Home » Geopolitics » ST-Ericsson: Fundamental repositioning for modem, APE and ModAps spaces

ST-Ericsson: Fundamental repositioning for modem, APE and ModAps spaces

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Rumour: Microsoft to expand ARM processor choices to Samsung and ST-Ericsson SOCs in next Windows update [Oct 5, 2012]


MSNerd, long time Microsoft leaker, has passed on a little tip about the next version of Windows on ARM.

Currently Windows on ARM runs on NVidia, Qualcomm and TI processors, which leaves OEMs like Samsung unable to use processors from their own supply chain.
According to MSNerd, in the next update to Windows Nokia and Samsung will be able to use processors from their favourite providers – in Nokia’s case ST-Ericsson’s Novathor processor, and in Samsung’s case its own Exynos processor and SOC.
Blue is said to be an interim update to Windows, much like a service pack, and may be the start of a regular, more phone-like pattern of yearly updates to Windows which add features, as we have come to expect from Windows Phone and the iOS.
So far we do not know much else about the update, but one can hope the update removes the reliance of the Modern UI on the Windows desktop for many settings.

See also:
Windows Next: Just call it ‘Blue’? [ZDNet, Aug 13, 2012]
ST-Ericsson NovaThor SoCs for future Windows Phones from Nokia [this blog, Nov 3-24, 2011]

We are talking about the following SoCs according to the latest, May 23, 2012 roadmap presentation:


According to the recent STMicroelectronics information included in the first section below:

  1. The low-cost version of the current L8540 ModApp will be in mass production next year at the Samsung 32/28nm foundry.
    My conclusion: With that ST-Ericcson could compete quite well with Qualcomm’s MSM8x30 “mid-tier market” SoCs in the Snapdragon S4 Plus tier. Depending on the production efficiency even the MSM8x27 “mass market” SoCs in the same tier may be targeted, at least later on.
  2. The 28nm FD-SOI based version of the L8540 (according to a French leak given in Section II the L8580) is slated for mass production by Globalfoundries in H2 2013.
    My conclusion: With that ST-Ericsson will compete quite well with what Qualcomm is going to offer later in the current MSM8x60 “premium market” space of S4 Plus.
More information on S4 Plus is in the Core post: Qualcomm decided to compete with the existing Cortex-A5/Krait-based offerings till the end of 2012 [Sept 30, 2012]

Some explanation:
The current L8540 ModApp is a dual-core 1.85GHz ARM Cortex-A9 processor, with a powerful Imagination PowerVR™ SGX544 GPU running at 500Mhz and an LTE/HSPA+/TD-HSPA modem on a single 28nm die. It started sampling in Q3 2012 and debuted on Sept 18 at the PT EXPO COMM China 2012. The low-cost version will run the dual A9-s at 1.2 GHz, while the FD-SOI based version also dual A9s at 2+ Ghz (first information was 2.3 GHz while on the PT EXPO COMM even 2.5 GHz was mentioned as possible). The PowerVR SGX544 GPU will run at a slower than 500MHz in the former and at least 600MHz in the latter case. We also know that the FD-SOI based version has taped out in September and could be available for production smartphones in smaller quantities by the end of H1 2013.

ST-Ericsson’s near term strategy is therefore to compete with the same dual-core Cortex-A9 and SGX544 based SoCs across a broad scale achieved via broad range of manufacturing technologies, and do not engage in many-core battles pursueded by the low-cost Chinese SoC vendors like MediaTek, Spreadtrum, Allwinner, Rockchip and others.

Latest competitive information regarding the low-cost Chinese vendors:
Core post: Boosting the MediaTek MT6575 success story with the MT6577 announcement  – UPDATED with MT6588/83 coming early 2013 in Q42012 and 8-core MT6599 in 2013 [June 27, July 27, Sept 11-13, Sept 26, Oct 2, 2012]
Core post: Lowest H2’12 device cost SoCs from Spreadtrum will redefine the entry level smartphone and feature phone markets [July 26 – Aug 16, 2012]
Core post: The low priced, Android based smartphones of China will change the global market [Sept 10-26, 2012]
– Take note: MT6577-based JiaYu G3 with IPS Gorilla glass 2 sreen of 4.5” etc. for $154 (factory direct) in China and $183 [Sept 13, 2012]

Elaboration for the current topic in details is given in the following sections:

I. Reorganization began recently at semiconductor parent STMicroelectronics

II. Summary: ST-Ericsson’s Fundamental repositioning

III. Detailed information: ST-Ericsson’s Fundamental repositioning

Warning: the last section is quite long but worth to go through

I. Reorganization began recently at semiconductor parent STMicroelectronics

STMicroelectronics Announces New Appointments in the Executive Management Team [STMicroelectronics press release, Sept 13, 2012]

STMicroelectronics, (NYSE:STM), a global semiconductor leader serving customers across the spectrum of electronics applications, announced today that, effective immediately, Georges Penalver has been appointed Executive Vice President, Member of the Corporate Strategic Committee, Corporate Strategy Officer. Penalver was formerly Managing Director of the Communication Business Group of Sagem and, more recently, Member of the Executive Board of France Telecom/Orange Group in charge of the Group’s Strategic Initiatives and Partnerships. He brings a wide experience in defining corporate strategies, leading businesses and implementing comprehensive transformation processes.

Jean-Marc Chery, Executive Vice-President, will take the additional responsibility of General Manager, Digital Sector, while maintaining his current role of Executive Vice-President, Chief Technology and Manufacturing Officer.

As a consequence of Chery’s expanded responsibilities, Eric Aussedat, General Manager, Imaging and Bi-CMOS ASICs Group; Joel Hartmann,Corporate Vice President, Front-end Manufacturing & Process R&D, Digital Sector, and Philippe Magarshack, Corporate Vice President, Design Enablement & Services, are promoted to Executive Vice Presidents while maintaining their previous scope of activities; Stéphane Delivré, Corporate Vice President, Global Chief Information Officer, will now report to the President & CEO.

Philippe Lambinet, Executive Vice President, Corporate Strategy Officer and General Manager, Digital Sector is leaving the company today to pursue other interests.

ST also announced it will present its new strategic plan in December. The objectives of the plan are to continue to accelerate the company’s roadmap towards the already announced financial model, taking into account the changed market environment and some specific customer dynamics, and to continue to ensure the future success of the company in total, with the two pillars, the Analog and the Digital businesses, both becoming as quickly as possible sustainable segments of ST.

About STMicroelectronicsST is a global leader in the semiconductor market serving customers across the spectrum of sense and power technologies and multimedia convergence applications. From energy management and savings to trust and data security, from healthcare and wellness to smart consumer devices, in the home, car and office, at work and at play, ST is found everywhere microelectronics make a positive and innovative contribution to people’s life. By getting more from technology to get more from life, ST stands for life.augmented.

In 2011, the Company’s net revenues were $9.73 billion. Further information on ST can be found at www.st.com.

Business insider brought in to fix ST [ElectronicsWeekly.com, Sept 14, 2012]

A heavyweight business insider has been brought in to address the deteriorating situation at STMicroelectronics.
Georges Penalver formerly at Sagem and France Telecom and a general partner at US-based investment fund Cathaya Capital, has been appointed Chief Strategy Officer of ST.

ST has two big problems: one is its jv ST-Ericsson which has run up debt of $1.2bn since starting trading in 2009. It is losing $250m a quarter.

The other big problem is a collapse in sales at ST. From $9.73bn in sales last year, sales are expected to be $8.6bn this year – about the same level as they were when the current CEO [Carlo Bozotti] took over in 2005.
On the one hand ST has a solid business in MEMS, discretes, power semiconductors and analogue, on the other hand it has slipped behind in the process technologies on which success in digital microelectronics depend.
Penalver’s job will be to find some resolution to these issues and he is expected to report with a new strategic plan in December.

Samsung and STMicroelectronics Enter Strategic Relationship for Advanced Foundry Services at 32/28nm Technology [Samsung press release, Sept 28, 2012]

Samsung Electronics, Co., Ltd., a world leader in advanced semiconductor technology solutions, announced foundry production of STMicroelectronics’ leading products using 32/28nm High-K Metal Gate (HKMG) process technology. Samsung Electronics’ foundry business has been selected by STMicroelectronics to provide it with products at the 32/28nm process node. The relationship has already resulted in taping-out of a dozen ST advanced system-on-chip (SoC) devices for mobile, consumer and network applications.

“We have successfully started production of STMicroelectronics’ new-generation 32/28nm SoC products,” said Kwang-Hyun Kim, executive vice president of foundry business, Device Solutions, Samsung Electronics. “A foundry relationship with ST demonstrates our commitment to advanced process technology and our 32/28nm HKMG process-technology leadership. We have aggressively ramped 32/28nm capacity and will continue to deliver the most advanced process solutions to our customers,” he said

Samsung and STMicroelectronics have developed 32/28nm High-K Metal Gate (HKMG) technology through participation in the International Semiconductor Development Alliance (ISDA). Samsung’s foundry business has offered access to 32nm HKMG process technology for early market leaders and 28nm HKMG process technology for customers looking for traditional migration benefits.

“In addition to delivering waves of innovative new products, another key to ST’s success in each of our target markets is working with industry leaders,” said Jean-Marc Chery, executive vice president, chief-technology officer for STMicroelectronics. “Both ST and Samsung have worked together on advanced process-technology development through the ISDA and that experience has provided significant insight into our ability to work together to meet our objectives and thus provide unique service to our customers in demanding and fast-moving markets.”

See Samsung Foundry: 32/28nm Low-Power High-K Metal Gate Logic Process and Design Ecosystem [March 2011]

TSMC 28-nm market share may drop in 2013: Topology [The China Post, Oct 4, 2012]

Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co.’s (TSMC) share in the 28-nanometer contract chip-making sector may drop from 80 percent to 50 percent next year on fierce competition from Samsung, reported research firm Topology yesterday.
Samsung has been active in expanding its contract manufacturing business and has raised capital expenditure for two years in a row, Topology said.
The Korean firm has turned a large part of its memory chip business into contract manufacturing, resulting in a sharp increase in foundry capacity that is expected to catch up with TSMC, it said.
“Samsung’s migration into contract manufacturing has sent shockwaves throughout the industry,” said Chen Lan-lan, researcher with Topology. “Its move to raise capital expenditure and transform memory capacity into foundry capacity indicates its ambition in the contract manufacturing sector.”
This year, Samsung’s contract manufacturing capacity is about a third of TSMC’s. Our forecast indicates next year the figure will change to one-half,” she added.
According to her, it was also worth noting that Samsung’s 300-millimeter capacity has surpassed that of United Microelectronics and GlobalFoundries, the latter of which has also been active in expanding high-end production capacity. These factors will combine to bring fierce competition to TSMC, she said.
“Strong demand for 28-nm have enabled TSMC to report record sales several times this year. Yet next year, with expansion by Samsung and GlobalFoundries, the shortage in 28-nm capacity will improve, and this is expected to bring down TSMC’s share in the 28-nm market,” she said.

Full Interview: Jean-Marc Chery, CTO and CMO at ST [ElectronicsWeekly.com, Sept 10, 2012]

