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Cortex-A53 is used alone in higher and higher-end devices as the result of increased competition between MediaTek and Qualcomm
We’ve learned a lot during the last one a half years about the superiority of the Cortex-A53 cores for the mass produced SoCs. Some major points about that you see on the right:
My prediction back in Dec 23, 2013 was that The Cortex-A53 as the Cortex-A7 replacement core is succeeding as a sweet-spot IP for various 64-bit high-volume market SoCs to be delivered from H2 CY14 on. Such a prediction is a reality now as no less than 291 smartphones are listed as of today in PDAdb.net, which are using the Qualcomm Snapdragon 410 MSM8916 quad-core SoC based on Cortex-A53. The first such device, the Lenovo A805e Dual SIM TD-LTE was released in July, 2014.
Meanwhile Qualcomm’s downstream rival, MediaTek is moving up fast with its offerings as well. There are 8 devices based on quadcore MT6732M since Dec’14, 27 devices which based on quad-core MT6732 since Nov’14, and even 6 devices based on octa-core MT6753 since Jan’15. Note however that there are 3 such products from the Chinese brand Meizu, and one each from another local brands, Elephone and Cherry Mobile. Only the ZTE model is from a 1st tier global vendor yet.
My prediction was also proven by the fact that interest in that post was the highest on this blog as soon as the respective new SoCs, and commercial devices based on them arrived:
Now even higher end, octa-core smartphones based on Cortex-A53 alone are coming to the market from 1st tier device vendors
June 1, 2015: Asus ZenFone Selfie (ZD551KL)
(launched on the ASUS Zensation Press Event at Computex 2015)
from the product site:
ZenFone Selfie features the industry’s first octa-core, 64-bit processor — Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 615. With its superb performance and superior power-efficiency you’ll shoot sharp photographs at stupefying speed, record and edit Full HD (1080p) video with minimal battery draw, and enjoy using the integrated 4G/LTE to share everything you do at incredible speeds of up to 150Mbit/s!
expected price in India: ₹12,999 ($205)
(Re: “coming in an incredible price” said in the launch video about the earlier ZenFone 2 (ZE551ML) which has the same price, but a 1.8 GHz Intel Atom Z3560 processor, only 5 MP secondary camera etc.)
from the ASUS Presents Zensation at Computex 2015 press release:
ZenFone Selfie is a unique smartphone designed to capture the best possible selfies, quickly and simply. Featuring front and rear 13MP PixelMaster cameras with dual-color, dual LED Real Tone flash, ZenFone Selfie captures beautiful, natural-looking selfies in gloriously high resolution. The rear camera features a large f/2.0 aperture lens and laser auto-focus technology to ensure near-instant focusing for clear, sharp pictures — even in low-light conditions where traditional cameras struggle.
ZenFone Selfie includes the brilliant ZenUI Beautification mode for live digital cosmetics. A few taps is all that’s needed to soften facial features, slim cheeks, and enhance skin tone to add vibrancy, and all in real time — injecting instant verve into any composition. ZenFone Selfie also has Selfie Panorama mode, which exploits ZenFone Selfie’s f/2.2-aperture front lens and 88-degree field of view to capture panoramic selfies of up to 140 degrees. With Selfie Panorama mode enabled, selfies become a party with all friends included — plus the ability to capture panoramic scenery for stunning backdrops.
ZenFone Selfie has a large 5.5-inch screen that fits in a body that’s a similar size to that of most 5-inch smartphones, for a maximized viewing experience in a compact body that fits comfortably in the hand. It has a high-resolution 1920 x 1080 Full HD IPS display with a wide 178-degree viewing angle and staggering 403ppi pixel density that renders every image in eye-delighting detail. ASUS TruVivid technology brings color to life in brilliant clarity, making selfies and other photos look their best. Tough Corning® Gorilla® Glass 4 covers the display to help protect against scratches and drops.
ZenFone Selfie features the industry’s first octa-core, 64-bit processor for the perfect balance of multimedia performance and battery efficiency — the Qualcomm® Snapdragon™ 615. This extraordinarily powerful chip equips ZenFone Selfie to provide the very best multimedia and entertainment experiences, carefully balancing high performance with superior power-efficiency.
June 19, 2015 by SamMobile: Samsung’s first smartphones with front-facing LED flash, Galaxy J5 and Galaxy J7, now official
Samsung has announced its first smartphones with a front-facing LED flash; the Galaxy J5 and the Galaxy J7. Specifications of these devices were previously leaked through TENAA, and their UI was revealed through Samsung’s own manuals. Now, they have been officially announced in China, where they would be available starting this week, but there’s no clarity about their international launch.
All the mid-range and high-end smartphones from the company released recently have started featuring high-resolution front-facing cameras, and the same is the case with the Galaxy J7 and the Galaxy J5. To complement their 5-megapixel wide-engle front-facing cameras, they are equipped with a front-facing single-LED flash. Other features include a 13-megapixel primary camera with an aperture of f/1.9, 1.5GB RAM, 16GB internal storage, a microSD card slot, dual-SIM card slot, and LTE connectivity. Both these smartphones run Android 5.1 Lollipop with a new UI that is similar to that of the Galaxy S6 and the S6 edge.
The Galaxy J7 is equipped with a 5.5-inch HD display, a 64-bit octa-core Snapdragon 615 processor, a 3,000 mAh battery, and is priced at 1,798 CNY (~ $289). The Galaxy J5 features a slightly smaller 5-inch HD display, a 64-bit quad-core Snapdragon 410 processor, a 2,600 mAh battery, and is priced at 1,398 CNY (~ $225). Both of them will be available in China in three colors; gold, white, and black.
The Galaxy J5 and J7 are targeted at the youth and compete with devices like the HTC Desire EYE, Sony Xperia C4, and the Asus ZenFone Selfie, all of which have high-resolution front-facing cameras with an LED flash.
The selfie phenomenon is about to kick up a notch with the introduction of Xperia™ C4 and Xperia C4 Dual – Sony’s next generation PROselfie smartphones, featuring a best in class 5MP front camera, a Full HD display and superior performance.
“Following the success of Xperia C3, we are proud to introduce Sony’s evolved PROselfie smartphone,” said Tony McNulty, Vice-President, Value Category Business Management at Sony Mobile Communications. “Xperia C4 caters to consumers that want a smartphone that not only takes great photos, but also packs a punch. Benefiting from Sony’s camera expertise, the 5MP front-facing camera with wide-angle lens lets you capture perfect selfies, while its quality display and performance features provide an all-round advanced smartphone experience.”
We all like a high-profile selfie – so go ahead and get snapping:
You can now stage the perfect selfie, getting everything – and everyone – in shot, thanks to the powerful 5MP front camera with 25mm wide-angle lens. Sony’s Exmor RTM for mobile sensor, soft LED flash and HDR features means the pictures will always be stunning, even in those ‘hard to perfect’ low light conditions. Superior auto automatically optimises settings to give you the best possible picture and SteadyShot™ technology compensates for any camera shake.
With 13MP, autofocus and HDR packed in there is no compromise on the rear camera, which delivers great shots for those rare moments you’re not in the picture.
You will also be able to get even more fun out of your smartphone with a suite of creative camera apps such as Style portrait with styles including ‘vampire’ and ‘mystery’ to add a unique edge to your selfie. Moreover, apps such as AR maskgive your selfie a twist by letting you place a different face over your own face or others’ faces while you snap a selfie.
Experience your entertainment in Full HD
Now you can enjoy every picture and every video in detail with Xperia C4’s 5.5” Full HD display. Watching movies on your smartphone is more enjoyable thanks to Sony’s TV technology – such as Mobile BRAVIA® Engine 2 and super vivid-mode – which offers amazing clarity and colour brightness. Enjoy viewing from any angle with IPS technology.
Great video deserves great audio to match, so Xperia C4 features Sony’s audio expertise to deliver crisp and clear audio quality. With or without headphones, you can sit back and enjoy your favourite entertainment in all its glory.
The design of Xperia C4 has also been crafted with precise detail and care to ensure every aspect amplifies the sharp and vivid display. A minimal frame around the scratch-resistant screen enhances both the viewing experience and the smartphone design, while its lightweight build feels comfortable in the hand. Xperia C4 comes in a choice of white, black and a vibrant mint.
Superior performance, with a power-packed battery that just keeps going
Whether you’re running multiple apps, checking Facebook, snapping selfies or listening to the best music – you can do it all at lighting speed thanks to Xperia C4’s impressive Octa-core processor. Powered by an efficient 64-bit Octa-core processor [Mediatek MT6752], Xperia C4 makes it easier than ever to multitask and switch between your favourite apps, without affecting performance. Ultra-fast connectivity with 4G capabilities means it’s quicker than ever to download your favourite audio or video content and surf the web without lag.
The large battery (2,600mAh) provides over eight hours of video viewing time, meaning that the entire first season of Breaking Bad can be binged uninterrupted, while Battery STAMINA Mode 5.0 ensures you have complete control over how your battery is used.
Xperia C4 is compatible with more than 195 Sony NFC-enabled devices including SmartBand Talk (SWR30) and Stereo Bluetooth® Headset (SBH60). You can also customise the smartphone with the protective desk-stand SCR38 Cover or with a full range of original Made for Xperia covers.
Xperia C4 will be available in Single SIM and Dual SIM in select markets from the beginning of June 2015.
For the full product specifications, please visit: http://www.sonymobile.com/global-en/products/phones/xperia-c4/specifications/
June 1, 2015: The stakes have been raised even higher by a higher-end octa-core SoC from MediaTek with 2GHz cores which is also 30% more energy efficient because of the first time use of 28HPC+ technology of TSMC
MediaTek Expands its Flagship MediaTek Helio™ Processor Family with the P Series, Offering Premium Performance for Super Slim Designs
P-series the first to use TSMC’s 28nm HPC+ process, which reduces processor power consumption
MediaTek, a leader in power-efficient, System-on-Chip (SoC) mobile device technology solutions, today announces the launch of the MediaTek Helio™ P10, a high-performance, high-value SoC focused on the growing demand for slim form-factor smart phones that provide premium, flagship features. The Helio P10 showcases a 2 GHz, True Octa-core 64-bit Cortex-A53 CPU and a 700MHz, Dual-core 64-bit Mali-T860 GPU. The Helio P10 will be available Q3 2015 and is expected to be in consumer products in late 2015.
The P10 is the first chip in the new Helio P family, a series which aims to integrate into a high-value chipset, premium features such as high-performance modem technology; the world’s first TrueBright ISP engine for ultra-sensitive RWWB; and, MiraVision™ 2.0, for top-tier display experiences. The features available in the P series include several of MediaTek’s premier technologies, such as WorldMode LTE Cat-6, supporting 2×20 carrier aggregation with 300/50Mbps data speed; MediaTek’s advanced task scheduling algorithm, CorePilot®, which optimizes the P10’s heterogeneous computing architecture by sending workloads to the most suitable computing device – CPU, GPU, or both; and, MediaTek’s Visual Processing Application – Non-contact Heart Rate Monitoring, which uses only a smartphone’s video camera to take a heart rate reading and is as accurate as pulse oximeters/portable ECG monitoring devices.
“The P series will provide OEM smartphone makers with greater design flexibility to meet consumer demands for slim form-factors, which provide dynamic multimedia experiences,” said Jeffrey Ju, Senior Vice President of MediaTek. “The P10 enables state-of-the-art mobile computing and multimedia features all while balancing performance and battery life.”
The Helio P10 is the first product to use TSMC’s 28nm HPC+ process, which allows for reduced processor power consumption. With the help of the latest 28HPC+ process and numerous architecture and circuit design optimizations, the Helio P10 can save up to 30% more power (depending of usage scenarios), compared to existing smartphone SoCs manufactured using the 28 HPC process.
“We are pleased to see MediaTek’s achievement in producing the world’s leading 28HPC+ smartphone chip,” said Dr. BJ Woo, Vice President, Business Development, TSMC. “As an enhanced version of TSMC’s 28HPC process, 28HPC+ promises 15% better speed at fixed power or 50% leakage reduction at the same speed over 28HPC. Through our competitive 28HPC+ technology and process-design collaboration with MediaTek, we believe MediaTek will deliver a series of products which benefit smartphone users across the world.”
As with the entire line of Helio SoCs, the P10 is packed with premium multimedia features. With a concentration on advanced display technologies, premium camera features, and HiFi audio, the P10 delivers leading functionality around the features most used on today’s mobile phones:
21MP premium camera with the world’s first TrueBright ISP engine:
Enables ultra-sensitive RWWB sensor to capture twice as much light as traditional RGB sensors in order to retain true color and detail, even in low light. The RWWB sensor also enhances the color resolution, even when compared with RGBW sensors.
Other features include a new de-noise/de-mosaic HW, PDAF, video iHDR, dual main camera, less than 200ms shot-to shot delay, and video face beautify.
Hi-fidelity, hi-clarity audio achieves 110dB SNR & -95dB THD
Full HD display at 60FPS with MediaTek’s suite of MiraVision 2.0 display technologies:
UltraDimming – Dimmer background lighting for more comfortable reading, even in low-light situations.
BluLight Defender – A built-in blue light filter that saves more power than conventional software applications.
Adaptive Picture Quality – Ensures the best picture quality when using different applications. True-to-life colors when in camera preview; vibrant colors when watching videos.
The MediaTek Helio P10 will be released in Q3 2015 and is expected to be available in consumer products in late 2015.
Note that Helio P1 is a significant step in MediaTek’s strategy already outlined in the following posts of mine:
– March 4, 2014: MediaTek is repositioning itself with the new MT6732 and MT6752 SoCs for the “super-mid market” just being born, plus new wearable technologies for wPANs and IoT are added for the new premium MT6595 SoC
– March 10, 2015: MediaTek’s next 10 years’ strategy for devices, wearables and IoT
Intel’s desperate attempt to establish a sizeable foothold on the tablet market until its 14nm manufacturing leadership could provide a profitable position for the company in 2016
The stock market is over-optimistic about that: Intel tablets could cure [stock] market conditions [Saxo TV – TradingFloor.com YouTube channel, April 16, 2014]
I am—nevertheless—highly sceptical about that as Allwinner to continue the No. 1 position on Android tablet application processor market with the new UltraOcta A80 SoC optimized for premium devices, without the premium cost, also made universal accross other devices (TV box, notebook, smart TV, All-in-one and digital signage), and operating systems (ChromeOS, Smart TV, Windows, Ubuntu and Firefox OS) [‘USD 99 Allwinner’ blog, April 16, 2014]. My skepticism is also based on The lost U.S. grip on the mobile computing market, including not only the device business, but software development and patterns of use in general [‘Experiencing the Cloud’, April 14, 2014].
You can judge all that for yourself as the background and my analysis behind Intel’s tablet strategy could be found in the following sections of this post below:
- Intel’s Mobile and Communications Group (MCG), which the Tablet Group is just a part of, is the largest loss maker segment with losses even growing to $3.15B in 2013 from $1.78B in 2012, and continuing at least into 20145
- Intel is desperate to cheat when comparing its current tablet performance based on Clover Trail+ against much lower priced and lesser frequency ARM Cortex-A9 tablets from brand vendors.
- Intel’s Krzanich is betting on sacrificing “contra revenue” dollars for Q2-Q4 2014 tablet market with Bay Trail-based tablets, while hoping to level the playing field with its TSMC produced SoFIA SoCs for the 2015 tablet market.
To understand the technical and business development aspects behind that strategy read my previous posts as well:
– Intel CTE initiative: Bay Trail-Entry V0 (Z3735E and Z3735D) SoCs are shipping next week in $129 Onda (昂达) V819i Android tablets—Bay Trail-Entry V2.1 (Z3735G and Z3735F) SoCs might ship in $60+ Windows 8.1 tablets from Emdoor Digital (亿道) in the 3d quarter [‘Experiencing the Cloud’, April 11, 2014]
– IDF14 Shenzhen: Intel is levelling the Wintel playing field with Android-ARM by introducing new competitive Windows tablet price points from $99 – $129 [‘Experiencing the Cloud’, April 4, 2014]
– The long awaited Windows 8.1 breakthrough opportunity with the new Intel “Bay Trail-T”, “Bay Trail-M” and “Bay Trail-D” SoCs? [‘Experiencing the Cloud’, Sept 14, 2013]
1. Intel’s Mobile and Communications Group (MCG), which the Tablet Group is just a part of, is the largest loss maker segment with losses even growing to $3.15B in 2013 from $1.78B in 2012, and continuing at least into 2014
Source: Download Quarters Q1 2014 [Intel Corporation – Investor Relations, April 16, 2014]
MCG is one of the new operating segments representing the following organisational responsibility, which is aligned with Intel’s new critical objectives (this particular segment was previously buried in the Other Intel Architecture Group):
- Mobile and Communications Group (MCG): MCG includes the Phone Group, the Tablet Group and Multi-Comm, all previously part of the Other IA operating segments.
- Mobile and Communications Group: Delivering platforms designed for the tablet and smartphone market segments; as well as mobile communications components such as baseband processors, radio frequency transceivers, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth*, global navigation satellite systems and power management chips.
Note that the previous structure of operating segments (since the end of 2012) was as seen on the right. As far as the organizational size is concerned, according to Infineon Completes Sale of Mobile Phone Business to Intel – New Company Intel Mobile Communications starts operations [Infineon press release, Jan 31, 2011]:
Following the sale, approximately 3,500 employees in total will move globally from Infineon to the new company Intel Mobile Communications GmbH (IMC). IMC will be headquartered in Neubiberg near Munich, Germany.
Then according to Intel® Mobile Communications Profile [Intel, Jan 6, 2012]:
Intel Mobile Communications GmbH is a subsidiary of Intel Corporation headquartered in Santa Clara, USA. The company develops and markets innovative semiconductor products and solutions for mobile communications – most notably in the rapid-growth market segments of smart phones, tablets and ultra-low-cost mobile phones.
The company has approximately 4,000 employees all over the world, about 1,700 of whom work in Germany where the headcount at the company headquarters in Neubiberg near Munich is approximately 1,200. Other German sites are Ulm, Regensburg, Duisburg, Dresden, Braunschweig and Nuremberg. Intel Mobile Communications is represented in altogether 17 countries around the world and has a strong presence in the Asian growth markets.
Considering that the Mobile and Communications Group (MCG) of today was put together from Intel Mobile Communications, the Tablet Group and the Phone Group, the overall number of employees in MCG is quite probably more than 6000 people.
Note that as of May 2013 MediaTek had 6,880 employees and ARM Holdings’ workforce at the same time was 2,261. As of March 2014 Allwinner Technology had 550+ employees (450 of which were engineers). In July 2013 Rockchip had more than 500 employees, 80% were engineers. In September 2013 Spreadtrum had 1,506 employees.
The 4000 strong Multi-Comm business is mostly engaged in standalone baseband processor market which had the following sales structure in 2013 according to Forward Concepts [March 24, 2014]:
Intel, the 2nd leading supplier of 3G thin modems in 2013 – will likely become the 2nd leading supplier of 3G/4G thin modems in 2014. Their focus will be on winning 3G/4G modem orders for notebooks and tablets. They will be challenged by Marvell’s 3G/4G PXA802 TD- LTE modem, which also supports TD-HSPA+ and is already shipping to ZTE.
Intel was—however—warning in its Nov 21, 2013 Investor Meeting presentation that:
In fact Strategy Analytics was painting a rather dark picture in Qualcomm’s Dominance Continues with 64 percent revenue share says Strategy Analytics [Feb 21, 2014]:
Qualcomm, MediaTek, Intel, Spreadtrum, and Broadcom captured the top-five revenue share spots in the cellular baseband processor market [which the standalone is just a part of] in 2013. Qualcomm dominated with 64 percent revenue share, followed by MediaTek with 12 percent revenue share and Intel with 8 percent revenue share.
Sravan Kundojjala, Senior Analyst, explains “Qualcomm domination in the cellular baseband market continued in 2013, thanks to its early investments in multi-mode LTE technology. The LTE baseband landscape is expected to be a crowded one in 2014 with several vendors including Broadcom, Ericsson, Intel, Marvell, MediaTek, NVIDIA, Spreadtrum and others are all set to bring commercial multi-mode LTE chip products to the market and this could help drive LTE down into mid-to-low tier devices.”
According to Stuart Robinson, Director of the Strategy Analytics Handset Component Technologies service, “Strategy Analytics calculates that revenue from baseband-integrated applications processors represented over 60 percent of total baseband revenue in 2013, up from 48 percent in 2012. Most baseband vendors have now transitioned their portfolios to include integrated products in order to boost their revenue share.”
According to Christopher Taylor, Director of the Strategy Analytics RF and Wireless Componentservice, “MediaTek overtook Intel to capture the number two spot in the 3G UMTS baseband market in 2013, by Strategy Analytics estimates. MediaTek capitalized on its smartphone chip momentum and improved its baseband-mix. MediaTek’s recent LTE chip announcements could potentially improve its baseband revenue share in future.”
Such a doomsday scenario was even more present in Qualcomm, MediaTek in Two-Horse Race, Says CLSA; Game Over for BRCM, Etc. [Tech Trader Daily at Barrons.com, Apr 11, 2014]
… and predicting many of the challengers will fold up without making a dent in Qualcomm’s position.
We believe that the baseband battle is largely over and expect more consolidation in the next 1 – 2 years. Nvidia is already shifting its investments, and we see a strong possibility that Broadcom exits in the next 6 – 9 months. Intel’s new management may have a bit more time, but we do not see enough opportunity to justify its $2bn+ investments. Marvell is least likely to exit in our view, but we expect it to remain a niche player. Overall, we expect the Qualcomm / MediaTek duopoly to get even stronger in the coming years and see positive implications for the overall industry profitability.
The baseband market has seen meaningful consolidation over the years. In 2006, there were 15 vendors in the market including larger analog IC vendors such as Texas Instruments, Freescale, and Analog Devices. The market has contracted to about 9 vendors by 2008 and currently has 7 vendors, after the recent consolidation at ST-Ericsson and Renesas.
Even if second tier vendors make significant progress in LTE, we simply do not see enough opportunity for all these vendors to achieve profitability any time soon.
MediaTek has a higher share in shipments of Chinese smartphones:
Chinese telcos, in particular China Mobile, are aggressively expanding their 4G networks, and China Mobile is targeting 100m LTE devices for 2014. While China Mobile’s target does appear aggressive, Qualcomm appears to be dominating the early shipments. We expect MediaTek-based LTE phones to start shipping in the next few months and expect a majority of MediaTek’s 3G customers to stick with the company as the China market transitions to 4G. Chinese smartphone OEMs lack the R&D capability of their international peers, and as a result, rely on turnkey solutions from MediaTek and Qualcomm. While MediaTek appears a bit late with LTE, we expect the company to maintain a strong share of the China LTE market longer term given its relationships with domestic handset manufacturers.
2. Intel is desperate to cheat when comparing its current tablet performance based on Clover Trail+ against much lower priced and lesser frequency ARM Cortex-A9 tablets from brand vendors.
