Tag: samsung

ARM develops smartphone legs

British semiconductor outfit ARM reported its fourth quarter unaudited results and declared it outperformed the semiconductor industry as a whole.

Revenues for the fourth quarter of 2009 were down six percent at $140 million compared to the same quarter in the previous year, while licence revenues declined by 15 percent year on year to stand at $44.9 million – that’s nearly a third of the group revenues. Royalty revenues declined by two percent to $74.6 million, that’s 53 percent of group revenues.

But CEO Warren East (pictured, not full size) claimed that ARM continued to outperform the semiconductor business generally and that the company had maintained normalised operating margins over 30 percent.

He pointed to a number of developments that were helping ARM. Six processor licences had been signed for mobile phone and computing applications. ARM had increased its market share in the consumer electronics and embedded sectors.

GlobalFoundries licensed ARM’s 28 nanometer physical IP, while Samsung licensed ARM’s Mali graphics processor for next gen consumer products.

East said: “The company is well-placed… as leading semiconductor manufacturers are increasingly designing ARM technology into their products, and as ARM technology becomes ever more pervasive in… smartphones, digital TVs and microcontrollers.  Recently, Infineon and STMicroelectronics have announced the intention to use, for the first time, ARM processors in their smartcard and digital TV/set-top-box product lines respectively.”

Glofo to pick up Samsung's Apple tab?

There’s been much speculation about the core of Apple’s new wunder gadget, the iPad, especially when it comes down to the pips or, rather, the chips.

What we do know is that Apple wasn’t giving Intel any love, having the utter impudence to snub the chip behemoth in favour of a rather lower powered, zippier system on a chip (SoC) dubbed the “A4” processor.

The A4, designed by Apple’s very own insiders – including  a couple of high profile former AMD/ATI GPGPU gurus and ex PA Semiconductor boffins – is apparently based on a 1 GHz ARM Cortex A9 processor with an Imagination Technologies SGX 535 graphics core.

It’s also been heavily implied that the chip was fabbed by Samsung, something which has been backed up by an undercover TechEye source.

Of course, Samsung has been a key Apple manufacturing partner for some time already, with both the inner guts of the Ipod and Iphone being churned out by the Korean firm.

Samsung also happens to be a partner in the IBM alliance for process technology, which means the firm has access to leading edge-technology, even though it’s not strictly speaking a “foundry” company. Indeed, Samsung’s business model here seems to be more along the lines of selling off as much of its excess capacity as possible.

While this may well come cheap(er) for Apple than a proper fab, sources tell us other fabs may have plans to try to poach the fruity firm next time around. Firms like GlobalFoundries, for instance, which now has a pure-play leading-edge foundry using similar process tech recipes to Samsung’s own.

Rumour has it that Apple is using Samsung’s 45nm bulk process for its chips, though, so if Glofo wants a taste of the Apple pie, it may have to start thinking of moving over from its current batch of 45nm SOI. 

Watch this space.

PC monitor prices likely to rise

Production of LCD monitors for major brands of PCs hit 12.5 million in January, the highest for over a year.

That’s according to Displaysearch – it preducts that March could well show the highest monthly production of LCD monitors on record, reaching close to 13 million units.

But Chris Connery, VP of PC displays at Displaysearch, cautioned against over optimism. He said it’s too early to attribute the production levels to an increase in end market demand.

“Just because you built it, does not mean they will come,” he said. “Many other factors need to be considered alongside of actual production to get a true sense of the market.

There’s still strong demand for 19-24 inch LCD TV panels – that affects the supply of similarly sized PC displays and can create shortages. And because there’s worry about increased prices of panels, some companies double book so they won’t be caught short.

Finally, the growing dominance of notebook PCs puts a question mark over where the market for the larger size PC monitors will come from.

This chart, courtesy of Displaysearch shows the top 12 monitor brand production between January 2009 and January 2010, and predicted production up to April.

Displaysearch production figures

* Meanwhile, the Taiwanese Economic News reported that Hon Hai Precision has swung an order for five million LCD TVs from Samsung. The panels are being manufactured by AU Optronics.

3D football shown in nine pubs

The world’s first 3D football game was televised yesterday in nine pubs across the UK. 

The screenings at top secret venues – withheld from public knowledge due to an expected stampede of punters – were overall deemed a great success. It is now likely that Sky’s pilot scheme will be followed by a roll-out of 3D sports events into viewer’s homes over the course of the year.