In the first week of September STMicroelectronics taped out the 28nm FD-SOI NovaThor integrated modem and applications processor designed by ST-Ericsson.
The chips are being made at Crolles. The Crolles 28nm FD-SOI line has capacity for 300-500 wafers per week. The process is in the course of being transferred to Globalfoundries’ Dresden fab where it will be ready for mass production in the second half of 2013, said Chery.
The decision to go with FD-SOI was taken in July 2011 after an earlier decision to use bulk [?HKMG?] “28nm bulk with HKMG looked good enough to address smartphones,” said  Chery, “over a year ago we taped out HKMG 28nm at Samsung.”
Having made the decision to adopt FD-SOI last July, it has taken a year to get the process to the point where it will be ready to start running 28nm FD-SOI ICs next week.
The 28nm FD-SOI process produces ICs with superior performance to Intel’s bulk 22nm finfet process, said Chery. Intel’s ’22nm’ process has a drawn gate length of 27nm.
“Finfet generation 1 on bulk does not perform as well as SOI performance at 28nm,” said Chery, “finfet generation 1 has good leakage without performance or performance with high leakage.”
“Finfet generation 1 on 22nm is a complex technology and doesn’t give the best trade-off between performance and leakage,” said Chery.
“Finfet generation 2 on 14nm will be the same performance as FD-SOI but much more complex and with less design legacy,” added Chery.
How will ST compete when the processes deliver the same performance? “Our competitive advantage will be in our design technology,” replied Chery, “they’re used to making PC chips for high performance, we are in the world of wireless devices where the priority is power consumption. They’re OK with small volume high value PC chips, not with the very high volumes of tablets and phones where volumes are very high and prices are low.”
ST reckons it has a big lead in FD-SOI particularly in the UTBB [Ultra Thin Body and BOX (buried oxide)] refinement of FD-SOI where the value added is the thickness of the silicon dioxide BOX which is 25nm.
Compared to bulk processes, the FD-SOI process has 10% fewer steps and three fewer masks reducing lead time by 10%. It is scalable to 14nm and has a processing cost equivalent to bulk.
“Planar 28nm UTBB SOI is an evolution of 28nm bulk,” said Chery, “it has the same design rules and the same BEOL process. The FD-SOI FEOL process has 80% in common with 28nm bulk.”
ST is keeping a foot in the bulk CMOS camp. “We’re prototyping 28nm bulk at Samsung,” said Chery, “we start mass-production on 32nm and 28nm next year.”
Bulk CMOS is introduced first at Samsung, then at Globalfoundries,” said Chery, “SOI is being introduced first at Globalfoundries where it will be ready for mass production on 28nm FD-SOI in H2 2013. And we can use Samsung for SOI if we need to.”
The Samsung and Globalfoundries fabs are synchronised under the IBM Common Platform Alliance so all the design rules are compatible and the same product fits both fabs.
The FD-SOI process will see ST through the 28nm and 20nm nodes without ST having to bother with finfets.
“At 28nm and 20nm we can offer a planar SOI solution which offers the best combination of performance and leakage,” said Chery
The FD-SOI vs finfet competitive battle will be joined in earnest at the 14nm node, reckons Chery.
“Intel’s 14nm finfet process will be fantastic,” said Chery, “so Samsung and TSMC are running fast to introduce a competitive 14nm finfet process.”
ST’s FD-SOI process will scale to 14nm but, after that, ST is looking for partners to develop the technology further.
“The challenge for us will be at 10nm,” said Chery, “because bulk will disappear at 10nm. We need to get others to join the club at Globalfoundries – it’s in our interest to prepare a club for 10nm.”
Chery reckons the FPGA people and the ARM camp could be possible members.
STMicroelectronics’ strategy of being a ‘competitive follower’ means that the advantage in process technology being gained by the ASML, Intel, Samsung, TSMC lithographic alliance will not affect ST.
We intend to be a competitive follower,” says Jean-Marc Chery, Chief Manufacturing and Technology Officer at ST, “we won’t have the first machines. We’ll have them when production is mature.We won’t fight to take machines at the same time as Intel, TSMC and Samsung but we’ll take them when they’re mature. That’s our strategy of being a competitive follower.”
ST gets its basic process technology from IBM’s Common Platform Alliance and, if IBM can’t get the latest production machines early, that will affect IBM’s ability to develop processes in a timely manner for distribution to its alliance partners.
So is IBM being out of the ASML litho party a problem for the Common Platform Alliance? “We have to decide that at the top executive level,” said Chery adding that he would be going to talk to IBM about it quite soon.
The absence of EUV machines doesn’t mean process development has to stop. “Intel have said they can cope with 14nm using double or triple patterning,” said Chery.
As for ST getting its hands on the latest equipment in a timely manner, Chery points out: “ASML capacity is booked 18-24 months in advance. You pay up-front and they will guarantee supply.”
Being left out of the ASML litho party is more of a problem for Globalfoundries, reckons Chery.
Part of Chery’s brief at Crolles, as Chief Manufacturing Officer, is to keep the fab there running wafers as cost effectively as anywhere else in the world.
The challenge Crolles has in manufacturing technology is to offer a competitive supply chain,” said Chery. ST benchmarks its manufacturing cost against foundry manufacturing cost.
So how does Crolle’s 300mm fab capable of running 14,000 wpm at the moment compete on cost with TSMC’s GigaFabs running 100,000 wpm?
We are competitive in terms of purchasing price,” replied Chery, pointing Crolles is built to make 5000 wafers per week. (it’s running 3,500 wpw at the moment). “At 5K wpw, below 40nm, the advantages of the dimension of scale is getting lower,” he said, “and full automation means we do not need the high volume to be competitive; with a high level of automation we can manage average volume with strong efficiency.”
Crolles currently produces 22% of ST’s annual sales – about $2 billion worth. “The number of good circuits per wafer is between 70% and 90% depending on complexity and ramp up. The challenge is always how to align the wafer cost to TSMC’s selling price.”
The manufacturing strategy varies with the industry cycle. In a down-cycle the strategy is to have 60% out output manufactured in-house and 40% out of house; in the up-cycle the proportions are reversed: 60% out at foundry and 40% in-house.
ST uses the Fast-Yield Learning Curve technology of PDF Solutions.which has brought days-per-mask-level down to 0.7. “With one customer’s apps processor on 40nm we have achieved 0.36 days per mask level,” said Chery.
ST will pursue two options at 14nm. “We don’t want to be a follower of Intel,” said Chery, “at 14nm we’ll have both options: 14nm finfet in bulk – from the Common Platform Alliance, and 14nm FD-SOI planar.”

ST-Ericsson boosts smartphones and tablets to 2.3 GHz! [silicon.fr, July 12, 2012] as translated by Google:

The L8580 is a component NovaThor ARM dual-core clocked at 2.3 GHz, dedicated to mobile terminals. A solution that relies on burning in FD-SOI 28nm STMicroelectronics.
We have seen previously, the 28 nm FD-SOI STMicroelectronics is a very effective means between 28 nm and 22 nm, but also an interesting alternative (and affordable) Intel 3D transistors.
ST-Ericsson is the first to adopt this technology in theNovaThor L8580 , L8540 successor (engraved in 28 nm “bulk”). This component has been designed in Grenoble and Crolles, prototyped and then melted Crolles. Of 100% “made in France”! It features two ARM Cortex-A9 clocked at 2.3 GHz , or 24% more than the L8540 (1.85 GHz maximum).
A champion of energy efficiency
But this is not all: 1.85 GHz, consumes 35% less energy than its predecessor. Better, a voltage of 0.6 V, it is clocked at 1 GHz , almost twice than competitive offerings (which must make the best use of 0.9 V to achieve such a frequency).
The L8580 is faster than most dual-core ARM chips, but also more energy in times of low system load (which constitute the bulk of the activity of a computer system).
ST-Ericsson believes that a classic smartphone, this component will provide an extra day of autonomy compared to L8540, which can result in a surplus of respectively 4 hours or 2:30 in high-speed web browsing or reading HD video.
The top mobile graphics
In addition to its particularly high operating frequency, the NovaThor L8580 is assisted by PowerVR SGX544 GPU clocked at the frequency of very valuable 600 MHz (500 MHz cons above, or 20%). It is among the very best in the mobile world in raw performance, as operating frequency.
Finally, the SoC integrates a DDR2 memory controller and modem LTE is for all smartphones and tablets.
On the actual availability of this offer, STMicroelectronics indicates that the scheme component will be fixed within a month, the chip start to be melted before the end of 2012 .

II. Summary: ST-Ericsson’s Fundamental repositioning

There was a series of fundamental announcements from ST-Ericsson on MWC 2012, then in March and a final one in April last week. The essence of all this is that the company’s modem business is set to grow further within ST-Ericsson while its application processor business will continue to grow within its ST-Microelectronics parent, and its integrated ModAps are repositioned for maximising the chances to achieve true market leadership in the next two years.

In terms of the conventional, Boston matrix based decisions such a strategic repositioning is to be achieved by the following actions (their general meanings are shown in the brackets):

Meanwhile it has also been reported that HTC is developing its own CPU for lower end smartphones with ST-Ericsson [Unwired, April 23, 2012]

HTC is following in the footsteps of Apple and Samsung, and is now working on its own dedicated applications processor. According to China Times, the Taiwanese smartphone maker has already signed memorandum of cooperation with ST-Ericsson to co-develop the chip.

Contrary to high performance Samsung and Apple [proprietary] CPUs which power their flagships, the new HTC processor will run the lower end smartphones. The devices with new chip will start shipping in volume sometime in 2013.

Note that ST-Ericsson is not the only proprietary SoC partner for HTC as indicated in the latest updates to Tech investment banking expertise to strengthen the unique value focus of growing the HTC brand and to achieve high growth again [this “Experiencing the Cloud” blog, April 18-25, 2012].

III. Detailed information: ST-Ericsson’s Fundamental repositioning

For the most recent information about that see: STMicroelectronics NV 2012 Investors & Analysts Day (NY), May 23, 2012 where a webcast is available as well. ST-Ericsson’s CEO Didier Lamouche had a downloadable plenary session presentation there on the following topics:

  • The new strategic direction
  • Addressing the right market
  • Product Roadmap
  • Customer traction continues

From that I will include here the following updated roadmap information:



Ericsson’s JV ST-Ericsson announces new strategic direction [Ericsson press release, April 23, 2012] with slides inserted as appropriate from ST-Ericsson’s CEO (Didier Lamouche) presentation to analysts
(note: the ST-Ericsson press release is essentially same)

  • Focused R&D effort and partnership with STMicroelectronics in the development of future application processors
  • Restructuring program to lower break even point and accelerate time-to-market
  • Ericsson committed to the 50/50 joint venture and its new strategic direction

ST-Ericsson – the 50/50 joint venture owned by Ericsson (NASDAQ:ERIC) and STMicroelectronics (NYSE:STM) – announced today the guidelines of its new strategic direction. Within the company’s new strategic direction it has signed an agreement to transfer its stand-alone application processor R&D activities to STMicroelectronics, and to take additional measures to accelerate time-to-market and lower the breakeven point.

“ST-Ericsson’s strategic shift is a key step in ensuring that the company can reach sustainable profitability and cash generation. With the focus on ModAps for smartphones and tablets it will allow device manufacturers to rapidly bring best-of-breed devices to the market,” said Hans Vestberg, president and CEO of Ericsson and Chairman of ST-Ericsson Board of Directors.

The new strategic direction announced by ST-Ericsson today builds on four main pillars:

1.      Strategic Focus

The Company re-affirms its vision to be a leader in smartphone and tablet platforms and unveiled a new strategy based on repositioning the whole business model. The new strategic direction leverages on ST-Ericsson’s unique capability to deliver complete system solutions for smartphones and tablets; competitive integrated modem plus application processor solutions (ModAp) will be the key differentiating offering through a combined approach of development and alliances.


The key building blocks of the complete system solution – application processors, modems, connectivity as well as power, RF, analog and mixed signal – will be developed either directly or through partnerships and alliances to limit and optimize the R&D effort, while enabling highly compelling solutions for its customers to bring innovative devices to the market in a timely manner. The Company will continue to develop modem IP, a key competitive enabler, sell thin modems and possibly license modem IP to third parties.

2.      Partnership already signed: application processor

As a first step of this new strategy, ST-Ericsson has announced that it will partner with STMicroelectronics in the development of future application processors. The combination of the ST-Ericsson and STMicroelectronics teams will create a world-class organization, having the appropriate size, skills and strength to win in the growing multi-segment application processor market.

Under the terms of the agreement, ST-Ericsson, at closing date[1], will transfer its application processor R&D activity and employees to STMicroelectronics and will then integrate the application processor in ModAp platforms for smartphones and tablets under a license agreement from ST. In addition to this, the two companies have entered into a commercial agreement to jointly promote and offer stand-alone processors and thin modems, respectively, to a broader range of customers and applications.

The entire ST-Ericsson application processor R&D team will continue, under a transitional cost sharing model, the development of the current product generation, ensuring full continuity of ST-Ericsson’s product roadmap and full service to customers.

[1] completion of labor law related procedures and merger control approvals, if applicable, are the sole conditions precedent to closing of the agreement.

3.      Accelerate time-to-market

In addition to this strategy change, the company will focus on improving R&D execution and accelerating time-to-market, while reducing the overall operating expenses. The activities will be consolidated into a significantly smaller number of sites, which will be specialized by technology as “centers of excellence.” The larger ones will also integrate a wider portion of the smartphone platform value chain, with a view to optimizing time-to-market and delivery efficiency.


This comprehensive site transformation is aimed at enhancing the effectiveness of operations and will significantly reduce the number of sites. Additionally the Company aims at reducing its SG&A expenses by about 25 percent versus 2011 by streamlining the general and administrative activities and substantially reducing positions within the top paid members of the management.

4.      Lower the breakeven point

As a result of all the above initiatives, the Company – subject to negotiations with work councils and employee representatives as required – foresees a global workforce reduction of 1,700 employees worldwide, including the employees that would be transferred to ST as part of the partnership announced today.


Annual savings of about $320 million are expected from the new and from the on-going restructuring plans, upon completion by the end of 2013. Total restructuring costs are estimated to be approximately $130 to 150 millionthrough completion. Specific impact on country or site level related to the plan will depend on local negotiations based on applicable legislation.


Conference call

An analyst conference call, hosted by Didier Lamouche, president and CEO of ST-Ericsson, will be held on April 23, 2012 at 18:00pm Central European Time (CET). Call-in numbers as well as supporting slides, will be available at www.stericsson.com/investors/investors.jsp.

About ST-Ericsson’s products

An application processor is a complex system-on-a-chip (SoC) for smartphones and tablets that supports applications and software running on mobile devices. In a similar way that a  traditional general purpose microprocessor in a computer performs all processing and control functions, an application processor powers complex mobile devices efficiently processing functions such as user interface, graphics processing, phone calls, audio and video recording and playback and web browsing.

ST-Ericsson is a 50/50 joint venture between STMicroelectronics and Ericsson, established in February, 2009. ST-Ericsson’s result is accounted for in accordance with the equity method.

About ST-Ericsson

ST-Ericsson is a world leader in developing and delivering a complete portfolio of innovative mobile platforms and cutting-edge wireless semiconductor solutions across the broad spectrum of mobile technologies. The company is a leading supplier to the top handset manufacturers and generated sales of $1.7 billion in 2011. ST-Ericsson was established as a 50/50 joint venture by STMicroelectronics (NYSE:STM) and Ericsson (NASDAQ:ERIC) in February 2009, with headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland.