For an Intel Clover Trail+ (pre-Bay Trail-T) tablet: A Four-Tablet Comparison: Intel vs. Competition [IREPRockLegend YouTube channel, April 16, 2014]
But Intel is cheating here, especially by being at least 2 times more expensive than the others (all the below prices are “best retail ones”), even discounting the 3G call capability:
- $300 (but has 3G call capability as well): Asus Fonepad 7 (Intel Atom Processor Z2560 (2 Clover Trail+ cores/4 threads, 1MB Cache, 1.60 GHz) since Q2’13)
(++Review Asus Fonepad 7 ME372CG Tablet [Notebookcheck.net, Nov 13, 2013)
- $119: Amazon Kindle Fire [7”] HD* (TI OMAP 4460 Processor (2 Cortex-A9 cores, 1.20 GHz))
[* Intel is cheating even more here as the 2nd generation figured in the above test has been replaced half a year ago by a 3d generation 7” Kindle Fire HD tablet which contains the TI OMAP 4470 with 2 Cortex-A9 cores, 1.5 GHz.]
- $160: Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 7” (ARM Cortex A9 Processor (2 Cortex-A9 cores, 1.2 GHz) )
- $139: Lenovo IdeaTab A1000 (ARM v7 Cortex A9 Processor (MediaTek 8317, Dual Core 1.2 GHz) )
The same cheating is in another new Intel video: A Three-Tablet Comparison: Intel vs. Competition [IREPRockLegend YouTube channel, April 16, 2014] where the $140 Dell Venue 7 16GB, having the same Z2560 CloverTrail+ processors goes against the same 2nd generation Amazon Kindle Fire [7”] HD and the also same Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 7”:
And finally the cheating in the 3d new video is even more inexcusable: Tablets with Intel Inside® vs. the Competition: Samsung as here the $305 Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 10.1” tablet with the same 1.6 Ghz Z2560 (and list price of is compared with the $200 Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 10.1” having just a 1 GHz Cortex-A9 dual core processor:
3. Intel’s Krzanich is betting on sacrificing “contra revenue” dollars for Q2-Q4 2014 tablet market with Bay-Trail-based tablets, while hoping to level the playing field with TSMC produced SoFIA SoCs for the 2015 tablet market
What is contra revenue? [Accounting Tools, March 5, 2013]
Contra revenue is a deduction from the gross revenue reported by a business, which results in net revenue.
Contra revenue transactions are recorded in one or more contra revenue accounts, which usually have a debit balance (as opposed to the credit balance in the typical revenue account). There are three commonly used contra revenue accounts, which are:
- Sales returns. Contains either an allowance for returned goods, or the actual amount of revenue deduction attributable to returned goods.
- Sales allowances. Contains either an allowance for reductions in the price of a product that has minor defects, or the actual amount of the allowance attributable to specific sales.
- Sales discounts. Contains the amount of sales discounts given to customers, which is usually a discount given in exchange for early payments by customers.
In fact what Intel calls in accounting terms “contra revenue” it actually represents the subsidies paid to tablet manufacturers in order bring the Bill of Materials cost of Intel tablets into line with ARM based tablets. Intel was forced into these subsidies otherwise tablet manufacturers weren’t going to offer Intel based tablets.
Intel aggressively promoting tablet CPUs in China [DIGITIMES, April 14, 2014]
Intel has resorted to an aggressive pricing strategy to promote sales of its tablet-use processors, particularly in China, a move which apparently will take on Qualcomm and MediaTek, while ramping up its market share, according to industry sources.
Prices of Intel’s mainstream quad-core tablet CPUs have dropped to below US$5, which are almost on par with those offered by China-based chipset suppliers such as Rockchip Electronics and Allwinner Technology and even below those available from Nvidia, Qualcomm and MediaTek, said the sources.
Consequently, the number of Intel-based tablets is likely to expand in a great proportion as more and more China-based brand and white-box tablet vendors are expected to use Intel’s tablet CPUs to develop new products, the sources revealed.
Intel’s new policy also focuses on deepening its relationship with the supply chain in China, highlighting by its recent announcement of establishing an Intel Smart Device Innovation Center in Shenzhen and a US$100 million Intel Capital China Smart Device Innovation Fund, commented the sources.
To encourage China-based tablet makers to use Intel’s CPUs, the chipset vendor is offering assistance in terms of design, technology and marketing, the sources indicated.
Intel’s offerings will be particularly attractive to white-box tablet makers as they can optimize low-priced chipsets and advanced technologies to roll out competitive models for the entry-level segment, added the sources.
Intel aims to ship 40 million tablet CPUs in 2014, including entry-level Bay Trail family and SoFIA 3G platform products, the sources noted.
Intel Beats on Bottom Line, Misses Revenue Expectations for Q1 Results [TheStreet YouTube channel, April 15, 2014]
From Intel Reports First-Quarter Revenue of $12.8 Billion Operating Income of $2.5 Billion, up 1 Percent Year-over-Year [news release, April 15, 2014]
Mobile and Communications Group revenue of $156 million, down 52 percent sequentially and down 61 percent year-over-year.
From Intel’s CEO Discusses Q1 2014 Results – Earnings Call Transcript [Seeking Alpha, April 15, 2014] ragarding the tablet strategy which is carried out by the Mobile and Communications Group:
Brian M. Krzanich – CEO: … We set an aggressive goal of shipping 40 million tablet SOCs this year. And I’m happy to say we’ve tallied more than 90 designs on Android and Windows and shipped 5 million units in the first quarter, placing us squarely on track to that goal.
We demonstrated SoFIA, our first integrated apps processor and baseband, after adding it to the roadmap late last year. We’re on track to ship the 3G solution to OEMs in Q4 2014, with the LTE version following in the first half of 2015.
We also shipped our first Quark SoCs for the Internet of Things and announced an upgrade of Edison to the Silvermont Atom architecture. Edison is on track to ship this summer.
And in the Technology and Manufacturing Group, who’ve worked to advance Moore’s Law as foundational to our long-term success, we began production on our 14-nanometer process technology and remain on track to launch Broadwell in the second half of the year.
And the foundry team extended our collaboration with Altera to the development of multi-dye devices that take advantage of our world-class package and assembly capabilities and Altera’s leading-edge programmable logic.
Stacy J. Smith – EVP and CFO: … The Mobile and Communications Group is down 61% from a year ago. The underlying dynamics are consistent with what we shared at the investor meeting last November.
We’re seeing a decline in our feature phone and 2G/3G multi-[com] [ph] business, as we’re in the midst of a transition to integrated LTE solutions. In addition, the ramp in tablet volume is being offset by an increase in contra revenue dollars.
We’re winning designs and ramping our tablet volume rapidly and we have design wins in LTE that will result in a second half revenue ramp.
Let me even back up and give you — again restate the strategy of what we’re doing here. … what we’re doing is we’re taking Bay Trail, which is a product really designed for the PC market, and we made the decision to take it broadly across different segments of the tablet market this year.
It brings along with it, at least over the course of 2014, a higher bill of materials. And that’s independent from the SOC cost. It’s the power management subsystem, it’s the motherboard that it goes on, it’s the memory solution, those kinds of things. And so, we’re providing some contra revenue to offset that bill of material delta over the course of 2014.
Now, as we said, we’re doing value engineering with our customers and our partners. And so we’re bringing down that bill of material over the course of 2014 independent of any changes to our SOC. …
Brian M. Krzanich – CEO: … We have a series of improvements. They have already started to kick-in in some cases around our power management systems, the number of layers in our motherboards, the memory system integration. All of those things we’ve worked on and actually have started to see the advantages already in our costs.
Stacy J. Smith – EVP and CFO: So, I think on a like dollars per unit, it comes down pretty dramatically over the course of 2014. And it should be relatively small, if at all, as we get into 2015. And it’s, again, the enablement we’re doing around the bill of materials.
And then we also have new products coming into the marketplace, like SoFIA, that’s targeted at the low end, and then in 2015 you’ll see Broxton, which is an SOC more for the mid-range to high-range of the market coming into our product portfolio.
So, the combination of all of that gives us a better cost structure with our own products and a better cost structure overall with the bill of materials as we enter 2015 and then work through 2015.
We’ll have significant unit growth in tablets. But remember that contra revenue isn’t just a gross margin impact; it’s actually a subtraction from revenue. And so that will mute the revenue growth for the segment because you have that negative as we get into the back half and ship more tablets. …
C.J. Muse – ISI Group: In terms of integrated LTE, you’ve talked about when we’ll first see that. But curious when you expect to bring that in house at Intel.
Brian M. Krzanich – CEO: We’ll bring that in on our 14-nanometer process either late 2015 or early 2016. We’re still battling back and forth on how fast we can bring it in and at what impacts that has. 14-nanometer is the technology there.
Blaine Curtis – Barclays Capital: … Maybe actually follows up on CJ’s prior question. The MPG business that you’re now breaking out, it’s pretty clear it’s losing $3 billion, $3.5 billion. How do you think about this business?
Obviously you’re trying to ramp the product set you are a bit behind. You’re entering from the low end and that pricing seems quite tough. You’re facing some subsidies that you have to do on the tablet side.
Are there some milestones that you look at to get this business back profitable? Or maybe would you consider this strategic enough that you would consider continuing to run this as a loss?
Brian M. Krzanich – CEO: So, you asked several questions in there, so let me start to pars it apart. Absolutely this is a strategic business, so let’s just start with that. We think this is critical and we said this in our prepared statements. It’s critical from 2 in 1 devices down through the Internet of Things.
You look across the connectivity requirements there; more and more of the devices are requiring integrated connectivity, whether it be LTE, 3G, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and all of these connectivities are becoming more and more required.
We don’t go into these businesses thinking that we’re going to lose money. We believe we have a roadmap to get to profitability in that business. The milestones that I look at — and so I’ll give you those for yourself to look at, we have the 7160, the current LTE version out there. We’re the second in LTE. We have the 7260 launch this quarter. I think that’s a critical there.
Again, we’re closing the gap with our competition. We’re bringing out leading edge Cat 6 capability with carrier aggregation. That’s a critical milestone. That puts — that closes the gap and puts us firmly in the LTE capability.
The next one is SoFIA. If you look at the SoFIAs at the end of this year with 3G integration and then a big first half of next year with LTE integration. Remember those products weren’t even on our roadmap six or seven months ago. So, that shows that we’re acting quickly integrating and bringing those products to production.
Then after that is, as Stacy said earlier, Broxton, which is our internal 14-nanometer product. That’s targeted towards the mid to high level. And as we bring that into the second half of 2015 and into 2016, there will be various levels of integration on that.
So, when I look across this, those are the milestones I look at, because those are what drive that along with just the basic cost reduction capabilities we talked about for this year as we get out of this contra revenue into 2015. Those products then place us firmly in leadership capability from the low end to the high end with integration. And those are the milestones to me that will lead to profitability long-term.
Stacy J. Smith – EVP and CFO: And I’ll just add to that, I think you left it off because it was so obvious, but the 40 million tablets is one of the things I see Brian just laser focused on. And as we’ve talked about before, it gets us into the 15% to 20% range of the total tablet market.
It gives us a big enough footprint that we start to see people developing on our architectures. It becomes a self-sustaining ecosystem as we’re bringing these other products to the marketplace. So, don’t lose sight of that one, Blaine.
Stacy Rasgon – Sanford C. Bernstein & Co: I wanted to dig a little bit into the mobile and wireless group. So, you’ve talked a bit about having I guess developing leadership products, leadership position in order to drive profitability. We’re looking at this right now, though. So, we had the business fall more than 50% sequentially.
You have your 7160 which is shipping but apparently it’s not really driving much volume. We have the 7260 which is forthcoming, but we really haven’t heard much about design wins. And you launched at Mobile World Congress without really saying very much there.
We have SoFIA coming, which absolutely is integrated, but it’s being made at TSMC for the next few years which means you lose any potential benefits from your own process technology. And you would seem to be well behind what the market leaders are shipping in terms of 4G.
Just what should we be looking for and over what timeframe should we be looking for, for the ramp? I guess what I’m asking is, how can we get confidence that we’re going to actually see the revenue ramp that is built into the short-term expectations for this year and then going forward, to make sure that you can actually get a profitable business, which obviously would be driving quite a bit of upside to where the models are today?
Brian M. Krzanich – CEO: Remember, the 7160, we gave you a series of products that it’s shipping in. And on the 7260, which will qualify this quarter, we gave you a list of OEM partners that have committed to that platform. So, we’re fairly confident that the ramp in the second half of this year will continue on that product. And it is a leadership product.
SoFIA, you’re right, is built at TSMC. We went for speed and integration. And it was simply quicker to get to market with a competitive product from both a price and performance. We actually believe that the IA core will give us better performance than the competition. And the competition is at that same node at TSMC. And it’s 3G at the end of this year and LTE in the first half of next year.
We then told you that in the second half of next year — and again, we’re debating whether it’s the second half or the first quarter of 2016, but we’ll move all of that internal on to 14-nanometers. And it’s really based on other products that we have moving in at that time and just overall resources all right.
We had a lot going on — the ramp of Broadwell, the ramp of Skylake in the second half of next year, plus bringing these products inside. But I’m very confident that when you do that, plus you add in Broxton, which is targeted towards the mid to high range and again is integrated with leading-edge LTE.
And don’t forget we have a roadmap of LTE products beyond the 7260 that continue the level of carrier aggregation and product leadership. We’re fairly confident that we can continue to grow this business and turn it profitable over that time.
Stacy J. Smith – EVP and CFO: And let me just comment on the question about the long-term profitability. It sounds basic, but it really stems from our manufacturing leadership. If we’re two years ahead of the rest of the industry, and extending it gives us the ability that, as we target our products into the right space from a power standpoint, we will have power advantage or performance advantage and a cost advantage.
That really is our strategy playing out. You’re seeing the first products hitting that theme over the course of this year and into early next year. Bay Trail is a really good product. For the high end of the market, you’ll see products coming into the market that are more targeted at the mid-range and lower end of the market next year. But that’s how the strategy plays out.
I’d say for 2015, I would expect to see reduction in the loss. Not profitability, but a reduction in the loss will feel pretty good when we get there and then we’ll keep driving towards the long-term profitability goal.
Stacy Rasgon – Sanford C. Bernstein & Co: I’d like to drill in a bit more. I’m actually into the tablet efforts now. So, we’re obviously subsidizing. And I get the idea of reducing BOM cost in order to make up for the deficiencies with the idea being that you can drive improved product set down the road.
But at the same time, if you look at the tablet market, where it is today, you’re obviously not going to be going after Apple any time soon. Maybe there’s a little bit of volume at Samsung. But I mean if you take those guys out, 75% of what’s left is systems that are $250 and below, where your competitors are shipping quad-core chips for much less than $10.
I’m curious to know what kind of economics and pricing you see from that market long-term. And are the — I guess the total revenue pool and profit pool that’s available, even if you were to succeed at your goals, why does that make it a worthwhile effort to actually go after? Or is this simply, as you said, strategic? Is this an attempt to limit further penetration of tablets into the core market?
Brian M. Krzanich – CEO: You’ve asked a question that has multiple questions built into it. But let’s start with what we told you was we’ve got multiple OEM partners building tablets and phones on our products. And we gave you Asus and Dell and Lenovo and Samsung on those products.
If you look at the tablet business overall, it’s broken up into a series of segments. And you’re right; there is a large percentage of them that are $250 and below. Products like SoFIA are specifically designed for that segment.
And our dual-core SoFIA already performs quite well against quad-core systems. As we move into next year, we’ll bring quad-core SoFIA-based products out, as well. And so we believe that we can stay very cost competitive and have a performance leadership.
Remember, Intel has two assets. We have our silicon technology, but we also have our architecture. And one of the things an OEM gets when they build with Intel technology is that they can go into any OS and they can build a single platform and move that on to Chrome, on to Android, on to Windows. And that’s a very unique capability that we provide to OEMs for flexibility.
So, we believe with a product like SoFIA, as we bring that into the market next year, we can absolutely compete in those spaces and make money. You’re probably not going to make as much revenue dollars and as much margin dollars as the PC business, but we think this is still critical. And it’s critical for a variety of reasons. Part of it is simply the scale. You want to have those units. You want to have a presence in all areas of computing.
And the second one is developer attention. You want developers creating new products, doing innovation on your architecture. This is a space that’s got innovation. We are going to bring some of that innovation to this market. You’re going to see some tablets as you go into the end of this year.
We showed them at CES, some of the highlights where you have 3D cameras, you have perceptual computing capabilities for gaming. All of those kinds of things can change the tablet market, along with the PC market.
So, we believe that we can bring a lot of the innovation that we do in the PC down into the tablet space. And again, that keeps the developers developing and interested in our platform. I think for all of those reasons, we want to be in this space and we will be in this space from now on.
Stacy J. Smith – EVP and CFO: That was very complete, but we don’t fear the low end of the market. You look at how we played out in PCs. You can drive a lot of unit growth by participating in PCs now that are $199 to $250. We can have the cost structure because of our manufacturing lead to participate nicely there. And you see that as markets mature, they also segment.
And so we have look, you look at our PC business, we have great demand and profitability in core I7s and it spans down to Bay Trail at the Atom segment of the market. So, it’s a misconception to think that we only want to play at the high end. Our manufacturing leadership can give us the cost structure to play profitably at the low end, as well.
Mark Lipacis – Jefferies: Brian, when you talk about the 40 million unit bogey on tablets this year, could you go through the taxonomy of that a little bit? To what extent do you think this is Windows versus Android? And what’s the class of product you think will represent the mode or the mean? Like where do you think your sweet spot is going to be this year on tablets?
Brian M. Krzanich – CEO: Our mix of OSs reflects pretty much what you see in the marketplace. So, I think, depending on how you look at it, it’s probably something on the order of 90% Android, 80% Android, 10% to 20% Windows.
Our percentages look very much like the marketplace. So, if Windows continues to grow and gain traction I think our percentage would just align directly to that. So, you can — don’t separate what we ship from what’s basically in the marketplace. We’re leadership capability on all of the OSs now.
As far as what is the price point, again, it reflects fairly close to what the marketplace is. You see us in systems below $100 now. The majority of the systems are say $125 to $250, somewhere in there. And then you see us in some of the upper end systems, $250 to $400. And so — but the majority is in that — I’d call it, $125 to probably $250 range.
Mark Lipacis – Jefferies: And then as a follow-up, did you discuss, do you expect to have the Android tablets ramping in volume this quarter? Are we going to be — should we expect to see the Bay Trail Android products at Computex this year? When do we really see the material ramp in the Android products?
Brian M. Krzanich – CEO: Sure, absolutely. You can go out to the store today and buy an Android — in fact, I’d love you to go buy one of the 40 million we’ll sell. But, yes, you can buy Android. It continues to ramp through this quarter. At Computex, we’ll show a series of Android and Windows-based tablets. And they just continue to ramp through this year. But they’re on shelves today. I saw them in the store this weekend.
Stacy J. Smith – EVP and CFO: The majority of the 5 million units, for example, are Android. Just as Brian said, it more or less follows the distribution between Windows and Android.
2014 will be the last year of “free ride” in the smartphone and tablet spaces for ARM-based competitors of Intel – at least what Intel is insisting again
With 2013 performance of only 10 million tablet chip sets (for Windows mostly) Intel is still confident in its ability to deliver 40 million of those (with increased Android portion) in 2014. To achieve this they will be doing a lot of enabling across the industry to take the Bay Trail-based tablet BOM cost down to an equivalent level. They expect that the company’s overall margin will be hit just by 1.5% because of this required in 2014 effort. They are saying that Intel will be safe from 2015 on as moving to 14nm process technology with next-generation (even in terms of micro-architecture) Broxton and SOFIA SoCs for tablet and smartphone devices. They are basing this statement on their inherent “transistor density” advantage against TSMC from that point in time on, despite some analysts’ opinion of the economy of scale advantage of TSMC in terms of the number of wafers produced.
With media generally reporting that Acer’s biggest mistake was its too early and too heavy bet on ultrabooks it is clear that OEMs will take a very cautious approach with Intel’s efforts to decrease the Bay-Trail based tablet costs down on the BOM level, as it is exactly what happened with ultrabooks. Instead the will try to solidify their tablet market position with ARM-based tablets in all segments of the tablet market, from the lowest cost upto the premium. Moreover, Jason Chen’s appointment to the CEO position of Acer is also showing that even for ongoing efforts OEMs need a very detailed and deep understanding of the SoC manufacturing and even the process technologies. Take note of Jason Chen’s history of employment in order to understand that:
- TSMC: 2005-2013
- Intel: 1991-2005
- IBM: 1991-1998
In other regards we only know that Acer to start new operation strategy in April to focus on BYOC (Build Your Own Cloud) [DIGITIMES, Jan 13, 2014] and that “In the future, all of Acer’s businesses including desktop, notebook and tablet will involve the BYOC platform and it is hoping to strengthen its product lines through the services.” It will be interesting to watch what that means as my previous conclusion was Leading PC vendors of the past: Go enterprise or die! [‘Experiencing the Cloud’, Nov 7, 2013].
Now back to the Intel related information in terms of details in their earnings call. Note before that the correlation of Intel and Microsoft stock prices (as well that the stock market was absolutely not happy with Intel results and especially with the “flat 2014” outlook):
The company’s stance for 2014 is indeed not rosy as Intel to reduce global workforce by five percent in 2014 [Reuters, Jan 17, 2014].
From: Intel’s CEO Discusses Q4 2013 Results – Earnings Call Transcript [Seeking Alpha, Jan 16, 2014]
Inserted slides are from Investor Meeting – Stacy Smith (CFO) [Nov 21, 2013] while the acompanying text is from Intel Shares Mobile Progress, Priorities and Product Pipeline at Annual Investor Day [Technology@Intel, Nov 25, 2013] if reference is not put underneath
[On transistor density and wafer cost]
Mark Lipacis – Jefferies
Thanks for taking my question. At the Analyst Day, you addressed your view on transistor density and your expectation for leadership on that vector, but I have to say this discussing that idea with investors is a consensus view that seems to be that Intel has an inherent wafer cost disadvantage that relative to TSMC that neutralizes or more than neutralizes your transistor density advantage and the argument is that TSMC ships more wafers and therefore has more better purchasing power than you and its lower labor cost, so net-net, they have just a big huge advantage of wafer cost that you should have a hard to, too hard of a time to overcome. So my question is do you think that’s a fair view. Can you help us talk to the relative elements of the wafer cost and how you think you can compare? Any kind of help that you give us on the cost dimension would be extremely helpful. Thank you.
From: CES: Process Will Still Win in Mobile, Says Intel’s Eul [Barrons.com, Jan 9, 2014]
Eul points out that Qualcomm, and other competitors such as Nvidia (NVDA) and Broadcom (BRCM), all of whom are dependent on Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company to actually make the chips they design, will run into a problem as Taiwan Semi’s technology stops scaling.
Intel had made the point at the analyst day presentation, and Eul repeated it: As TSMC moves from 28 nanometer to 20 nanometer, it will run into a problem at the subsequent step, 16 nanometer, where TSMC will not add any real reduction in transistor size. That, says Eul, means that 16-nanometer parts a few years from now will be stuck at a 20-nanometer feature size while intel presumably zooms ahead to 10 nanometer by that time.
And what that means is that, unable to scale the density of a chip as Intel can, Qualcomm and Nvidia and Broadcom and the others will not be able to integrate as many parts as Intel on a single semiconductor die.
And so to those who point out that Intel hasn’t yet released its integrated baseband chip, Sofia, mentioned above, Eul contends the company will have the last laugh in a few years’ time as Qualcomm and the rest hitting a scaling wall.
