Subject: Mobile | April 14, 2015 - 03:33 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: Samsung, galaxy s6, Android 5.0
Samsung's new Galaxy S6 is unique in that it has metal sides and Gorilla Glass on both the back and front of the phone. The body is 143x71x6.8mm and it weighs a total of 138g, compared the the iPhone 6 at 138x67x6.9mm and 129g. The screen is 2560x1440, a density of 577PPI which compares favourably to the iPhone's 1334x750 at 326 PPI. The Inquirer was impressed by the quality of the screen as well as the colour calibration that they felt was significantly better than on the S5. As far as performance, the phone was tested by playing three hours of XCOM and it did so without stuttering or becoming uncomfortably warm. They tested the non-removable battery by looping a video, which the phone could manage for just over eight hours, slightly better than the competition though they lose the benefit of battery swapping thanks to the new design. Check out the images taken with the new camera and answers to other specific questions in their full review.
"Aware of customers' and reviewers' complaints, Samsung made a sweep of reforms in its smartphone division and "went back to the drawing board" with the 2015 Galaxy S6."
Here are some more Mobile articles from around the web:
- Asus ZenFone 5 LTE @ Kitguru
- Blackview Omega Smartphone Review @ Madshrimps
- Adam Elements Bella Power 6000mAh Portable Power Bank Review @ NikKTech
- XMG A505 Gaming Laptop @ HardwareHeaven
- Razer Blade Pro @ Kitguru
The tale of the Samsung 840 EVO is a long and winding one, with many hitches along the way. Launched at the Samsung 2013 Global SSD Sumit, the 840 EVO was a unique entry into the SSD market. Using 19nm planar TLC flash, the EVO would have had only mediocre write performance if not for the addition of a TurboWrite cache, which added 3-12GB (depending on drive capacity) of SLC write-back cache. This gave the EVO great all around performance in most consumer usage scenarios. It tested very well, was priced aggressively, and remained our top recommended consumer SSD for quite some time. Other editors here at PCPer purchased them for their own systems. I even put one in the very laptop on which I'm writing this article.
An 840 EVO read speed test, showing areas where old data had slowed.
About a year after release, some 840 EVO users started noticing something weird with their systems. The short version is that data that sat unmodified for a period of months was no longer able to be read at full speed. Within a month of our reporting on this issue, Samsung issued a Performance Restoration Tool, which was a combination of a firmware and a software tool that initiated a 'refresh', where all stale data was rewritten, restoring read performance back to optimal speeds. When the tool came out, many were skeptical that the drives would not just slow down again in the future. We kept an eye on things, and after a few more months of waiting, we noted that our test samples were in fact slowing down again. We did note it was taking longer for the slow down to manifest this time around, and the EVOs didn't seem to be slowing down to the same degree, but the fact remained that the first attempt at a fix was not a complete solution. Samsung kept up their end of the bargain, promising another fix, but their initial statement was a bit disappointing, as it suggested they would only be able to correct this issue with a new version of their Samsung Magician software that periodically refreshed the old data. This came across as a band-aid solution, but it was better than nothing.
Subject: General Tech | April 8, 2015 - 12:46 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
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.
"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:
- Intel outs updated Atom x3 chip destined for IoT devices @ The Inquirer
- Windows XP is still clinging on, one year later @ The Inquirer
- Surface tablet shipments expected to exceed 4 million units in 2015 @ DigiTimes
- Most top corporates still Heartbleeding over the internet @ The Register
- ONOS to SDN world: here's our numbers, show us yours @ The Register
Subject: Storage | April 7, 2015 - 02:49 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
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.
"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:
- Intel's 750 Series @ The Tech Report
- The Intel SSD 750 Series Performance Review @ Hardware Canucks
- Intel 750 PCIe @ The SSD Review
- Intel SSD 750 Series 1.2TB PCIe NVMe @ Kitguru
- Samsung 850 EVO mSATA @ The SSD Review
- Samsung SSD 850 EVO mSATA @ Benchmark Reviews
- Silicon Power S80 240GB SATA @ The SSD Review
- Seagate Seven Steel External USB 3.0 Drive Review @ NikKTech
Subject: General Tech | April 7, 2015 - 01:27 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
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.
"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:
- Intel Compute Stick with Ubuntu Linux is cheaper than Windows version @ The Inquirer
- Mozilla Rolls Back Firefox 37's Opportunistic Encryption Over Security Issue @ Slashdot
- Intel: We came here to bury our Mobile chip business, not praise it @ The Register
- iFixit slaps the Galaxy S6 Edge with lowly three out of 10 repairability score @ The Inquirer
Subject: General Tech | April 2, 2015 - 04:58 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
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.
"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:
- NASA-ESA Project Will Shoot an Asteroid To See What Happens @ Slashdot
- Open Xchange teams with PowerDNS and Dovecot to create open source powerhouse @ The Inquirer
- Yes, AT&T, you do have to go to court with the FTC @ The Register
- BES12 Cloud goes live with support for iOS, Android, Windows Phone and BB10 devices @ The Inquirer
- Check Your Grill’s Remaining Propane? There’s An App For That @ MAKE:Blog
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 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.
Subject: Storage | March 31, 2015 - 07:01 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
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.
"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:
- Samsung 850 EVO mSATA and M.2 @ Bjorn3d
- Samsung 850 Evo mSATA/M.2 SSD @ HardwareHeaven
- Samsung 850 EVO M.2 SATA SSD @ The SSD Review
- 480GB HyperX Predator M.2 PCIe SSD @ Bjorn3d
- Crucial BX100 SSD @ Benchmark Reviews
- The OCZ Vector 180 SSD Review @ Hardware Canucks
- Enermax 2.5 and 3.5-Inch Mobile Drive Rack Roundup @ eTeknix
- Kingston SDXC UHS-1 Memory Card @ The SSD Review
- Silicon Power Stream S06 4TB USB 3.0 HDD Review @ Madshrimps
- Synology DS1815+ @ techPowerUp
Introduction, Specifications and Packaging
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:
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.
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.
Subject: General Tech | March 21, 2015 - 12:09 AM | Sebastian Peak
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!)
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.
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.