Ericsson CEO Committed to ST-Ericsson Venture [Bloomberg YouTube channel, April 25, 2012]

Hans Vestberg, chief executive officer of Ericsson AB, discusses the company’s gross margin, ST-Ericsson joint venture and opportunities in mobile broadband. He speaks with Bloomberg Television’s Manus Cranny. (Source: Bloomberg)

STMicroelectronics Announces its Next Step in Multimedia Convergence [STMicroelectronics press release, April 23, 2012] with slides inserted as appropriate from ST-Ericsson’s CEO (Didier Lamouche) presentation to analysts

  • To offer a single application processing platform to serve all markets
  • Combining strengths with ST-Ericsson through a strategic partnership
  • ST’s consolidated results to benefit from ST-Ericsson’s new strategic direction and related savings

Geneva, April 23, 2012

STMicroelectronics (NYSE: STM), a global semiconductor leader serving customers across the spectrum of electronics applications, announced today the next step in its multimedia convergence strategy, which will focus on offering a single application processing platform to serve a broad range of multimedia devices like set-top-boxes, TVs, cars, smartphones and tablets.


ST signed an agreement with ST-Ericsson on the development of future application processors. Under the terms of the agreement, ST will take on ST-Ericsson’s application processor development R&D activity and then license back its technology to ST-Ericsson for integration into their ModAps (competitive integrated modem plus application processor solutions) for smartphones and tablets. Additionally, the two companies entered into a commercial agreement to jointly promote and offer stand-alone application processors and thin modems to a broader range of customers working across the entire spectrum of electronics applications.


The partnership contemplates the transfer to ST of highly skilled employees from ST-Ericsson, joining forces with the current ST R&D teams working on application processors. The agreement includes a transitional cost sharing model, followed by a royalty scheme from ST-Ericsson to ST. This transfer is subject to the completion of consultations with work councils and employee representatives, which ST currently estimates to be completed by July 1, 2012.

The partnership with ST-Ericsson is part of a wider new strategic direction announced today by our joint venture aiming to offer, through a combined approach of development and partnerships, competitive integrated ModAps, in addition to capturing a total of $320 million of annual savings from their new and on-going restructuring plans. The expected ST-Ericsson savings will benefit ST’s consolidated results, starting in Q3 2012, through the completion of the savings plans by the end of 2013.

“With this agreement, ST is one of very few companies to provide complete solutions based on a single application processing platform that delivers the features required by its customers and the whole ecosystem,” said Philippe Lambinet, ST’s Corporate Strategy Officer and Executive Vice President and General Manager of the Digital Sector. “By combining ST-Ericsson’s skills and deep knowledge of the smartphone and tablet business with ST’s strengths in IPs and consumer platforms, we now have capabilities that are second-to-none in mastering all of the key technologies necessary to serve the multi-screen society.”

“This is a further major step forward in our ambition for undisputed leadership in multimedia convergence, one of the two pillars of our vision together with Sense and Power,” said Carlo Bozotti, president and CEO of STMicroelectronics. “By partnering with ST-Ericsson in such a critical and R&D-intensive domain, we are able to leverage our investments over a wider range of applications and market opportunities, while capturing significant synergies benefiting both ST-Ericsson and ST. Overall, the agreement announced today well positions ST and ST-Ericsson for future success in application processors. In addition, ST, as a shareholder of ST-Ericsson, will benefit from the joint venture’s new strategic plan and expected cost savings.”

The closing of the deal is subject to completion of labor law related procedures and merger- control approvals, if applicable.

EE Times Analysis: ST-Ericsson rescue plan underwhelms [April 24, 2012]

The plan as laid out is for ST-Ericsson to be a developer of mobile device SoCs and firmware to create “platforms” based on a mix of home-grown and licensed-in IP blocks.

Lamouche called the strategy ModApp indicating that ST-Ericsson would put together modem-plus-application processor platforms. To that end ST-Ericsson will continue to develop modem IP, which it considers its crown jewels, but the ARM-based application processor cores and about 500 jobs are being passed to STMicroelectronics. These are part of the 1,700 jobs being cut out of ST-Ericsson. We don’t know the exact number but Carlo Ferro, chief operating officer, said the application processor group represented several hundred jobs but by no means the majority of the 1,700 jobs being axed.

… it seems inconceivable that STMicroelectronics shareholders could think it a good deal to carry ST-Ericsson for the next two years.

Perhaps what we will see is the movement of certain technology development operations out of ST-Ericsson to create licensing opportunities, thereby allowing the remaining ModApp company to be sold off. But to have any value it has to continue to get design wins, must continue to lay off engineers and must continue to drive down cost.

Q1 2012 Earnings Conference Call Remarks [STMicroelectronics, April 24, 2012]

… The savings specifically related to the partnership will be achieved in two steps: 1) a transitional cost sharing model for the current generation of application processor; and 2) synergies related to a common ecosystem, which for us is ARMbased. In addition, royalties will be paid by ST-Ericsson to ST to integrate the next generation application processor into their ModAp platforms.

Overall, this initiative is an important, first step in ST-Ericsson’s move towards leadership and improved financial returns.

We will see measurable progress in reducing the quarterly operating losses at STEricsson in the second half of this year leading to a significant reduction in losses as we exit the year.

Now let me give you additional details on the partnership announced with STEricsson for application processors which is part of our plans to advance our multimedia convergence strategy. It is very clear that delivering a similar experience across multiple screens is what service and content providers are looking for. So what might seem to be individual markets are actually very related markets as consumers expect their smart TV, car, smartphones and tablets to offer them the same experience.

ST is building a unique and competitive advantage by unifying its application processor platforms. As we outlined yesterday in our press release, we are adding the wireless application processor know-how within ST-Ericsson to the extensive multimedia capabilities ST has already developed within its Digital Sector for Set top Boxes and TV.

With respect to Wireless, total revenues, as expected, decreased significantly due to a drop in sales of new products at one of ST-Ericsson’s largest customers, in addition to the usual seasonal effect and to the continued decline of ST-Ericsson’s legacy products. In the first quarter, however, ST-Ericsson reached a milestone on the new product sales side as the NovaThorTM U8500 ModAp systems started to successfully ramp at Samsung and Sonywith smartphones from both now available on the market.

STMicroelectronics’ CEO Discusses Q1 2012 Results – Earnings Call Transcript – Q&A part [Seeking Alpha, April 24, 2012]

… the partnership with ST is based of course on a transfer of the application team from ST-Ericsson team to ST … also it’s based on the fact that we see now that the real opportunity to extract synergies from merging these two teams. So if the question is why not before, our consumer business was based on a proprietary microprocessor and today is based on the ARM platform. The ST-Ericsson application processor is also based on the ARM platform, as you know. So merging these two teams, we have the potential and we have the plan to extract significant synergies from the merging of the two activities.

… of course, we also hope and we are confident that the ST-Ericsson can expand the customer base. I am very happy to see this new Galaxy phone from Samsung. It’s a great phone. Initially it was for the emerging market. Now, I understand it’s for all the markets. I saw phone in Europe now also. And of course, we also plan to fill these fabs with the new wireless customers. …

… What ST transferred to the joint venture was a device that was called Mont-Blanc, that is now called U8500, and this device is exactly the same device that is now ramping in high volume production in one of the topline in Samsung. This was our contribution to the joint venture, and I think it was an important contribution. It is the fundamental part of the joint venture today. …

In terms of the synergies, that we will exploit there is some positive synergies, sales opportunities and some synergies related to avoiding to do twice the similar things by unifying the resources, the teams between ST-Ericsson and ST, inside ST. We will avoid duplications, we will avoid doing things twice and will be a lot more efficient and clearly we’ll be able to save cost, internal cost inside ST, R&D cost but also cost of third-parties because if we have to do only one software boarding of the given platform, it saves a lot of money rather than to do it twice. So that’s pretty obvious and of course we will extract cost synergies.

Now on the topline synergies, I want to say something which is the application processor market is estimated to be more than 2 billion units per year by 2015 and smartphones it’s already half of that bucket. So there is of course a great opportunity in smartphone base and to working together with ST-Ericsson of course will capture as much as we can in that particular half of the market.

But the other half is where ST is strong, it’s consumer, its automotive, it’s industrials, it’s medical, there is a lot of applications for application processors and with this combination, we do intent to explore also topline opportunities. So that’s also part of our strategy and that’s a very important reason why we are unifying our single platforms in all the market, not on wireless, not only set top boxes, but across all segments.

STMicroelectronics Reports 2012 First Quarter Financial Results [STMicroelectronics press release, April 23, 2012]

Q1 2012 – Product and Technology Highlights


  • Products
    • Announced at Mobile World Congress, the new NovaThor™ L8540 is an LTE/HSPA+/TD-HSPA-enabled integrated smartphone platform with the powerful application processor and modem integrated on a single die, and is scheduled to sample to customers in the second half 2012.
    • Unveiled the CG2905, the industry’s first connectivity platform solution with simultaneous support for GPS and GLONASS technology, Bluetooth and FM Radio all integrated on a single 40nm device.
    • Introduced first fully integrated wireless charger for mobile phones with the PM2020.
  • Customers
    • Samsung is now a customer of the ST-Ericsson NovaThor™ platform. The new Samsung GALAXY S Advance Android-powered smartphone uses the ST-Ericsson NovaThor™ U8500system.
    • Xperia™ P, Xperia™ U, and Xperia™ sola are the first three smartphones by Sony Mobile Communications to use the NovaThor U8500 ModApsystem, combining application processing, modem and connectivity.
    • Thor™ M5780 HSPA+ modem powers the next-generation Panasonic Elugasmartphone.
    • Ontim WP8500 tablet to be the first commercially available Android-based tablet using the NovaThor U8500 system.
  • Partners/technology
    • Selected fully depleted silicon on insulator (FD-SOI) technology for use in future mobile platforms, leveraging ST technology based on Soitec SOI, which will enable enhanced performance from the ST-Ericsson NovaThor™ platform at much lower battery usage – as much as 35 percent lower power consumption at maximum performance.
    • Continued cooperation with metaio, reaching another milestone in supporting metaio’s new 3D object tracking technology.
    • Joined the W3C Core Mobile Web Platform Community Group kicked off by Facebook.
    • SRS Labs has made their TruMedia audio processing technology available on the ST-Ericsson Snowball development platform.

ST-Ericsson Complete LTE Platform & Technical Demos – MWC2012 [ARMflix, March 2, 2012]

Gerard Cronin from ST-Ericsson shows us their newly launched mobile devices – inlcuding Sony Xperia U & P, Samsung Galaxy S Advance – then discusses and demos the next generation complete NovaThor LTE platform.

ST-Ericsson Clear market strategy - smartphone volumes - tablet growth -- 31-Jan-2012

ST-Ericsson Clear market strategy -- 31-Jan-2012
Source: ST-Ericsson Analyst & Media Briefing (Barcelona, February 28, 2012)

[20:56] But what is also clear which segments of those markets we intend to grab. This chart is illustrating actually the growth that we are projecting between 2012 and 2014 in terms of units for the smartphone market. … dividing into four segments from the entry to the premium. The largest segments are the high-end and mid market, and that is clearly where we want to focus, without exiting fully the entry market. But clearly our mainstream focus will be on the high and the mid. If we can tactically address the premium we will do but it will not be the basis of our mainstream strategy. If we can tactically address the entry we will do but it will not be the basis of our strategy. Our strategy will be focused on the mid and the high-end.

Why and how we will do that? We will do that via one initiative which is our unique capability, I will show that later on, to integrate the two critical silicon engines, software engines that are powering smartphone and tablet applications. The application processor and the modems. Our critical value add, our differentiating factor is our unique capability to integrate those functions into one chip. This is exactly what we want to do. [22:37]

ST-Ericsson Focused portfolio approach -- 31-Jan-2012
Source: ST-Ericsson Analyst & Media Briefing (Barcelona, February 28, 2012)

[28:02] … that is what has been shown already before – the focus. The U8500 is clearly our battle horse for the coming months and weeks, and quarters. Shipping in volume, with some products, at key customers. The first product that we would like to announce is this one today: U8520 which is in fact an extension of U8500. It is a lower cost, optimized version. Basically we are reusing all the software and legacy of the U8500. …

What we would like to announce today which is brand new: the first ModAp from the joint venture [L8540]. The first piece of silicon and the first software package built out of those two platforms: the A9540 application processor and the M7400 LTE modem. … this is the first ModAp the JV is going to bring on the market before the end of the year [also using 28nm FD-SOI]. …

[From the press release (see much further below): The NovaThor L8540 integrates a dual-core 1.85GHz ARM Cortex-A9 processor, a powerful Imagination PowerVR™ SGX544 GPU running at 500Mhz and an LTE/HSPA+/TD-HSPA modem on a single 28nm die. Thanks to its ultra-low voltage operating mode the NovaThor L8540 extends battery life for typical smartphone usage by up to 30% compared to platforms in the market today. … scheduled to sample to customers in Q3 2012.]

This product will be also complemented by two different flavors:
– one, which is a low-cost version of this one to address the lower tier of the market, and to address lower price point phones; and
– another one, which is a boosted version in [using 28nm FD-SOI] terms of performance and power consumption.

