It is a bad week for Qualcomm

Subject: General Tech | April 8, 2015 - 12:46 PM |
Tagged: Samsung, arm, qualcomm, snapdragon 820, Kyro

Not only has the NVIDIA sueball pitch been judged to be in play and will continue to run but now according to news The Register has heard Samsung may be using their own in-house ARM processors for their next products.  The rumour is that they have spend four years developing an ARM processor from the ground up which will make it much less likely that Qualcomm will be able to sell their next generation 64 bit Snapdragon Kyro processor to Samsung, which is after all a modified ARM v8-a chip as opposed to a custom built processor.  Qualcomm does have other customers than Samsung, including HTC, Amazon and LG who might be interested in the new Snapdragon 820 but it does look bleak for their next generation processor.  The only leverage Qualcomm has now is that Samsung will likely be the ones fabbing many of the new Snapdragon 820's, perhaps they can strike a deal for some lower cost mobile devices once Kyro matures.

Qualcomm_Snapdragon_logo.png

"Samsung will join Apple and other mobile semiconductor rivals in producing chips powered by homegrown, proprietary application cores in 2016, according to a new report."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: The Register

Checking out PCIe SSDs, both the full sized version and the bite sized ones

Subject: Storage | April 7, 2015 - 02:49 PM |
Tagged: Plextor M6e, XP941, Samsung, DC P3700, Intel, PCIe SSD, M.2

The Tech Report have updated their storage testbed to properly benchmark PCIe SSDs, the M.2 versions as well as ones such as Intel's DC P3700 which takes up a full slot.  They contrast the performance with 10 popular SATA drives to give you an idea of the difference performance a PCI SSD will give you.  The rather expensive DC P3700 dominates almost every test they performed, apart from boot times in Windows 8.1 which are still well under 1 minute.  Read through the review with your own usage patterns in mind, in many cases a SATA SSD is still a great choice for many gamers and are much more affordable.  Then again, if you can afford a $2500 SSD, Intel's offering is definitely king.

drives.jpg

"SSDs have been bumping up against the limits of the Serial ATA interface for a while, but they don't have to be stuck behind the 6Gbps link. Native PCIe drives with way more bandwidth have made their way onto the market over the past year. We've tackled a trio of them—Plextor's M6e, Samsung's XP941, and Intel's server-grade DC P3700—with a fresh slate of benchmarks to see how the new breed stacks up against the SATA incumbents."

Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:

Storage

The NVIDIA, Samsung and Qualcomm saga has been cleared to continue

Subject: General Tech | April 7, 2015 - 01:27 PM |
Tagged: nvidia, qualcomm, Samsung, patents, sueball

A judge has ruled that six of the seven patent disputes that NVIDIA has filed are valid and will proceed to court for judgment.  These patents involve the use of graphics coprocessors in mobile devices and have been judged to be worded in such a way that it does not matter if those GPUs are ARM, Imagination Technologies or Qualcomm.  This is not the end of the dispute, merely a pretrial to see if the claims are valid and worth going to trial.  Of course Qualcomm and Samsung dispute NVIDIA's claims and in Samsung's case they have already launched a counter suit claiming NVIDIA has violated six of their own patents.  You can read about the history of the latest legal battle in the tech world as well as today's judgment over at The Register.

3D_Judges_Gavel.jpg

"Nvidia has won an important early victory in its ongoing patent litigation against Qualcomm and Samsung, with a judge in the US International Trade Commission ruling in Nvidia's favor as to the language of the disputed patents."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: The Register

Samsung may be fabbing the Snapdragon 820

Subject: General Tech | April 2, 2015 - 04:58 PM |
Tagged: Samsung, qualcomm, 14 nm, snapdragon 820

If DigiTimes has called it right Qualcomm will be using Samsung to fab the new Snapdragon 820, likely on the same line as Samsung used for the 14 nm EXynos 7420.  TSMC's 16 nm tech is slightly behind in quality to Samsung's current 14 nm and Qualcomm really wants to replace the current Snapdragon 810 as soon as possible.  This move makes sense strategically seeing as how Samsung will be using its own processors in the new Galaxy S6 and Galaxy Note 5 and Qualcomm may look to leverage their status as a customer to try to get their Snapdragon back into future Samsung products.

41549_03_samsung_enters_volume_production_using_its_14nm_finfet_process.png

"Qualcomm's next-generation application processor (AP), the Snapdragon 820, is expected to outsource to Samsung Electronics using a 14nm node, which the Korea-based foundry house has demonstrated as a proven process as showcased by the performance and power consumption of its14nm EXynos 7420 CPU developed in house, according to Digitimes Research."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: DigiTimes
Author:
Subject: Editorial
Manufacturer: Various

Process Technology Overview

We have been very spoiled throughout the years.  We likely did not realize exactly how spoiled we were until it became very obvious that the rate of process technology advances hit a virtual brick wall.  Every 18 to 24 months we were treated to a new, faster, more efficient process node that was opened up to fabless semiconductor firms and we were treated to a new generation of products that would blow our hair back.  Now we have been in a virtual standstill when it comes to new process nodes from the pure-play foundries.

