Big Flashy news from Samsung

Subject: General Tech | April 11, 2013 - 02:38 PM |
Tagged: tlc, Samsung, flash memory, 10nm

A process shrink to 10nm wasn't enough for Samsung, they also doubled the density of their MLC flash storage to 128Gbits at a physical size of 170.6mm2.  They claim write speeds of up to 18MB/sec and 400Mbit/s bandwidth through their toggle interface.  Even better news for consumers is that this should be even cheaper than current MLC flash which will help continue to drive the price of SSDs down.  Samsung didn't tell The Inquirer when we can expect to see these in devices but it should not be too long from now that we are doing longevity testing on this new Flash.

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"MEMORY MAKER Samsung has announced that it is producing 128Gbit 3-bit multi-level cell (MLC) NAND flash chips for solid-state disk (SSD) drives"

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Source: The Inquirer

DRAM makers emulate the HDD business by devouring the competition

Subject: General Tech | March 20, 2013 - 01:02 PM |
Tagged: DRAM, micron, ssd, Samsung, Hynix

It is perhaps not obvious to many because of the huge number of DRAM resellers but there are only three major manufacturers of DRAM left at this point.  Apart from Micron, who claim top spot in this article on The Register, Samsung and Hynix are the only other big players left supplying DRAM.  Considering the instability of memory and SSD pricing it seems odd that it is a component with only three possible sources, the instability could be coming from the fact that many of the mergers are still rather recent or in the case of Elpida, not quite complete yet.  One very interesting comment from Kipp Bedard, Micron's investor relations VP, might also explain the volatilty of flash, "there simply isn't enough NAND fab capacity to store even 20 per cent of the data people are generating."   If demand outstrips supply by that order of magnitude you can dictate almost any price you wish.

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"When I first started at Micron, there were about 40 to 50 DRAM companies in the space," said Bedard. "And we spent most of the '80s with the Japanese deciding they wanted to own the DRAM space which they went from 10 per cent market share to about 90 per cent, [and] took all of the US companies out except for two, us and Texas Instruments."

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Source: The Register

All I know about the Galaxy S4 ... was not learned on the live stream

Subject: General Tech | March 15, 2013 - 01:12 PM |
Tagged: Samsung, galaxy s4, exynos 5, bad acting, Android 4.2.1

It is a close race between Blackberry and Samsung as far as which company provided the most stilted and uncomfortable launch of a new smartphone but those who survived it managed to pass on details about the brand new phone.  We have not seen it dissected yet, nor blended, but we know inside the phone you will find an Samsung Exynos 5 5410 Octa 8-core processor clocked at 1.8GHz, a PowerVR SGX 544 graphics chip, 2GB of RAM, 16GB of firmware flash and runs Android 4.2.1, similar to the S3.  On the outside is a 5" Gorilla Glass 3 Super AMOLED screen at 1920 x 1080 resolution, or 441ppi which is certainly higher than others but close enough to the limits of a perfect human eye as to make very little real difference.

Connectivity can come through WiFi, BlueTooth, HSPA+ 42Mbps, 4G LTE and even infrared transmitter for remote control functions.  User interaction sees some new tricks however, eye tracking software will scroll webpages and documents as you read through them and those who despair over smudges on their screens will like the ability to control the phone with a finger hovering over the screen, not quite touching it.  It bears two cameras, a 13MP on the back capable of recording at quite respectable resolutions as well as a 2MP front facing camera for video calls.  On this translated page, the only connectivity seems to be a microUSB port, but there is is mention of  MHL which can provide HDMI out, or you might be able to use the infrared transmitter to send your pictures and movies to another device.  Charging can be done wirelessly via Qi in theory, though that did not work so well during the demonstration.  You can follow the various links for a bit more detail but until a reviewer can get a Galaxy S4 in hand to benchmark it and perhaps tear it apart we don't know exactly how this phone will fare against the competition.

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"Samsung Galaxy S4 will be available from the second quarter globally including the US market, partnering with telecom carriers such as AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, Verizon Wireless, as well as US Cellular and Cricket, Samsung said. In Europe, Samsung Galaxy S4 is partnering with global mobile operators such as Deutsche Telecom, EE, H3G, Orange, Telenor, Telia Sonera, Telefonica, and Vodafone."