So the strategy is really to simplify our roadmap. To develop not too many products, to develop extensively and efficiently one platform and to try to refine it, and to extend our range of products by different flavors to it. [30:20]

[33:21] As I said before:
– we will derive one version of this product, which we are not announcing today (we will announce it later on), which will be a low cost, streamed down version, simple technology to address the lower part of the market; and in parallel
– we will also try to boost the performance of this platform with a new technology feature called FD-SOI … in order to address a different segment of the market, which is the highest performance area of the market, or the lower power consumption part of the market. [34:00]

ST-Ericsson Differentiation through integration -- 31-Jan-2012
Source: ST-Ericsson Analyst & Media Briefing (Barcelona, February 28, 2012)

[34:15] Our know-how is not only to be able to bring to the market high-performance application processor, not only to be able to bring to the market high-performance modems, but also—essentially—to bring them together. In another form of what we call ModAps, integrated solution of modem and application processor. Why we do that? To save cost. For example we have put here, on this chart what our integrated platform brings to the customer, to the product. In terms of power saving, in terms of size saving, compared to a dual chip solution.

It is bringing 10% power improvement, 15% size saving (which obviously in smartphone is something you want to do), 20% less components (so it means 20% less BOM). Of course that is exactly what our customers want, and by definition less workers.

Why do I insist on that? Because I believe there is only two companies in the industry today which are capable to bring these kind of technology on the market, and we are one of the two. [35:33]

Important note: With ModAp as one of the key differentiators the premium and somewhat even the high performance markets will be served with matching of the ST-Ericsson’s leading edge modem chips to the leading edge products of the application processor vendors as seen on the following slide of the briefing presentation.

Now see first the information related to the Thor M7400 modem:

“Our high-speed Thor™ modem revenue grew more than 20 percent sequentially as new HSPA+ phones continued to ramp in the market. Also in the quarter [i.e. in Q2 CY2011] we delivered first samples of our Thor M7400 LTE modem

ST-Ericsson Thor M7400 -- 31-Jan-2012
Source: ST-Ericsson Analyst & Media Briefing (Barcelona, February 28, 2012)

[36:20] … you need the bricks that are extremely performing, extremely high-level. We are proud to have today probably the most brilliant product on the market. We need to bring it to the market now. This will be done this year, before the end of the year. We’ve got already an award at CES for this product.

This is our latest LTE M7400 modem. With revolutionary architecture, meaning that we’ve decided years ago to start from a blank piece of paper and to rewrite totally what it takes to do a modem capable to have a global coverage up to 8 bands. So we are going to be ready to go forward for the next 10 years with this type of technology. Those are the critical elements that are going to be the characteristics of this product.

Just to give you one information. And again, coming from a different industry you will understand why I am insisting on that.

This modem is less than 50 mm2, very small. 7 mm by 7 mm piece of silicon. It contains 10 million lines of code. Why do I mention the use of this number? I will compare this number to another number which for me was before this astonishing.

The largest supercomputer in Europe, #5 in the world, designed to manage in parallel 100 thousand processors, delivering the most powerful engine to the market in Europe 2 years ago, was powered by a middleware that comprised 1 million lines of code. This piece of silicion, 7 [mm] by 7 [mm] contains 10 millions.

Just to calibrate you. Just to make you understand why you need incredible R&D power, incredible innovation capabilities, but incredible sense of delivery also to bring this type of performance to the market. We will do that. Takes a bit of time, takes a lot of energy, sometimes it takes some delays unfortunately, but we will bring it to the market. We are committed to do so. [39:14]

THOR™ M7400 LTE AND HSPA+ [ST-Ericsson, excerpted on March 12, 2012]

Paves the way for global LTE devices
The Thor™ M7400 is a new generation of multimode mobile broadband modem. It supports the latest LTE, HSPA+ Dual Carrier and TD technologies. The small form factor and high power efficiency of the M7400 enable slim form factor smartphones, tablets and other mobile broadband enabled devices. The advanced multimode RF design offers new level of flexibility to support regional LTE FDD/TDD/HSPA bands in Asia, Europe and North America in combination with global HSPA/EDGE.
A breakthrough in modem architecture delivers an optimum combination of hardware acceleration, for lowest power consumption, and flexible execution in software allowing feature and performance enhancements in existing hardware.
Equipped with the latest communication interfaces it enables efficient integration between application processor and modem, including memory-less modem design when combining with an application processor.
Truly global
    • Radio supporting up to 8 LTE/WCDMA/GSM bands.
      A streamlined modem
    • Smallest two-chip thinmodem solution
    • Power efficient architecture
    • Highly integrated radio solution
      For all devices
    • Interfaces for data devices and smartphone application processors
    • Memory-less modem design possible when combined with an application processor
    • Complete and pre-tested reference design

FD-SOI: A process booster for http://blog.stericsson.com/blog/2012/04/st-ericsson-general/fd-soi-a-process-booster-for-st-ericssons-next-generation-novathor-part-1/ST-Ericsson’s next generation NovaThor, Part 1 [ST-Ericsson Technology Blog, April 17, 2012]

With the recent evolution in smartphone capabilities consumer expectations are rising fast. Ultra-fast multicore Gigahertz processors, stunning 3D graphics, full HD multimedia and high-speed broadband connectivity have become the norm for high-end devices. Consumers expect these features to be delivered in a device that is slim, light and can last for at least as long as their previous phones did. For our customers, the product designers, this translates into requirements for delivering high performance at low power in a cost effective manner. Fully Depleted Silicon On Insulator – or FD-SOI – is a technology that addresses exactly these requirements.

At Mobile World Congress, our CEO Didier Lamouche confirmed during his speech that our next generation NovaThor platform L8540 will be using 28nm FD-SOI technology.

FD-SOI is a technology that is available for design today and will allow existing designs in 28nm to benefit today already from significant improvements in performance and power. FD-SOI solves – with less process complexity – scaling, leakage and variability issues to further shrink CMOS technology beyond 28nm.

FD-SOI, like FinFET, is a technology that was initially planned for 20nm nodes and below to overcome traditional bulk CMOS scaling limitations such as high leakage and device variability. However, unlike FinFET, FD-SOI process remains a low-complexity planar process very similar to the traditional CMOS bulk. This allows for a faster process development and ramp-up and an easier design porting for existing designs. The strong collaboration between ST-Ericsson, STMicroelectronics, Leti and Soitec allows us to already benefit in 28nm from the added value of FD-SOI. The three key benefits realized are leading performance, competitive speed/leakage trade-offs, and optimized power efficiency. This post looks at the performance aspectsand a later post will look at the other two benefits.

Leading-edge performance across a wide voltage range

The graph below compares the maximum frequency achievable for a particular critical path of an ARM Cortex™-A9 CPU core implementation, versus the supply voltage Vdd, for a slow corner process (SS) and a worst case temperature.

Each curve represents a specific 28nm process offer.

  • 28HP-LVT is a mobile high performance bulk CMOSprocess. Targeting high CPU performance mobile applications , these processes are derived from fast process flavors with very thin gate oxide and therefore have a limited Vdd overdrive capability (~1.0V) for reliability reasons
  • 28LP-LVT is a low power bulk CMOSprocess. Traditionally used for low power mobile applications, LP processes are based on thicker transistor gate oxide supporting a higher voltage overdrive (up to 1.3V).
  • 28FDSOI-LVT is the 28nm FD-SOI process developed by STMicroelectronics. FD-SOI uses a similar gate structure as 28LP, it can also sustain a 1.3V overdrive.

In all process, only low voltage threshold (LVT) transistors are considered. These are the one giving the highest speed performance.

Performance comparison of 28nm technologies

Performance comparison of 28nm technologies

  1. First observation is that FD-SOI at nominal voltages (0.9V for HP, 1.0V for both LP and FD-SOI) gives similar peak performance to HP processes and more than 35% performance improvement compared to LP at same Vdd.
  2. Furthermore, higher Vdd tolerance allows for an extra performance boost in FD-SOI that is not possible with HP processes, resulting in better overall peak performance
  3. At low operating voltages such as Vdd=0.6V, the LP process is either not functional or gives low performance. FD-SOI is equivalent or better than the HP process – but with a much lower leakage and dynamic power consumptionas we will see in a later post.
  4. Thanks to lower process variability than any bulk CMOS process, FD-SOI allows even lower operating voltages (down to 0.5V) at frequencies that are useful for non-CPU intensive processes (200MHz-300MHz) e.g. Hardware accelerated audio or video playback.

So, over a large Vdd range (from 0.5V up to 1.3V), FD-SOI comprehensively outperforms existing bulk CMOS processes dedicated to mobile applications. This extra performance gain can be used either to increase peak performance or to operate at a lower Vdd for the same performance, saving dynamic power.

More technical information: Planar fully depleted silicon technology to design competitive SOC at 28nm and beyond [STMicroelectronics FD-SOI whitepaper, Feb 23, 2012]

This document considers the challenges to obtain competitive silicon technology for the upcoming generation of System-On-Chip ICs. It suggests planar fully depleted technology deserves serious interest. After outlining some implementation choices, a number of circuit-level benchmark results as well as some important design aspects are presented. It is found that this technology combines high performance, power efficiency and cost-effectiveness, which makes it a very attractive candidate to serve the needs of mobile and consumer multimedia SOCs starting at the 28nm node and scalable down to 14nm.

6. Perspectives

6.1. 28nm

With the 28nm planar FD technology, on top of preparing the work for 20nm where the kind of power/performance tradeoff enabled by planar FD will be key, we are already able to demonstrate very attractive results. We expect to sign-off designs breaking the 2GHz barrier under worst-case conditions, in a power-efficient and cost-efficient way. For lower
performance targets, there is also the opportunity to design ultra-low-power chips that can fulfill their functional specifications using a very low Vdd, for example in the 0.6-0.8V range.

The Process Design Kit (PDK) is available, targeting the technology to be open for risk production by mid-2012.

6.2. 20nm

We intend to scale our planar FD technology to 20nm, introducing a number of improvements to continue pushing the performance and retain a low power consumption. The objective is to bring up a solution that will improve on what mobile-optimized planar bulk CMOS will achieve, and will be extremely competitive vs. potential FinFET-based approaches
for SOC – while keeping a simple and cost-efficient approach. The design rules will be compatible with 20nm bulk CMOS. This technology will bridge the gap to 14nm and provide an interesting alternative to the cost and complexity of introducing Extreme-UV and FinFET structures.

Evaluation SPICE models are available, and full PDK is scheduled by end of 2012, with risk production for 13Q3.

6.3. 14nm

Based on the assessments we have performed, we are confident that the planar FD technology is shrinkable to 14nm. Silicon and buried oxide thickness will need to be reduced to within limits that wafer manufacturers and CMOS process technology can handle.

The findings exposed in this document indicate planar FD is a promising technology for modern mobile and consumer multimedia chips. It combines high performance and low power consumption, complemented by an excellent responsiveness to power management design techniques. The fabrication process is comparatively simple and is a low-risk evolution from conventional planar bulk CMOS – and there is little disruption at design level, too.

At 28nm, we find that planar FD more than matches the peak performance of “G”-type technology, at the cost and complexity of a low-power type technology, with better power efficiency across use cases than any of the conventional bulk CMOS flavor.

Looking further, for 20nm and 14nm, we believe planar FD will be extremely competitive with respect to alternative approaches in terms of performance and power, while being both simpler and more suited to low-power design techniques. In short, a better choice for the type of SOC we offer.

Interview With ST-Ericsson’s Chief Chip Architect: SOCs on 28nm FD-SOI – When, Why and How [ASN #19 – FD-SOI INDUSTRIALIZATION (ST, ST-ERICSSON, SOITEC, LETI, UC BERKELEY), April 6, 2012]

ST-Ericsson’s Chief Chip Architect Louis Tannyeres talks with ASN about the move to 28nm FD-SOI for smartphones and tablet SOCs.

FD-SOI is a technology that is available for design today and will allow existing designs in 28nm to benefit today already from significant improvements in performance and power. FD-SOI solves – with less process complexity – scaling, leakage and variability issues to further shrink CMOS technology beyond 28nm.

True market disruptions are only understood after the fact. We believe FD-SOI is such a disruption and a truely differentiated solution. There is a real opportunity for a FD-SOI 28nm solution and then 20nm as a key technology differentiator.  Our customers have reacted  favorably to hearing that we will be enabling FD-SOI technology in our next generation of products. And since we are enabling this technology in STMicroelectronics’ foundries, we have also minimized our risk with respect to market adoption trends.

28nm planar FD manufacturing technology has a lot of commonalities with traditional 28nm Low-Power CMOS technology and STMicroelectronics’ strategy has been to reuse as much as possible the 28nm low-power bulk CMOS process. The Back-End part of the process is a direct copy of the 28nm bulk technology. The Front-End part of the process also relies in majority on a direct re-use of equivalent process modules from the bulk technology. Only a few steps have been optimized, added or removed. Overall, the Back-End is 100% identical to the traditional 28nm bulk low-power CMOS process, and the Front-End of Line (FEOL) has 80% in common with that same process.

FD-SOI will be introduced into next generation products from ST-Ericsson. At this time, our first 28nm FD-SOI products are scheduled to tape out in Q3 2012 with production start anticipated in 2013.

See also:
Important News Comes Out of Recent FD-SOI Workshop [Advanced Substrate News, April 20, 2012]
The End Of CMOS [SperlingMediaGroup YouTube channel, Dec 10, 2011]

Steve Longoria, senior vice president of Soitec, talks with System-Level Design (www sldcommunity com) about why silicon on insulator (SOI) has suddenly become essential to semiconductor manufacturing and what it will mean for Moore’s Law.

