement, SanDisk made one of its own regarding the announcement. The two companies share a fabrication plant and usually make such announcements in close succession.
“We are very pleased to announce our second-generation 3D NAND, which is a 48-layer architecture developed with our partner Toshiba,” said Dr Siva Sivaram, executive vice president of memory technology at SanDisk.
“We used our first generation 3D NAND technology as a learning vehicle, enabling us to develop our commercial second-generation 3D NAND, which we believe will deliver compelling storage solutions for our customers.”
Samsung has been working on its own 3D stacked memory for some time and has released a number of iterations. Production began last May, following a 10-year research cycle.
Moving away from the more traditional design process, the BiCS uses a ‘charge trap’ which stops electrons leaking between layers, improving the reliability of the product.
The chips are aimed primarily at the solid state drive market, as the 48-layer stacking process is said to enhance reliability, write speed and read/write endurance. However, the BiCS is said to be adaptable to a number of other uses.
All storage manufacturers are facing a move to 3D because, unless you want your flash drives very long and flat, real estate on chips is getting more expensive per square inch than a bedsit in Soho.
Micron has been talking in terms of 3D NAND since an interview with The INQUIRER in 2013 and, after signing a deal with Intel, has predicted 10TB in a 2mm chip by the end of this year.
Production of the chips will roll out initially from Fab 5 before moving in early 2016 to Fab 2 at the firm’s Yokkaichi Operations plant.
This is in stark contrast to Intel, which mothballed its Fab 42 chip fabrication plant in Chandler, Arizona before it even opened, as the semiconductors for computers it was due to produce have fallen in demand by such a degree.
The Toshiba and Sandisk BiCS chips are available for sampling from today.
PC and printer makers have struggled in the recent past as companies reduced printing to cut costs and consumers shifted to mobile devices from PCs.
Hewlett-Packard Co plans to separate its computer and printer businesses from its corporate hardware and services operations this year.
Xerox Corp has also increasingly focused on IT services to make up for the falling sales of its copiers and printers.
Lexmark divested its inkjet printer business in 2013 and has since boosted its enterprise software business.
The Kofax deal will help the company’s Perceptive Software business achieve its revenue target of $500 million in 2016, Lexmark said.
The business makes software to scan everything from spreadsheets to medical images and provides services to banking, healthcare, insurance and retail companies. It contributed about 8 percent to Lexmark’s revenue in 2014 and has grown at more than 30 percent in the past two years.
Kofax provides data services to the financial, insurance and healthcare companies such as Citigroup Inc, Metlife Inc and Humana Inc.
Lexmark said it expects the deal to “significantly” expand operating margins in its enterprise software business, which would now be worth about $700 million. It will also add about 10 cents per share to the company’s adjusted profit in 2015.