Few expected the 28 nm node to live nearly as long as it has.  Some of the first cracks in the façade actually came from Intel.  Their 22 nm Tri-Gate (FinFET) process took a little bit longer to get off the ground than expected.  We also noticed some interesting electrical features from the products developed on that process.  Intel skewed away from higher clockspeeds and focused on efficiency and architectural improvements rather than staying at generally acceptable TDPs and leapfrogging the competition by clockspeed alone.  Overclockers noticed that the newer parts did not reach the same clockspeed heights as previous products such as the 32 nm based Sandy Bridge processors.  Whether this decision was intentional from Intel or not is debatable, but my gut feeling here is that they responded to the technical limitations of their 22 nm process.  Yields and bins likely dictated the max clockspeeds attained on these new products.  So instead of vaulting over AMD’s products, they just slowly started walking away from them.

samsung-fab.jpg

Samsung is one of the first pure-play foundries to offer a working sub-20 nm FinFET product line. (Photo courtesy of ExtremeTech)

When 28 nm was released the plans on the books were to transition to 20 nm products based on planar transistors, thereby bypassing the added expense of developing FinFETs.  It was widely expected that FinFETs were not necessarily required to address the needs of the market.  Sadly, that did not turn out to be the case.  There are many other factors as to why 20 nm planar parts are not common, but the limitations of that particular process node has made it a relatively niche process node that is appropriate for smaller, low power ASICs (like the latest Apple SOCs).  The Apple A8 is rumored to be around 90 mm square, which is a far cry from the traditional midrange GPU that goes from 250 mm sq. to 400+ mm sq.

The essential difficulty of the 20 nm planar node appears to be a lack of power scaling to match the increased transistor density.  TSMC and others have successfully packed in more transistors into every square mm as compared to 28 nm, but the electrical characteristics did not scale proportionally well.  Yes, there are improvements there per transistor, but when designers pack in all those transistors into a large design, TDP and voltage issues start to arise.  As TDP increases, it takes more power to drive the processor, which then leads to more heat.  The GPU guys probably looked at this and figured out that while they can achieve a higher transistor density and a wider design, they will have to downclock the entire GPU to hit reasonable TDP levels.  When adding these concerns to yields and bins for the new process, the advantages of going to 20 nm would be slim to none at the end of the day.

Click here to read the rest of the 28 nm GPU editorial!

Samsung's 850 EVO now comes in M.2 flavour too

Subject: Storage | March 31, 2015 - 07:01 PM |
Tagged: ssd, sata, Samsung, msata, M.2 SATA, 850 EVO, 500gb, 1TB, 120gb

As Al's review of the 850 EVO exists in a cat like superposition of being biased both for and against Samsung, perhaps you would like a second opinion.  That is where The Tech Report's review comes in handy, which was published just a few short hours ago.  Their findings were perfectly in line with the others, exactly the same performance as the 2.5" drives but in a nice bite sized form factor.  The only drawback is the size, the new M.2's are missing the 1TB model at the moment.

150330-182433_DxO.jpg

"Samsung's 850 EVO SSD debuted in December inside the usual 2.5" case. Now, the drive is spreading to smaller mSATA and M.2 form factors. We've examined the new drives to see how the mini lineup compares to its full-sized forbear."

Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:

Storage

Subject: Storage
Manufacturer: Samsung

Introduction, Specifications and Packaging

Introduction:

Following the same pattern that Samsung led with the 840 Pro and 840 EVO, history has repeated itself with the 850 Pro and 850 EVO. With the 850 EVO launching late last year and being quite successful, it was only a matter of time before Samsung expanded past the 2.5" form factor for this popular SSD. Today is that day:

150330-182303_DxO.jpg

Today we will be looking at the MSATA and M.2 form factors. To clarify, the M.2 units are still using a SATA controller and connection, and must therefore be installed in a system capable of linking SATA lanes to its M.2 port. As both products are SATA, the DRAM cache based RAPID mode included with their Magician value added software is also available for these models. We won't be using RAPID for this review, but we did take a look at it in a prior article.

Given that 850 EVOs use VNAND - a vastly different technology than the planar NAND used in the 840 EVO, we suspect it is not subject to the same flash cell drift related issues (hopefully to be corrected soon) in the 840 EVO. Only time will tell for sure on that front, but we have not see any of those issues present in 850 EVO models since their launch.

Picture5.png

Cross sectional view of Samsung's 32-layer VNAND. Photo by TechInsights.

Samsung sampled us the M.2 SATA in 120GB and 500GB, and the MSATA in 120GB and 1TB. Since both are SATA-based, these are only physical packaging differences. The die counts are the same as the 2.5" desktop counterparts. While the pair of 120GB models should be essentially identical, we'll throw both in with the results to validate the slight differences in stated specs below.

Continue reading our review of these new Samsung 850 EVOs!!

