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64 Bit Chips: How Apple out-smarted Qualcomm and Samsung!

Posted in Device Platforms, New Technologies by Manas Ganguly on December 17, 2013

Innovation is the name of the game and none understands this better than Apple. So just when their device and design innovation was hitting the plateau – they got the other enablers firing. The one being discussed here is Apple’s 64 bit A7 micro-processor.

The industry standard in micro-processor is a 32 Bit thingie – which plays in all smartphones. A 64-bit processor handles data in bigger chunks than 32-bit processors, so it can get jobs done faster. PCs have had 64-bit chips for a while, but until Apple introduced the iPhone 5s in September, nobody had put one in a smartphone.

While both Samsung and Qualcomm, both key players in the Android eco-system have the 64 Bit micro-processor in their roadmaps with a Q1 2014 and Q2 2014 time frame of launch – Apple’s Q3 launch of the A7 – puts Apple ahead of its rivals – in terms of perfecting the chip and rubbing off the rough edges. In the past, the iPhone was zippy not because it boasted a super-powerful processor, but because of the way Apple integrated the whole system — hardware and software — and the fact that Apple could tightly control how developers wrote code for the iPhone. An analogy would be a sports car that manages to be fast with a small engine because it is light, well-engineered, and has a great suspension. But now Apple can also claim an advantage in raw horsepower. The new 64-bit A7 chip is the smartphone equivalent of a big V12 engine.

Many in the industry do not still behold the importance of 64bit microprocessor. If the convergence industry is venturing into uncharted lands such as wearables – with different other functions such as Body monitoring or Augmented Reality applications, a higher order chipset will then become the next essential. Apple with its iWatch sees this as the promised land and the 64bit chip as the deliverance and has made the jump. It would have a 1 yr experential advantage with this 64 Bit chip when compared to others. Deep down, I am sure that a 128 Bit Chip could also be in the Horizon.

Smartphone Application Processors Update: Strategy Analytics

Posted in Device Platforms by Manas Ganguly on October 18, 2013

The global smartphone applications processor market continued to show strength and grew 44 percent year-on-year to reach $4.4 billion in Q2 2013, according to the Strategy Analytics. Qualcomm, Apple, MediaTek, Samsung and Spreadtrum captured the top-five revenue share spots in the smartphone processor market in Q2 2013. Qualcomm maintained its dominance in the smartphone applications processor market with 53 percent revenue share followed by Apple with 15 percent share and MediaTek with 11 percent share in Q2 2013.

Multi-core processors accounted for around 66 percent of all smartphone apps processor shipments in 1H 2013, up from 40 percent in 1H 2012. Quad-core smartphone applications processor shipments registered five-fold growth in 1H 2013 compared to 1H 2012, while single-core smartphone applications processor shipments declined by 14 percent in the same period. Qualcomm, Apple, Samsung, MediaTek and ST-Ericsson captured top-five volume share spots in the smartphone multi-core applications processor market in 1H 2013.

Low-cost suppliers MediaTek and Spreadtrum together captured over one-third volume share in the smartphone applications processor market in Q2 2013, thanks to the smartphone boom in emerging markets. MediaTek and Spreadtrum’s improving global footprint coupled with their maturing product portfolio could spell a threat to global players such as Qualcomm, Broadcom, NVIDIA and Intel.

Qualcomm maintained its dominance in the smartphone applications processor market helped by its LTE leadership. After a successful run with its Snapdragon 600 family of chips in the first half of 2013, Qualcomm is well-positioned to repeat it in the second half with its flagship Snapdragon 800 family of chips

Qualcomm adds more teeth to its Snapdragon smartphone processors

Posted in Mobile Computing by Manas Ganguly on November 16, 2011

Follow up to an earlier post on Qualcomm microprocessors. reproduced from an article Qualcomm unveils new Snapdragon smartphone processors

Qualcomm unveiled a new class of its Snapdragon mobile processors today in an effort to maintain leadership in chips for smartphones and tablets.

The company announced its Snapdragon S4 class of mobile processors and enhanced its Snapdragon S1 chips for entry-level platforms. The S4 processors are aimed at lowering design, engineering and inventory costs while bringing the latest performance in 3G and 4G connection speeds to mobile data users. The company made the announcement at its analyst meeting in New York.

San Diego-based Qualcomm is trying to address the whole mobile market, from basic smartphones to high-end smartphones and tablets. The S4 chips are optimized for software that includes multimedia, connectivity, camera, display, security, power management, browsing, and natural user interface features. The S4 is a quad-core (four computing brains on one chip) chip built with a 28 nanometer manufacturing process.

Snapdragon chips are already in 300 smartphones and are in about 350 more that are under development. The heart of the new chips is the Krait central processing unit (CPU), which is built from the ground up for mobile performance and power management.

The new S4 chips include the MSM8660A, MSM8260A, MSM8630, MSM8230, MSM8627, MSM8227, APQ8060A and APQ8030. Devices based on the S4 processors will appear in early 2012. The new models of the low-end S1 chip are the MSM7225A, MSM7625A, MSM7227A and MSM7627A. Those chips are aimed at 2G and 3G phones. Rivals include Texas Instruments, Marvell, Broadcom and Nvidia.

Snapdragon has more than 225 design wins with 30 different Android smartphone manufacturers.

Smartphones are expected to sell 4 billion units between 2011 and 2015, according to estimates from Gartner, Strategy Analytics and IDC. Emerging regions are expected to be 50 percent of sales by 2015.

Qualcomm shipped more than 483 million MSMs, or modem chips, during its fiscal year ended Sept. 30.