Brian Krzanich – Chief Executive Officer
You know I think the first thing to remember is that what really counts in all of this is transistor cost and what we really talk about in our Moore’s Law of Curves and when we talk about transistor density is driving a consistent cost reduction of the transistors and so wafer cost is one segment of that. I’m not going to comment on you know TSMC’s wafer cost versus our wafer cost but we feel confident that our relative level of scaling and our internal wafer cost are such that we believe we have a leadership position in transistor cost.
When you’re talking about any product whatever it is, a logic product that’s a low-end microprocessor for wearable or internet of things or high-end Xeon server. You’re talking about the number of case and hence the number of transistors required to put that logic device together, it doesn’t matter whose technology it’s on to some extent. It doesn’t matter what node and so the more cost effective those transistors are whether it’s 500 million or 3 billion the lower the product cost there is and that’s really what we focus on and why we focus on transistor cost. So I think we stand by our what we said at the investor meeting.
Brian Krzanich: Our disclosure in November of a new smartphone and tablet road map that will include SoFIA our first IA SSD with integrated comps later this year is further evident that we’re innovating and bringing products to market at faster pace. Looking ahead 2014 will be an exciting year as we build further on this new foundation. We have established a goal to grow our tablet volumes to more than 40 million units. Within an emphasis on the value segment. As we’re finishing 2013 with more than 10 million units and a strong book of design wins we’re off to a good start.
Stacy Smith: In the tablet market, we launched the Bay Trail SoC and have started to expand our footprint and market signature in this growing market.
The 4X Tablet Campaign: This year, Intel increased its focus on tablets with key design wins and the introduction of Bay Trail. Next year, Intel plans to increase tablet volumes by 4X! Eul signaled a rich pipeline of tablet and phablet design wins for Bay Trail including Android and Windows devices spanning price points from premium to sub $99 products from leading OEMs and the China tech ecosystem. He also said industry leading performance, competitive battery life, cost-reduced SOCs and unique features like 64 bit will help drive growth. Intel gave a first-time demo of the performance gains achieved with a 64 bit Bay Trail system running Windows and showed a 64 bit kernel running on an Android tablet.
Note the details about the 2014 tablet market of ~289+ million units in the 2014 will be the last year of making sufficient changes for Microsoft’s smartphone and tablet strategies, and those changes should be radical if the company wants to suceed with its devices and services strategy [‘Experiencing the Cloud’, Jan 17, 2014] post of mine. The 40 million target of Intel is therefore less than 14% of that.
[regarding: So on the tablet strategy to get the 40 million you’re saying it’s going to be a 1.5 percentage hit.
Gross Margin Reconciliation: 2013 to 2014 Outlook (59.8% to 60% +/- a few points)
– 1.5 points: Tablet impact
Let’s say you guys get into the second half of the year and you’re not quite to the 40 million if it’s a pretty significant short fall. Would you consider canning that strategy I guess I’m just wondering what the commitment is if the volumes aren’t there but the cost is there by the end of the year?]
Brian Krzanich: This isn’t a price reduction as normal price reduction would be; it’s not where you are just simply reducing. It’s truly a BOM cost equalizer and remember a lot of our 40 million tablets in ’14 will be based on Bay Trail. Bay Trail was originally designed for Avoton-based PC segments and the upper end tablet [and all Windows]. And so it’s what we are doing here is doing a BOM cast delta relative to the, what the mid and lower end tablets require. And so those are things like Bay Trail may require more layers of a printed circuit board for the board itself, more components on the board and tighter power management controls and things like that. We have a whole program to reduce those throughout the year. So that gives us confidence that as we go through the year, the BOM cast delta will shrink, but if the volume didn’t show up for some reason and I am not going to say that, that’s what’s going to happen, but I am confident it will, but if it didn’t it’s on a per unit basis. And so the spending on that contra would be reduced equivalently.
Stacy Smith: And I would just add as Brian said we are doing a lot of enabling across the industry to take the BOM cast out in equivalent. These are costs at the system level not at our chip level and it will vary a lot by SKU, but to give you a sense for a Bay Trail platform from the beginning of the year to the end of the year we think that, that BOM penalty drops by more than half. And so it kind of gets better out in time. And then when we get to the Broxton generation we think it’s de minimis.
Brian Krzanich: Both Broxton and SoFIA are just specifically designed to eliminate that delta.
Say “hello” to SoFIA: By the end of 2014, Intel will deliver a new integrated Atom processor + communications solution for entry and value smartphones and tablets, code-named SoFIA. In his presentation, Eul highlighted that Intel’s Infineon wireless assets make the company an “incumbent” in the mobile phone market, shipping more than 360M mobile platforms a year spanning 2G and 3G solutions. He said SoFIA builds on the proven 3G communications platform to deliver a competitive and highly integrated, IA-based mobile solution aimed at the fast-growing market for entry smartphones and tablets. The 3G version of SoFIA is expected by the end of 2014, and Eul said an LTE version would follow in the first half of 2015.
Accelerated Mobile Roadmap: While specific product details will be saved for a later date, Eul signaled a robust pipeline of new Atom processors and multi-comms solutions for 2014 and beyond to address devices spanning market segments from entry to performance smartphones and tablets, an approach he called “market-oriented pragmatism.” In addition to SoFIA, Eul noted:
Broxton – in 2015 Intel plans to deliver a 14nm, 64 bit SOC based on a new, next generation Atom architecture (Goldmont) targeted for hero devices. Broxton is being designed for pairing with Intel’s next generation LTE solutions.
[regarding: If we look at tablets and smartphone, what type of units do you need to reach for that business to stop having a material impact in gross margin from is 10 points higher utilization rates and excluding the contra revenue impact and that’s it? So just looking at the 40 million units target for this year, what type of volume do you need to get in order for gross margin to start appreciating from the west of the business if you exclude the contra revenue impact?]
Brian Krzanich: Yes, it’s hard to say. I mean, I will bridge back to our strategy here. Our strategy is that we are going to use our process technology leads. We will have leadership products that also are competitive or maybe even leadership in terms of cost and I showed some data at the investor meeting that just kind of showed the die size as we progress from Bay Trail to Broxton to SoFIA and so you can get a sense of the kinds of cost structure that we are going to have on a per unit basis. I don’t think it causes on a percentage basis. Yes, I can’t – I am not envisioning if this causes the gross margin percentage to go up, but you can definitely get to a space once we get through these contra enabling dollars where every unit we sell is accretive on a gross margin dollars per unit. It’s utilizing factories that we have in place for PCs. And so it’s a nice adder of that gross margin dollar per unit standpoint.
[regarding: Bay Trail Android tablets]
Brian Krzanich: Most of the Bay Trail Android tablets really start showing up more in Q2 than in Q1 and that’s again purely you know remember we made a shift, an original program for Bay Trail was all Windows. As we came into the midpoint of the year we sandbox [ph] shift and make it Windows and Android and so you know our OEM partners as well are targeting more towards Q2 and it’s just when you do you go and start putting back in that back to school event which is a next seasonal place where upside usually occur.
[regarding: On the smartphone or on tablet space, I think it is true that Intel has a manufacturing lead, but do you think your cost reduction efforts and then the Moore’s Law advantages ever progressed faster than the ASP declines in the space. In other words, do you think Intel can be sustainably profitable in the mobile space which is maturing?]
Brian Krzanich: Yes, we absolutely do. You saw at the investor meeting products like SoFIA, which really are going to be put on to 14-nanometer are fully integrated all the way through with the 3G option or an LTE option and that LTE is with carrier aggregation. Those kinds of products we believe are very, very cost competitive in fact leading from a cost position. In addition, we don’t talk a lot about, but we are already in that low cost Asia market. We are inch and then we are working with ODMs there. That’s actually where a lot of the innovations coming out of for some of these cost reductions on tablets and where we are getting the cost reduction ideas. So we are in that market now. We sold out of that Shenzhen low cost market in Q4. We will continue through it – through 2014 and with products like SoFIA on leading edge technology, we are very comfortable that we can get into those very low price points.
Altera will use Intel Custom Foundry’s 14 nm Tri-Gate (FinFET) process services to produce its new high-end SoC FPGA with 64-bit ARM Cortex-A53 IP
With Stratix® 10 high-end and Arria® 10 mid-range FPGA and SoC FPGA products Altera wants to surge ahead of Xilinx in critical infrastructure—such as wireless remote radio units (RRUs), 100G/400G wireline channel (line) cards and data centers—as well as military, medical and broadcast scenarios by relying on ARM Cortex-A53 IP (Intellectual Property) and Intel Custom Foundry’s 14 nm Tri-Gate (FinFET) process services for Stratix 10, and ARM Cortex-A9 IP and TSMC 20 nm 20SoC process for Arria 10 with OpenCL for FPGAs capability for both. It will also be possible to begin designs with the Arria 10 portfolio of 20 nm FPGA devices, and then take advantage of pin-for-pin design migration pathways from Arria 10 FPGA and SoC products to Stratix 10 FPGA and SoC products as they become available.
This was my conclusion when the news came out that Altera Announces Quad-Core 64-bit ARM Cortex-A53 for Stratix 10 SoCs [press release, Oct 29, 2013] and then I answered three questions for myself, followed by understanding a little bit more deeply two other issues as well:
- Why FPGAs? Why more FPGAs?
- Why SoC FPGAs?
- Why ARM with FPGA on the Intel Tri-Gate (FinFET) process, and why now?
- OpenCL for FPGAs
- Altera SoC FPGAs
For introduction here is Altera Stratix 10 SoC & ARM perspective – ARM TechCon ’13 [ARMflix YouTube channel, Oct 31, 2013]
To shed more light on the direction of breakthrough by Altera, here is additional introductory information from: Arria 10 Device Overview* [Altera, Sept 4, 2013]
*As there is no similar document yet for Stratix 10
Altera’s Arria® FPGAs and SoCs deliver optimal performance and power efficiency in the midrange. By using TSMC’s 20-nm process technology on a high-performance architecture, Arria 10 FPGAs and SoCs deliver higher performance than previous-generation high-end FPGAs while simultaneously reducing power by offering a comprehensive set of power-saving technologies. Altera’s Arria 10 family is reinventing the midrange.
Altera’s Arria 10 SoCs offer a second generation SoC product that both demonstrates a long-term commitment to the SoC product line and extends Altera’s leadership in programmable devices that feature the ARM-based hard processor system (HPS).
Important innovations in Arria 10 devices include:
– Enhanced core architecture delivering 60% higher performance than the previous generation midrange (15% higher performance than previous fastest high-end FPGAs)
– Integrated transceivers with short reach rates up to 28.05 Gbps and backplane capability up to 17.4 Gbps
– Hard PCI Express Gen3 intellectual property (IP) blocks
– Hard memory controllers and PHY up to 2666 Mbps
– Variable precision digital signal processing (DSP) blocks
– Fractional synthesis PLLs
– Up to 40% lower power compared to prior midrange FPGAs and up to 60% lower power compared to prior generation high-end FPGAs due to a comprehensive set of advanced power-saving features
– 2nd generation ARM® Cortex™-A9 hard processor system (HPS) for SoC variants
– Integrated 10GBASE-KR/40GBASE-KR4 Forward Error Correction (FEC)
Arria 10 devices are ideally suited for high performance, power-sensitive, midrange applications in such diverse markets as:
– Wireless—for channel and switch cards in remote radio heads and mobile backhaul
– Broadcast—for studio switches, servers and transport, videoconferencing, and pro audio/video
– Wireline—for 40G/100G muxponders and transponders, 100G line cards, bridging, and aggregation
– Compute and Storage—for flash cache, cloud computing servers, and server acceleration
– Medical—for diagnostic scanners and diagnostic imaging
– Military—for missile guidance and control, radar, electronic warfare, and secure communications
Target Markets for Arria 10 FPGAs and SoCs
Arria 10 devices meet the performance, power, and bandwidth requirements of next generation wireless infrastructure, broadcast, compute and storage, networking, and medical and military equipment.
By providing such a highly integrated device, Arria 10 FPGAs and SoCs significantly reduce BOM cost, form factor, and power consumption. Arria 10 devices allow you to differentiate your product through customization by implementing your intellectual property in both hardware and software.
For these applications, Arria 10 devices integrate both logic functions and processor functions in a highly integrated single device. The integrated ARM-based SoCs provide all the functionality of traditional FPGAs, eliminate the need for a local processor, and increase system performance by taking advantage of the tightly coupled high bandwidth interface between the core fabric and the hard processor system.
For Wireless infrastructure particularly remote radio unit, the industry has standardized onARM-based ASSPs and SoCs for several generations. ARM is widely recognized as the industry leader in low power solutions. At 20 nm, the Dual ARM Cortex MPCore provides the best power efficiency of any GHz class of process. When combined with Altera’s industry leading programmable technology, this provides an ideal platform to address the performance, power, and form factor requirements of wireless remote radio unit and small cell base stations.
For Wireline communication equipment such as access, metro, core,and transmission equipment where the FPGA performs critical functions such as protocol bridging, packet framing, aggregation, and I/O expansion, SoCs now offer all this as well as integrated intelligent controland link management, sometimes referred to as Operations, Administration, and Maintenance (OAM). OAM typically is software that executes when a link is established or fails during operation. The integrated ARM processor can also be used for statistics and error monitoring and minimize system downtime when a link is compromised or oversubscribed. Tight coupling of the processor and the data path (implemented in the core logic) saves time and results in significant savings in terms of operating expenses associated with system downtime and loss of quality of service.
For Compute and storage equipment, flash cache storage, the integrated ARM processor can be used to manage Flash sectors and improve overall life and reliability as well as offload the host processor and provide control for search and hardware acceleration functions for cloud storage equipment. The integrated ARM based HPS can configure the hard PCIe interfaces in PCIe root port configuration and also run link layers for SAS and SATA interfaces.
For Next generation Broadcast equipment, where “4K readiness” is the key technology driver, the integrated ARM processor subsystem eliminates the need for a local GHz class processor, which is commonly used for functions such as audio processing, video compression, video link management, and PCIe root port.
For Military applications, new security features such as Secure Boot, Encryption, and Authentication have been introduced for secure wireless and wireline communications, military radar, military intelligence equipment.
For Test and Medical applications, combining ARM HPS with support for high speed memory devices such as DDR4, and Hybrid Memory Cube (HMC) as well as high speed transceivers and embedded controllers such as PCIe Gen3, Arria 10 SoCs are ideal for next generation test and medical equipment.
Then you can also read The Next-Node Battle Begins – Altera Announces “Generation 10” [EE Journal, June 11, 2013] from I will quote here the following:
For the past three nodes or so, we’ve seen a back-and-forth battle between Altera and Xilinx. Most people think that Altera got the upper hand in 40/45nm products with their Stratix IV family. Two years later, Xilinx struck back hard at 28nm with Virtex-7. Now, it’s time for the “next” generation, and Altera is apparently ready to get the party started. The company has just announced their upcoming “Generation 10” FPGA families – and it looks like this node is gonna be a doozy!
as well as the ARMing a New Generation – Altera Announces Processor Architecture for Gen X [EE Journal, Oct 29, 2013] from which it is wort to quote the following:
Altera is currently in a race with archrival Xilinx, whose first FinFET FPGAs will be riding in on TSMC’s 16nm FinFET process. Which horse is faster? Intel is widely believed to have superior process technology and has already been shipping 22nm FinFET-based devices. Those points go to Intel. TSMC, on the other hand, has vastly more experience as a merchant fab and has announced that they are working closely with Xilinx to accelerate their FinFET program, in a blitz whose marketing name is “FinFAST.”
At this point, therefore, it is unclear who will be shipping first, (and, except for bragging rights between the two companies, probably few people care.) It is likely that we will not see production devices from either company before 2015, so we are definitely in “future” mode here. It is also unclear how the performance attributes of the two companies’ offerings will stack up. Altera has shown more of their hand thus far, and their predictions are impressive – up to four million LUT-4 equivalent 1GHz programmable fabric, 56Gbps SerDes, better power efficiency, tons-o-RAM – and a high-powered processing subsystem in the SoC version. What’s the processing subsystem look like? That’s why we are gathered here today.
There was speculation that the architecture might be other-than-ARM since the manufacturer is none-other-than-Intel. As far as we know, Intel hasn’t historically been too keen on manufacturing competing processor architectures. However, two other, more important market forces are at work in this situation. First, Altera has made a huge commitment to the ARM architecture with their current-generation SoC FPGAs. Getting their customers committed to the ARM/FPGA architecture and then jumping ship and forcing them to migrate after only one generation would be a major inconvenience, and it would be a big black eye for Altera. It would have been very unlikely that Altera would have inked the Intel deal knowing that they couldn’t continue their ARM commitment.
Second, Intel is obviously trying to make a go at it in the merchant fab business. If the company had a hard-and-fast policy of never manufacturing a chip with an ARM architecture on board, they’d be severely limiting their market. While Intel has already been building FPGAs for both Tabula and Achronix, getting Altera in their stable is a whole ‘nuther deal. Putting aside petty concerns about processor architecture is a small price to pay for better street cred in the merchant fab business.
1. Why FPGAs? Why more FPGAs?
As one of the greatest strengths of the FPGA is its ability to perform highly pipelined and complex algorithmic computations on the data brought onchip Altera says that we can do better with explicit parallelism on FPGAs than on GPUs:
The spectrum of software-programmable devices is now evolving significantly. The emphasis is shifting from automatically extracting instruction-level parallelism at run time to explicitly identifying thread-level parallelism at coding time. Highly parallel multicore devices are beginning to emerge with a general trend of containing multiple simpler processors where more of the transistors are dedicated to computation rather than caching and extraction of parallelism. These devices range from multicore CPUs, which commonly have 2, 4, or 8 cores, to GPUs consisting of hundreds of simple cores optimized for data-parallel computation. To achieve high performance on these multicore devices, the programmer must explicitly code their applications in a parallel fashion. Each core must be assigned work in such a way that all cores can cooperate to execute a particular computation. This is also exactly what FPGA designers do to create their high-level system architectures.
(Source: Implementing FPGA Design with the OpenCL Standard
(v. 2.0 Altera whitepaper, November 2012])
Field Programmable Gate Arrays
FPGAs are integrated circuits that can be configured repeatedly to perform an infinite number of functions. Low level operations such as bit masking, shifting, and addition are all configurable and can be assembled in any order. FPGAs achieve a high level of programmability by integrating combinations of lookup tables (LUTs), registers, on-chip memories, and arithmetic hardware (for example, digital signal processor (DSP) blocks) through a network of reconfigurable connections to implement computation pipelines. LUTs are responsible for implementing various logic functions. For example, reprogramming a LUT can change an operation from a bitwise AND logic function to a bit-wise XOR logic function.
The key benefit in using FPGAs for algorithm acceleration is that they support wide and heterogeneous pipelines. Each pipeline implemented in the FPGA fabric can be wide and unique. This characteristic is in contrast to many different types of processing units such as symmetric multiprocessors (SMPs), DSPs, and graphics processing units (GPUs). In these types of devices, parallelism is achieved by replicating the same generic computation hardware multiple times. In FPGAs, however, parallelism can be achieved by duplicating only the logic that will be exercised by your algorithm.
A processor implements an instruction set that limits the amount of work that can be performed each clock cycle. For example, most processors do not have a dedicated instruction that can execute the following C code:
E = ((((A + B) ^ C) & D) >> 2;
Without a dedicated instruction for this C code example, a CPU, DSP, or GPU must execute multiple instructions to perform the operation. You can configure an FPGA to perform a sequence of operations that implements the code above in a single clock cycle. An FPGA implementation connects specialized addition hardware with a LUT that performs the bit-wise XOR and AND operations. The device then leverages its programmable connections to perform a right shift by two bits without consuming any hardware resources. The result of this operation can be connected to subsequent operations to form complex pipelines. You may think of an FPGA as a hardware platform that can implement any instruction set that your software algorithm requires.
Altera SDK for OpenCL Pipeline Approach
The key difference between the pipeline generated by the Altera Offline Compiler (AOC) and a typical processor pipeline is that the FPGA pipeline is not limited to a statically defined set of pipeline stages or instruction set.
The custom pipeline structure provided by the AOC speeds up computation by allowing operations within a large number of threads to occur concurrently.
(Source: Altera SDK for OpenCL Optimization Guide
[for v. 13.0 SP1.0 by Altera, June 2013])
GPU and FPGA Design Methodology
GPUs are programmed using either Nvidia’s proprietary CUDA language, or an open standard OpenCL language. These languages are very similar in capability, with the biggest difference being that CUDA can only be used on Nvidia GPUs.
FPGAs are typically programmed using HDL languages Verilog or VHDL. Neither of these languages is well suited to supporting floating-point designs, although the latest versions do incorporate definition, though not necessarily synthesis, of floating-point numbers. For example, in System Verilog, a short real variable is analogue to an IEEE single (float), and real to an IEEE double.
OpenCL for FPGAs
OpenCL is familiar to GPU programmers. An OpenCL Compiler for FPGAs means that OpenCL code written for AMD or Nvidia GPUs can be compiled onto an FPGA. In addition, an OpenCL Compiler from Altera enables GPU programs to use FPGAs, without the necessity of developing the typical FPGA design skill set.
Using OpenCL with FPGAs offers several key advantages over GPUs. First, GPUs tend to be I/O limited. All input and output data must be passed by the host CPU through the PCI Express® (PCIe®) interface. The resulting delays can stall the GPU processing engines, resulting in lower performance
OpenCL Extensions for FPGAs
FPGAs are well known for their wide variety of high-bandwidth I/O capabilities. These capabilities allow data to stream in and out of the FPGA over Gigabit Ethernet (GbE), Serial RapidIO® (SRIO), or directly from analog-to-digital converters (ADCs) and digital-to-analog converters (DACs). Altera has defined a vendor-specific extension of the OpenCL standard to support streaming operations. …
FPGAs can also offer a much lower processing latency than a GPU, even independent of I/O bottlenecks. It is well known that GPUs must operate on many thousands of threads to perform efficiently, due to the extremely long latencies to and from memory and even between the many processing cores of the GPU. In effect, the GPU must operate many, many tasks to keep the processing cores from stalling as they await data, which results in very long latency for any given task.
The FPGA uses a “coarse-grained parallelism” architecture instead. It creates multiple optimized and parallel datapaths, each of which outputs one result per clock cycle. The number of instances of the datapath depends upon the FPGA resources, but is typically much less than the number of GPU cores. However, each datapath instance has a much higher throughput than a GPU core. The primary benefit of this approach is low latency, a critical performance advantage in many applications.
Another advantage of FPGAs is their much lower power consumption, resulting in dramatically lower GFLOPs/W. FPGA power measurements using development boards show 5-6 GFLOPs/W for algorithms such as Cholesky and QRD, and about 10 GFLOPs/W for simpler algorithms such as FFTs. GPU energy efficiency measurements are much hard to find, but using the GPU performance of 50 GFLOPs for Cholesky and a typical power consumption of 200 W, results in 0.25 GFLOPs/W, which is twenty times more power consumed per useful FLOPs.