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Source: DigiTimes

Not quite an ultrabook but more than a tablet, Samsung's ATIV Smart PC

Subject: Mobile | March 7, 2013 - 03:34 PM |
Tagged: Samsung, ATIV Smart PC Pro 700T, win8, digital audio converter, ultrabook

Samsung's ATIV Smart PC Pro 700T is a convertible tablet with aspirations to be an ultrabook, it is 1.97 lbs, with an 11.6" 1080p touchscreen powered by a Core i5-3317U with 4GB of DDR3-1600 in single channel configuration.  For connectivity you get a a MicroSD port, a single USB 3.0 port, two USB 2.0 ports on the dock, Micro HDMI and analog audio with Wi-Fi, WiDi and Bluetooth 4.0.  The Tech Report tested its battery life for both surfing and playing 720p video, seeing 6 hours in the first case and 5 hours in the second with very little difference when tested docked.  The final verdict was mixed, while it is almost an ultrabook and almost a convertible tablet in many ways it inherited the worst of both worlds; though if you find yourself needing both devices in your life this ATIV might be a good compromise for you.

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"This Windows 8 convertible has x86 ultrabook guts, an 11.6" 1080p display, and speedy solid-state storage. Attach it to the bundled keyboard dock, and it turns into a quasi-ultrabook. Is this the ultimate Windows 8 mobile machine, and is it worth the nearly $1,200 asking price?"

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Checking the non-Pro version of the Samsung 840

Subject: Storage | February 22, 2013 - 01:33 PM |
Tagged: Samsung 840, Samsung, ssd, 120gb, Samsung MDX

[H]ard|OCP just wrapped up a review of the 120GB Samsung 840, using their own ARM Cortex R4 based MDX controller and TLC memory for storage.  They compare the speed of this drive to the 256GB 840 Pro, Kingston's V300 120GB and the Intel 335 240GB to contrast the difference the type of NAND used can make to performance.  This is especially evident on the write and latency benchmarks, which fall well behind the competition.  From [H]'s testing it is apparent that TLC memory is very vulnerable to reduction in size, the reduced channels really hurt performance and put the 120GB model far behind the larger sized 840s which they have tested with much better results.

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"The 120GB Samsung 840 Series SSD features the powerful 8-channel MDX controller and TLC NAND. While this value SSD comes at a very good price, it also features much lower speeds than its larger capacity brethren. We put this value SSD through our suite of steady state tests to see if it can pass muster."

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Source: [H]ard|OCP

Samsung's take on the Surface Pro, the ATIV Smart PC 500T

Subject: Motherboards | February 18, 2013 - 04:30 PM |
Tagged: Samsung, ATIV Smart PC 500T, Surface Pro, tablet

Samsung has produced a Surface Pro tablet they call the ATIV Smart PC 500T, which comes paired with a keyboard/docking station.  Powered by an 1.5GHz Atom Z2760 and 2GB of DDR2-800 with a 64GB e.MMC iNAND SSD for storage the device the performance will beat a WinRT tablet but it is not going to compete with a laptop.  Strangely one of the most advertised features, the S Pen, was not present in the Canadian package so it is not included in this review.  Silent PC Review noticed that Samsung are working on the 500T's page, though they do not know if it was to correct the erroneous text stating the S Pen comes with the basic model or simpy to give time to have S Pens shipped and attached.  The 11.6" 1366 x 768 screen was washed out in comparison to the Microsoft Surface Pro and it did not seem as sturdy as the Microsoft product either.  Check out the full review to get a better idea how this tablet performs.

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"Windows 8 is making possible a new class of mobile convertibles that flip between tablet and notebook. The Samsung ATIC Smart PC 500T is one example, based around a new Atom core and built around a big (for tablets) 11.6" screen, but there's an Ivy Bridge upgrade available in the 700T. Meanwhile, Microsoft's Surface Pro shows us a different vision of the convertible."

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News from the Common Platform Technology Forum

Subject: General Tech | February 12, 2013 - 02:10 PM |
Tagged: IBM, Samsung, GLOBALFOUNDRIES, CNTFETs, nanotubes

You might not think of IBM, Samsung, and GlobalFoundries as working together for a common goal, but much like the HSA the Common Platform Technology Forum brings together some strange bedfellows.  The Tech Report had a chance to sit in on some of the conference and just how this disparate group of Fab owners and pure research companies are working together to shape the future of the silicon beasts we all love to hate.  One of the main topics of discussion was the move to the 14nm process and just how designs must change in order to shrink the process to that size while at the same time increasing wafer size, with GloFo showing off their plans for the near future.  You will also be introduced to the idea of CNTFETs, the proposed carbon nanotube based replacement for Silicon FinFETs which could beat the limits of even Extreme UV lithography if they can be coerced into self assembly.  Read on and check out where the second and third largest Fabs on the planet are headed in the next few years.

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"The opportunity doesn't come along every day to get a detailed peek into the future of computing from the people who are building it. Last week, I had just such a chance."

