The 10th annual Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona, Spain will open in just over a week, March 2-5, with roughly 90,000+ attendees expected. We expect that there will be a flurry of announcements that are going to start rolling in now as MWC has grown to be a follow-on event to International CES. A number of industry reporters have commented that we did not see some of the anticipated consumer electronics (CE) mobile device unveilings from leading OEMs at CES, leading many to believe that MWC will be the showcase for those announcements.
While we wait another week for the buzz to really gain momentum, this month we've already seen important chip announcements from two of the leading mobile chip manufacturers, Samsung and Qualcomm, both announcements will certainly impact the direction of mobile devices going forward and are likely to be showcased in key devices at MWC.
Samsung's new chip solutions
Toshiba and Samsung have already been vertically stacking memory for mobile devices to save on space, improve power efficiency, heat dissipation, and saving on precious space in shrinking devices with greater battery demands. Samsung's latest memory package is designed for high-end smartphones, combining the memory into a single package in an embedded package-on-package (ePoP) format that can be stacked on a mobile processor. The new ePoP memory solution is designed specifically for mobile devices beyond high-end smartphones with multitasking and more intensive operational demands. The ePoP solution builds upon the pre-existing wearable memory solution package by Samsung.
As Samsung notes, this ePoP solution is an industry first:
"[…] a single memory package consisting of 3GB LPDDR3* DRAM, 32GB eMMC (embedded multi-media card) and a controller. […]
The new ePoP provides an ideal "one-package" memory solution, satisfying the market needs for high speed, high energy efficiency and compactness. The 3GB LPDDR3 mobile DRAM inside the ePoP operates at an I/O data transfer rate of 1,866Mb/s, and sports a 64-bit I/O bandwidth.
On the processor front, Samsung also released news of their latest mobile application processor earlier this week:
"Samsung's advanced 14nm FinFET process technology is undoubtedly the most advanced logic process technology in the industry," said Gabsoo Han, Executive Vice President of Sales & Marketing, System LSI Business, Samsung Electronics. "We expect the production of our 14nm mobile application processor to positively impact the growth of the mobile industry by enabling further performance improvements for cutting-edge smartphones."
This new chip architecture at the 14nm node is a significant jump in efficiency, productivity and performance, even beyond the leading-edge 20nm nodes that Samsung (among others) have been producing in high volumes. Not only is the new 14nm a real advancement in processor key features, it is also incorporates 3D FinFET structure to achieve even higher metrics. According to the same Samsung press release:
When compared to Samsung's 20nm process technology, this newest process enables up to 20 percent faster speed, 35 percent less power consumption and 30 percent productivity gain.
By successfully incorporating three-dimensional (3D) FinFET structure on transistors, Samsung has overcome performance and scaling limitations of the planar structure used in previous 20nm and older processes and gained a significant competitive edge in advanced semiconductors for the mobile industry.
[…]Samsung's leading-edge14nm FinFET process will be adopted by its Exynos 7 Octa, then expanded to other products throughout the year.
Qualcomm's own design for 2015
The other major mobile chip announcement this month has been from Qualcomm, this one regarding leading, high-end mobile phones on the Android and Windows platforms. Qualcomm's Snapdragon 810 processor has been improved to provide better mobile experiences through improved performance while attending to lower energy requirements and running cooler than previous versions. Heat dissipation is a critical issue for mobile devices in particular because thermal levels reduce the operational functionality, increase energy use and slow the device as it works to dissipate the heat generated.
Beyond the 810’s thermal improvements, in advance of MWC in early March, Qualcomm has also announced four new Snapdragon processors designed for improving 4G LTE experiences in mobile devices and for modems. The four new Qualcomm Snapdragon processors provide a broader set of choices to attend to price and feature ranges for a wider market target:
the Snapdragon 620, 618, 425, and 415 processors, supporting a wide range of mobile devices with high-end features—at a broader range of price points. Smartphone aficionados, operating on compatible networks and with compatible devices, will be able to experience the super-fast speeds of the integrated X8 LTE modem (Category 7 with download speeds of up to 300Mbps and upload speeds of up to 100Mbps) and high-end multimedia features such as dual image signal processors (ISP) […].
Looks like the market is already heating up in advance of MWC and the power inside the devices we're going to see is always the focus and the driver of CE adoption. Stay tuned as we keep an eye on the unveilings and also provide coverage from MWC in Barcelona.