(Source: Radar Processing: FPGAs or GPUs? (v. 2.0 Altera whitepaper, May 2013])
Altera also says that the need for ever-increasing bandwidth and flexibility drives the need for a breakthrough in capability:
The increased capabilities in smartphones and other portable devices are the reason for the dramatic leap in system performance that we will see in next-generation FPGAs. The explosion of mobility bandwidth requirements are putting a huge demand on the wireless, wired, and data center infrastructure capabilities. While the number of smartphones is growing at single digit percentage rates, the customers of these devices continue to drive more bandwidth with the ever-increasing smartphone capability. Much of this is due to the increased video content. In 2012, average smartphone data usage grew by 81 percent. Cisco expects mobile traffic to increase 66 percent per year through 2017 and two-thirds of all mobile traffic will be video content. At this time, mobile network speed is expected to increase by seven times and 4G networks to comprise 45 percent of all traffic (1) (see Figure 1).
A brief overview of three infrastructure applications below are examples of why hardware and software developers are looking to FPGAs to address their next-generation products bandwidth, performance, power, and cost goals.
■ Wireless remote radio units
■ 400G wireline channel cards
■ Data centers
Wireless Remote Radio Units
In the capital-intensive wireless infrastructure market, telecommunications operators desire to provide more bandwidth faster and cheaper. The faster these operators can do cost reductions, the more deployments they can do, the more area they can cover, and the faster they can serve customers—a huge advantage. The product strategy of these companies is to keep the datapath width the same and increase the clock frequency for as many generations as they can. Upcoming remote radio units will look for FPGAs to push close to 500 MHz of core performance for complex functions, such as implementing digital pre-distortion algorithms. This will preserve their investment in their radio architecture and allow them to cover a broader spectrum of radio frequency (RF) bandwidth. In doing so they look to have a better return on investment because less work needs to be done re-architecting a solution. Furthermore, their time-to-market advantage improves by getting these new products out faster. They must also lower their operating costs to drive cost per bit down because revenues per mobile subscriber grow at a far less rate than the data traffic per subscriber. Thus by not widening their datapath, and creating power efficient designs on smaller more power-efficient FPGAs, allows them to achieve this goal.
400G Channel Cards
Another driving force in improving FPGA performance is the need to upgrade the network communications infrastructure. Next-generation 400G versus existing 100G channel cards will dramatically push system capabilities. The bandwidth jump of four times in the next-generation systems is much greater than in previous iterations. Because the market for this is still new, companies cannot risk building ASICs or ASSPs to achieve this goal. Integration of multiple 56 gigabits per second (Gbps) and 28 Gbps transceiver solutions to accommodate this level of bandwidth is needed, but only a part of the solution. More and faster logic to accommodate this higher bandwidth is also required. However since the dimensions of the chassis do not change, the power envelope is limited. The network infrastructure cannot tolerate solutions where power increases at a linear rate with bandwidth capability. For packet processing and traffic management applications at 400G bandwidth at 600 million packets per second, scaling the data path width and frequency can relieve the data path processing function but cannot scale for control path processing such as scheduling. Therefore high performance in all aspects of device capability is required: processing, memory interfacing, IO interfaces, and others. FPGAs remain the most attractive solution, but companies will need investments in higher performance per watt architectures, transceivers, and process technology to address this large leap in capabilities and challenges.
All the data and video that are being pushed and downloaded from these new wireless deployments and transported through the new 400G packet processing infrastructure also needs to be stored and processed. Computations per watt and computations per dollar is a key metric in data centers. FPGA’s are increasingly used in the data center for data access, algorithm, and networking acceleration. Data center servers are bottlenecked getting access to data. The latest processors have more and more cores, but the bandwidth to external memory and data is not keeping pace with the increase in computing power. Many of these servers are running at average utilization rates and are well under peak processing power. These servers are good candidates for FPGA acceleration. Hardware acceleration through FPGAs becomes an attractive alternative to replacing these processors by focusing on the performance bottlenecks that software on processors cannot overcome.
Other applications are also looking to FPGAs to support their increased bandwidth requirements, such as video content providers moving to 4K video, cloud computing, and intelligence applications in defense. These applications face similar issues. (Source: Expect a Breakthrough Advantage in Next-Generation FPGAs (v. 1.0 Altera whitepaper, June 2013])
2. Why SoC FPGAs?
Altera’s Vision of Silicon Convergence: system solutions by merging coarse and fine grained programmable hardware [IEEE Computer Society Santa Clara Valley YouTube channel, recorded on Sept 10, 2012, published on June 10, 2013]
What Is a PLD?
- A programmable logic device (PLD) is a type of semiconductor
- Most semiconductors can be programmed only once to perform a specific function
- PLDs are reprogrammable—functions can be changed or enhanced during development or after manufacturing
Flexibility Makes PLDs Lower Risk and Faster to
Design Than Other Types of Semiconductors
3. Why ARM with FPGA on the Intel Tri-Gate (FinFET) process, and why now?
Altera Announces Quad-Core 64-bit ARM Cortex-A53 for Stratix 10 SoCs [press release, Oct 29, 2013]
Manufactured on Intel’s 14 nm Tri-Gate Process, Altera Stratix® 10 SoCs Will Deliver Industry’s Most Versatile Heterogeneous Computing Platform
Altera Corporation (NASDAQ: ALTR) today announced that its Stratix 10 SoC devices, manufactured on Intel’s 14 nm Tri-Gate process, will incorporate a high-performance, quad-core 64-bit ARM Cortex™-A53 processor system, complementing the device’s floating-point digital signal processing (DSP) blocks and high-performance FPGA fabric. Coupled with Altera’s advanced system-level design tools, including OpenCL, this versatile heterogeneous computing platform will offer exceptional adaptability, performance, power efficiency and design productivity for a broad range of applications, including data center computing acceleration, radar systems and communications infrastructure.
The ARM Cortex-A53 processor, the first 64-bit processor used on a SoC FPGA, is an ideal fit for use in Stratix 10 SoCs due to its performance, power efficiency, data throughput and advanced features. The Cortex-A53 is among the most power efficient of ARM’s application-class processors, and when delivered on the 14 nm Tri-Gate process will achieve more than six times more data throughput compared to today’s highest performing SoC FPGAs. The Cortex-A53 also delivers important features, such as virtualization support, 256TB memory reach and error correction code (ECC) on L1 and L2 caches. Furthermore, the Cortex-A53 core can run in 32-bit mode, which will run Cortex-A9 operating systems and code unmodified, allowing a smooth upgrade path from Altera’s 28 nm and 20 nm SoC FPGAs.
“ARM is pleased to see Altera adopting the lowest power 64-bit architecture as an ideal complement to DSP and FPGA processing elements to create a cutting-edge heterogeneous computing platform,” said Tom Cronk, executive vice president and general manager, Processor Division, ARM. “The Cortex-A53 processor delivers industry-leading power efficiency and outstanding performance levels, and it is supported by the ARM ecosystem and its innovative software community.”
Leveraging Intel’s 14 nm Tri-Gate process and an enhanced high-performance architecture, Altera Stratix 10 SoCs will have a programmable-logic performance level of more than 1GHz; two times the core performance of current high-end 28 nm FPGAs.
“High-end networking and communications infrastructure are rapidly migrating toward heterogeneous computing architectures to achieve maximum system performance and power efficiency,” said Linley Gwennap, principal analyst at The Linley Group, a leading embedded research firm. “What Altera is doing with its Stratix 10 SoC, both in terms of silicon convergence and high-level design tool support, puts the company at the forefront of delivering heterogeneous computing platforms and positions them well to capitalize on myriad opportunities.”
By standardizing on ARM processors across its three-generation SoC portfolio, Altera will offer software compatibility and a common ARM ecosystem of tools and operating system support. Embedded developers will be able to accelerate debug cycles with Altera’s SoC Embedded Design Suite (EDS) featuring the ARM Development Studio 5 (DS-5™) Altera® Edition toolkit, the industry’s only FPGA-adaptive debug tool, as well as use Altera’s software development kit (SDK) for OpenCL to create heterogeneous implementations using the OpenCL high-level design language.
“With Stratix 10 SoCs, designers will have a versatile and powerful heterogeneous compute platform enabling them to innovate and get to market faster,” said Danny Biran, senior vice president, corporate strategy and marketing at Altera. “This will be very exciting for customers as converged silicon continues to be the best solution for complex, high-performance applications.”
Altera® programmable solutions enable designers of electronic systems to rapidly and cost effectively innovate, differentiate and win in their markets. Altera offers FPGAs, SoCs, CPLDs, ASICs and complementary technologies, such as power management, to provide high-value solutions to customers worldwide. Follow Altera viaFacebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ and RSS, andsubscribe to product update emails and newsletters. altera.com
Altera to Build Next-Generation, High-Performance FPGAs on Intel’s 14 nm Tri-Gate Technology [alteracorp YouTube channel, March 11, 2013]
From: Intel takes big step in chip foundry business [Reuters, Feb 25, 2013]
Altera Chief Executive John Daane told Reuters in a phone interview that Altera, which depends on communications infrastructure for about half of its business, is the only major programmable chipmaker that will have access to Intel’s plants.
“We are essentially getting access like an extra division of Intel. As soon as they’re making the technology available to their various groups to do design work, we’re getting the same,” he said.
Daane said Intel’s manufacturing technology will give Altera’s chips a several-year advantage against Xilinx, its main competitor in programmable chips. He said Altera would continue to make other chips with TSMC, its long-time foundry.
Altera to Build Next-Generation, High-Performance FPGAs on Intel’s 14 nm Tri-Gate Technology [press release, Feb 25, 2013]
Altera Corporation and Intel Corporation today announced that the companies have entered into an agreement for the future manufacture of Altera FPGAs on Intel’s 14 nm tri-gate transistor technology. These next-generation products, which target ultra high-performance systems for military, wireline communications, cloud networking, and compute and storage applications, will enable breakthrough levels of performance and power efficiencies not otherwise possible.
“Altera’s FPGAs using Intel 14 nm technology will enable customers to design with the most advanced, highest-performing FPGAs in the industry,” said John Daane, president, CEO and chairman of Altera. “In addition, Altera gains a tremendous competitive advantage at the high end in that we are the only major FPGA company with access to this technology.”
Altera’s next-generation products will now include 14 nm, in addition to previously announced 20 nm technologies, extending the company’s tailored product portfolio that meets myriad customer needs for performance, bandwidth and power efficiency across diverse end applications.
“We look forward to collaborating with Altera on manufacturing leading-edge FPGAs, leveraging Intel’s leadership in process technology,” said Brian Krzanich, chief operating officer, Intel. “Next-generation products from Altera require the highest performance and most power-efficient technology available, and Intel is well positioned to provide the most advanced offerings.”
Adding this world-class manufacturer to Altera’s strong foundation of leading-edge suppliers and partners furthers the company’s ability to deliver on the promise of silicon convergence; to integrate hardware and software programmability, microprocessors, digital signal processing, and ASIC capability into a single device; and deliver a more flexible and economical alternative to traditional ASICs and ASSPs.
Altera claims that only Intel’s 14 nm Tri-Gate Process offers a second generation of proven production technology:
Transistor Design Background
In 1947 the first transistor, a germanium ‘point-contact’ structure, was demonstrated at Bell Laboratories. Silicon was first used to produce bipolar transistors in 1954, but it was not until 1960 that the first silicon metal oxide semiconductor field-effect transistor (MOSFET) was built. The earliest MOSFETs were 2D planar devices with current flowing along the surface of the silicon under the gate. The basic structure of MOSFET devices has remained substantially unchanged for over 50 years.
Since the prediction or proclamation of Moore’s Law in 1965, many additional enhancements and improvements have been made to the manufacture and optimization of MOSFET technology in order to enshrine Moore’s Law in the vocabulary and product planning cycles of the semiconductor industry. In the last 10 years, the continued improvement in MOSFET performance and power has been achieved by breakthroughs in strained silicon, and High-K metal gate technology.
It was not until the publication of a paper by Digh Hisamoto and a team of other researchers at Hitachi Central Research Laboratory in 1991 that the potential for 3-D, or ‘wraparound’ gate transistor technology, to enhance MOSFET performance and eliminate short channel effects, was recognized. This paper called the proposed 3-D structure ‘depleted lean-channel transistor’, or DELTA(1). In 1997 the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) awarded a contract to a research group at the University of California, Berkeley, to develop a deep sub-micron transistor based on the DELTA concept. One of the earliest publications resulting from this research in 1999 dubbed the device a ‘FinFET’ for the fin-like structure at the center of the transistor geometry(2).
Important Turning Point in Transistor Technology
Continued optimization and manufacturability studies on 3-D transistor structures continued at research and development organizations in leading semiconductor companies. Some of the process and patent development has been published and publicly shared, and some development remained in corporate labs.
The research investment interests of the semiconductor industry are driven by the International Technology Roadmap for Semiconductors (ITRS), which is coordinated and published by a consortium of manufacturers, suppliers, and research institutes. The ITRS defines transistor technology requirements to achieve continued improvement in performance, power, and density along with options which should be explored to achieve the goals. The ITRS and its public documentation captures conclusions and recommendations regarding manufacturing capabilities like strained silicon and High-K metal gate, and now the use of 3-D transistor technologies to maintain the benefits of Moore’s law. Based on documents produced by the ITRS and an examination of academic papers and patent filings, research into 3-D transistor technologies has grown dramatically in the last decade.
Adoption and Research
Two important pronouncements occurred in the last two years that have propelled the 3-D transistor structure into the industry spotlight, and into a permanent place in the technology story of MOSFET transistors.
The first announcement was by Intel Corporation on 4th of May, 2011, about their Tri-Gate transistor design that had been selected for the design and manufacture of their 22 nm semiconductor products. This was preceded by a decade of research and development taking advantage of the work of Hisamoto and others in FinFET development and optimization. It represented both a solid acknowledgment of the feasibility and cost-effectiveness of the the Tri-Gate transistor structure in semiconductor production, as well as a continued declaration of leadership by Intel in semiconductor technology.
The second announcement was the publication of ITRS technology roadmaps, with contributions from many other semiconductor manufacturing companies that identified 3-D transistor technology as the primary enabler of all incremental semiconductor improvement beyond the 20 nm or 22 nm design node.
Intel’s Leadership in Transistor Technologies
In several public forums, including the Intel Developer’s Forums and investor’s conferences, Intel identifies where they have demonstrated technology leadership in a variety of advances that have sustained the pace of Moore’s Law. As shown in Figure 3, Intel has identified the number of years of production leadership they have achieved in bringing strained silicon and High-K metal gate technology to full production. In the case of 3-D Tri-Gate transistor technology, Intel estimates a lead of up to four years based on their production rollout of Tri-Gate technology at 22 nm in 2011.
According to former Intel CEO, Paul Otellini in their 16 April 2013 Earnings Call(8):
“In the first quarter [of 2013], we shipped our 100 millionth 22 nanometer [Tri-Gate] processor, using our revolutionary 3-D transistor technology, while the rest of the industry works to ship its first unit.”
Another leadership advantage that will be held by Intel in their rollout of 14 nm technology can be traced to their very public ‘Tick-Tock’ strategy in process and microarchitecture introduction. A ‘tick’ cycle of product introduction relies on the implementation of microarchitecture changes in their CPU products, followed by a ‘tock’ cycle of semiconductor process manufacturing geometry shrink. Intel is firmly committed to a full process shrink in their move from 22 nm to 14 nm; comparable semiconductor technology processes in development at other manufacturers have been less clear whether their process roadmaps include the benefits of a process shrink.
(Source: The Breakthrough Advantage for FPGAs with Tri-Gate Technology (v. 1.0 Altera whitepaper, June 2013])
Altera says beginning with 14 nm Tri-Gate technology, the highest performance FPGAs will simply be the ones built on demonstrably superior transistor technology:
Accessing the Benefits of Tri-Gate Technology Through Altera FPGAs
Taking advantage of the significant benefits of Intel’s Tri-Gate technology is only possible for users of Altera® high-density and high-performance FPGAs on the 14 nm technology process. This is the result of an exclusive manufacturing partnership between the two companies referenced in the introduction to this paper.
The substantial advantages of Tri-Gate silicon technologies will allow Altera to deliver previously unimaginable performance in FPGA and SoC products. This will include a historic doubling of core performance as compared to other high-end FPGAs, bringing FPGAs to the Gigahertz performance level. Overall active and static power numbers will reduce by 70 percent through a combination of process, architecture, and software advances.
Although the details and schedules of the 14 nm manufacturing process are not yet publicly available from Intel Corporation, Altera users can begin designs today that take advantage of the significant performance and power efficiency benefits of Tri-Gate technology in FPGAs. This is possible by beginning designs with the Arria® 10 portfolio of 20 nm FPGA devices. Users can then take advantage of pin-for-pin design migration pathways from Arria 10 FPGA and SoC products to Stratix® 10 FPGA and SoC products as they become available.
This allows you, as an FPGA user and system architect, to begin designing products that can accommodate both the Arria 10 and Stratix 10 product families with minimal changes, modifications, and reengineering. This will allow you to get products to market with the highest performance and lowest power FPGAs that leverage 20 nm process technology and power reduction techniques, then advance these same products to the previously unimaginable performance and power efficiency of Intel’s 14 nm Tri-Gate manufacturing process.
(Source: The Breakthrough Advantage for FPGAs with Tri-Gate Technology (v. 1.0 Altera whitepaper, June 2013])
Altera Announces Breakthrough Advantages with Generation 10 [press release, June 10, 2013]
- Stratix 10 FPGAs and SoCs leverage Intel’s 14 nm Tri-Gate process and an enhanced architecture to deliver core performance two times higher than current high-end FPGAs, while enabling up to 70 percent power savings.
- Arria 10 FPGAs and SoCs reinvent the midrange by simultaneously surpassing high-end FPGAs in performance while delivering 40 percent lower power than today’s midrange devices.
Altera Corporation (NASDAQ: ALTR) today introduced its Generation 10 FPGAs and SoCs, offering system developers breakthrough levels of performance and power efficiencies. Generation 10 devices are optimized based on process technology and architecture to deliver the industry’s highest performance and highest levels of system integration at the lowest power. Initial Generation 10 families include Arria® 10 and Stratix® 10 FPGAs and SoCs with embedded processors. Generation 10 devices leverage the most advanced process technologies in the industry, including Intel’s 14-nm Tri-Gate process and TSMC’s 20 nm process. Early access customers are currently using the Quartus® II software for Generation 10 product development.
“Our Generation 10 products will strengthen the penetration of programmable logic into new markets and applications and further accelerate the implementation of FPGAs into systems traditionally served by ASSPs and ASICs,” said Patrick Dorsey, senior director of product marketing at Altera. “The optimizations we made in our Generation 10 devices allow customers to develop highly customized solutions that dramatically increase system performance and system integration while lowering operating expenses.”
Delivering the Unimaginable with Stratix 10 FPGAs and SoCs
Stratix 10 FPGAs and SoCs are designed to enable the most advanced, highest performance applications in the communications, military, broadcast and compute and storage markets, while slashing system power. Leveraging Intel’s 14 nm Tri-Gate process and an enhanced high-performance architecture, Stratix 10 FPGAs and SoCs have an operating frequency over one gigahertz, 2X the core performance of current high-end 28 nm FPGAs. For high-performance systems that have the most strict power budgets, Stratix 10 devices allow customers to achieve up to a 70 percent reduction in power consumption at performance levels equivalent to the previous generation.
Altera is announcing the technology details of Stratix 10 FPGAs and SoCs today as part of the Generation 10 portfolio introduction, and will disclose more details on the product at a later date. Stratix 10 FPGAs and SoCs provide the industry’s highest performance and highest levels of system integration, including:
- More than four million logic elements (LEs) on a single die
- 56-Gbps transceivers
- More than 10-TeraFLOPs single-precision digital signal processing
- A third-generation ultra-high-performance processor system
- Multi-die 3D solutions capable of integrating SRAM, DRAM and ASICs
Reinventing the Midrange with Arria 10 FPGAs and SoCs
Arria 10 FPGAs and SoCs are the first device families to roll out as part of the Generation 10 portfolio. The device family sets a new bar for midrange programmable devices, delivering both the performance and capabilities of current high-end FPGAs at the lowest midrange power. Leveraging an enhanced architecture that is optimized for TSMC’s 20 nm process, Arria 10 FPGAs and SoCs deliver higher performance at up to 40 percent lower power compared to the previous device family.
Arria 10 devices offer more features and capabilities than today’s current high-end FPGAs, at 15 percent higher performance. Reflecting the trend toward silicon convergence, Arria 10 FPGAs and SoCs offer the highest degree of system integration available in midrange devices, including 1.15 million LEs, integrated hard intellectual property and a second-generation processor system that features a 1.5 GHz dual-core ARM® Cortex™-A9 processor. Arria 10 FPGAs and SoCs also provide 4X greater bandwidth compared to the current generation, including 28-Gbps transceivers, and 3X higher system performance, including 2666 Mbps DDR4 support and up to 15-Gbps Hybrid Memory Cube support.
Development Suite Delivers Breakthrough Productivity to Generation 10
Generation 10 devices are supported by Altera’s Quartus II development software and tools for higher level design flows that include a software development kit for OpenCL™, a SoC Embedded Design Suite and DSP Builder tool. This leading-edge development tool suite enables design teams to maximize productivity while making it easier for new design teams to adopt Generation 10 FPGAs and SoCs in their next-generation systems. The Quartus II software will continue to deliver the industry’s fastest compile times by providing Generation 10 FPGAs and SoCs an 8X improvement in compile times versus the previous generation. The substantial reduction in compile times is the result of leading-edge software algorithms that take advantage of modern multi-core computing technologies.
Early access customers are currently using the Quartus II software for development of Arria 10 FPGA and SoCs. Initial samples of Arria 10 devices will be available in early 2014. Altera will have 14 nm Stratix 10 FPGA test chips in 2013 and Quartus II software support for Stratix 10 FPGAs and SoCs in 2014. For more information, visit www.altera.com/gen10, or contact your local Altera sales representative.
Altera and TSMC Continue Long-Term Partnership [press release, Feb 25, 2013]
Altera Corporation (NASDAQ: ALTR) and TSMC (TWSE: 2330, NYSE: TSM) today reaffirmed their commitment to a long-term partnership to set new milestones in FPGA innovation. TSMC is Altera’s primary foundry, supplying a wide array of processes to fulfill Altera’s product portfolio, including soon-to-be released 20 nm products, existing mainstream products, and long-lived legacy components.
Altera is fully engaged with TSMC on developing products based on next-generation process technologies. Altera’s next major product family leverages TSMC’s cost-effective 20SoC process for optimal power and performance and will include several significant product and technology innovations for both companies. Altera will continue to leverage future TSMC process technologies in its tailored product portfolio for performance, bandwidth, and power efficiency needs across diverse end applications.
“Over the course of our 20-year collaboration, Altera and TSMC have achieved many industry milestones that have greatly benefitted both companies,” said John Daane, president, CEO and chairman of Altera. “TSMC remains an important part of our future product development. We look forward to continuing our close partnership to jointly develop technologies for next-generation products.”
Morris Chang, TSMC’s chairman and CEO added,”The history of collaboration between Altera and TSMC has exemplified the way fabless and foundry have nurtured each other to become a powerful force in the semiconductor industry. TSMC would not be where it is today without customers like Altera, and I firmly believe this partnership will continue to flourish.”