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Samsung tops Apple for both buying chips and malware

Subject: General Tech | January 23, 2013 - 01:17 PM |
Tagged: Samsung, apple, andriod, Malware, fud

The good news for Samsung last year is that it bought $23.9bn worth of semiconductor orders in 2012, while Apple ordered a mere $21.4bn which implies that Samsung is buying more chips than Apple, or perhaps is just getting a worse deal.  If the information from Gartner that The Inquirer picked up on is correct, Samsung accounted for 8% of the total semiconductor market in 2012, a very impressive feat.  That is more than Dell and HP's market share combined which supports the theory that the falling sales we saw in PCs was not reflected at all in the smartphone and tablet markets. 

Unfortunately that success comes at a price as Samsung's OS of choice, Android, is expected to see more than one million malware threats by the end of 2013.  According to Trend Micro there were about 350,000 malware threats over 2012 with only one in five Android devices actually having any sort of security software installed.  Perhaps it is time to start thinking more about protecting your phone, especially if you have banking apps or the so called "pay by bonk" enabled on your phone.

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"Apple, thanks in large part to its hugely popular iPhone and iPad products, was the largest consumer of semiconductor chips, that is, until 2012. Gartner claims that Samsung has overtaken Apple to become the largest semiconductor user with eight percent of all chips sold going to the firm."

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Source: The Inquirer

CES 2013: Samsung Teases Eight Core Exynos Octa SoC

Subject: Mobile | January 10, 2013 - 06:29 AM |
Tagged: SoC, Samsung, exynos octa, exynos, ces 2013, CES, big.little, arm

Samsung talked up a new ARM SoC during CES that will become the new high-end part of its Exynos 5 lineup. The Samsung Exynos 5 Octa is, as the name suggests, an eight core processor. It is built on a 28nm manufacturing process and employs ARM's big.LITTLE architecture.

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While Samsung is not ready to share all the detailed under-the-hood details, the Exynos 5 Octa has four Cortex A15 cores clocked at 1.8GHz paired with four Cortex A7 cores clocked at 1.2GHz. With big.LITTLE, the SoC has both high performance, high powr cores and lower power cores. The configuration is invisible to the end user, and the chip will use the Cortex A15 cores when in 3D applications or other CPU load intensive applications. Then, while the phone is idle or simply running background applications (notifications, checking email, updating twitter and facebook feeds, ect), the SoC will power down the Cortex A15 cores and use the lower power-drawing A7 cores. Ideally, this will give users a "best of both worlds" situation and a balance of performance and battery life.

Samsung claims that the Exynos 5 Octa offers up to twice the 3D performance of other existing current-generation SoCs. However, we do not yet have details on the GPU improvements (if any) over Samsung's other Exynos 5 chips much less benchmark-able products running this chip yet so it is difficult to say whether that statement is true or not. Also, Samsung claims as much as a 70% improvement in power savings over its dual core Exynos 5 processor, which is certainly a bold claim.

According to Engadget, Samsung plans to reveal all the nitty-gritty details on the eight-core Exynos 5 Octa SoC at the International Solid State Circuits Conference on February 19, 2013. It should give NVIDIA's "4+1" core Tegra 4 a run for its money, at lest on the CPU front (and maybe 3D graphics as well, but it's hard to say at this point).

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CES 2013 Day 2: Samsung

Subject: Storage, Shows and Expos | January 7, 2013 - 09:48 PM |
Tagged: Samsung, ces 2013, CES

 

I attended the Samsung press conference today, where several new products were announced. Among these was the 2013 line of Smart TV's:

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The 2013 series is just a minor cosmetic redesign with a thinner (1/4") bezel. The real difference was in the SmartTV functionality, which has a facelift and now runs on a quad core processor. Samsung also announced the first round of the Evolution Kit - an upgrade module that brings the quad core and new UI to the 2012 SmartTV series. The evolution kit is pricey at nearly $500, but that's still way cheaper than buying a whole new set.

Samsung showed some new Series 7 Laptops, with displays upgraded to HD resolution and 10-point multitouch capability. They also showed a new compact camera series boasting interchangeable lenses, one of which Samsung claims can shoot 3D through a single f/1.8 unit:

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They also annunced some appliances, the one catching everyone's ear being a refridgerator called the T9000 (no, I'm not kidding).

The coolest visual was the showing of an 85" 4k OLED TV. Pictures simply do not do this set any justice, but here is one for posterity:

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More to follow as we continue to lap Vegas...

Coverage of CES 2013 is brought to you by AMD!

PC Perspective's CES 2013 coverage is sponsored by AMD.

Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!