Soitec: Wafer Roadmap for Fully Depleted Planar and 3D/FinFET [Steve Longoria, Senior VP of Worldwide Business Development at Soitec on the Advanced Substrate News, April 20, 2012], the related Soitec press releases are: Soitec outlines fully depleted product roadmap for advanced planar and three-dimensional transistors [April 16, 2012] and Soitec provides affordable paths to higher performance, lower-power processors for mobile and consumer devices [April 16, 2012]
Considerations for Bulk CMOS to FD-SOI Design Porting – Key Excerpts [Advanced Substrate News, Dec 5, 2011]
Archive of 32nm SOI [Advanced Substrate News] for the state-of-the-art in the “classic” (i.e. partially depleted) SOI
ST: FD-SOI for Competitive SOCs at 28nm and Beyond [Thomas Skotnicki, Advanced Devices Program Director at STMicroelectronics on Advanced Substrate News, Nov 18, 2011]

In a mobile world, high-performance must go hand-in-hand with low-operation Vdd and low stand-by leakage. That requires different technologies. As we approach the 20/22nm node and beyond, traditional planar-bulk technologies cannot meet these requirements. The choice comes down to either a planar fully-depleted (FD) SOI solution or a FinFET solution. At STMicroelectronics, we call our flavor of planar FD-SOI UTBB, for ultra-thin body & box. As such, it leverages SOI wafers with both ultra-thin top silicon and ultra-thin buried oxide (BOX). Where more practical, we use a hybrid SOI/bulk configuration, wherein certain devices are placed in the bulk silicon that has been exposed by etching back the insulating BOX layer.

ST has been working on FD-SOI for over 10 years. We have research programs or partnerships on 3 sites: Crolles, Leti, and IBM Albany NanoTech. We have collaborated with Soitec for wafer supply.

The key technology elements for UTBB have been demonstrated.

The move from R&D to an industrial process of 28nm FD-SOI technology is for us (and for our partners) an efficient and straightforward response to the world-wide competition. The extension of FD-SOI towards the 20nm and 14nm nodes is also in preparation with new boosters to further increase the performance growth rate.

UTBB FD-SOI promises to give STMicroelectronics a significant edge in both the near term and for years to come.

Source: ST-Ericsson Analyst & Media Briefing (Barcelona, February 28, 2012)

[39:25] For the 8540 platform we have two ideas. One is to take down the cost, and one is to boost the performance. … to boost the performance in terms of power and speed because we need to get differentiated. The key differentiating factors of this joint venture to me are two: ST and Ericsson. Ericsson is the #1 company in the world when it comes to network technology and ST because it is one of the top 6 semiconductor companies in the world. We absolutely need to exploit that in order to beat the competition. None of our competitors have these abilities. All of our competitors, not most of them, but all of them are standard companies exploiting the same process, coming from the same place, coming from the same vendor. How can you differentiate when you are doing that? We absolutely need to differentiate this time. Which is the capability we have, to exploit the strength of our shareholder. This is one.

We will bring to the market, and we will bring the demonstration before the end of the year an FD-SOI flavor, 8540 FD-SOI version that will demonstrate the following capability.

ST-Ericsson Differentiation with FD-SOI Technology -- 31-Jan-2012

Why do we want to use FD-SOI?

… FD-SOI means Fully Depleted Silicon On Insulator technology. This is a silicon technology which is unique. Silicon on insulator means you use silicon substrates which are actually composed of six substrates (that you will not see here) with a thin layer of oxide and on top of it a thin layer of silicon. What it does, it provides perfect isolation. … Normally with the classical processes from foundries you start only with six layers of silicon. In this case we will start the silicon process with this sandwich. These six layers of silicon, the oxide and then a very thin layer of silicon on top of it on which you are going to build your active element, the transistor.  These technologies are running for a while. IBM is using it in the server since very long time for performance reason.

[i.e. partially depleted SOI only: e.g. AMD Bulldozer on 32nm SOI, Microsoft Xbox 360 by IBM etc. for the latest. IBM launched SOI in Fishkill back in 1998. IBM, of course, has its own successful SOI foundry business, and owns the high-end gaming market, fabbing SOI-based chips for the big three: in addition to Microsoft Xbox Sony PS3 and Nintendo Wii (and the upcoming Wii U) as well. AMD followed with 130nm SOI out of Dresden in 2001. Singapore – which was first Chartered – started turning out 90nm SOI chips for IBM back in 2004, and adopted AMD’s highly touted Automation Precision Manufacturing (APM) in 2005. GlobalFoundries has been turning out 32nm SOI chips since June ’11 and at GlobalFoundries’ “Fab 8″ in upstate New York, based on IBM’s latest, 32nm SOI chip technology since January’12.]

This is known. It has not been used yet in the mobile space for one reason, cost and complexity of the technology.

Why can’t we use it today?

Because of those two letters: FD. FD means fully depleted. It means we have been able with our partner ST, and their partners, to come to such a thin layer of active silicon on top of the thin layer of oxide that it provides us two things:

  1. Because of this layer is so thin you can much more easily isolate the transistor one from each other. The process is much simpler which removes the cost of SOI.
  2. Because this layer is so thin the transistor you create is naturally pinched, closed. When you put the metal gates on top of the silicon the transistor is closed. No current is flowing between the two. What that means is that you don’t need to impose an electrical signal on the gates to close the transistor. So it means you save power. In a sleep mode zero consumption at all.

This is one of the first time in my life that I see that all ingredients as put together result only in benefits and not in penalty. Cost-wise we have about the same cost as the normal process. Process-wise simpler. Performance-wise this is what you get [see the above slide]. At 0.6V twice the performance. 35% less power dissipation. [on the same node]

And finally: why we want to use that?

Because the world needs to go fully depleted. … The target solution is extremely complex in terms of cost. It is not fitting for the mobile space. It is not fitting for devices that you want to sell below 10 or 20 dollars. Absolutely not. This solution is fittingWe are the only one to have this one thanks to FD technology and as soon as we ramp up the volume and will have a proprietary foundry [ST-Ericsson has a 300mm foundry which is just down the road from the special wafer – called FD-2D – supplier Soitec in Grenoble] to fullfill the volume requirements we are going to demonstrate that. We already have silicon on test vehicle. We are going to demonstrate that before the end of the year, on the base of the 8540 product. …

What does it give to a telco?

4 hours more high-speed browsing, 2.5 hours more HD video playback, 2 hours more HD video recording, and of course less power dissipation, longer battery etc. … We are the only one to have this technology today. We are at least 2 years before anybody else. And we can compete with the companies I told you before which have not yet demonstrated that 3D fully depleted technology that they want to put up the market, [put already] for PC and server market, [but] fitting the mobility market [an obvious reference to Intel]. … [46:10]

Source: ST-Ericsson Analyst & Media Briefing (Barcelona, February 28, 2012)

… stabilization means stop bleeding …

So from the application processor point of view the company is abandoning the premium/high segment of the market which had been the kind of flagship for the future before, as well as the entry segment which had also been figuring quite high on their priority list during the second half of 2011:

Will ST-Ericsson’s New Product Programme Do The Trick? [July 28, 2011]

Currently ST-Ericsson is moving its product line onto 45nm and is sampling three 45nm products – its 8500 platform for smartphones, its 4500 platform which is the lower-end version of the 8500, and its CG2900Bluetooth/GPS/FM combo modem.

“We shipped the 8500 in pre-production quantities in Q2 and it will be ramping up at a number of customers this year,” Gerard Cronin, STE’s head of marketing, told me yesterday, “we have engagements on the 8500 with five out of the top ten handset manufacturers.”

Before the end of this year, ST-Ericsson intends to sample its first 32nm device, the A9540 application processor based on Cortex A-9 which is the upgrade of the 8500 with 50% higher speed.

Early in 2012 it intends to sample its first 28nm device – the A9600 based on the Cortex A-15.

Asked from which foundry ST-Ericsson hopes to get 28nm from, Cronin said ST-Ericsson is part of the Globalfoundries alliance.

However, according to Mike Bryant, CTO of Future Horizons, talking at IFS 2011 earlier this month, GloFo’s 28nm process in Dresden is running with almost zero yield.

ST Ericsson plants center in Silicon Valley [Sept 13, 2011]

ST Ericsson announced it has opened a small technical office in Silicon Valley as it scrambles to get ahead of the curve in the hyper competitive market for smartphone and tablet chips. It demoed its current HSPA+ products running Android here and talked about plans for LTE chips and support for Windows Phone software in the coming year.

At the launch, ST Ericsson demoed its U8500 integrated applications processor and HSPA+ baseband running on a new board geared for software developers. The chip supported stereo 3-D graphics, 1080-progressive video playback, games with motion sensors and a browser supporting augmented reality.

The processor uses a dual-core ARM Cortex A9 with Mali 400 graphics. In demos it supported Symbian and the Gingerbread and Honeycomb versions of Android.

The company does not have demo-ready versions of its next-generation discrete LTE baseband [the M7400] and application processor [the A9540] announced in February and slated for production in mid-2012. The schedule is behind that of rival Qualcomm which is expected to supply the first LTE handsets. However, the ST Ericsson chip will support eight LTE spectrum bands on a single RF transceiver.

ST Ericsson has taped out a dual-core ARM Cortex A-15 set to ship in 2012 [the A9600]. It will outgun rivals including the Omap 5 from Texas Instruments because the STE chip uses the Imagination Rogue graphics core, said Gilles Delfassy, chief executive of ST Ericsson and former head of TI’s wireless business unit. Due to use of a new vector-processing architecture, the chip should also have smaller size, cost and power consumption than its rivals, he added.

In software, ST Ericsson is playing catch up with the shift by Nokia, a lead customer, from Symbian to Windows Phone. It does not expect to support Nokia’s first Windows Phone 7 handsets, but it has put a team in place to support Windows Phone 8 on its chips.

“We have a road map which is very aggressive, but the key question is will we deliver on it on time,” Delfassy said.

International Data Corp. analyst Mario Morales said smartphone makers want alternatives to integrated chips from Qualcomm, and are waiting on ST Ericsson to execute on its road map.

To that end, Delfassy said he has replaced some engineers in ST Ericsson and brought on two executives with strength in product execution. One is a senior vice president from the former Infineon wireless group who worked closely with Apple; another is a former Sony Ericsson executive who has supervised groups of more than a thousand engineers.

ST Ericsson has also simplified its product portfolio, pruning five modem technologies down to just one [the Thor M7400 modem]. It was the first company to deliver a 21 Mbit/second HSPA+ modem [the Thor M5780 modem], Delfassy said.

So far ST Ericsson is not planning any quad-core products despite the fact rivals Nvidia and Qualcomm have announced plans for such parts. “We aim to be leaders in apps processors, but there is a big debate whether quad core is a case of diminishing returns,” Delfassy said.

More information on this past strategy is available in my post:
ST-Ericsson NovaThor SoCs for future Windows Phones from Nokia [Nov 3, 2011]

In fact what remains out of that is the following:

ST-Ericsson NovaThor U9500 (Nova A9500)
2 x ARM Cortex A9 @ 1.2GHz
ARM Mali-400 MP1
1 x 32-bit LPDDR2
(Nova A9500 in production since Q3 2011)
ST-Ericsson NovaThor U8500
2 x ARM Cortex A9 @ 1.0GHz
ARM Mali-400 MP1
1 x 32-bit LPDDR2
Now (pre-production quantities in Q2  2011)

while the real changes were happening in the planned SoCs for the higher end of the market, and ST-Microelectronics is to take now the decision about the timing:

ST-Ericsson NovaThor LP9600 (Nova A9600)
2 x ARM Cortex-A15 @ 2.5GHz
IMG PowerVR Series 6 (Rogue)
Dual Memory
(Nova A9600:
2012 [???])
ST-Ericsson NovaThor L9540 (Nova A9540)
2 x ARM Cortex A9 @ 1.85GHz
IMG PowerVR Series 5
2 x 32-bit LPDDR2
(Nova A9540:
1H 2012

ST-Ericson L9540 1.85Ghz ARM Cortex-A9 [Charbax YouTube channel, March 1, 2012]

ST-Ericsson demonstrates their new L9540 1.85Ghz ARM Cortex-A9 Dual-core processor with the SGX544 GPU. They show that it can be cranked at up to 2.2Ghz and it can also automatically be down-clocked to 400Mhz when not much CPU performance is needed when for example tasks like video-playback are offloaded to another part of the System on Chip.
Important note: With the last two application processors still on the company’s roadmap the product availabilities are unknown now, especially that of the flagship A9600 which should be repositioned (at least in time) in lieu of the announced change of moving away from the premium segment of the smartphone market as per the below announcement.