Quad Core processing: NVIDIA Kal-El

Posted in Mobile Devices and Company Updates by Manas Ganguly on September 8, 2011

A few months back, I had written about NVIDIA’s product roadmap of multi core microprocessors doing as much more as ever and yet as less energy as never seen. With such high processing speeds as upto 1.5Gig, the reason behind the claimed long battery life could be the manner in which the processors are made. If the ARM Cortex-A15 or the Cortex-A9 are produced with the <40nm method, they might be able to sustain an elongated battery life. This is probably the only way powerful quad-core chipsets can save such a significant amount of power.NVIDIA it seems is in a hurry to unveil Kal-El, its 2nd generation quad core micro-processor and pip Qualcomm Snapdragon in the battle of Quadcores. The Kal-El is rumoured to be featured and introduced on WP8 tablets. The Kal-El features an integrated graphics processor with an amazing 12 cores and can output at resolutions up to 2560 x 1600. It also offers stereo 3D without the need for extra software, which will be a boon for gamers and 3D movie fans alike. Kal-El’s real superpower might not be its speed, however. Unofficial specs suggest that Nvidia has made significant improvements to power consumption and efficiency with a possible battery life that could be measured in days, rather than hours. What this gives NVIDIA is a lead over the Qualcomm microprocessor in the multi-core microprocessor race.

While NVIDIA chipsets are found in more than 70% Android phones and are expected to be shipped alongwith 50% of the global superphone shipments, Kal-El will first be featured in a WP tablet. WP8 is said to be lean on power as well. WP8 Metro UI is borrowed from Windows Phone 7 and doesnt require the same amount of power that the UI running on traditional Windows desktops does. This, is because the applications on Metro are simpler than the more complicated professional programmes of older Windows operating systems.

Microsoft and NVIDIA are claiming that Windows 8 can run multiple programmes/multi task on powerful tablets using just an iota of the battery’s power. If this indeed is true, 2012 might just be the year that Microsoft makes a fortune!
Could this be the edge Microsoft needs against the iPad 2 and the Android’s?

Nvidia Quad-Core processor Kal-El expected in Markets by August 2011:

Posted in Computing and Operating Systems by Manas Ganguly on February 17, 2011

Nvidia is turning the heat on in the battle of the x-cored ARM chips and has declared quad core ARM chips this August codenamed Project Kal-El (Superman’s name on Krypton). Nvidia showcased one of the Tegra “super chips” streaming video on a 10-inch 2560×1600 Android tablet at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona a few days back.

Nvidia published a roadmap anticipating yearly follow-ons called Wayne, Logan and Stark between now and 2014 that will progressively offer 10x-75x more performance than the company’s current Tegra 2 used in the Motorola Xoom and the Samsung Galaxy Tab.

Kal-El is supposed to 5x better than the existing Tegra 2 micro-processor. Beside its four compute cores, Kal-El has a 12-core GPU for running Nvidia graphics. Kal-El also enables “retina tablets,” meaning all tablets 10-inches or smaller can have resolution “as high as the eye can perceive, at a comfortable viewing distance.”

Interestingly, this came right after Qualcomm that its Andreno 320 quad-core Snapdragon widget won’t sample until early next year.The Qualcomm chipset is supposed to be the flagship of a new Snapdragon family based on a new 28nm microarchitecture code named Krait, which in real life is a very venomous snake.

It should achieve speeds of up to 2.5GHz per core and minimize power consumption and heat generation in thinner, lighter devices with bigger screens, higher resolutions, integrated WiFi, more complex operating systems, devices capable of multitasking, multi-channel audio, HD gaming and stereoscopic 3D (S3D) photo and video capture and playback.

It’s supposed to offer 15 times Qualcomm’s available performance and 75% lower power consumption than the first Snapdragons.
The Interim analysis thus is a thumbs up for Nvidia over Qualcomm and in the overall context, ARM has a huge edge going forward against Intel. From the computing domain perspective, ARM is rapidly adding processing power on chips which are that much more energy and heat efficient. That’s great news from the smartphone and tablet perspectives.

Here’s a video on the quadcore engine Kal-El demonstration:

Apple moves in with Qualcomm for Chipsets for A5 processors!

Posted in Mobile Devices and Company Updates by Manas Ganguly on January 15, 2011

We have all heard about Verizon iPhone 4 launch this February. What this does to competition is a point in debate. I had stated that the Verizon deal will leap frog Apple over the Android-RIM lead positions. Canalys on the other hand predicts that iPhone Verizon will not really derail the Android Juggernaut.

Verizon iPhone 4 will be using a Qualcomm chipset for its CDMA radio (with no GSM capabilities) as opposed to the Infineon versions seen in the GSM iPhone 4. This isn’t much of a surprise by itself, but it paves the way for a major shift from Apple.

Come April and we will see the thinner, sleeker tablet will sport a new screen technology that is akin to (though not the same as) the iPhone 4’s Retina Display and will be “super high resolution”. The device will remain at 10 inches but will now feature both front and rear cameras (not a huge surprise), and… there’s an SD slot.

However, whats more interesting is the stuff under the hood. The new iPad will feature a dual GSM / CDMA chipset produced by Qualcomm and will mark Apple’s shift away from Infineon as its chipset maker to Qualcomm for all of its mobile devices. It’s not clear if the chipset being used will be based on the company’s EV-DO / HSPA Gobi variety or an entirely new design. Presumably, the strength of the new dual-mode chipset is that it will allow both Verizon and AT&T to offer the iPad simultaneously. Come mid 2011,and the iPhone 5 will feature a Qualcomm chipset that does triple duty as the CDMA / GSM / UMTS baseband processor. Apple is also at work on the second generation of its redesigned Apple TV, which will include that new A5 processor. It’s likely that the A5 will make it into the iPad 2 as well.

This then is complete move away from Infineon to Qualcomm that’s truly notable — marking one of the biggest shifts in suppliers and technology since the advent of the original iPhone.

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