SEC Filing Reveals NVIDIA Now Using Samsung for Some Manufacturing

Subject: General Tech | March 21, 2015 - 12:09 AM |
Tagged: TSMC, SoC, Semiconductor, Samsung, process node, nvidia, gpu, fab

Want to liven up your weekend? Forget college basketball, we all know that few things are more exciting than SEC filings - and oh boy do we have a great read for you! (OK, this one is actually interesting!)

10K.png

Ah, legal documents...

NVIDIA has disclosed in their latest 10-K filing that none other than Samsung is manufacturing some of the company’s chips. TSMC has been the source of GPUs for both AMD and NVIDIA for some time, but this filing (the full document is available from the SEC website) has a very interesting mention of the suppliers of their silicon under the “Manufacturing” section:

"We utilize industry-leading suppliers, such as Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company Limited and Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd, to produce our semiconductor wafers."

Back in December NVIDIA commented on its lawsuit against Samsung for alleged IP theft, which only makes this partnership seem more unlikely. However even Apple (which has their own famous legal history with Samsung, of course) has relied on Samsung for some of the production of their A-series SoCs, including the current crop of A8 chips.  Business is business, and Samsung Foundry has been a reliable source of silicon for multiple manufacturers - particularly during times when TSMC has struggled to meet demand at smaller process nodes.

Process_Tech.png

Samsung's Current Semiconductor Offering

It is unclear at this point whether the wafers produced by Samsung Semiconductor are for NVIDIA’s mobile parts exclusively, or if any of the desktop GPUs were produced there rather than at TSMC. The partnership could also be attributed simply to scale, just as Apple has augmented A8 SoC supply with their rival’s fab while primarily relying on TSMC. It will be interesting to see just how pervasive the chips produced by Samsung are within the NVIDIA lineup, and what future products might be manufactured with their newest 14nm FinFET process technology.

Source: SEC

HSA Version 1.0 arrived today

Subject: General Tech | March 17, 2015 - 01:18 PM |
Tagged: hsa foundation, hsa, amd, arm, Samsung, Imagination Technologies, HSAIL

We have been talking about the HSA foundation since 2013, a cooperative effort by AMD, ARM, Imagination, Samsung, Qualcomm, MediaTek and TI to design a heterogeneous memory architecture to allow GPUs, DSPs and CPUs to all directly access the same physical memory.  The release of the official specifications today are a huge step forward for these companies, especially for garnering future mobile market share as physical hardware apart from Carrizo becomes available.

Programmers will be able to use C, C++, Fortran, Java, and Python to write HSA-compliant code which is then compiled into HSAIL (Heterogeneous System Architecture Intermediate Language) and from there to the actual binary executables which will run on your devices.  HSA currently supports x86 and x64 and there are Linux kernel patches available for those who develop on that OS.  Intel and NVIDIA are not involved in this project at all, they have chosen their own solutions for mobile devices and while Intel certainly has pockets deep enough to experiment NVIDIA might not.  We shall soon see if Pascal and improvements Maxwell's performance and efficiency through future generations can compete with the benefits of HSA.

The current problem is of course hardware, Bald Eagle and Carrizo are scheduled to arrive on the market soon but currently they are not available.  Sea Islands GPUs and Kaveri have some HSA enhancements but with limited hardware to work with it will be hard to convince developers to focus on programming HSA optimized applications.  The release of the official specs today is a great first step; if you prefer an overview to reading through the official documents The Register has a good article right here.

hsa.PNG

"The HSA Foundation today officially published version 1.0 of its Heterogeneous System Architecture specification, which (if we were being flippant) describes how GPUs, DSPs and CPUs can share the same physical memory and pass pointers between each other. (A provisional 1.0 version went live in August 2014.)"

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: The Register

The Tech Report Endurance Test Ends Just After 2.4PB

Subject: Storage | March 16, 2015 - 07:00 AM |
Tagged: ssd, samsung 840 pro, Samsung, endurance

The Samsung 840 Pro was the last SSD standing in The Tech Report's experiment with a final score of over 2.4 petabytes written. Granted, only one (or two in the case of the Kingston HyperX) of each model participated, which means that one unit could have been top of its batch and another could have been bottom -- and can simply never know. What it does say, however, is that you really should not be worried about writing your SSD to death under normal (or even modestly abnormal) conditions.

techreport-ssd-end.gif

This almost looks like one of our Frame Rating charts.

Again, that whole warning (above) about “this could be 100% binning luck” still holds true. Even so, here is the final ranking of contestants!

  1. Samsung 840 Pro (256GB)
  2. Kingston HyperX 3K (240GB with Compression)
  3. Corsair Neutron GTX (240GB)
  4. Samsung 840 (No Suffix and 250GB)
  5. Intel 335 (240GB)
  6. Kingston HyperX 3K (240GB)

The Tech Report notes that the Samsung drives did not warn users through SMART as much as their competitors. In both cases, death from write wearing was abrupt, albeit far into the future. I'd wonder what is next for them, but part of me expects that they never want to run anything like this again.

Source: Tech Report