What the company announced on MWC 2012 instead is a new part, the Novathor L8540 AP+Modem integrated SoC on a single die with the following specification:

NOVATHOR™ L8540 [ST-Ericsson, excerpted on March 12, 2012]

The NovaThor™ L8540 builds on the NovaThor L9540 to combine a state of the art application processor with an LTE/HSPA+/TD-SCDMA multimode modem in a single die. The platform incorporates a dual-core CPU with a powerful graphics engine, an LTE multimode modem and a full suite of connectivity in a high-performance, low-power and size and cost-optimized solution. With a small footprint, very low bill of materials and support for up to eight bands in a flexible radio solution the NovaThor L8540 further enables widespread global adoption of LTE multimode smartphones.
  • Full HD 1080p camcorder, multiple codecs supported (H264 HP, VC-1, MPEG-4)
  • 3D HD video capture and display
  • High-resolution, touchscreen display support up to WUXGA
  • Simultaneous dual display support up to dual qHD
  • High-performance 3D graphics
  • Dual camera support up to 20 Mpixel and 5 Mpixel
  • Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, GNSS (GPS+GLONASS), FM and NFC enabled platform
  • Built-in USB 2.0, HDMI out
  • Support for major operating systems
  • Optional support for mobile TV standards
  • Radio supporting up to 8 LTE/WCDMA/GSM bands.
  • Power efficient architecture
  • Highly integrated radio solution
  • Highly efficient, low-power ARM® dual Cortex™- A9 processor clocked at up to 1.85Ghz
  • Dual multimedia DSP for low-power, flexible media processing
  • High-bandwidth Dual LP-DDR2 interface
  • Imagination Technologies’ POWERVR™ SGX544 GPU
  • Unique audio architecture with a wide range of audio codecs supported
  • Advanced power saving architecture enabling class-leading audio and video playback time


Such an announcement when nothing has been announced regarding the product availability of the NovaThor L9540 two-chip SoC solution (announced a year ago) while already a single die solution based on that, the NovaThor L8540 has been announced, is quite remarkable.

Let’s take first a look at the announcement text for some clues explaining that:


NovaThor L8540 integrates Thor LTE technology with powerful dual-core application processor to deliver extraordinary multimedia performance
Barcelona, February 28, 2012 – ST-Ericsson, a world leader in wireless platforms and semiconductors, announced today the latest addition to its integrated smartphone and tablet platform portfolio. The NovaThor™ L8540 is an LTE/HSPA+/TD-HSPA-enabled integrated smartphone platform with the powerful application processor and modem integrated on a single die.
“By adding the new NovaThor L8540 platform to our portfolio of highly integrated smartphone and tablet solutions, the L8540 takes integration of LTE platforms to the next level,” said Marc Cetto, senior vice president of smartphone and tablet solutions for ST-Ericsson. “By integrating the powerful dual-core application processor with our industry-leading LTE multimode modem we bring further size, bill of materials and power consumption savings to our customers. Consumers of next generation smartphones powered by the NovaThor L8540 will benefit from compact, power efficient devices that deliver an amazing multimedia experience.”
The NovaThor L8540 integrates a dual-core 1.85GHz ARM Cortex-A9 processor, a powerful Imagination PowerVR™ SGX544 GPU running at 500Mhz and an LTE/HSPA+/TD-HSPA modem on a single 28nm die. Thanks to its ultra-low voltage operating mode the NovaThor L8540 extends battery life for typical smartphone usage by up to 30% compared to platforms in the market today.
The NovaThor L8540 will provide extraordinary multimedia performance in an integrated solution, supporting 1080p video encoding and playback at up to 60 frames per second, 1080p 3D camcorder functionality, support for displays up to WUXGA (1920×1200) at 60 frames per second and support for cameras up to 20 megapixels.
The complete platform includes pre-integrated connectivity with support for Bluetooth, GNSS (GPS+ GLONASS), FM, WLAN, WiFi Direct and NFC. With the recently released ST-Ericsson connectivity solutions, CG2905 and CW1250, the platform comes optimized for wireless radio co-existence and low power consumption.
With support for up to eight LTE/HSPA/TD-SCDMA/GSM bands in a flexible and compact radio solution, the NovaThor L8540 addresses the need for a cost effective solution for widespread global adoption of LTE multimode smartphones.
The NovaThor L9540 is being demonstrated by ST-Ericsson at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. The NovaThor L8540 is scheduled to sample to customers in Q3 2012.
Note to Editors
The NovaThor family combines advanced application processing, a high speed mobile broadband modem and a full connectivity suite in a complete platform. The NovaThor L8540 builds on the NovaThor L9540 platform, which combines the Nova™ A9540 application processor and the Thor™ M7400 LTE multimode modem, and which has been sampling to lead customers since Q4 2011. The Nova A9540 is ST-Ericsson’s second generation application processor following the Nova A9500 which is in production since Q3 2011.
With an extremely high level of software and hardware compatibilitybetween the generations, our customers will be able to quickly bring NovaThor L9540 and L8540-based devices to market.

That is by the new focused portfolio approach ST-Ericsson so far has declared a fairly strong direction of aiming at the mainstream market of 2013-2014 by providing the most cost-effective, fully integrated and single die solution on the market. Moreover, due to “extremely high level of software and hardware compatibilitybetween … NovaThor L9540 and L8540” the leading smartphone vendors with a long-term view of the market could already launch their respective strategic products in 2012.

So, what to expect in a month or so, and from which vendors?

ST-Ericsson readies revamp, soon a takeover target (Reuters, March 14, 2012)

ST-Ericsson is preparing to unveil a major operations revamp within two weeks, placing the troubled mobile chip venture on track for a takeover by a peer or competitor that would create a formidable rival to Qualcomm Inc.

ST-Ericsson, a 50-50 joint venture of Sweden’s Ericsson and France’s STMicroelectronics, is seen as a “strategic asset” for potential buyers. Those could include Advanced Micro Devices Inc, Nvidia Corp, Intel Corp and Texas Instruments Inc, three sources familiar with the situation told Reuters.

“It is the only answer to Qualcomm,” one of the sources said. “On the patent side, they are the one company that you go, ‘That makes sense.'”

Potential suitors will likely drag out their courtship over a year or two, waiting for ST-Ericsson to first show signs of a turnaround under new Chief Executive Didier Lamouche, a restructuring expert hired late last year.

Lamouche is due to unveil by the end of March a restructuring planthat is set to include site closures around the world and major layoffs to lower costs. The new strategy could also include seeking a partner for application processors.

ST-Ericsson NovaThor chipsets offer one of the few integrated alternatives to Qualcomm’s market-leading Snapdragon.

“The holy grail is to sell an integrated modem with an application processor into mainstream smartphones,” said analyst John Jackson from research firm CCS Insight.

The current structure of ST-Ericsson would pose several challenges for a potential buyer, the sources said. For example, the business is tightly linked to STMicro’s products, particularly for its upcoming “FD-SOI” technology, which analysts expect to be a game-changer at the market’s top end.

The technology, which brings significant power savings, has been seen as too expensive for phones, but last month ST-Ericsson promised to deliver FD-SOI chipsets — using STMicro technology in partnership with Soitec SA — for manufacturing clients to try out in smartphones this year.

And Ericsson holds most of the venture’s telecom patents and would be a tough deal negotiator, one of the sources said.

When Ericsson exited from a similar 50-50 cellphone venture, Sony Ericsson, the deal gave Sony Corp access to Ericsson patents; but only a few patents were sold to Sony as part of the deal. Also, loss-making Sony Ericsson was valued at roughly $3 billion in the deal. It had 2011 sales of $5.2 billion.

ST-Ericsson has lost a total of $2 billion in its three years of operation as revenues from key clients Nokia and Sony Ericsson shrank over 70 percent during the same period.

… Revenues in 2011 dropped to just $1.65 billion from pro forma level of $3.6 billion in 2008. …

One of the online marketing flagships of the leading global business media conglomerate UBM plc, EE Times responded to the Reuters report by a quite different view which – due to the specific business community nature of UBM segments, particularly that of the Online Marketing Servicesmight reflect a better understanding of what is going on behind the scene(note that EE Times received the 2010 Folio Eddie Award for Best website in B2B Energy/Utilities/Engineering):

Update: Why ST should sell ST-Ericsson to China [by Peter Clark on EE Times, March 15, 2012]

Europe’s largest chip company STMicroelectronics NV should persuade Ericsson AB that they sell off their mobile chip joint venture ST-Ericsson, but probably to some aspiring Chinese company. That is likely to produce the quickest and most profitable – or least loss-making – exit for the two parent companies from what has become a failed project.

A spokesperson for ST-Ericsson said the company has no comment on the Reuters report but added that STMicroelectronics and Ericsson remain committed to the joint venture and that it is a fundamental part of ST’s digital convergence strategy. It is interesting to note that ST-Ericsson is almost exactly three years old and that it may be Ericsson that wants to disengage from the joint venture and had expected ST to buy out its 50 percent.

I don’t think ST-Ericsson or ST have that much more time. In a note in the most recent financial results ST-Ericsson said “Our shareholders will continue to support funding our transitional financial needs.” This of course begs the question of “transition to what?” and “how long will that transition take?” The fact is that ST-Ericsson is a three-year old joint venture that has acted like a boat-anchor on the progress of STMicroelectronics.

It is true that ST-Ericsson wrapped up a lot of the previous problems of ST, specifically an overdependence on faltering Nokia as a customer, but pushing the problem into a joint-venture along with other European wireless chip business units belonging to NXP and Ericsson, was clearly not the solution.

ST compared with Infineon

Compare ST’s plight with that of Infineon, which got out of communications through the spin-off of its wired chips into Lantiq Deutschland GmbH and the sale of its wireless business unit to Intel. In the later part of the last decade Infineon’s CEO Peter Bauer decided to focus on some of the less glamorous but higher margin parts of the chip industry: power, automotive, industrial and security. How smart does that look now?

NXP has a similarly focused strategy with CEO Rick Clemmer taking the company out of a number of consumer markets and now pursuing similar markets to Infineon with high-performance mixed-signal ICs. NXP of course got out of mobile wireless by selling its business to create the joint venture.

While it is possible that a western company might want to acquire ST-Ericsson and access to patents I think greater interest might come from further east. I don’t think Texas Instruments wants to get back into the world of razor-thin margins in smartphones and the while the likes of AMD or Intel may have the appetite but are they going to sit on the sidelines too long waiting for the cuts have their effect.

Nvidia Corp. defnitely want to compete in this area but it has its own line of ARM-based Tegra application processors and is pursuing a modem strategy based on its purchase of Icera Inc. (Bristol England) for nearly $400 million in May 2011. Surely any deal for ST-Ericsson would undermine the value of what Nvidia has already paid.

Apple compared with China

The other question to ask is who has the means to make something of ST-Ericsson. I think that some companies from greater China do and perhaps Apple, which has been going through a process of re-integration to give itself the ability to develop and own chips during the roll out of its mobile device strategy.

Apple does not need all the baggage that would come with ST-Ericsson, or the ability to address multiple customers. Which is why a sale to a company such as HiSiliconTechnologies Co. Ltd. (Shenzhen, China) backed by Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. (Shenzhen, China) might extract the highest value in the shortest time for ST and Ericsson.

Other Chinese companies that might have an interest in ST-Ericsson could include Rockchip, Xincomm, Leadcore Technology, Nufront and Spreadtrum. Of these HiSilicon with its links with Huawei and Leadcore, aligned with Datang, would appear more likely. In Taiwan MediatekInc. (Hsinchu, Taiwan) is also a likely candidate.

However, the geopolitical nature of any such sale of ST-Ericsson should not be underestimated. It would be a loss of face for Europe and for the west and behind the scenes moves may be made to try and keep control of the technology and jobs in the west. But what can Europe do? It is a continent of many bankrupt nations and few successful ones.The 27-nation European Union could try to lean on the likes of Apple and Intel to have them step in and save ST-Ericsson. Apple and Intel want to be good European citizens because of the size of the consumer market the European Union represents.

Of course, such is the power of Apple in the mobile device market these days that one design win with Apple could make many of ST-Ericsson’s problems go away – at least until they are designed out again.

Regarding the other parent’s position, i.e. that of the STMicroelectronics we have the following which is quite contradicting to both of Reuter’s and EE Times’ positions:

STMicroelectronics’ Management Presents at UBS European Technology Conference (Presentation Transcript) [Seeking Alpha, March 13, 2012]

STMicroelectronics NV (STM) UBS European Technology Conference Call March 8, 2012 3:45 AM ET

Philippe Lambinet
[Corporate Strategy Officer, Executive Vice President and General Manager of STMicroelectronics’ Digital Sector since January 2012; from February 2012 also responsible for Investor Relations and External Communications. Before that General Manager of the Home Entertainment & Displays Group for 5 years]

The other side of the company, in the area of Multimedia Convergence, clearly the focus is going to be on turning around the ST-Ericsson business and of course it is very important for us to maintain our leadership in the area of digital consumer applications.

… [elaboration of the ST-Ericsson’s performance over the last three years in financial terms] … So you see a $1.7 billion improvement over three years, so those three years actually included two crises, so not so bad performance considering how difficult 2009 was in our industry and how difficult the second half of 2011 was. So we are not unhappy of this situation and this is despite the cash consumption of the joint venture, ST-Ericsson joint venture which has been consuming quite a lot of cash as you all know.

During 2012 I think the top three priorities are fixing ST-Ericsson, fixing ST-Ericsson and fixing ST-Ericsson. This is really top on our agenda and this will be the plan [for STMicroelectronics itself !]. The plan will be published by ST-Ericsson as you will know imminently. ST-E’s CEO, Didier Lamouche in Barcelona committed to deliver a plan to get back to sustainable profitability around the end of March, beginning of April. So it’s coming in few days now.