Altera Demonstrates Industry’s First 32-Gbps Transceiver with Leading-Edge 20 nm Device [press release, April 8, 2013]
Demonstration Highlights Latest Success in Altera’s 20 nm FPGA Early Access Program
San Jose, Calif., April 8, 2013– Altera Corporation (NASDAQ: ALTR) today announced the company achieved another significant milestone in transceiver technology by demonstrating the industry’s first programmable device with 32-Gbps transceiver capabilities. The demonstration uses a 20 nm device based on TSMC’s 20SoC process technology. This achievement validates the performance capabilities of 20 nm silicon and is a positive indicator to the more than 500 customers in Altera’s early access program who are looking to use next-generation Altera devices in the development of performance demanding, bandwidth-centric applications. A demonstration video showing the industry’s first operational 20 nm transceiver technology operating at 32 Gbps is available for viewing on Altera’s website at www.altera.com/32gbps-20nm.
Demonstrating 32-Gbps transceiver data rates provides Altera insight into how high-performance transceiver designs behave on TSMC’s 20SoC process. The transceiver technology Altera is demonstrating today will be integrated into its 20 nm FPGA products, fabricated on TSMC’s 20SoC process. These devices enable customers to design next-generation serial links with the lowest power consumption, fastest timing closure and the highest quality signal integrity. Altera has a proven track record in integrating leading-edge transceiver technology into its devices. Altera is the only company today shipping production 28 nm FPGAs with monolithically integrated low-power transceivers operating at 28 Gbps. Being the first FPGA vendor to reach the 32-Gbps milestone in 20 nm silicon further extends Altera’s leadership in transceiver technology.
The demonstration video on Altera’s web site shows 20 nm transceivers operating at 32 Gbps with just over nine picoseconds of total jitter and extremely low random jitter of 240 femtoseconds. The results show good margin to key industry specifications requited for next-generation 100G systems.
“Today’s news represents a significant milestone for the industry and for the transceiver development team at Altera,” said Vince Hu, vice president of product and corporate marketing at Altera. “These 20 nm devices contain the key IP components that will be included in our next-generation FPGAs and validating them now provides us confidence we will deliver to the market 20 nm FPGAs on schedule.”
Altera’s next-generation transceiver innovations enable system developers to support the rapidly increasing amount of data that is being transmitted through the world’s networks. The transceivers in Altera’s next-generation devices will drive more bandwidth with lower power per channel versus the previous nodes and will support increasing port density by interfacing directly to 100G CPF2 optical modules.
Altera and Micron Lead Industry with FPGA and Hybrid Memory Cube Interoperability [joint press release, Sept 4, 2013]
Altera Corporation (NASDAQ: ALTR) and Micron Technology, Inc.(NASDAQ: MU) (“Micron”) today announced they have jointly demonstrated successful interoperability between Altera Stratix® V FPGAs and Micron’s Hybrid Memory Cube (HMC). This technology achievement enables system designers to evaluate today the benefits of HMC with FPGAs and SoCs for next-generation communications and high-performance computing designs. The demonstration provides an early proof point that production support of HMC will be delivered with Altera’s Generation 10 portfolio, in alignment with market timing, and includes both Stratix 10 and Arria 10 FPGAs and SoCs.
HMC has been recognized by industry leaders and influencers as the long-awaited answer to address the limitations imposed by conventional memory technology, and provides ultra-high system performance with significantly lower power-per-bit. HMC delivers up to 15 times the bandwidth of a DDR3 module and uses 70 percent less energy and 90 percent less space than existing technologies. HMC’s abstracted memory allows designers to devote more time leveraging HMC’s revolutionary features and performance and less time navigating the multitude of memory parameters required to implement basic functions. It also manages error correction, resiliency, refresh, and other parameters exacerbated by memory process variation. Micron expects to begin sampling HMC later this year with volume production ramping in 2014.
“As one of the founding developers of the HMC Consortium, Altera’s support for and involvement with HMC has been invaluable,” said Brian Shirley, vice president of DRAM solutions for Micron Technology. “The combination of Altera FPGAs with Micron’s HMC solution will help customers leverage the technology’s performance and efficiency in a wide range of next generation networking and computing applications.”
Altera’s 28 nm Stratix V FPGAs are an ideal demonstration of HMC technology since they are the highest performance FPGAs in the industry with a two speed-grade advantage over the nearest competitor. This performance enables the FPGA to leverage the full bandwidth, efficiency and power benefits of HMC by using a full 16 transceiver HMC link.
“By demonstrating Stratix V and HMC working together now, we are enabling our customers to leverage their current development with Stratix V FPGAs and prepare for production deployment in Altera’s Generation 10 devices, knowing they will have proven HMC support,” said Danny Biran, senior vice president of marketing and corporate strategy at Altera. “The partnership between Altera and Micron to deliver this capability puts our customers at the forefront of innovation.”
Altera’s Generation 10 Devices Deliver Performance
Arria 10 FPGAs and SoCs are the first device families in the Generation 10 portfolio and will be the first devices to support HMC technology in volume production. Leveraging an enhanced architecture optimized for TSMC’s 20 nm process, Arria 10 FPGAs and SoCs will use HMC to extend the benefits by providing both 15 percent higher core performance than today’s highest performance Stratix V FPGAs and up to 40 percent lower power compared to the lowest power Arria V midrange FPGAs. Arria 10 FPGAs and SoCs will offer up to 96 transceiver channels, enabling customers to take full advantage of the bandwidth that HMC has to offer.
Stratix 10 FPGAs and SoCs will enable the most advanced, highest performance applications across communications, military, broadcast and compute and storage markets. These high-performance applications often require the highest memory bandwidth, which drives the need for an HMC-ready architecture. Leveraging Intel’s 14 nm Tri-Gate process and an enhanced high-performance architecture that integrates with HMC technology, Stratix 10 FPGAs and SoCs will enable system solutions with an operating frequency over one gigahertz, and two times the core performance of current high-end 28 nm FPGAs. Stratix 10 devices will also allow customers to achieve up to a 70 percent reduction in power consumption at performance levels equivalent to the previous generation.
4. OpenCL for FPGAs
Altera SDK for OpenCL is First in Industry to Achieve Khronos Conformance for FPGAs [press release, Oct 16, 2013]
Altera Passes OpenCL Conformance with High-Performance Stratix V FPGA and Demonstrates SDK for OpenCL on ARM-based Cyclone V SoCs
San Jose, Calif., October 16, 2013—Altera Corporation (NASDAQ: ALTR) today announced its SDK for OpenCL is conformant to the OpenCL 1.0 standard and is now included on the Khronos Group list of OpenCL conformant products. Altera is the only company to offer an FPGA-optimized OpenCL solution, allowing software developers to harness the massively parallel architecture of an FPGA for system acceleration. Altera will demonstrate its OpenCL solutions at the 2013 Linley Processor Conference, being held October 16-17 in Santa Clara, Calif.
Achieving conformance allows Altera to provide a validated cross-platform programming environment that can be used to dramatically accelerate algorithms at significantly lower power versus alternative computer hardware architectures. To become conformant, Altera successfully completed more than 8500 conformance tests using its SDK for OpenCL, targeting a high-performance Stratix® V FPGA. The tests involved continuously running a Stratix V FPGA accelerator card in a server farm resulting in zero errors.
“Our continued investment in OpenCL is enabling Altera to drive the industry toward using FPGAs for acceleration of computationally-intensive applications,” said Alex Grbic, director of software, IP and DSP marketing at Altera. “Our SDK for OpenCL is used by some of the world’s leading developers of high-performance computing systems. These developers require Khronos group OpenCL conformance and Altera is the only FPGA vendor to achieve it, proving the readiness of our solution.”
Software developers can easily take advantage of the high-performance, low-power that FPGAs offer. Altera’s SDK for OpenCL provides an industry-standard open source programming interface and Altera’s Preferred Board Partner Program for OpenCL provides off-the-shelf FPGA boards that are optimized for Altera devices. A list of preferred board partners, as well as a variety of design examples that demonstrate the advantages of using FPGAs in high-performance systems, can be found at www.altera.com/opencl.
OpenCL Ray Tracer Demonstration Targeting Single-chip SoCs
In addition to support for its high-performance Stratix V FPGAs, Altera developed its SDK for OpenCL to support its low-power, low-cost Cyclone® V SoCs, which integrates an ARM® Cortex®-A9 processor into a 28 nm FPGA. Altera recently used its SDK for OpenCL to develop and demonstrate a complete heterogeneous system using a Cyclone V SoC. The demonstration shows how a ray tracing algorithm used to render 3D graphics can be accelerated using the Altera SDK for OpenCL and a Cyclone V SoC – achieving a speed up of 40X in comparison to running the same algorithm purely on a discrete ARM processor system. For software developers unfamiliar with hardware design languages, no hardware expertise is required to implement the OpenCL kernels.
Altera SDK for OpenCL at Linley Processor Conference
Altera will demonstrate its OpenCL solutions at the 2013 Linley Tech Processor Conference, being held October 16-17 in Santa Clara, Calif. Altera’s participation includes a presentation titled “Implementing Deep Packet Inspection Using OpenCL Channels” that will show how to express a DPI application using OpenCL with Altera FPGAs. Altera will also demonstrate its SDK for OpenCL solutions to attendees.
Pricing and Availability
LEAP 2013 : Developing High-Performance Low-Power Solutions using FPGAs and OpenCL by Craig Davis — Altera Corporation [LEAPconf YouTube channel, recorded on May 21, 2013, published on Sept 12, 2013]
From presentation slides (PDF) I will copy here the following ones:
FPGA programming model: RTL
Involves state machines, datapaths, arbitration, buffering, and others
Processor programming model: C/C++
Typically sequential, involves subroutines and functions
Need a programming model that represents a heterogeneous system (CPU + FPGA)
A processor with hardware accelerators
A configurable multicore device
An ideal single hardware and software design environment
More information: Implementing FPGA Design with the OpenCL Standard (v. 2.0 Altera whitepaper, November 2012]
Altera SDK for OpenCL Combined with an Ecosystem of Development Boards Delivers Power-efficient, High-performance Solution for Heterogeneous Computing
Altera Corporation (NASDAQ: ALTR) today announced the broad availability of its SDK for OpenCL™ and supported third-party production boards. Availability of the SDK for OpenCL enables software programmers to access the high-performance capabilities of programmable logic devices. Also part of today’s news, Altera announced a Preferred Board Partner Program, allowing third-party board vendors to work closely with Altera to design optimized production boards based on Altera’s programmable devices. The availability of supported third-party boards through the Preferred Board Partner Program and an SDK for OpenCL enables software programmers to easily target high-performance FPGAs using a high-level language.
Altera’s SDK for OpenCL allows software programmers to take their OpenCL code and easily exploit the massively parallel architecture of an FPGA. Software programmers targeting FPGAs achieve higher performance at significantly lower power compared to alternative hardware architectures.
“Because FPGAs enable parallel processing, they are critical for specialized server workloads that demand real-time performance. We are pleased that our clients are now able to take full advantage of this technology on Power Systems using Altera’s SDK for OpenCL,” said Robert L. Swann, vice president, IBM Power Systems. “With this standards-based approach, our clients can leverage a vibrant ecosystem of commercial and research contributions to accelerate emerging compute intensive workloads.”
The SDK for OpenCL is designed to increase system performance in highly data-parallel computing applications featured in financial, military, broadcast, medical and a variety of other markets. Altera’s OpenCL solutions are supported by a robust ecosystem consisting of board partners, design partners, software tools and university collaboration. Altera and its partners provide the tools, hardware, libraries, reference designs and design resources necessary for developers to implement their OpenCL designs into FPGAs and reduce time-to-market.
The Altera Preferred Board Partner Program for OpenCL ensures third-party production boards are optimized for current Altera device architectures. Initial preferred board partners included in the program are BittWare, Nallatech and PLDA, with additional board partners to be added in the future.
“For years, Altera and BittWare have partnered to deliver timely high-end signal processing board-level solutions that significantly reduce technology risk for our mutual customers,” said Darren Taylor, senior vice president of sales and marketing at BittWare. “Leveraging the latest hardware technology from Altera, which now includes an SDK for OpenCL, we are able to dramatically reduce the complexity for applications in the computing, financial and military markets.”
“An OpenCL implementation provides an ideal fit for Nallatech’s hardware-accelerated computing solutions,” said Allan Cantle, president and founder of Nallatech. “We simplify the deployment of FPGAs in heterogeneous platforms via direct purchase of our cards or pre-integrated in leading vendors’ high density servers and blades. Customers developing high-performance computing applications using Altera’s SDK for OpenCL will benefit from a dramatic increase in performance per watt, per dollar over traditional computing architectures.”
“PLDA has a successful track record of supporting Altera’s customers with their high-performance applications,” said Stephane Hauradou, vice president and CTO of PLDA. “The SDK for OpenCL will open up a significantly broader group of software developers who can now fully leverage Altera’s leading-edge solutions.”
Pricing and Availability
The Altera SDK for OpenCL is currently available for download on Altera’s website. The annual software subscription for the SDK for OpenCL is $995 for a node-locked PC license. For additional information about the Altera Preferred Board Partner Program for OpenCL and its partner members, or to see a list of all supported boards and links to purchase, visit the OpenCL section on Altera’s website.
Software Development Kit for OpenCL Enables Developers to Take Advantage of the Performance and Power-efficiencies of FPGAs
Altera Corporation (Nasdaq: ALTR) today announced the FPGA industry’s first Software Development Kit (SDK) for OpenCL™ (Open Computing Language) which combines the massively parallel architecture of an FPGA with the OpenCL parallel programming model. The SDK allows system developers and programmers familiar with C to quickly and easily develop high-performance, power-efficient FPGA-based applications in a high-level language. The Altera SDK for OpenCL enables FPGAs to work in concert with the host processor to accelerate parallel computation, at a fraction of the power compared to hardware alternatives. Altera will demonstrate the performance and productivity benefits of OpenCL for FPGAs at SuperComputing 2012 in booth #430.
“The industry’s approach for boosting system performance has evolved over time from increasing frequency in single-core CPUs, to using multi-core CPUs, to using parallel processor arrays,” said Vince Hu, vice president of product and corporate marketing at Altera. “This evolution leads us to today’s modern FPGAs, which are fine-grained, massively parallel digital logic arrays architected to execute computations in parallel. Our SDK for OpenCL enables customers to easily adopt FPGAs and leverage the performance and power benefits the devices provide.”
Altera SDK for OpenCL Design Flow
OpenCL is an open, royalty-free standard for cross-platform, parallel programming of hardware accelerators, including CPUs, GPGPUs and FPGAs. The Altera SDK for OpenCL offers a unified, high-level design flow for hardware and software development that automates the time-consuming tasks required in typical hardware-design language (HDL) flows. The OpenCL tool flow automatically converts OpenCL kernel functions into custom FPGA hardware accelerators, adds interface IPs, builds interconnect logic and generates the FPGA programming file. The SDK includes libraries that link to OpenCL API calls within a host program running on the CPU. By automatically handling these steps, designers are able to focus their development efforts on defining and iterating their algorithms rather than designing hardware.
The portability of the OpenCL code enables users to migrate their designs to different FPGAs or SoC FPGAs as their application requirements evolve. With SoC FPGAs, the CPU host is embedded into the FPGA, providing a single-chip solution that delivers significantly higher bandwidth and lower latency between the CPU host and the FPGA compared to using two discrete devices.
Using FPGAs to Extract Maximum Parallelism in Heterogeneous Platforms
The Altera SDK for OpenCL enables programmers to leverage the massively parallel, fine-grained architectures featured in FPGAs to accelerate parallel computation. Unlike CPUs and GPGPUs, where parallel threads are executed across an array of cores, FPGAs allow kernel functions to be transformed into dedicated, deeply pipelined hardware circuits that are multithreaded using the concept of pipeline parallelism. Each of these pipelines can be replicated many times to provide even more parallelism by allowing multiple threads to execute in parallel. The result is an FPGA-based solution that can deliver >5X performance/Watt compared to alternative hardware implementations.
Altera is working with several board partners to deliver COTS board solutions to customers. Currently, boards from BittWare and Nallatech are designed to support Altera OpenCL. Additional third-party boards will be supported with future releases of the SDK.
Altera has performed a variety of benchmarks that show the productivity savings and the performance and power efficiency gained by using an OpenCL framework for FPGA development. Based on early benchmarks and working with customers in a variety of markets, the SDK shaved months off one customer’s development time for their video processing application and boosted performance by 9X versus a CPU in another customer’s financial application.
The Altera SDK for OpenCL is production ready and is available to customers through an early access program. To discover the high performance, power-efficient acceleration that OpenCL provides with FPGAs, contact a local Altera sales representative. For additional information regarding OpenCL and the benefits of targeting FPGA through an OpenCL implementation, visithttp://www.altera.com/products/software/opencl/opencl-index.html.
OpenCL for Altera FPGAs: Accelerating Performance and Design Productivity [Altera, Nov 5, 2012]
Combining the Open Computing Language (OpenCL™) programming model with Altera’s massively parallel FPGA architecture provides a powerful solution for system acceleration. The Altera® SDK for OpenCL* provides a design environment for you to easily implement OpenCL applications on FPGAs.
Benefits of OpenCL on FPGAs
As a software developer, how can you benefit from OpenCL on FPGAs?
As the “power wall” continues to prevent higher frequencies to be achieved in processors, multi-core processors have become the norm. This has opened the door for parallel processing techniques and thus FPGAs, which are inherently parallel, to start playing a bigger role in the embedded systems world.
The approaches to finding parallelism can be a different way of thinking for some software programmers, where FPGA designers tend to naturally think this way. You can take the scatter-gather approach for data parallelism, sending input data to the appropriate parallel resources and combining the results later, or the divide and conquer method for task parallelism, where you decompose the problem into sub problems and run them on the appropriate resources.
Using OpenCL, you continue to develop your code in the familiar C programming language but target certain functions as OpenCL kernels using the additional OpenCL constructs. Then these kernels can be sent to the available system resources, such as an FPGA, without having to learn the low level Hardware Description Language (HDL) coding practices of FPGA designers.
- HDL coding is the equivalent to coding in assembly to software developers. OpenCL keeps you in a higher level coding language that you are already familiar with, C, with some new OpenCL construct.
- Profile your code and determine the performance intensive inner loop functions that make sense to hardware accelerate as kernels in an FPGA.
- It’s about performance per watt. You’re balancing high performance with a power-efficient solution in an FPGA.
- With the FPGAs fine-grain parallelism architecture, the Altera SDK for OpenCL generates only the logic you need to deliver with as low as 1/5 of the power of other hardware alternatives.
- Kernels can target FPGAs, CPUs, GPUs, and DSPs seamlessly to produce a truly heterogamous system.
As an Embedded or DSP Designer, how can you benefit from OpenCL on FPGAs?
- Achieve significantly faster time to market compared to the traditional FPGA design flow.
- Describe your algorithms using the OpenCL C (based on ANSI C) parallel programming language instead of the traditional low-level HDL.
- Perform design exploration quickly by staying at a higher level of design abstraction.
- Obsolescence-proof your designs as you can retarget your OpenCL C code to current and future FPGAs.
- Obsolescence-proof your designs as you can retarget your OpenCL C code to current and future FPGAs.
- Generate an FPGA implementation of your OpenCL C code in a single step, bypassing the manual timing closure efforts and implementation of communication interfaces between the FPGA, host, and external memories.
The growing need for higher performance and faster time to market through parallel programming in software is seen in many markets, including the Computer & Storage, Military, Medical, and Broadcast markets.
- Buy a board from one of our preferred partners
- Download the Altera SDK for OpenCL
- Take an OpenCL training course
- Register for updates on Altera’s OpenCL solution for FPGAs
- Implementing FPGA Design with the OpenCL Standard (PDF)
- Fractal Video Compression in OpenCL: An Evaluation of CPUs, GPUs, and FPGAs as Acceleration Platforms (PDF)
- Using OpenCL to Evaluate the Efficiency of CPUs, GPUs, and FPGAs for Information Filtering (PDF)
- 40Gbit AES Encryption Using OpenCL and FPGAs (PDF)
Computer and Storage [Altera, Nov 5, 2012]
Computer and storage technology is evolving rapidly. Today, cloud computing is enabling the consolidation of traditional IT functions with entirely new capabilities. For example, many large-scale data centers are now providing traditional IT services along with new data analytics services.
Hence, these large-scale data centers require highly efficient server and storage systems. Traditional CPU technology limits performance, as the use of frequency scaling as a way to increase performance has ended. The end of frequency scaling has caused a shift to multicore processing. However, multicore processing has diminishing returns in terms of increasing true application performance due to limits in I/O and memory bandwidth.
Altera® FPGAs can be used to accelerate the performance of large-scale data systems. Altera FPGAs enable higher speed data processing by providing customized high-bandwidth, low-latency connections to network and storage systems. In addition, Altera FPGAs provide compression, data filtering, and algorithmic acceleration.
With the Altera SDK for OpenCLTM, you can now rapidly develop acceleration solutions for computer and storage systems. The Altera SDK for OpenCL enables even software developers to easily design with FPGAs by allowing them to utilize a high-level programming language for developing acceleration functions.
OpenCL and the OpenCL logo are trademarks of Apple Inc. used by permission by Khronos.
OpenCL for Military [Altera, Oct 10, 2013]
Radar backend processing is a compute-intensive operation using various algorithms such as a FIR filter, which utilize custom pipeline parallelism. Increased performance is achieved by off loading from the host processor onto an FPGA.
Custom processors can be created using the OpenCL™ toolflow that are more efficient than multicore CPUs or GPUs both in computational capability and power requirements.
Figure 1: Radar Back-End Processing Alternatives Using OpenCL
For more information regarding Altera’s OpenCL for Military, please contact us at email@example.com.
Medical: Hardware Acceleration with OpenCL [Altera, Feb 16, 2013]
Ultrasound, X-ray, CT, and PET applications all require intensive back-end compute operations for algorithms such as fast Fourier transform (FFT) using custom pipeline parallelism. Increased algorithm performance is achieved by off loading from the host processor onto an FPGA.
Custom processors created using the OpenCL™ toolflow are more efficient than multicore CPUs or GPUs, both in computational capability and power requirements.
OpenCL for Altera FPGAs web page
Broadcast: Advanced Systems Development Kit [Altera, Oct 25, 2012]
The Advanced Systems Development Kit is a platform that can pack multi-channel 4K video ingest, processing, and streaming into a server-ready board. It features industry-leading PCIe gen3x16 interface, plus over 1 million FPGA Logic Elements to handle the toughest video processing algorithms, matched by over 1500Gbps of external memory bandwidth – enough to tackle 4 channels of 4K UHDTV video streams. This platform provides an order of magnitude improvement in existing development kit hardware capabilities; in addition to innovations in the soft content and business model that come together to significantly accelerate end-product deployment.
Figure 1: Altera’s Advanced Systems Development Kit
Typical development kits are intended for lab-use only, because they lack the on-board resources to develop the entire end product. It is common for engineers to design their own board and software from scratch – until now. The Advanced Systems Development Kit breaks through all those barriers and significantly shortens your design cycle in many ways, including:
- A complete OmniTek BSP (board support package) for video applications, with firmware, and Windows and Linux drivers
- An evaluation design featuring OmniTek’s PCI Express DMA engine that efficiently streams multiple channels of videos between I/O and host memory
- A flexible front-panel FMC I/O expansion connector, allowing for connectivity to popular standards such as SFP+, fiber, QSFP, gigabit Ethernet, etc.
