Qualcomm intends to implement their fast Krait cores, like those in the Snapdragon S4, only to the chips for the upper segment of the market. The company will incorporate Krait core designs only inside of their quad-core SoC chips for high-end mobile devices, while the cheaper Snapdragon will be for smartphones priced below $160 and will have a reference ARM core. This has been confirmed by James Shen, one of Qualcomm's managers.
Intel has presented a new technology for the production of mobile chips for small portable devices. These new chips should be more competitive in the market that is now dominated by chips based on ARM's designs. They presented their ultra-low power SoC designs already at the International Electron Devices Meeting in San Francisco this year. Intel's 22-nanometer technology for SoC's should be ready for mass production of these chips during the next year.
Toshiba has developed a special version of MRAM memory with low power consumption and high performance, intended for processors that are built into smartphones and tablets. MRAM is supposed to replace the conventional cache-based SRAM cells in SoC's. These SoC's should be spending up to two-thirds less energy due to the new technology. Admittedly, it is not clear whether the cost savings are related to the complete SoC's or only the cache.
Qualcomm subsidiary Qualcomm Atheros announced a new NFC chip labeled QCA1990 which is half the size of the current NFC chip and can supposedly work with an 8 times smaller antenna. According to Qualcomm's assessment, installation of this chip would be more cost effective than the installation of the current chips in use by smartphone manufacturers. They believe that the installation of QCA1990 into the lower tier smartphones would also be cost effective.
In order to satisfy the appetites of its numerous U.S. semiconductor clients, Taiwanese TSMC appears to be preparing to build a huge factory in the U.S. Earlier this month, word spread that an unnamed company hired Deloitte for business and financial advice to explore locations for the construction of huge buildings in the districts of Rensselaer, Saratoga and Utica, New York. The server location must have access to water, power and gas resources which can serve the building of 3.2 million square feet (300,000 square meters) which will employ around 1,000 workers (40% with an engineering degree). The building would be up to 55 meters high, and would cost several billion dollars.
There appears to be something in the air this month or perhaps it as always been there and people are just waking up to the smell. It is the smell of a company getting stomped by Karma over in the corner. The company in question is Apple. For a few years now Apple has been on a campaign against their rival in the mobile OS space; Android. We were not surprised to see them go this route as they did the same thing with Microsoft a long time ago and got their hats handed to them by Microsoft (a one-time partner). Oddly enough when Apple was financially on the brink of ruin it was Microsoft that bailed them out, but I am getting off the subject here. When Apple’s Steve Jobs declared war on Android we had more than a few flashbacks to the days of law suits flying back and forth between Microsoft and Apple. However, Apple did not go after Google head to head; perhaps they thought they had learned something from the past, then again maybe they did not. After all they went after almost every Android phone maker even ones that they buy parts for their own products from!
While today's high-end smartphones feature dual-core and quad-core processors, one day in smartphones and tablets Intel would like to see their future 48-core processors. It is no surprise considering that Intel at this point is largely ignored from mobile platforms in the market, which is dominated by the ARM architecture.
Yesterday AMD made an announcement that has been in the works for some time and one that we predicted would happen. Late last year as AMD began to change their direction we noticed that AMD was solidifying their partnerships with Texas Instrument, Samsung and a few others who they have always maintained close ties with. AMD had also publicly stated that they were no longer going to compete with Intel head to head in the high-end market but that they were going to work on more power efficient solutions while improving their current offerings for the data center (trying to get more CPU cycles with less power). At the time we felt that AMD was preparing to build their own SoC (System on Chip) offerings we also felt that it was likely that AMD would build both x86 and ARM versions. The last piece of the puzzle was AMD licensing ARM technology (originally AMD claimed this was for use inside their CPUs to handle security).
It seems that Apple and Qualcomm wanted to try and lock out competition when it comes to the use of TSMC (The Taiwanese Semi-Conductor Manufacturing Corporation). The pair attempted to buy themselves a nice exclusive deal with TSMC with a large bundle of cash (over $1 billion). However, TSMC decided that there was more money to be had in keeping things open. The original deal from Qualcomm and Apple was to make sure the pair had access to production facilities. TSMC replied by saying that they could always expand if there was a need, but that they would internally fund it.
Details about Samsung’s next generation mobile processor have been exposed. The Exynos 5 is based on a 32nm SoC technology and brings two Cortex-A15 cores working at 1.7 GHz. The Exynos 5 supports resolutions up to 2560x160, has full 1080p @ 60 fps hardware acceleration and 3D graphics. It will be also compatible with USB 3.0,SATA 3 standards, OpenGL ES 2.0, OpenCL (Open Computing Language) and have support for wireless displays. With a 30% savings in power consumption it will be up to two and a half times more powerful than Tegra 3.