STMicroelectronics’ Management Presents at UBS European Technology Conference (Question-and-Answer Session Transcript) [Seeking Alpha, March 13, 2012]

Unidentified Analyst

Thanks a lot. You mentioned the restructuring of your operations into one digital unit this year and you also mentioned how less famous Set Top Box business, you are seeing new entrants like Qualcomm and you also said your top priority is ST-Ericsson, ST-Ericsson, ST-Ericsson. Can you help us understand the possible synergies between ST-Ericsson and your digital business? Thanks,

Philippe Lambinet

Okay. I will do it conceptuality. This is in no way to be understood as an announcement or anything like that. But conceptually the world is moving to, and this is a message, I remember passing in every year in Las Vegas consumer electronic show. I do a speech about the trends in consumer electronics and already three years ago, I was talking about the evolution of the set top box moving to more and more open systems, internet open systems. So moving from proprietary operating system, like the CDI or NDS or open TV or like (inaudible), you know, proprietary operating systems, in to more open operating systems, such as Android and this is a fundamental trend.

Now as this happens, in set-top box, as this happens in TV, some TV manufacturers in China, 100% of their connected TVs are developed based on Android today. It’s not 10%. It’s 100%. Some of the major TV makers in China are basing all their connected TV strategy on Android. So, we’re talking about pretty heavy change here and as these things happen and you know, the story of Android and smartphone. Isn’t that pretty obvious that there are things that we should share more and things we could do together more. I think it’s very obvious.

So first, we do it in ST because you know, we see set-top box TV, car navigation and so we’re moving to very similar platforms, very, very similar. And I think, the obvious concept is that at some point, to be defined, there would be synergies exploited between what we’re doing in ST what we’re doing in ST-Ericsson. They are already by the way quite logical, which is not seeing because the products are different but you know, it’s pretty obvious, that’s a trend, which we will continue over the next years and that makes a lot of sense also for our customers and that makes a lot of sense for the ecosystem and because you know people — we have seen for example the set-top box business and the TV business of some of our customers being merge into one. That has happened to Samsung, now it’s under one organization, which used to be under two or three or four organization, now it’s the same boss has the TV and set-top boxes businesses in Samsung. And we see it across the market.

So as our customers are doing it, you know we have no choice, but to do it as well so that’s what these all new organization meansand by the way, we also see some of our more traditional ASIC business for example which we’re doing for communication infrastructure, at the end of the day ASIC used to be, just give a few cells to customers and they do the design themselves; now the kind of cell you have to provide is a full as part of the system here, with the dual 8 or 9 with the 3D graphics with the video processing and that’s the base for various it design.

So the world of ASIC is also changing; it is also aligning towards this kind of application process and platform, so that’s also why our ASIC business has been included inside the digital sectorbecause that’s side of the business also.

Now when I mention Qualcomm entering the TV business, I didn’t mention them entering the set-top business, so I just want to back on your point. The set-top box business has certain characteristics in terms of fragmentation, in terms of security which are very particular and not everybody can enter that market and you know that’s one area of difficulty for the Taiwanese, but also for some of our American competitors like Marvell or Qualcomm who would love to enter set-top box. Broadcom and us have some particular security technologies which are extremely tough to master and which are very important for content protection and are essential.

Now we believe by the way, security technologies will become important in many other businesses which content protection is very important. So actually that’s why I went very fast in some of my slides, but clearly data protection, security is an area for ST of traditional strength and we intend to leverage that strength in many other businesses. It’s very clear that the hackers, terrorists and industrial spies are driving a need for higher security levels in every system that’s true for a TV and set-top box, but that’s also true for a smartphone, for a router and for any devices. So it’s very important for us to use that competitive advantage in many marketsand again here we are in advance compared to many of our competitors.

From that I will conclude that neither Ericsson (as per their spokesman response to EE Times) nor ST (as per their EVP and CSO views presented above) will sell its investment in ST-Ericsson. For me the much more logical likelihood is that large industrial investors will join the joint venture thus providing the needed additional capital.

Anyway when the new CEO will deliver the new restructuring plan by the end of March we will probably know everything about the new investors from the semiconductor sector who will back that plan. The crucial question now is the customer support, i.e. which smartphone vendors in what way could back the restructuring plan by their NovaThor platform commitments. Here are certain clues:


NovaThor™ platform to enable Nokia to extend Windows Phone devices to new price points and geographies

Geneva, Switzerland, November 2, 2011 – Nokia has selected ST-Ericsson as a supplier for future devices it plans to introduce based on the Windows Phone mobile platform.

“We are pleased to have been selected by Nokia as a key partner for Windows smartphones, in line with our goal to be present in all segments and major operating systems,” said Gilles Delfassy, president and CEO of ST-Ericsson. “Our NovaThor platforms continue to gain traction as they enable customers to bring great smartphones to the market.”

which goes back to a year earlier agreement as well:

ST-Ericsson, a world leader in wireless platforms and semiconductors, and Nokia, the world’s leading provider of mobile devices and solutions are developing pioneering TD-LTE demonstration devices for China Mobile.

At the Shanghai Expo, Nokia and ST-Ericsson demonstrated video streaming and other multimedia services on a TD-LTE Nokia Booklet containing ST-Ericsson’s M700 TD-LTE modem. ST-Ericsson’s LTE modems, which can download data at speeds of up to 100 Mbps, enable mobile subscribers to enjoy high-definition video streaming, video conferencing, online gaming, rapid file transfers and other demanding multimedia services.

China Mobile is trialing TD-LTE. Globally the technology is referred to as LTE TDD, which has a wide interest from operators around the world.

“Although LTE is still in its infancy, this sophisticated technology has the potential to bring a raft of compelling high-speed multimedia services to hundreds of millions of consumers all over the world,” said Heikki Koivu, Vice President, TD-SCDMA Business Team, Nokia. “Our co-operation with ST-Ericsson will enable us to demonstrate LTE capable devices and experiences as TD-LTE is developing towards commercial maturity”

“After driving development of both LTE and TD-based mobile technology for several years we are now ready to supply market-leading TD-LTE solutions,” said Pascal Langlois, Senior Vice President, Chief Sales and Marketing Officer of ST-Ericsson. “Our co-operation with Nokia, the world’s number one mobile phone supplier, will strengthen our ability to support mobile operators deploying LTE.”

Notes to Editors
Nokia and ST-Ericsson announced a partnership in late 2009 in the TD-SCDMA market
, which has since resulted in the launch of several devices in China.

From all that Nokia is clearly one of those absolutely committed vendors to the NovaThor platform! (And please note as well that the new CEO starting the Nokia restructuring was already at the helm during that announcement!)

Stephen Elop: Nokia Lumia coming to China on March 28th [engadget, March 12, 2012]

China recently greeted its first Windows Phone (on pre-order, anyway), but if Stephen Elop has his way, Nokia will be hot on HTC’s heels. The company’s CEO has revealed that Nokia will unleash its Lumia handsets upon the People’s Republic on March 28th. While Elop offered no clues to suggest which models will be available, recent regulatory approvals hint that the Lumia 800 and 710 are both top candidates — though personally, we’d be shocked if the Lumia 610 didn’t rear its head sooner rather than later. Both China Telecom and China Unicom are said to be partners with Nokia, which is undoubtedly eager to offer something other than Symbianto its Chinese fan base.

Engadget Chinese (translated), Tech in Asia

source21st Century Business (translated)

China Mobile to Launch TD-SCDMA Windows Phone [Marbridge Daily, March 9, 2012]

Pan Zhiyong, general manager of China Mobile’s (NYSE: CHL; 0941.HK) Guangzhou branch, disclosed in a recent interview that China Mobile will soon release a TD-SCDMA Windows Phone. As to the question of whether the phone will be a Nokia Lumia series or an HTC brand Windows phone, Pan would not provide further comment.

China market: Nokia to launch Windows Phone 7.5 smartphones [DigiTimes, March 16, 2012]

Nokia will launch Windows Phone 7.5 (Tango) Lumia series smartphones in the China market on March 28 through cooperation with China Unicom, China Telecom and China Mobile. WCDMA, CDMA and TD-SCDMA versions will all be available matching the specifications of each carrier’s network, according to industry sources.

Windows Phone “Tango” officially launches in China on March 21 [liveside.net, March 14, 2012]

Microsoft China has recently sent out invitations to media outlets for their Windows Phone 7.5 launch event. This will mark the official entrance of Microsoft’s Windows Phone operating system into the mainland Chinese market. The event is set to be held in Beijing on March 21st, check out the invitation below:

While the launch event is set to be in a week’s time, HTC had went ahead to become the first OEM to launch the HTC TITAN(called HTC Triumph in China) in the Chinese market. The device was released yesterday, March 14th, and is said to come pre-loaded with Windows Phone “Tango”.

Following the launch event, Nokia’s CEO and President Stephen Elop is also set to hold an official launch event on March 28. Elop had announced that Nokia will be launching their Lumia range of devices for the mainland Chinese market during the event. Nokia is expected to launch 3 Lumia devices during the event, however the exact devices are still currently unknown. Rumors have been floating around that Nokia will be launching the Lumia 610S, Lumia 719C, and the Lumia 800C with China Telecom, and the devices are expected to be able to run on the carrier’s CDMA2000 network. As at Q4 2011, Nokia owns 16.1% of the Chinese mobile phone market, placing them second just behind Samsung.

Microsoft opened app submissions to Chinese developers back in October 2011, and has recently put up the mainland Chinese version of the Windows Phone marketplace website. However the marketplace itself has not yet opened to Chinese customers on their Windows Phone devices. It is expected that the marketplace will open soon after the launch.

Other vendors with ST-Ericsson NovaThor platform:

ST-Ericsson U8500, now in a range of Smartphones on the market [Charbax blog, March 6, 2012]

ST-Ericsson demonstrates the range of some of the devices announced that use the ST-Ericsson NovaThor U8500 that includes ST-Ericsson HSPA+ connectivity. They also announced the U8520 and the U9540 L8540 LTE platforms. [The U8520 is a lower power, higher frequency and lower BOM cost version of the U8500. As such it is the life extender for the U8500. The frequency and the node on which it will be produced (instead of the 45nm of U8500) are not yet announced. U8520 is sampling now and will be in production in H2 2012.]

[2010. okt. 25. or 2011. febr. 7.]

… By combining ST-Ericsson Nova™ A9500 dual core application processor with the ST-Ericsson Thor™ M6718 TD-HSPA thin modem, ST-Ericsson customers in China can develop an advanced smartphone compatible with China Mobile’s 3G network, enabling consumers to enjoy immersive 3D graphics, fast web browsing, high-definition multimedia as well as other innovative and advanced applications with exceptional performance and battery life. …


China Mobile’s latest TD smartphone based on state-of-the-art NovaThor™ platform

China Mobile and HTC have launched the first smartphone to be based on ST-Ericsson’s powerful new NovaThor platform. The Sensation Z710t offers consumers immersive 3D graphics, fast web browsing, high-definition multimedia and the ability to run several advanced Androidapplications simultaneously with exceptional performance and battery life.

Underneath the hood of the HTC Sensation Z710t are ST-Ericsson’s Nova™ A9500 dual-core application processor, running at 1GHz, and ST-Ericsson’s Thor™ M6718modem, which can connect to China Mobile’s extensive TD-SCDMA network, enabling consumers to get online at broadband speeds across much of China. The HTC Sensation Z710t also sports an eight megapixel camera and a 4.3 inch display.

“ST-Ericsson’s new NovaThor platform has enabled us to develop a world-class Android smartphone for China Mobile’s TD network,” said Matthew Costello, Chief Operating Officer of HTC. “Consumers are going to be captivated by the fast and responsive multimedia experience delivered by the HTC Sensation Z710t.”

“The launch of this exceptional HTC smartphone highlights both the capabilities of our NovaThor platform family and our wholehearted support for China Mobile’s drive to bring world-leading smartphones onto its TD network,” said Pascal Langlois, senior vice president, chief sales and marketing officer of ST-Ericsson. “Consumers and Android application developers alike will relish the raw power and 3D graphical capabilities of the HTC Sensation Z710t.”

Notes to editors
has been developing platforms for the Chinese 3G technology TD-SCDMA since 2003.

ST-Ericsson NovaThor smartphone platforms combine dual-core application processors with high-speed modems.

ST-Ericsson Current Thor and NovaThor adaptations -- 31-Jan-2012
Source: ST-Ericsson Analyst & Media Briefing (Barcelona, February 28, 2012)


ST-Ericsson, a world leader in wireless platforms and semiconductors, announced today that Panasonic selected the power-efficient Thor™ M5780 thin modem for their newest ultra slim smartphone.

The ST-Ericsson Thor M5780 is a very compact smartphone-optimized modem configuration which inherits the proven HSPA+ modem technology from its predecessors. The small modem size helped Panasonic deliver an ultra slim smartphone equipped with a 4.3-inch screen.

“The Thor M5780 represents a further improvement of 21Mbps thin modems for smartphones in terms of size, thermal performance and cost structure which is why we believe Panasonic selected our modem to power their newest smartphone,” said Staffan Iveberg, senior vice president, thin modem solutions division for ST-Ericsson. “The success of innovation has led to a 35% size reduction of M5780 compared to our first generation HSPA+ modem. The modem is capable of delivering 21Mbps downstream and 5.76Mbps upstream simultaneously and needs no separate flash memory. With all of these features, Panasonic had everything they needed to make a great high speed broadband-enabled smartphone.”

ST-Ericsson announces that Panasonic smartphone will be first to use Thor M5780 HSPA+ modem [by Magnus Karlberg on ST-Ericsson blog, Feb 29, 2012]

ST-Ericsson was a pioneer with its Thor™ modems on the HSPA+ 21 market. I’m very pleased to see that the market has taken off quickly and that many networks support this high speed mobile broadband.