- Dual Stratix V FPGAs to integrate functions such as multi-channel format conversions, video codecs, ingest/playout connectivity, etc.
- Over 1500Gbps of external memory bandwidth – enough to handle multiple 4k channels
- PCIe gen3x16 to handle even the most demanding video streaming and acceleration
- PCIe form-factor compliant for use in both custom-built chassis and commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) servers
- Licensable full manufacturing rights to the board design, which enables you to easily make cost-optimizations and derivatives for rapid deployment of your products.
The Advanced Systems Development Kit resolves common broadcast challenges related to:
- Increased channel density
- 4K and beyond-HD resolutions
- High frame rate applications
- The fine balance between future-proofing and cost-efficiency
A rich partner ecosystem significantly accelerates and simplifies system-level advanced development. For example, Embrionix’s emSFP modules convert SDI to a number of physical layer standards, allowing you to rapidly release products and still future-proof the hardware with a simple upgrade of the emSFP. This provides a new level of flexibility for manufacturers. The combination of capabilities and physical design positions this platform perfectly for the convergence of broadcast and IT technologies.
Figure 2: Embrionix’s embedded SFP modules for high-density video connectivity
Altera’s OpenCL Toolflow
In addition to accelerating hardware designs, the Advanced Systems Development Kit will also support Altera’s unique OpenCL™ toolflow to elevate software productivity. OpenCL enables viable software implementations of complex video algorithms, and dramatically lowers the cost of the end product. Examples of broadcast applications include:
- Acquisition: Real-time debayering of raw camera data, scaling for multiviewers, etc.
- Post-production: Color grading, motion estimation, special effects rendering, etc.
- Distribution: 3D/temporal noise reduction, H.264 compression, etc.
- Consumption: JPEG2000 decoding for 4K digital cinema playout, block artifact reduction filters, etc.
The OpenCL toolflow leverages parallel processing on the underlying hardware, and achieves an order of magnitude performance improvement compared to sequential CPU processing. Furthermore, running OpenCL on the Advanced Systems Development Kit gives you several unique advantages including:
- The best performance per watt consumed, so you enjoy OpenCL’s benefits without power and heat issues from GPUs
- The ability to assimilate, manipulate, and transport multichannel video on a single board
- The highest level of integration to achieve maximum channel density for your end product
OpenCL and the OpenCL logo are trademarks of Apple Inc. used by permission by Khronos.
5. Altera SoC FPGAs
Generation 10 FPGAs and SoCs [Altera, May 16, 2013]
Altera’s Generation 10 FPGAs and SoCs optimize process technology and architecture to deliver the industry’s highest performance and highest levels of system integration at the lowest power. Initial Generation 10 families include Stratix® 10 and Arria® 10 FPGAs and SoCs with embedded processors.
Read the White paper: Expect a Breakthrough Advantage in Next-Generation FPGAs (PDF) [June 2013]
Read the White paper: Meeting the Performance and Power Imperative of the Zettabyte Era with Generation 10 (PDF) [June 2013]
Watch the video: Arria 10 FPGAs and SoCs — Reinventing the Midrange [June 2013]
Read the White paper: The Breakthrough Advantage for FPGAs with Tri-Gate Technology (PDF) [June 2013]
Generation 10 FPGAs and SoCs are supported by a leading-edge suite of development tools delivering:
- 8x improvements in compile times
- Higher level design flows that support hardware and software designers
Stratix 10 FPGAs and SoCs [Altera, June 10, 2013]
Stratix® 10 FPGAs and SoCs offer breakthrough advantages in bandwidth and system integration, including the next-generation hard processor system (HPS), to deliver the industry’s highest performance and most power- efficient FPGAs and SoCs. Stratix 10 devices are manufactured on the revolutionary Intel 14 nm 3D Tri-Gate transistor technology, which delivers breakthrough levels of performance and power efficiencies that were previously unimaginable. When coupled with 64 bit quad-core ARM® CortexTM-A53 processors and advanced heterogeneous development and debug tools such as the Altera® SDK for OpenCLTM and SoC Embedded Design Suite (EDS), Stratix 10 devices offer the industry’s most versatile heterogeneous computing platform.
White paper: The Breakthrough Advantage for FPGAs with Tri-Gate Technology [June 2013]
Industry’s First Gigahertz FPGAs and SoCs
- New ultra-high performance FPGA architecture
- 2x the core performance of prior generation high-end FPGAs
- >10 TFLOPs of single-precision floating-point DSP performance
- >4x processor data throughput of prior-generation SoCs
Break the Bandwidth Barrier with Unimaginable High-Speed Interface Rates
- 4x serial transceiver bandwidth from previous generation FPGAs for high port count designs
- 28 Gbps backplane capability for versatile data switching applications
- 56 Gbps chip-to-chip/module capability for leading edge interface standards
- Over 2.5 Tbps bandwidth for serial memory with support for Hybrid Memory Cube
- Over 1.3 Tbps bandwidth for parallel memory interfaces with support for DDR4 at 3200 Mbps
Lower Capital Expenditures (CapEx)
- Largest monolithic FPGA device with >4M logic elements offer an unprecedented level of integration capability
- Heterogeneous multi-die 3D solutions including SRAM, DRAM, and ASICs
- Next-generation HPS
Lower Operating Expenses (OpEX)
- Leveraging Intel’s leadership in process technology, Stratix 10 FPGAs offer the most power-efficient technologies
- 70% lower power than prior generation high-end FPGAs and SoCs
- 100 GFlops/Watt of single-pecision floating point efficiency
- Integrated host processor for operation, administration, and maintenance minimizes system down time
Versatile Heterogeneous Computing for Performance and Power-Efficient SoC Design
- 64 bit quad-core ARM Cortex-A53 processor optimized for ultra-high performance per watt
- Heterogeneous C-based modeling and hardware design with Altera SDK for OpenCL
- Heterogeneous debug, profiling, and whole chip visualization with Altera SoC EDS featuring ARM Development Suite™ (DS-5™) Altera Edition Toolkit
- Fastest compile times in the industry
- C-based design entry using the Altera SDK for OpenCL, offering a design environment that is easy to implement on FPGAs
- Start developing with Arria 10 devices and then migrate to footprint-compatible Stratix 10 devices
- Complementary Enpirion PowerSoCs will offer customers higher performance, lower system power, higher reliability, smaller footprint, and faster time-to-market to power Stratix 10 FPGAs and SoCs
Altera to Build Next-Generation, High-Performance FPGAs on Intel’s 14nm Tri-Gate Technology
Stratix 10 FPGAs and SoC family is ideal to meet your high-performance, high-bandwidth, and low power requirements in the communication infrastructure, cloud computing and data centers, high-performance computing, military, broadcast, test and measurement, and other applications.
- White paper: The Breakthrough Advantage for FPGAs with Tri-Gate Technology (PDF) [June 2013]
- White paper: Expect a Breakthrough Advantage in Next Generation FPGAs (PDF) [June 2013]
- White paper: Meeting the Power and Performance Imperative of the Zettabyte Era with Generation 10 (PDF) [June 2013]
- Press Release: Altera Announces Breakthrough Advantage with Generation 10 FPGAs and SoCs [June 2013]
- Generation 10 Portfolio
Arria 10 SoC [Altera, June 10, 2013]
Arria 10 SoCs: Reinventing the Midrange
The 20 nm Arria® 10 ARM-based SoCs deliver optimal performance, power efficiency, small form factor, and low cost for midrange applications. Arria 10 SoCs, based on TSMC’s 20 nm process technology, combine a dual-core ARM® Cortex™-A9 MPCore™ hard processor system (HPS) with industry-leading programmable logic technology. Arria 10 SoCs offer a processor with a rich feature set of embedded peripherals, variable-precision digital signal processing (DSP) blocks, embedded high-speed transceivers, hard memory controllers, and protocol IP controllers – all in a single highly integrated package.
Arria 10 SoCs: Across-the Board Improvements
Arria 10 SoCs combine architectural innovations with TSMC’s 20 nm process technology to deliver improvements in performance and power reduction:
- 87% higher processor performance with up to 1.5 GHz CPU operation per core
- 60% higher performance versus the previous generation, over 500 MHz-capable core performance (15% higher performance than previous SoC)
- 4X more transceiver bandwidth versus the previous generation (2X more bandwidth versus previous high-end FPGAs)
- 4X higher system performance (2666 Mbps DDR4, Hybrid Memory Cube support)
- More than 3300 18×19 multipliers implemented on variable-precision DSP
- 40% lower power with process technology improvement and innovative techniques for power reduction
Note: See full list of memory devices supported
Designed for Productivity
Design productivity is one of the driving philosophies of the Arria 10 SoC architecture. Arria 10 SoC offer full software compatibility with previous generation SoCs, a broad ecosystem of ARM software and tools, and the enhanced FPGA and DSP hardware design flow.
- Extensive ecosystem of ARM for software development
- Altera SoC Embedded Design Suite featuring the ARM Development Studio 5 (DS-5™) Altera Edition Toolkit
- Board support packages for popular operating system including Linux, Wind River’s VxWorks, Micro-C OS II, and more
- Full software compatibility between 28 nm Cyclone V and Arria V SoCs and Arria 10 SoCs
- Quartus® II FPGA Design Suite featuring:
- High-level automated design flow with OpenCL™ compiler from Altera
- Model-based DSP hardware design with Altera DSP Builder
Arria 10 SoCs have been designed to meet the performance, power, and cost requirements for applications such as:
- Wireless infrastructure equipment including remote radio unit and mobile backhaul
- Compute and storage equipment including flash cache, cloud computing, and acceleration
- Broadcast studio and distribution equipment including professional A/V and video conferencing
- Military guidance, control and intelligence equipment
- Wireline 100G line cards, bridges and aggregation, 40G GPON
- Test and measurement equipment
- Diagnostic medical imaging equipment
- Arria 10 Advance Information Brief (PDF)
- White paper: Meeting the Performance and Power Imperative of the Zettabyte Era with Generation 10 (PDF) [June 2013]
- White paper: Expect Breakthrough Capabilities in Next Generation FPGAs (PDF) [June 2013]
- Video: Arria 10 FPGAs and SoCs – Reinventing the Midrange [June 2013]
- SoC overview [June 2013]
Superphones turning point: segment satured with Tier 1 globals while the Chinese locals are at less than 40% of the Samsung price
OR Samsung is leapfrogging Apple while the Chinese local brands are coming close to Samsung but at less than 40% price. Meanwhile the superphone segment of the market becomes saturated.
This is even more important as coinciding with:
– Eight-core MT6592 for superphones and big.LITTLE MT8135 for tablets implemented in 28nm HKMG are coming from MediaTek to further disrupt the operations of Qualcomm and Samsung [‘Experiencing the cloud’, July 20-29, 2013]
– GiONEE (金立), the emerging global competitor on the smartphone market [‘Experiencing the cloud’, July 22, 2013]
– Xiaomi, OPPO and Meizu–top Chinese brands of smartphone innovation [‘Experiencing the cloud’, Aug 1, 2013]
– UPDATE Aug’13: Xiaomi $130 Hongmi superphone END MediaTek MT6589 quad-core Cortex-A7 SoC with HSPA+ and TD-SCDMA is available for Android smartphones and tablets of Q1 delivery [‘Experiencing the Cloud’, Dec 12, 2012; Aug 1, 2013]
Now the following things are coming in addition to that:
- [Samsung is] Leapfrogging Apple while regaining only some high-end SoC supply to it
- Chinese local brands are coming close to Samsung but at less than 40% price
- The superphone segment of the market becomes saturated
- Previous (pre-saturation) milestones according to Samsung
This will be the organization of the ‘DETAILS for the assesment of upcoming changes’ part of this post.
To appreciate the real significance of the sudden change characterized above let’s first get acquainted with the current state of the lead market as described in China Report: Device and App Trends in the #1 Mobile Market [by Mary Ellen Gordon on Flurry Blog, July 23, 2013]
Smartphones and tablets have gone from being the latest gadgets for relatively affluent people in relatively affluent countries to ubiquitous devices in mainstream use in many countries around the world. In fact, as we reported in February of this year China surpassed the US to become the country with the largest installed base of connected devices as measured by Flurry Analytics. As we also reported, a second wave of countries around the world is now experiencing the type of growth mobile pioneer countries experienced previously. For example, the mobile markets in the BRIC countries are now all growing faster than the mobile markets in the U.S., U.K., and South Korea.
Knowing that the landscape is constantly shifting, we are beginning a series of blog posts reporting on the use of smartphones, tablets, and apps in particular countries and geographic regions around the world. Given China’s world-leading installed base and considering the China Joy conference (China’s largest digital conference) is this week we thought we would begin there.
In June of this year Flurry Analytics measured 261,333,271 active smartphones and tablets in China. That represented a whopping 24% of the entire worldwide connected device installed base measured by Flurry. The chart below documents the growth in the installed base. The left axis and blue line show China’s growth over the years. The right axis and red line show growth in the world as a whole (including China) a basis of comparison. As can be seen from the gap between the two lines growing through 2010 and much of 2011, growth in smartphones and tablets in China lagged the world as a whole through that period. But starting toward the end of 2011, the installed base in China began a period of exponential growth. During this period it surpassed the growth rate for the world as a whole, as shown by the blue line catching the red line in the graph. We expect China to maintain its leadership (in terms of active installed base) for the foreseeable future because device penetration rate is still relatively low and much opportunity remains, as we reported in a previous post.
Xiaomi Is A Local Manufacturer To Watch
Examining a random sample of 18,310 of the devices in our system in China that run iOS or Android apps revealed that Apple and Samsung are the top two device manufacturers, as they are most everywhere. China’s own Xiaomi was a strong third, with a 6% share of the market, ahead of HTC, Lenovo and a multitude of others. As we noted in a previous post, Xiaomi has been successful in accumulating a large number of active users for each device model it releases. Worldwide, only Apple, Amazon, and Samsung have more active users for each device model released.
It will be interesting to see if Xiaomi can continue to gain share in China – possibly by mopping up share from smaller manufacturers of Android devices – and also if they can begin making gains in other markets outside of China to become more of a global player. With rumors of a Xiaomi tablet circulating, we will also be watching to see if their entry into the tablet market will increase the use of Android tablets in China. Currently 21% of the iOS devices in our randomly drawn sample were tablets compared to only 4% of the Android devices.
Chinese Users Over Index in Reading, Utility, Productivity
In looking at how Chinese people use their connected devices we see similarities and differences compared to the rest of the world. As a general rule worldwide, games dominate time spent in apps measured by Flurry Analytics, and China is no exception. On average, Chinese owners of iOS devices spent 47% of their app in games. The percentage of app time devoted to games was even greater for Android at 56%.
Smartphones and tablets are not just about fun and games in China. Compared to iOS device owners elsewhere, the average time Chinese owners spend using Books, Newsstand, Utility, and Productivity apps is greater than the rest of the world (1.8x, 1.7x, 2.3x, and 2.1x respectively). On average Chinese owners of Android devices spend more than seven times as much time in Finance apps (7.4x) than Android owners elsewhere spend in Finance apps, but they also spend more time in Entertainment apps (1.7x).
Will China’s Exponential Growth Change The Device And App Markets?
It will be interesting to see how China now having leadership in terms of its installed base will impact the device and app markets elsewhere. Given Xiaomi’s success at building a large number of users for each model it releases, it might try to add further scale by expanding internationally – particularly to the other rapidly-growing BRIC markets where brand preferences are not already well-entrenched.
Within China itself, Chinese competitors may have an even greater advantage in the app market since cultural influences and differences are likely to be even more important in the app market than in the device market. There are already strong Chinese app companies such as Baidu and Tencent and clusters of app developers emerging in places like Chengdu. At first they are likely to concentrate on apps for the large local market, but that may eventually lead to growing app exports. For example, the fact that Chinese consumers over-index on some more work and educational-oriented apps may encourage Chinese developers to focus on those areas and innovate, and that could lead to creation of apps that end up being adopted elsewhere in the world. We’re looking forward to discovering what app is to China what Angry Birds was to Finland.
Insight: How Samsung is beating Apple in China [Reuters, July 26, 2013]
Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook believes that “over the arc of time” China is a huge opportunity for his pathbreaking company. But time looks to be on the side of rival Samsung Electronics Co Ltd, which has been around far longer and penetrated much deeper into the world’s most populous country.
Apple Inc this week said its revenue in Greater China, which also includes Hong Kong and Taiwan, slumped 43 percent to $4.65 billion from the previous quarter. That was also 14 percent lower from the year-ago quarter. Sales were weighed down by a sharp drop in revenues from Hong Kong. “It’s not totally clear why that occurred,” Cook said on a conference call with analysts.
Neither is it totally clear what Apple’s strategy is to deal with Samsung – not to mention a host of smaller, nimbler Chinese challengers.
Today, in the war for what both sides acknowledge is the 21st century’s most important market, Samsung is whipping its American rival. The South Korean giant now has a 19 percent share of the $80 billion smartphone market in China, a market expected to surge to $117 billion by 2017, according to International Data Corp (IDC). That’s 10 percentage points ahead of Apple, which has fallen to 5th in terms of China market share.
Cook said Apple planned to double the number of its retail stores over the next two years – it currently has 8 flagship stores in China and 3 in Hong Kong. But, he added, Apple will invest in distribution “very cautiously because we want to do it with great quality.”
Samsung, with a longer history in China, now has three times the number of retail stores as Apple, and has been more aggressive in courting consumers and creating partnerships with phone operators. It also appears to be in better position, over an arc of time, to fend off the growing assault of homegrown competitors such as Lenovo Group Ltd, Huawei Technologies Co Ltd and ZTE Corp, former company executives, analysts and industry sources say.
Apple declined requests for comment for this article.
Samsung’s history and corporate culture could hardly be more different than Apple’s, the iconic Silicon Valley start-up founded by Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak in 1976. Lee Byung-Chull started Samsung in 1938 as a noodle and sugar maker. It grew over the decades into an industrial powerhouse, or chaebol as Koreans call the family owned conglomerates that dominate the nation’s economy and are run with military-like discipline.
Apple, by contrast, became the epitome of Californian cool, an image the company revels in. That hip image translates in China – its stores are routinely packed – but hasn’t been enough to overcome the more entrenched Samsung.
A stuffy electronics bazaar in the southern Chinese city of Shenzhen illustrates part of the reason why.
Samsung Galaxys and Apple iPhones of different generations sit side by side, glinting under bright display lights as vendors call out to get customers’ attention. With its varied models, Samsung smartphones outnumber iPhones at least four to one.
While Apple releases only one smartphone a year, priced at the premium end of the market, Samsung brings out multiple models annually with different specifications and at different price points in China.
And those models, analysts say, are loaded with features tailored specifically for the local market: apps such POCO.cn, the most popular photo sharing site in China, or the two slots for SIM cards (Apple offers one), which allows service from multiple cell carriers, either at home or abroad.
“The Chinese just love features. They want their phone to have 50 different things that they’re never going to use,” said Michael Clendenin, managing director of technology consultancy RedTech Advisors. “Apple just doesn’t play that game. Unfortunately, if you want to hit the mainstream market in China, and you want a lot of market share percentage points, you have to offer the Swiss army knife of cellphones.”
“SETTING THE PACE”
Analysts believe Samsung’s increasing strength in China is a critical reason behind its rival’s possible intention to introduce globally a new and cheaper iPhone model, as well as one with bigger screens – a staple of Samsung’s offerings.
Said a Samsung executive with experience in China: “We definitely think we’re setting the pace there. They are having to respond to us.”
Most audaciously, Samsung has gone after Apple not simply by offering lower priced smartphones, but by attacking its rival directly in the pricier end of the market. “We put a lot of emphasis on the high end market in China,” co-CEO J.K. Shin told Reuters in an interview.
Samsung launched a China-only luxury smartphone together with China Telecom marketed by actor Jackie Chan that retails for about 12,000 yuan ($2,000). The flip phone, named “heart to the world,” is encased in a slim black and rose gold metal body. The sleek look – called “da qi” (elegantly grand) – is coveted by Chinese when they shop for cars, sofas or phones.
“There are a lot of ‘VVIP’s’ in China, and for them we launched luxury phones promoted by Jackie Chan. This helps target niche customers and build brand equity,” said Lee Young-hee, executive vice president of Samsung’s mobile business.
While Samsung won’t sell millions of these smartphones, the creation of the phone in conjunction with a carrier reinforces Samsung’s willingness to go local – and tap into niche markets.
“The key point is that Samsung consistently adapts to the local market,” said TZ Wong, a Singapore-based technology analyst with IDC.
Apple’s latest mobile operating system offers links to popular Chinese applications like Sina’s microblogging platform Weibo, but the application itself must be downloaded onto the phone. On all of Samsung’s entries, it’s already there.
“People know intellectually that Samsung is from Korea, but when it comes to the messaging there is always a local face,” Wong said.
Samsung opened its first office in China in 1985 in Beijing – an era in which it was all but inconceivable that Apple and Samsung would end up in one of the world’s most intense corporate grudge matches. Like other South Korean chaebols, Samsung was a first mover in China, using the market primarily as a base to produce electronics for the world.
In contrast, Apple’s big push in China came only recently, with the advent of the smartphone age roughly five years ago.
The early entry gave Samsung an undeniable edge, and it adapted fast to a rapidly changing environment. By the mid-1990s, with the economy booming, Samsung made the strategic decision to treat the Chinese market not just as a production base, but to start marketing to China higher-priced electronics, said Nomura researcher Choi Chang-hee, who wrote a history of Samsung’s experience in China.
That shift has meant Samsung’s retail presence in China far outstrips Apple’s. Aside from selling via the distribution outlets of the three major telecom carriers, Samsung also has a strong retail presence through its partners Gome Electrical Appliances and Suning Commerce Group, as well as its own “Experience” stores and small retailers all over the country.
Apple works through the same channels, but its relatively late entry means it has a significantly smaller presence. Samsung, for example, has more than 200 official distributors and resellers in Guangzhou province, while Apple lists 95.
Over the last two decades, Samsung has also taken pains to build relationships with Chinese government officials and -perhaps more critically – the three major telecom carriers.
The notion of the importance of connections – or “guanxi” – in China is occasionally overrated in business. Not, according to Samsung’s Shin, in this case. “It’s our core policy to keep friendly relationships with the operators,” he said. In China, each carrier uses a different technology and that requires Samsung “to tweak our smartphones to their request.”
“It’s not easy,” Shin said, “but we do this to be more operator friendly.”
Contrast that with the ongoing negotiations Apple has had with China Mobile, the largest cellphone operator. For years the two sides have been unable to come to an agreement on revenue sharing, effectively precluding Apple from hundreds of millions of potential customers.
SCRUTINY FROM THE TOP
Samsung’s reach extends higher than just the CEOs of the top state-owned telecom companies. Top executives have met each of the last several Chinese leaders, most recently Xi Jinping, who spent time in April with vice chairman Jay Y. Lee, son of K.H. Lee, Samsung Electronics chairman.
“What surprised me most,” said Lee later, “was that they (Chinese leadership) know very well about Samsung. They even have a group studying us.”
The Chinese government has also made clear it’s well aware of Apple – though not always in a good way. In April, state media bashed Apple for its “arrogance,” protesting among other things that its current 1-year service warranty was insufficient. Apple initially dismissed those criticisms, but Cook later apologized to Chinese consumers.
Samsung’s success in China has its roots, one former executive said, in a previous obsession for the company: its desire not to replicate the mistakes made by Japanese rivals.
“Samsung spent a lot of time benchmarking Sony, Toshiba and Panasonic,” said Mark Newman, who spent six years in Samsung’s global strategy group and is now an industry analyst at Sanford C. Bernstein in Hong Kong.
“One of the things that came out of that is the realization that the insular approach has its drawbacks, and so Samsung has made an effort over the last 10 years to be much more global.”
This strategy of decentralization is plainly evident in China, he said, home now to more Samsung employees than any country outside South Korea.
FIGHTING HIGH AND LOW
Samsung now leads in both low-end and high-end segments in China, according to IDC, and its logic of going after both ends of the market is straightforward. In China, where the average wage is roughly $640 per month, many users looking to upgrade from feature phones to smartphones cannot afford Apple.
By bracketing the market with multiple models, Samsung can breed deep relationships with customers, many of whom, market research shows, trade up to more expensive models as they get older. Playing high and low also positions Samsung to fend off the intensifying competition from Chinese firms such as Lenovo and Huawei and literally hundreds of smaller local players.
“That’s where the next battle for Samsung will be fought,” said Newman. “We’ll have to see if Apple does introduce a new, cheaper model for China – and the world.”
DETAILS for the assesment of upcoming changes
1. Leapfrogging Apple while regaining only some high-end SoC supply to it:
Samsung sells 76 mln smartphones in Q2, boosting market share-report [Reuters, July 26, 2013]
Samsung Electronics Co Ltd sold 76 million smartphones in the second quarter, expanding its market share to 33.1 percent, Strategy Analytics said on Friday.
Overall, the global smartphone market grew 47 percent to a record 229.6 million, the research firm said.
Second-ranked Apple Inc saw its market share shrink to 13.6 percent after selling 31.2 million iPhones, as smaller rivals such as LG Electronics Inc, ZTE Corp and Huawei Technologies Co Ltd seized larger slices.
Strategy Analytics: Samsung Becomes World’s Most Profitable Handset Vendor in Q2 2013 [PRNewswire, July 26, 2013]
According to the latest research from Strategy Analytics, Samsung became the world’s most profitable handset vendor in Q2 2013. Apple slipped into second position, as margins have been hit by lackluster iPhone 5 volumes and tougher competition in China.
Neil Shah, Senior Analyst at Strategy Analytics, said, “We estimate Samsung’s operating profit for its handset division stood at US$5.2 billion [61% of the overall, see below] in the second quarter of 2013. Samsung overtook Apple for the first time, which recorded an estimated iPhone operating profit of US$4.6 billion. With strong volumes, high wholesale prices and tight cost controls, Samsung has finally succeeded in becoming the handset industry’s largest and most profitable vendor.”
Neil Mawston, Executive Director at Strategy Analytics, added, “Apple’s reign as the world’s most profitable handset vendor lasted almost four years, from Q3 2009 to Q1 2013. Apple’s profit margin for its handset division has been fading recently due to lackluster iPhone 5 volumes and tougher competition from rivals. Samsung is performing well in the US market, while Huawei, ZTE and other local brands are growing vigorously in China. Apple is now under intense pressure to launch more iPhone models at cheaper price-points or with larger screens to fend off the surging competition and recapture lost profits in the second half of 2013.”
Exhibit 1: Global Handset Operating Profits in Q2 2013 
Global Handset Operating Profits (US$ Billions)
Source: Strategy Analytics
The full report, Samsung Becomes World’s Most Profitable Handset Vendor in Q2 2013, is published by the Strategy Analytics Wireless Device Strategies (WDS) service, details of which can be found here: http://tinyurl.com/cr7fhmb.
But: while handset revenue was up by 9% the operating profit for handsets and network products together were down by 3%. Considering that 97.3% of the IM (IT & Mobile Communications) revenue is for handsets that essentially means a similar operating profit drop of ~3% for handsets alone. Note as well that while the margin was 17.7% a year ago (in 2Q ’12) now (in 2Q ‘13) it was the same 17.7%, so with that 3% drop there was no fundamental problem (yet).
From: Earnings Release Q2 2013, Samsung Electronics, July 2013 presentation [July 26, 2013]
Samsung explains that by “marginal profit decline due to increased costs of new product launches, R&D and retail channels investments, etc.” as you could see below:
Fundamental problem could well be with the market share outlook, as neither for 2Q ‘13, nor for the outlook market share was talked about at all.
Samsung Electronics Announces Earnings for Q2 in 2013 [press release, July 26, 2013]
Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd. today announced revenues of 57.46 trillion won [$51.6B] on a consolidated basis for the second quarter ended June 30, 2013, a 9-percent increase from the previous quarter. Consolidated operating profit for the quarter reached 9.53 trillion won [$8.53B, ~61% of which is estimated for its handset division, see above], representing a 9-percent increase on quarter, while consolidated net profit for the same quarter was 7.77 trillion won [$6.98B].
In its earnings guidance disclosed on July 5, Samsung estimated second quarter consolidated revenues would reach approximately 57 trillion won [$51.2B] with consolidated operating profit of approximately 9.5 trillion won [$8.53B].
Samsung Regains Its Biggest Client Apple [The Korea Economic Daily, July 15, 2013]
Samsung Electronics will supply mobile application processor (AP) to Apple Inc. from 2015. The mobile AP is a brain of Apple’s iPhone. Samsung Electronics will supply 14 nano A9 chips that will be used for Apple’s iPhone 7.
Samsung Electronics had supplied the AP to Apple since 2007 but lost the contract to supply 20 nano AP A8 chips [for iPhone6] to Apple to Taiwan’s TSMC last year when it was engaged in patent disputes with Apple. Samsung Electronics developed state-of-the-art 14 nano models ahead of its rival TSMC, regaining the order from Apple.
According to industry sources on July 14, Samsung Electronics signed an agreement with Apple to supply the next-generation AP that it will produce in 2015. The AP that will be produced using 14 nano FinFET technology is mounted on Apple’s iPhone 7 to be released in the second half of 2015.
Since its relations with Samsung Electronics worsened due to patent disputes, Apple has refrained from using Samsung parts since the second half of last year. Apple excluded Samsung memory chips, including mobile DRAMs, from iPhone 5 that it released in September 2012. Apple also decided to procure iPhone 6 APs from TSMC, the world’s No. 1 foundry company.
TSMC reaches deal with Apple to supply 20nm, 16nm and 10nm chips, sources claim [DIGITIMES, June 24, 2013]
Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) and its IC design service partner Global UniChip have secured a three-year agreement with Apple to supply foundry services for the next A-series chips built using 20nm, 16nm and 10nm process nodes, according to industry sources.
In response, both TSMC and Global Unichip said they do not comment on customer orders and statuses.
TSMC will start to manufacture Apple’s A8 chips in small volume in July 2013, and substantially ramp up its 20nm production capacity after December, the sources revealed. The foundry will complete installing a batch of new 20nm fab equipment, which is capable of processing 50,000 wafers, in the first quarter of 2014, the sources said.
A portion of the upcoming production capacity, estimated at 20,000 wafers, can later be upgraded to process wafers used to build 16nm chips, the sources continued. TSMC is scheduled to volume produce the Apple A9 and A9X processors starting the end of third-quarter 2014, the sources said.
The upcoming Apple A8 processor will be found in a new iPhone [iPhone 6] slated for release in early 2014, and the A9/A9X chips will be used in the newer-generation iPhone and iPad products, the sources claimed.
The sources did not identify whether TSMC will be the sole supplier of these Apple-designed chips.
TSMC’s phase-4, -5 and -6 facilities of Fab 14, its 12-inch fab located in southern Taiwan, will be dedicated to making Apple’s A-series processors, the sources further noted. The foundry will initially allocate a capacity of 6,000-10,000 12-inch wafers for the manufacture of those chips, and output will rise gradually starting 2014, the sources said.
TSMC chairman and CEO Morris Chang remarked previously that the foundry’s 16nm FinFET process would enter mass production in less than one year after ramping up production of 20nm chips. Risk production for its 20nm process kicked off in the first quarter of 2013.
Samsung Electronics is the Biggest Beneficiary of LTE-A [Korea IT News, July 15, 2013]
Samsung Electronics has emerged as the biggest beneficiary of the commercialization of LTE-A services by all of the three South Korean telecom operators. This is because the Samsung Galaxy S4 LTE-A is the only LTE-A smartphone put on the market at the moment. Thus, sales of the Galaxy S4 LTE-A has a good chance of making up for slower than expected domestic sales of the Galaxy S4. LG Electronics and Pantech plan to launch their LTE-A smartphones sometime next month.
150,000 Galaxy S4 LTE-A smartphones were activated in 14 days with SK Telecom alone. In other words, an average of 10,000 Galaxy S4 LTE-A smartphones went into service a day. Sales of the Galaxy S4 LTE-A is much faster than the Galaxy S4, propped up by Samsung-SK Telecom joint marketing campaigns and growing expectations of LTE-A’s twice faster speeds [LTE=75Mbps –> LTE-A=150Mbps] than LTE.
Sales of the Galaxy S4 LTE-A is projected to surge in the weeks to come since LG and Pantech’s LTE-A smartphones are scheduled to come out as early as next month.
– SK Telecom Launches World`s First LTE-Advanced Network [press release, June 26, 2013]
– World’s First Mobile Device with LTE Advanced Carrier Aggregation Powered by the Qualcomm® Snapdragon™ 800 Processor [OnQ Blog, June 26, 2013]
– Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 Processors Power World’s First LTE-Advanced Smartphone [press release, June 26, 2013]
– Samsung LTE Leadership and Future-Focused Innovation Produces World’s First LTE-Advanced Smartphone [press release, June 26, 2013]
From: 25 things my new Android phone does that makes my iPhone feel like it comes from the 1990s [ZDNet, July 11, 2013]
A few weeks ago, I told you about my plans to ditch my old iPhone 4S and get a brand-new Samsung S4 Android phone. Well, a few days later, I did just that.
- You can replace the battery
- You can add an memory card to your phone
- You can replace the back cover
- It supports wireless inductive charging without a bulky sled
- Wonder-of-wonders: you can actually plug a USB cable into it and drag and drop files from your computer
- It’s got a full 1080p HD display
- You don’t have to use iTunes
- You can completely replace your launcher
- Your home screen can be alive
- You can replace your unlock screen with a customized version
- It’s a frickin’ tricorder
- It supports near field communications (NFC)
- It has an IR emitter
- You can turn your phone into a stealthy TV-B-Gone
- The thing senses hand gestures above it
- It watches your eyes
- It has a 13 megapixel camera
- Its camera can remove objects that don’t belong in the image
- Its camera can take multiple images and composite them together automatically
- You can install apps from a browser on your PC
- It can show two apps on-screen at once
- You can automate almost everything
- When you buy something on the Google Play store, you get an email receipt within minutes, not weeks
- It integrates (mostly) nicely with Google Voice
- You can have a new hobby (whether you want it or not)
- Samsung Galaxy S4 GT-I9500 [16GB] Factory Unlocked: $618 on Amazon ($700 list)
– Exynos 5 Octa 5410 SoC with 2GB RAM
– Quad-core 1.6 GHz Cortex-A15 & quad-core 1.2 GHz Cortex-A7 CPU with tri-core 533MHz PowerVR SGX544 GPU
- Samsung Galaxy S4 GT-I9505 16GB 4G/LTE Factory Unlocked: $611 on Amazon($999 list)
– Snapdragon 600 SoC with 2GB RAM
– Quad-core 1.9GHz Krait 300 CPU with 450MHz Adreno 320 GPU
2. Chinese local brands are coming close to Samsung but at less than 40% price
Let’s take Jiayu* quad-core smartphone offerings as of July 15, 2013 in China (as they are the price leaders among the MT6589/MT6589T-based devices in China):
– Jiayu G3 Quad Edition (G3s) is from $110 in retail shops throughout the country
(Note that this price is even lower than the spec-wise similar Xiaomi $130 Hongmi superphone.)
– Jiayu G4 Standard (on sale for $155 (thin) and $163 (thick) list price since April 10) now with summer offer is from $130 in retail shops throughout the country
– 1.5GHz Jiayu G4 Advanced (G4s) is $216 since July 6 with 7 working days delivery
– 1.5GHz Jiayu G4 thin version is $160 since July 13 with not later than July 24 delivery
* About Jiayu (佳域)
Baoji Jiayuyutong Electronic Co., Ltd was established in April 2009, is one of the high-tech enterprises, committed to the mobile communication product, research and development, manufacturing, sales and service. The company has more than 800 employees, including more than 30 R & D personnel and 60 engineering and technical people. At present, the company has 10 complete product lines, 2 laboratory rooms, a variety of advanced testing equipment.
Brand interpretation: “good domain”, the Chinese word for pioneering domestic smart phone “Best of the Realm”; “JIAYU” to “good domain” Chinese spelling.
3. The superphone segment of the market becomes saturated:
China’s Huawei launches world’s slimmest smartphone [AFP YouTube channel, June 18, 2013]
– Moto X. All Yours. [The Official Motorola Blog, Aug 1, 2013]
– Motorola Moto X vs. Samsung Galaxy S4 [Gizmag, Aug 2, 2013]
– 16GB Motorola Moto X to cost $575 SIM-free [GSMarena.com, Aug 2, 2013]
Motorola Moto X was unveiled yesterday and the smartphone will soon be available from the top 5 carriers in the USA. The 16 GB variant of the Moto X is priced at $200 and the 32 GB unit costs you $250 with a two-year contract.
At the announcement event Motorola did not announce the pricing details of the SIM-free editions, but they are no longer a mystery as AT&T has confirmed the pricing of the device without a contract. At launch, the 16 GB model of the Moto X will cost you $575, while the 32 GB is priced at $629.
Moto X Phone release date, news and rumours [TechRadar YouTube channel, July 2, 2013] “could be landing in installs in October”, and “to undercut the big players of the market such as the Samsung Galaxy S4 and the HTC One –meaning we might see some very competitive pricing”
From: Samsung Electronics 2Q13 review: Fading growth momentum vs improving valuations [The Korea Economic Daily, July 8, 2013]
Samsung Electronics (Samsung) announced 2Q13 preliminary sales of W57trn [$51B] and OP of W9.5trn [$8.5B], a record quarterly high. However, OP fell short of the consensus (W10.2trn) by 6.5% and our estimate (W10trn) by 5%. Despite strong memory prices due to supply shortages and higher OLED sales and margins, OP disappointed on lower smartphone ASP and IM margins due to increased marketing costs.
As the growth of the smartphone market slows due to commoditization, concerns are mounting over eroding ASP and margins. In fact, we estimate OP at the IM division eroded from W6.51trn with an OPM of 19.8% in 1Q13 to W6.23trn [$5.6B] with an OPM of 18.4%. Considering Apple lawsuit provisions were booked in 1Q13, the effective decline in OPM is over 3% as sales of the Galaxy S3 and Note 2 deteriorated.
We revise down our earnings forecasts to reflect lower handset OPM. Specifically, we estimate 3Q13 OP at W10.1trn [$9B] (previously W11.0trn) and full-year 2013 OP at W38.1trn [$34.2B] (previously W40.3trn). We cut Galaxy S4 3Q13 sales to 20mn units (previously 23mn) to reflect the poor sales; however, we maintain OP and OPM at 2Q13 levels given the global launch of the Galaxy S4 Mini and Note 3.
*Source: Korea Investment & Securities Co.
From: Galaxy S4, 20 million sales in just two months … 40 days faster than the previous [ChosunBiz, July 3, 2013] as traslated from Korean by Google and Bing with manual edits
Samsung Electronics (005930) launched the Galaxy S4 20 million sales in two months (on the carrier supply basis) of the fastest selling Samsung smartphones ever, according to industry.
The Galaxy S4 was released only two months ago by the end of June, and the carrier supply sales exceeded 20 million.
When this morning president JK Shin of Samsung Mobile met with reporters in Samsung Electronics Seocho building in response to a question whether the amount of Galaxy S4 sales would be 20 million he told “You know, there are”, and this is a 20 million breakthrough.
Since the official launch of the Galaxy S4 on the 26th of April in 60 countries 4 million were sold in just five days, then went on to sell 10 million units in a month.
… On the other hand a Samsung official said, “as regards the Galaxy S4 sales numbers there is no answer”.
From: Analyst: Samsung Galaxy S4 Sales vs. Apple iPhone 5 Sales [Wall St. Cheat Sheet, July 7, 2013]
Although the Galaxy S4 has sold faster than any other Samsung device, it appears that it still couldn’t surpass the sales rate for the iPhone 5. Citing the slowing demand for the Galaxy S4, a mid-June report from J.P. Morgan lowered the 2013 earnings estimate for Samsung by 9 percent. After the report was released, Samsung lost $12.4 billion in market capitalization, falling to $187.8 billion.
Samsung analysts ask hard questions as S4 marketing charm wears off [Reuters, June 16, 2013]
Samsung’s huge share of the high-end smartphone market also persuaded some analysts to downplay industry data pointing to a fast-saturating segment, a reality that is already eating into sales of Apple Inc’s iPhone 5.
Woori Investment & Securities, one of South Korea’s largest securities firms, cut its outlook for Samsung’s earnings and target share price on June 5. It was the first to adjust its view.
A massive wave of downgrades has since followed, with forecasters including JPMorgan, Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs taking a harder look at their assumptions of how well the S4, Samsung’s latest Galaxy smartphone, would actually do.
Sales estimates for the S4 were slashed by as much as 30 percent, stirring investor concerns over Samsung’s mobile devices division – the company’s biggest profit generator.
Investors in the South Korean IT giant have paid dearly. Samsung lost nearly $20 billion in market value in a week as shares plunged following the downgrades.
“I’d say most forecasters including myself had this conviction that they’ll outperform again – because it’s Samsung,” said Byun Hanjoon, an analyst at KB Investment & Securities. “They had beaten expectations before, which led many to believe they are bound to excel again with the S4.”
The S4 sold 10 million sets in just one month of its debut in late April, outperforming its predecessor, the S3.
Yet analysts now say the high-end smartphone segment is slowing, citing lacklustre prospects in Europe and South Korea in particular.
The S4, in reality, also lacks any real wow factor, they say.
“The Street, including Goldman Sachs, admittedly extrapolated the first-quarter earnings momentum through the year,” Goldman Sachs analyst Michael Bang said in a report. “This resulted in very optimistic earnings expectations.”
Most analysts have reduced their estimates for S4 shipments to around 7 million units a month from their previous average expectation of 10 million.
Bank of America Merrill Lynch has lowered its S4 sales estimate for this year by 5 million to 65 million units.
Some analysts say a loss in potential sales of 5 million S4 units would cut around $1 billion of Samsung’s operating profit.
“S4 sales are solid. It’s just that some analysts had higher expectations and then they lowered them,” J.K. Shin, head of Samsung’s mobile devices division, told reporters last week.
Over the past month, 17 out of 43 analysts have downgraded their earnings estimates for Samsung, leading to a 0.6 percent drop in their average forecast for the company’s April-to-June earnings to 10.4 trillion won ($9 billion), according to Thomson Reuters StarMine.
The lowered forecast, however, would still be a quarterly record.
Many analysts say weaker-than-expected S4 sales will not necessarily stop Samsung from posting record quarterly profits. The company has diversified into many segments of the smartphone market, Merrill Lynch says.
Still, the scale of the downgrades has cast a shadow on Samsung’s dominance in the $250 billion smartphone market.
Doing it no favour, Chinese rivals are aggressively growing their market share, aided by strong sales of mid-tier models – a segment in which Samsung has relatively weak positioning, according to analysts.
The mid-tier segment accounted for less than 15 percent of Samsung’s total shipments last year.
Analysts say Samsung has to focus on this lower tier in the medium term.
The high-end segment is losing momentum, with manufacturers struggling to differentiate themselves and consumers calling for a leap in innovation, they say.
To be sure, Samsung has not sat idle.
It has gradually expanded its offerings. Among four varieties of the S4 introduced in recent weeks, there was one stripped-down version called the Galaxy Mini.
By comparison, Apple has had no new offerings since the iPhone 5 hit the market in September last year.
Samsung bulls are also pinning their hopes on product launches later this year including the Galaxy Note 3, a phone-tablet hybrid.
Some analysts say conservative forecasts will prevail.
“Expectations for innovation have been lowered, and I don’t think there’ll be as much buzz surrounding new product launches as it used to be,” said Byun at KB.
Samsung’s stock, which slumped to a six-month low on Thursday, inched up 0.9 percent on Friday.
($1 = 1134.4000 Korean won)
(Reporting by Miyoung Kim; Editing by Ryan Woo)
Samsung GALAXY S4 Hits 10 Million Milestone in First Month [Samsung Mobile Press, May 23, 2013]
Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd. today announced that global channel sales of its GALAXY S4, a life companion for a richer, fuller, simpler life, has surpassed 10 million units sold in less than one month after its commercial debut. Launched globally on April 27, the phone is estimated to be selling at a rate of four units per second.
The GALAXY S4 sets a new record for Samsung, generating sales quicker than any of its predecessors. Sales of the GALAXY S III reached the 10-million mark 50 days after its launch in 2012, while the GALAXY S II took five months and the GALAXY S seven months to reach the same milestone.
“On behalf of Samsung, I would like to thank the millions of customers around the world who have chosen the Samsung GALAXY S4. At Samsung we’ll continue to pursue innovation inspired by and for people,” said JK Shin, CEO and President of the IT & Mobile Communications Division at Samsung Electronics.
The GALAXY S4 was developed to enhance the meaningful moments in our lives through its innovative features and superior hardware. It has the world’s first Full HD Super AMOLED display that showcases images at their very best on a 5-inch screen with 441ppi. Equipped with a powerful rear 13MP camera, the GALAXY S4 also boasts a Dual Camera function that allows simultaneous use of both front and rear cameras. The GALAXY S4’s new and innovative software features include Air View and Air Gesture for effortless tasks, while it also keeps users up-to-date with information about their health and wellbeing using S Health.
Samsung GALAXY S4 is available in more than 110 countries and will gradually be rolled out to a total of 155 countries in cooperation with 327 partners.
Samsung is planning to introduce more color variations to meet various consumer tastes and preferences. In addition to the currently available Black Mist and White Forest, new color iterations will be added this summer, including Blue Arctic and Red Aurora, followed by Purple Mirage and Brown Autumn.
＊ All functionality, features, specifications and other product information provided in this document including, but not limited to, the benefits, design, pricing, components, performance, availability and capabilities of the product are subject to change without notice or obligation.
＊＊ Availability of colors will vary depending on the country and carrier/retailer.
4. Previous (pre-saturation) milestones according to Samsung Mobile Press (with relevant video inserts from other sources):
See: Samsung GALAXY S II reaches 3 Million global sales [July 3, 2011]
From: Samsung GALAXY S II reaches new heights with 5 million global sales [July 28, 2011]
Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd, a global leader in digital media and digital convergence technologies, today announced that the Samsung GALAXY S II (Model: GT-I9100) has passed the 5 million global sales milestone.
The GALAXY S II is Samsung’s flagship smartphone device; a beautifully thin, (8.49mm) and lightweight dual-core smartphone that combines an unmatched Super AMOLED Plus viewing experience with incredible performance, all on Android – the world’s fastest-growing mobile operating system. The next generation smartphone also includes exclusive access to Samsung’s four new content and entertainment hubs, seamlessly integrated to provide instant access to music, games, e-reading and social networking services.