Of course we haven’t stopped our development on our HSPA+ portfolio since the early days, the success of innovation has led to even smaller and more power efficient modems. Today, I can share the exciting news that we power a new Panasonic smartphone device for this market with our latest HSPA+ 21Mbps modemthe M5780.

The Thor M5780 represents a further improvement of 21Mbps thin modems for smartphones in terms of size, thermal performance and cost structure which is why we believe Panasonic selected our modem to power their newest smartphone. The Thor M5780 is actually 35% smaller compared to our first generation HSPA+ modem.

I really like the design of the new Panasonic device, it’s an ultraslim smartphone with 4’3 screen powered with excellent mobile broadband capabilities!

Related to the current HSPA+ only single die U8500 NovaThor platform:

“Our high-speed Thor™ modem revenue grew more than 20 percent sequentially as new HSPA+ phones continued to ramp in the market. Also in the quarter [i.e. in Q2 CY2011] we … conducted field trials on our NovaThor™ U8500 platform with several customers. We are very pleased with our increasing progress on the NovaThor U8500, although initial volumes will be somewhat lower due to reduced demand at certain customers.

NOVATHOR U8500 [ST-Ericsson, excerpted on March 12, 2012]

The best smartphone platform
The NovaThor™ U8500 is the first integrated smartphone platform to offer the latest SMP (Symmetric Multi-Processing) dual core technology in a high-performance, low-power and cost-optimized solution for multiple operating systems. The U8500 is the first mobile platform with full High-Definition 1080p progressive-scan camcorder capabilities. With its combination of a dual-core SMP processor and a high-end 3D graphics accelerator, the U8500 enables a full web-browsing experience for next-generation smartphones.
  • Full HD 1080p camcorder, multiple codecs supported (H264 HP, VC-1, MPEG-4)
  • High-resolution, touchscreen display support up to WXGA
  • Simultaneous dual display support up to dual XGA
  • High performance 3D graphics
  • Dual camera support with Integrated ISP 20 Mpixel and 5 Mpixel
  • Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, GPS and FM enabled platform
  • Built-in USB 2.0, HDMI out
  • Support for multiple operating systems
  • Optional support for mobile TV standards

  • Highly efficient, low-power ARM dual Cortex™- A9 processor
  • Dual multimedia DSP for low-power, flexible media processing
  • High-bandwidth LP-DDR2 interface
  • ARM® Mali™ 400 GPU and NEON®CPU extensions
  • State-of-the-art HSPA (High-Speed Packet Access) Release 7 [HSPA+] modem
  • Unique audio architecture with a wide range of audio codecs supported
  • Advanced power saving architecture enabling class-leading audio and video playback times


NovaThor U8500 block diagram - ST-Ericsson


New Samsung Android-powered smartphone is first from company to use ST-Ericsson NovaThor platform

Today at Mobile World Congress, ST-Ericsson, a world leader in wireless platforms and semiconductors, announced that Samsung is now a customer of the ST-Ericsson NovaThor™ platform. The new Samsung GALAXY S Advance Android-powered smartphone, announced last month, selected the ST-Ericsson NovaThor™ U8500.

“The U8500 platform’s high level of integration enables handset manufacturers to produce small, slim yet powerful smartphones – like the Samsung GALAXY S Advance,” said Marc Cetto, senior vice president of smartphone and tablet solutions for ST-Ericsson. “Samsung is known for their powerful smartphones, strong design aesthetics, and solid user experiences and we could not be more pleased that they selected ST-Ericsson as a partner.”

The NovaThor U8500 smartphone platform offers dual core technology in a low-power but high-performance solution and integrates a state of the art HSPA+ modem and application processor featuring dual-core ARM® Cortex™-A9. Using the U8500, the Samsung GALAXY S Advance smartphone features 1GHz processor speed, HSPA 14.4 connectivity, a 5-megapixel camera and a 4.0-inch Super AMOLED display.

The Samsung GALAXY S Advance is expected to be available in March in parts of Europe, Asia, China and Latin America.

Samsung offers style and power with GALAXY S Advance [Samsung Mobile press release, Jan 30, 2012]

Latest addition to Android-powered GALAXY portfolio delivers sleek curved design with Dual Core performance
Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd, a global leader in digital media and digital convergence technologies, today announced the launch of the Samsung GALAXY S Advance. Designed for those who define themselves by the phone they carry, the GALAXY S Advance strikes a balance of style, power and performance. It will be available in Russia starting from February, and then be gradually rolled out in CIS, Europe, Africa, Middle East, Southeast and Southwest Asia, Latin America and China.
“The GALAXY S Advance adds to the successful track record of the GALAXY smartphone range with a phone that combines power and style with all the versatility of Samsung’s Hub services,” said JK Shin, President of IT & Mobile Communications Division at Samsung Electronics.
Dual Core performance, curved design and Super AMOLED display
Powered by a dual core 1.0 GHz processor and HSPA 14.4 Mbps connectivity, the GALAXY S Advance has been built with power and connectivity in mind, delivering great versatility and a highly responsive user interface for easy multitasking. Application start-ups are faster with virtually no lag time, and the user experience is boosted with smoother screen transitions, faster image processing, and enhanced Web download and browsing performance.
The GALAXY S Advance’s curved glass design enhances handling of the phone and fits the user’s facial form easily and naturally. Its 4.0” Super AMOLED display provides the stunning visuals users have come to expect of Samsung GALAXY smartphones, offering unparalleled color reproduction and ensuring that photos and videos captured with the device’s 5MP camera can be enjoyed with vivid clarity.
The Samsung user experience
Running on Android Gingerbread and featuring Samsung’s TouchWiz user interface, the GALAXY S Advance enables users to stay connected through the Samsung Hubs and ChatON services. Music Hub offers a full music store experience with access to over 11 million tracks and the ability to fully personalize users’ own music catalogues. Readers Hub offers access to over 2.3 million e-books, 3,500 magazine and 200 newspaper titles; while the hugely popular Game Hub offers access to thousands of catalogued games supplemented by gamer news feeds and news.
Samsung’s cross platform communication service, ChatON connects all phone users into a single community using phone numbers instead of usernames and passwords, provides aneasy instant messaging, group chatting and sharing of content in multiple formats—images, video, voice, contacts, calendar—to make messaging simpler and more intuitive than ever.
The GALAXY S Advance also features Find My Mobile, a unique lost-phone management system that ensures secure phone data encryption in case of phone loss, and that enables users to trace their lost phone directly via the Web or even delete the device’s data remotely.
For multimedia content and more detailed information, please visit www.samsungmobilepress.com
Samsung Galaxy S Advance Product Specifications:
HSPA 14.4 Mbps 850 / 900 / 1900 / 2100
EDGE / GPRS 850 / 900 / 1800 / 1900
1 GHz Dual-Core Processor
4.0” WVGA (480×800) Super AMOLED display
Android 2.3 (Gingerbread)
Main (Rear) : 5 Megapixel Auto Focus Camera with LED Flash
Sub (Front) : 1.3 Megapixel Camera
Codec : MPEG4, H.263, H.264, WMV, DivX, VC-1
Recording / Playback : 720@30 fps
Codec : MP3, AAC, AAC+, eAAC+, WMA, AC3
Music Player with SoundAlive
3.5 mm Ear Jack, Stereo FM Radio with RDS


– Samsung TouchWiz / Samsung L!ve Panel UX
– Samsung Apps
– Samsung Kies 2.0 / Samsung Kies air / AllShare
ChatON (Downloadable via Samsung Apps)
Readers Hub (Downloadable via Samsung Apps)
Music Hub
Game Hub
*Service availability differs by region
GoogleTMMobile Services
– Android Market™, Gmail™, YouTube™, Google Maps™,
Syncing with Google Calendar™
– Polaris Office
– Find My Mobile
Bluetooth® technology v 3.0 High Speed
USB 2.0
Wi-Fi 802.11 a / b / g / n
Proximity, Accelerometer, Geomagnetic, Light, Gyroscope
8 / 16 GB User memory + 768 MB (RAM)
MicroSD (up to 32 GB)
123.2 x 63 x 9.69 mm, 120 g
Standard battery, Li-ion 1.500 mAh


Xperia P and Xperia U join growing list of smartphones that have NovaThor U8500 inside

ST-Ericsson, a world leader in wireless platforms and semiconductors, announced today that two new phones from Sony Mobile Communications will be leveraging the ST-Ericsson NovaThor™ U8500 platform. The Xperia™ P and Xperia™ U are the first two smartphones by Sony Mobile Communications to use the NovaThor complete mobile platform solution, combining application processing, modem and connectivity.

“We have added Sony Mobile Communications to the growing list of smartphone manufacturers that have selected our NovaThor U8500 platformto power their newest smartphones,” said Marc Cetto, senior vice president of smartphone and tablet solutions for ST-Ericsson. “With its combination of a dual-core SMP processor and a high-end 3D graphics accelerator, the NovaThor U8500 enables a fast and smooth mobile web-browsing experience together with high definition multimedia creation and consumption on powerful next-generation smartphones like Xperia P and Xperia U from Sony.”

Key features for Xperia P

  • 4” Reality Display with WhiteMagic technology powered by Mobile BRAVIA Engine for an ultra-bright and power efficient viewing experience.
  • 1 GHzdual-core processor for super fast performance with 16GB flash storage.
  • 8MP camera with unique fast capture and HD recording.
  • NFC enabled with easy HDMI and DLNA connectivity to share content.
  • Launches on Android platform 2.3 (Gingerbread), upgrade to Android platform 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) during the second quarter of 2012.

Key features for Xperia U

  • 3.5” Reality Display powered by Mobile BRAVIA Engine.
  • 1 GHzdual-core processor for super fast performance.
  • 5MP camera with unique fast capture and HD recording.
  • Crisp and loud listening with xLoud™ and 3D surround sound audio technology.
  • Launches on Android platform 2.3 (Gingerbread), upgrade to Android platform 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) during the second quarter of 2012.

Xperia P and Xperia U will launch during the second quarter.

Notes to Editors

The NovaThor family combines advanced application processing, a high speed mobile broadband modem and a full connectivity suite in a complete platform. The NovaThor U8500 integrates a dual-core 1GHz Cortex A9 processor, an ARM Mali-400 GPU and a HSPA+ modem in a single die.

Another Sony smartphone powered by the NovaThor U8500 [ST Ericsson technology blog, March 15, 2012]

The new Xperia™ sola, announced by Sony Mobile Communications this week, is the latest addition to its portfolio of Android powered Xperia smartphones – and the latest smartphone to be powered by the ST-Ericsson NovaThor™ U8500 platform.

With its combination of a dual-core SMP processor and a high-end 3D graphics accelerator, the NovaThor U8500 enables a fast and smooth mobile web-browsing experience together with high definition multimedia creation and consumption on powerful next-generation smartphones.

The Xperia sola also features a new amazing technology called floating touch, giving people the ability to control the smartphone without even touching it. Check out the video below to check out the phone and for a brief demonstration of floating touch technology.

Sony Xperia sola is the latest Xperia smartphone, featuring the brand new amazing technology called floating touch. Floating touch gives you the ability to control the smartphone with out even touching it. Get a full browser experience where you can hover above links in your Xperia sola with floating touch, and check out the magic live wall paper reacting to floating touch.

The new Xperia sola joins growing list of smartphones that have the NovaThor U8500 inside. And just last month at Mobile World Congress, we announced that the Xperia P and Xperia U also use the NovaThor U8500platform.

The Xperia sola will be available to consumers globally in black, white and red in the second quarter.

Zenithink ST-Ericsson U8500 based 3G 1024×600 Tablet [Charbax YouTube channel, March 14, 2012]

Zenithink shows their new ST-Ericsson U8500 Dual-core ARM Cortex-A9 based tablet designed by Ontim with a built-in 3G HSPA+ modem, bluetooth, WiFi, and a decent 1024×600 screen resolution. The price is $150 for an order of at least 1000 units. They also show a $65 AmLogic based Android set-top-box with a built-in DVB-T tuner.

ST-ERICSSON NOVATHOR U8500 POWERS NEW TABLET FROM ONTIM [ST-Ericsson press release, Feb 27, 2012]

ST-Ericsson, a world leader in wireless platforms and semiconductors, announced today at Mobile World Congress that Ontim has selected the NovaThor U8500 platform for its newest tablet. This tablet will be the first to be commercially available based on the NovaThor U8500 platform.

“Ontim has selected the NovaThor U8500to power their newest Android-based tablet,” said Marc Cetto, senior vice president of smartphone and tablet solutions for ST-Ericsson. “ST-Ericsson’s U8500 platform integrates a state of the art HSPA+ modem and application processor featuring dual-core ARM® Cortex™ A9. As a result, the U8500 can easily power the Ontim tablet five-megapixel built-in camera and high-definition digital camcorder as well as enable a full web-browsing experience.”

“The new Ontim WP8500 tablet is the first seven-inch handheld tablet delivering an outstanding user experience and performance thanks to the NovaThor U8500,” said Bob Huo, CEO of Ontim. “We were able to bring this tablet to market quickly by working closely with ST-Ericsson engineering and the maturity of the solution.”

In addition to the U8500, the Ontim WP8500 tablet also leverages the ST-Ericsson CG2900 and CW1100 connectivity solutions.

The seven-inch Ontim WP8500 will launch with Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich). The Ontim WP8500 tablet is expected to be available in March.





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