The 5 million mark has been reached in just 85 days, a rate which is 40 days faster than the original GALAXY S took to reach the same sales mark. This rate is set to accelerate as Samsung has just launched GALAXY S II in China, the world’s largest market.
From: Samsung GALAXY S II continues success reaching 10 Million in global sales [Sept 26, 2011]
Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd, a global leader in digital media and digital convergence technologies, today announced that the Samsung GALAXY S II (Model: GT-I9100) has achieved 10 million global channel sales, doubling from five million in just eight weeks.
The GALAXY S II is Samsung’s flagship smartphone device – a beautifully thin (8.49mm) and lightweight dual-core smartphone that combines an unmatched SuperAMOLED Plus viewing experience with powerful performance, all on Android, the world’s fastest-growing mobile operating system. The next generation smartphone also includes Samsung’s four content and entertainment hubs, seamlessly integrated to provide instant access to music, games, e-reading and social networking services.
Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd, a leading mobile handset provider, today announced that its Samsung GALAXY S and GALAXY SII smartphones have achieved a combined total of 30 million global sales.
GALAXY SII has set a new record for Samsung, generating more than 10 million sales – quicker than any device in Samsung’s history. The device also recently received five out of the total ten Mobile Choice Consumer Awards 2011 in the UK as well as 2011 Gadget Award for being chosen as the best smartphone of the year by T3, confirming it as a run-away favorite smartphone with consumers this year. It continues to gain traction as Samsung’s flagship smartphone – a stylishly designed, slim and ultra-portable device combining an unrivalled viewing experience with powerful dual-core processor performance.
Launched in 2010, Samsung GALAXY S reached almost 20 million unit sales, making it the highest-selling mobile device in Samsung’s portfolio to date, and another record-breaker for the company and the mobile market.
Since launching to high critical acclaim two years ago, the GALAXY S range has continued to gain popularity among consumers and propelled the GALAXY brand to one of the most recognized mobile brands in the world, with Samsung now the largest Android smartphone vendor and the second largest phone vendor overall worldwide (IDC).
“Since its launch only five months ago, GALAXY SII has seen tremendous sales success and garnered enthusiastic reviews from consumers and mobile industry watchers across the globe. This is in addition to the continued sales momentum behind GALAXY S, which we launched at Mobile World Congress 2010 as continues to be a run-away success with consumers,” said JK Shin, President and Head of Samsung’s Mobile Communications Business.
“The phenomenal success of these smartphones once again demonstrates how the GALAXY S smartphones is setting the standard for smart mobile technology around the world.”
From: Samsung GALAXY S II awarded “Best Smartphone” by GSMA at Mobile World Congress 2012 [Feb 29, 2012]
This honor comes in recognition of the device’s powerful performance and overwhelming response from consumers. GALAXY S II, Samsung’s flagship smartphone, achieved worldwide sales of over 10 million units in only 5 months, quicker than any device in Samsung’s history and surpassed over 20 million sales in 10 months.
With SIII, Samsung makes smartphone duopoly official – Tech Tonic [Reuters TV YouTube channel, June 21, 2012]
From: Samsung GALAXY S III Reaches 20 Million Sales Milestone in Record Time [Sept 6, 2012]
Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd, a global leader in digital media and digital convergence technologies, today announced that the GALAXY S III smartphone has achieved 20 million unit sales in just 100 days since its debut in May 2012. As Samsung’s most successful smartphone to date, the GALAXY S III has set a new record, generating sales quicker than any of its predecessors.
From: The Samsung GALAXY S III achieves 30 million sales in five months [Nov 4, 2012]
Putting this number into perspective, during a similar selling period (150 days), the acclaimed GALAXY S II, launched in 2011, globally sold 10 million devices.
Now upgradable to Android™ 4.1 (Jelly Bean)＊, the nature-inspired GALAXY S III is a revolutionary smartphone packed with intelligent features that make everyday life easier. Its expansive 4.8-inch HD Super AMOLED display lets users view multimedia and web content in brilliant color and clarity; and its camera understands human gestures to make using the phone incredibly natural and intuitive. A powerful hardware ensures blazing-fast performance and seamless multi-tasking.
＊ Availability and timing of the Jelly Bean upgrade will vary depending on the country and mobile carrier.
Samsung GALAXY S Series Surpasses 100 Million Unit Sales [Jan 14, 2013]
- Samsung has announced that global channel sales of the company’s flagship smartphone, GALAXY S III and its two predecessors GALAXY S and GALAXY S II have surpassed 100 million units sales as of January 13, 2013.
- Samsung GALAXY smartphones are intuitive and easy to use, display photos and videos on dazzling screens, and deliver a premium user experience with a design that is elegant and feels natural.
- The GALAXY S, has reached over 24 million global channel shipments, achieving 10 million of these during the first seven months after its launch in June 2010.
- Building on this success Samsung launched the GALAXY S II in April 2011. This smartphone reached around 40 million shipments, achieving 10 million global channel sales in just five months.
- In May 2012, Samsung unveiled the GALAXY S III – a smartphone designed for humans and inspired by nature. It revolutionized the user experience, and was critically acclaimed, achieving 20 million global channel sales in just 100 days – which made it Samsung’s fastest selling smartphone yet.
- GALAXY S III has now passed the mark of 40 million unit channel sales.
March 14 (Bloomberg) — Bloomberg West Editor-at-Large Cory Johnson examines how Samsung came to build its smartphone business as it takes aim at Apple’s iPhone with today’s launch of the Galaxy S4. He speaks on Bloomberg Television’s “In The Loop.” — Related Story: http://bloom.bg/ZNshKu — For more “In the Loop” videos: http://bloom.bg/LbOTQk
ARM Cortex-A12 CPU cores and Mali-T622 GPU cores with Process Optimization Packs (POPs), plus Mali-V500 video block for mid-range mobile devices of the end of 2014
in order to cover (very competitively) the hole existing in ARM-based SoCs so far:
… The Cortex A9 is too slow to compete with the likes of Intel’s Atom and Qualcomm’s Krait 200/300 based SoCs. The Cortex A15 on the other hand outperforms both of those solutions, but at considerably higher power and die area requirements. … The Cortex A15 island in Samsung’s Exynos 5 Octa occupies 5x the die area as the A7 island, and consumes nearly 6x the power. In exchange for 5x the area and 6x the performance, the Cortex A15 offers under 4x the performance. It’s not exactly an area or power efficient solution, but a great option for anyone looking to push the performance envelope. Today, ARM is addressing that hole with the Cortex A12. …
… The Mali-T622 is a 2-core implementation of the 2nd generation Mali-T600 GPU architecture that we first learned about with the 8-core T628. Each shader core features two ALUs, an LSU and a texture unit. … On the video front, the Mali-V500 video encode/decode block is a multi-core engine used for all video acceleration. The V500 allegedly supports up to 100Mbps High Profile H.264, although details are scarce on more specifics. ARM claims support for up to 120 fps 4K video decode with an 8-core V500 implementation. Mali-V500 also features a protected video path, necessary for gaining content owner support for high-bitrate/high-resolution video decode. The V500 also supports ARM’s Frame Buffer Compression (AFBC), a lossless compression algorithm that can supposedly reduce memory bandwidth traffic by up to 50%. There’s presently no frame buffer compression in Mali GPUs today, but ARM expects to eventually roll AFBC out to Mali GPUs as well.
Announcement information from ARM:
• POP IP for the Cortex-A12 processor core
• New ground-up design for mid-range mobile
ARM Targets 580 Million Mid-Range Mobile Devices with New Suite of IP [press release, June 3, 2013]
- Faster time to market and less design risk with suite of IP including:
ARM Cortex-A12 processor, Mali-T622 GPU, Mali-V500 video solution and POP IP technology;
- 580 million mid-range smartphones and tablets are forecast to be sold in 2015
- Cortex-A12 processor delivers 40 percent more performance than Cortex-A9 and brings premium features such as virtualization to the mid-range mobile device market; efficiency profile also makes it ideal for DTV and home networking;
- Cortex-A12 processor brings optimum performance and maximum efficiency of big.LITTLE processing to mid-range smartphones and tablets;
- Mali-T622 GPU offers an efficient and qualified OpenGL ES 3.0 solution and smallest Full Profile GPU Compute solution, putting even greater compute power into the hands of more mobile users;
- Mali-V500 video IP solution reduces system bandwidth and power, while enabling the protection of premium video content with TrustZone support.
The essence is that the first Cortex-A12 based SoCs are expected by mid-2014
– for mid-range devices (smartphones and tablets) in the $200 … $350 price range by late 2014 to early 2015
– with Cortex-A7/A15 architectural compatibity, thus in big.LITTLE configurations with either core, supporting 40-bit addressing (up to 1 TB) and virtualization
– plus providing the highest efficiency in pairing with Cortex-A7 core
– as the follow-up with +40% performance to the current SoCs for mid-range devices based on Cortex-A9 SoCs
The SoC ramp-up of about one year or so is compared to not less than two years ramp-up for Cortex-A9 based SoCs. This is the result of significant progress with Process Optimization Pack technology of ARM which was first time developed along with the processor and GPU cores themselves. It is available now for TSMC 28HPM process technology for lead partners. Six of them are already starting their SoC design. Moreover it will also be available at GLOBALFOUNDRIES 28-SLP HKMG process technology in Q4 2013. So it is also first time as such complete sourcing from two foundries will be available for SoC vendors so early on. GLOBALFOUNDRIES is even going to achieve up to 70 percent higher performance in comparison to a Cortex-A9 processor core using 40nm process technology. Competition between those 2 foundries will understandably be very strong as the 2015 mid-range smartphone and tablet market is expected to be not less than 580 million units.
In comparison the Cortex-A9 core was announced in October 2007 and released in 2008
– now contributes to approximately one-third of all smartphone shipments worldwide
– real development opportunities began in H2 2009 with possibility to go even against Intel Atom (source: Computex 2009 – Warren East Presentation [ARM Holdings, June 1, 2009]):
with improving Cortex-A9 performance on 45nm process achieved through:
– 56% improvement from processor and physical IP optimisations
– 44% improvement from other techniques
The first SoC products based on 45nm technology came in 2011, namely:
– NXP PNX 847x/8x/9x set-top box SoCs sampling in January 2010. However a month later the business related to these products was sold to Trident Microsystems (see the PNX8490/PNX8491 datasheet of February 2010) and as Trident had experienced continuing operating losses it filed for bankruptcy in January 2012. Its set-top box SoC business had been taken over by Entropic Communications, Inc. in April 2012. Although only the PNX8475 is currently offered by Entropic the original Cortex-A9 related SoC know-how is flourishing quite well there (see also: 1, 2, 3 and 4).
– Samsung Orion application processor, later renamed into Samsung Exynos 4210 then further into Exynos 4 Dual, announced in September 2010 for sampling in Q4 2010 and mass production in H1 2011. It first came out with the Samsung Galaxy S II smartphone announced in February 2011 for May 2011 delivery. Other Samsung smartphone and tablet products then followed.
– Texas Instruments OMAP 4430 and OMAP 4440 (later renamed OMAP 4460) application processors announced in February 2009 for sampling in H2 2009 and expected production by the second half of 2010, but actually debuted a year later in February 2010 with sampling available and expected production in H2 2010. The first product based on OMAP 4430 was the BlackBerry PlayBook tablet announced in September 2010 for early 2011 availability but becoming available in June 2011 only. Smartphone products from Motorola (a lot, also a few tablets) and LG (a few) followed that, as well as a number of tablet products from Archos and most notably the Kindle Fire from Amazon, and the Nook from Barnes & Noble.
ARM is representing and projecting the evolution of the market since then as follows:
More information about that was provided in:
Cortex-A12: Diversification in the Mobile Market – Serving the Mid-Range [ARM Smart Connected Devices blog, June 3, 2013]
Mobile devices have become indispensable in North America, Europe, and much of Asia, and are becoming the primary compute platforms for people in emerging markets. We are entering a new era of computing, the post-PC era. ARM® technology has been at the heart of the mobile revolution for over twenty years and continues to be the bedrock of all innovation and change in this space.
Mobile devices, such as smartphones and tablets, are connecting billions of people. In 2013, we are expecting:
– Over 1 billion smartphones forecasted to ship*
– Smartphones for <$50 and Tablets >$800
– Tablets out-ship notebook PCs
What becomes clear when looking at mobile devices is that we are seeing segmentation into multiple markets, which is an opportunity for growth for ARM partners:
– Premium devices: Price range > $400
– Mid-range devices: Price range between > $200 and < $350
– Entry-level devices: Price range up to $150
Source: Mixture of ARM and Gartner Estimates
Premium smartphones and tablets receive a great deal of attention, but it is the entry-level and mid-range markets are expected to grow the fastest over the next years. ARM delivered the Cortex®-A7 processorin the fourth quarter of 2011, and it is now shipping in large volumes in low-cost, quad-core devices. It will be followed by the Cortex-A53 processor, which is soon to be released to lead partners. Both are high-efficiency processors, that are efficient by simple in-order eight stage pipelines which are highly efficient and tuned to deliver very good performance for their size. In the mid-range mobile device market, the industry had tremendous success with devices based on the higher-performance Cortex-A9 processor, which uses a partially out-of-order, nine stage pipeline to achieve high performance tuned to the power constraints of smartphones. The Cortex-A9 processor was released in 2008 and now contributes to approximately one-third of all smartphone shipments worldwide.
The market segmentation is driving the diversification in mobile and resulting in many different requirements needed to achieve the highest performance and lowest power within a sustained thermal envelope. These requirements make it mandatory to provide the functionality previously available only in premium devices, but within the power budgets of mid-range devices. Looking at how to serve those markets, it is clear that one size does not fit all anymore.
Today ARM is introducing the Cortex-A12 processor, the highest performance mid-range CPU that is specifically designed for the next-generation mid-range mobile market. The Cortex-A12 processor brings its own mix of high performance and energy efficiency to 2014 SoC designs: more performance than the Cortex-A9 processor with the same mobile-tuned power efficiency. The Cortex-A12 processor is designed to deliver the best mobile experience:
– Highest performance at lowest power consumption and cost
– Highest efficiency within mid-range thermal envelopes, i.e. achieve highest performance at uncompromised area
– Premium feature set in mid-range mobile
The Cortex-A12 processor is the successor to the Cortex-A9 processor and increases single-thread performance by 40 percent, while matching the best-in-class energy efficiency. Measured in 28nm, the Cortex-A12 processor is about 30 percent smaller in area compared to the Cortex-A9 processor in 40nm technology using the same configuration. Additionally, the Cortex-A12 processor brings today’s premium smartphone features into the mid-range, allowing new use cases and great mobile experiences. Some key added features include:
– big.LITTLE™ processing enables the extension of the dynamic range of the Cortex-A12 processor with the addition of the Cortex-A7 processor
– Virtualization and TrustZone® security support enabling new use cases like BYOD (bring your own device)
– 1TB addressable memory, providing close to no boundaries on memory space
The Cortex-A12 processor extends the performance capability in mid-range devices without sacrificing energy efficiency when combined with the Cortex-A7 processor as a big.LITTLE CPU subsystem. big.LITTLE processing provides a highly efficient, high-performance processing solution that can scale to many different use cases. The first iterations of big.LITTLE processing featured the Cortex-A15 and Cortex-A7 processors for high-end solutions. Now, the Cortex-A12 processor is bringing big.LITTLE processing to increase the dynamic range of the mid-range by enabling SoC designers to push the Cortex-A12 processor further while using the Cortex-A7 processor to reduce power well below levels of the Cortex-A9 Processor. This results in an ideal combination of compute resource for efficient workload distribution, running lightweight tasks on the Cortex-A7 processor and high-performance tasks on the Cortex-A12 processor. Early results show up to 2x increased efficiency.
Even though it is designed for mid-range smartphone and tablet devices, the Cortex-A12 processor leads with an excellent efficiency profile, making it an ideal fit for other use cases like home networking, residential gateway and auto infotainment systems.
ARM has also designed the Cortex-A12 processor to work efficiently with a complimentary family of high performance, low power ARM CoreLink™ System IP components:
The system diagram shown above illustrates the system IP components that will typically support the Cortex-A12 processor in a mobile SoC. To deliver effortless 1080p30 graphics with 1080p encode/decode the system also features a Mali™-T622 GPU supporting OpenGL/ES 3.0 and a Mali-V500 video accelerator.
The CoreLink CCI-400 cache coherent interconnect provides an IO coherent channel with Mali and opens up a number of exciting possibilities for offload and acceleration of tasks. When combined with a Cortex-A7 processor (not shown) on the ACE port, CCI-400 also allows big.LITTLE operation with full L2 cache coherency between the Cortex-A12 and Cortex-A7 processors. Efficient voltage scaling and power management is enabled with the CoreLink ADB-400 enabling efficient DVFS control of the Cortex-A12 processor.
CoreLink MMU-500 provides a hardware accelerated, common memory view for all SoC components and minimizes software overhead for virtual machines to get on with other system management functions. In this system, the Cortex-A12 processor also enjoys a secure, optimized path to memory to further enhance its market-leading performance with the aid of CoreLink TZC-400 TrustZone address space controller and DMC solution. All interconnect components and the ARM DMC guarantee bandwidth and latency requirements by utilizing in-built dynamic QoS mechanisms.
ARM POP™ IP supports the physical implementation of the Cortex-A12 processor and Mali GPU to enable best power, performance, and area so critical to success in the highly competitive mid-range SoC market. ARM CoreSight™ debug and trace on-chip hardware, coupled with the ARM DS-5™ software development toolchain, enable the debug of random, time-related software bugs, and the non-intrusive analysis of critical areas of software. The ARM Development Studio 5 (DS-5TM) toolchain also makes use of performance counters embedded in the processor, graphics processor and interconnect to enable system-wide optimization.
The ARM Cortex-A12 processor is the highest-performance, mid-range CPU. It is specifically designed for the mid-range mobile market, and is broadly supported by a range of other ARM technology IP including ARM system IP, POP IP and development tools to enable ARM Powered® solutions that contribute to the very best user experience in terms of responsiveness and battery life. At the same time, it allows ARM partners to accelerate time to market for mid-range SoCs, while freeing development time to add their own differentiation. The Cortex-A12 is a highly tuned processor that will bring the performance of high-end mobile devices into mid-range smartphone and tablets, as well as into other great market opportunities we haven’t even considered.
ARM and GLOBALFOUNDRIES to Optimize Next-Generation ARM Mobile Processors for 28nm-SLP Process Technology [press release, June 3, 2013]
New ARM POP technology provides core-hardening acceleration for Cortex-A12 and Cortex-A7 processors
Milpitas, Calif. and Cambridge, UK, June 3, 2013 – In conjunction with the launch of the ARM® Cortex®-A12 processor, ARM and GLOBALFOUNDRIES today announced new power, performance and cost-optimized POP™ technology offerings for the ARM Cortex-A12 and Cortex-A7 processors for GLOBALFOUNDRIES 28nm-SLP High-K Metal Gate (HKMG) process technology. The Cortex-A12 processor was introduced by ARM today as part of a suite of IP targeting the rapidly growing market for mid-range mobile devices.
The companies will combine ARM’s next-generation mobile processor and POP IP with GLOBALFOUNDRIES 28nm-SLP HKMG process solution, enabling a new level of system performance and power efficiency with the optimum economics necessary to serve the mid-range mobile device market. The new initiative builds on the existing robust ARM Artisan® physical IP platform and POP IP for the Cortex-A9 processor already available on GLOBALFOUNDRIES 28nm-SLP, signifying another milestone in the multi-year collaboration between ARM and GLOBALFOUNDRIES.
Central to this increase in functionality for mid-range mobile devices is the new ARM Cortex-A12 processor. The Cortex-A12 processor provides a 40 percent performance uplift and direct upgrade path from the incredibly successful Cortex-A9 processor, while matching the energy efficiency of its predecessor. The Cortex-A12 processor provides best-in-class efficiency as a standalone solution, but additionally supports the innovative big.LITTLE™ processing technology with the Cortex-A7 processor, bringing this energy-efficient technology to the mid-range. GLOBALFOUNDRIES 28nm-SLP process technology and associated ARM POP IP for the Cortex-A12 processor enables up to 70 percent higher performance (measured single-thread performance) and up to 2x better power efficiency in comparison to a Cortex-A9 processor using 40nm process technology. Designers can achieve even higher performance by trading off for lower power efficiency, depending on their application needs. Click here for more information on the Cortex-A12 processor.
The newest POP technology enables customers to accelerate core-hardening of Cortex-A12 and Cortex-A7 processors on GLOBALFOUNDRIES 28nm-SLP HKMG process. POP IP for Cortex processors has successfully enabled ARM-based SoCs with more than 30 different licenses since being introduced over three years ago. POP IP is composed of three elements necessary to achieve an optimized ARM processor implementation: core-specific tuned Artisan physical IP logic libraries and memory instances, comprehensive benchmarking reports, and implementation knowledge that detail the methodology used to achieve the result, to enable the end customer to achieve the same implementation quickly and at low risk.
“With 580 million mid-range smartphones and tablets forecast to be sold in 2015[i], consumers are increasingly looking for the right combination of performance, low power and cost effectiveness,” said Dr. Dipesh Patel, executive vice president and general manager, Physical IP Division at ARM. “With the Cortex-A12 processor and suite of IP announced today, ARM is delivering an optimized system solution leveraging the most innovative technologies available for this market. The POP IP solution on GLOBALFOUNDRIES 28nm-SLP helps designers balance the performance, power and cost tradeoffs to achieve their targets for this growing market.”
GLOBALFOUNDRIES 28nm-SLP technology is ideally suited for the next generation of smart mobile devices, enabling designs with faster processing speeds, smaller feature sizes, lower standby power and longer battery life. The technology is based on GLOBALFOUNDRIES’ “Gate First” approach to High-K Metal Gate (HKMG), which has been in volume production for more than two years. The technology offers a combination of performance, power efficiency and cost that is ideally suited for the mid-range mobile market.
“GLOBALFOUNDRIES is committed to a deep relationship with ARM to enable best-in-class solutions for our mutual customers. Our collaboration on the ARM Cortex-A12 processor implementation is a direct result of this focus and collaboration,” said Mike Noonen, executive vice president of Marketing, Sales, Design and Quality at GLOBALFOUNDRIES.
GLOBALFOUNDRIES’ next-generation 14nm-XM FinFET technology is expected to bring another dimension of enhanced power, performance and area for ARM mobile processors. A Cortex-A9 processor implemented on 14nm-XM technology, using 9-track libraries, is projected to enable a greater than 60 percent increase in frequency at constant power, or a decrease of more than 60 percent in power consumption at constant performance, when compared to implementation on 28nm-SLP technology using 12-track libraries. Similar results are expected for Cortex-A12 processor implementations. Click here for more details on GLOBALFOUNDRIES’ 14nm-XM FinFet technology.
For further discussions about GLOBALFOUNDRIES process technologies or ARM IP offerings please visit the companies’ respective exhibits at the Design Automation Conference (DAC), June 3-5, 2013 in Austin, Texas. ARM is located in booth 931, and GLOBALFOUNDRIES can be found at booth 1314.