Sky logoWhile it was presumed by many that the sight of Wayne Rooney’s Shrek-like visage, in three harrowing dimensions, would provoke scenes of wide-spread panic reminiscent of the screening of the Hindenburg crash, such worries were quickly proved unfounded as viewers gawped in awe at the deep purple of hue of Sir Alex Ferguson’s nose.

Arsenal fan Alan Howe told the Daily Mirror that he was surprised by just how effective the new technology is:  “I have HD at home and I thought nothing could get better than that. It’s mind-boggling.”

With films such as Avatar ushering in the 3D era it is widely held that the technology will not be the play thing for mega-rich Hollywood producers for much longer.  While the first 3D camcorder is on sale from Panasonic at a prohibitively expensive $21,000, 3D TV sets will be available at more attainable £700-£1,000 prices in the near future, with plans from Samsung to mass produce the 3D glasses themselves likely to lower retail cost.

Sky plans to show 3D Premier League matches in hundreds more pubs before the end of the football season.

Samsung stays ahead in NAND memory race

Korean chaebol Samsung kept its lead as NAND flash supplier in the fourth quarter of 2009.

Numonyx flash NANDAccording to figures supplied by DRAM Exchange, the average selling price of NAND flash memory rose around five percent in the quarter, while total branded NAND flash bit shipments increased about 10 percent in the four quarter, compared to third quarter figures.

Samsung had 38.6 percent market share with $1.498 billion of revenues, Toshiba had 32.7 percent market share, contributing $1.267 billion revenue. Micron took third place with 9.9 percent market share and $385 million revenue, with Hynix taking the number four spot with revenues of $380 million. Intel and Numonyx occupied the fifth and sixth slot with revenues of $270 million and $80 million respectively.

Meanwhile, Hynix failed to find a foreign bidder for its business, and the Korea Exchange Bank has now given potential investors 12 extra days to make a bid for its business.

Samsung starts mass producing 3D TV glass

Giant manufacturing combine Samsung said it has started making panels for 3D LED TVs and 3D LCD TCs.

It’s started making panels for 40-inch, 46-inch and 55-inch HD 3D TVs that use its 240Hz technology and will need “3D Active Glasses”.

The 240Hz technology operates at 240 frames a second and Samsung claims delivers full HD viewing in 2D and smooth full HD 3D images.

3D nightmareThe response time of the LCD and LED panels has been cut by 20 percent to less than four milliseconds. That, said Samsung eliminates interference between right eye and left eye images.

The 3D Active Glasses technology is a standard approved by the Consumer Electronics Association. Rather than use polarised glass, 3D Active Glass tech blocks the left and then the right lens when images are displayed to give more lifelike 3D images.

Sounds like a recipe for a headache, but Samsung like other panel makers hopes the 3D market will be worth $17 billion a year in 2018.

Asustek jumps on eBook reader bandwagon

Asustek is going to launch six inch and nine inch e-book readers in the US and Europe markets as soon as the second quarter of 2010.

The move is mostly to test market response but equally could be to make sure that all bases are covered if Apple manages to succeed in its unlikely quest to make a Tablet computer viable.

Asustek’s ebook readers use SiPix’s e-paper technology and Samsung Electronics’ processors, the sources said, adding that Asustek plans to launch colour-screen models in the fourth quarter of 2010.

The spec which has been leaked to the great unwashed on the world wide wibble has the nine inch model with 1,024×769 resolution and supports Wi-Fi, HSDPA, WiMAX, and USB. It supports PDF, TXT, MP3, ePub, HTML, JPEG, GIF, PNG and BMP formats.

Lenovo also plans to launch a 6-inch e-book reader, the iBook (EB-605), in the third quarter, targeting the Europe market, the sources said. The iBook uses E-Ink technology and Samsung’s processors with a price of $292.98.

Samsung shells out nearly a billion to Rambus

Rambus (tick: RMBS) will collect $900 million from giant Korean firm Samsung after the two companies decided to bury the hatchet over DRAM products.

Samsung will invest $200 million Rambus stock, will pay an initial sum of $200 million, and a quarterly payment of $25 million for the next five years.

The firms have also signed a memorandum of understanding to work n high performance memory interfaces including graphics memory and mobile memory. They’ll also look at collaborating on server and high speed NAND flash memory.

In consideration of the vast amount of money Samsung has and will pay Rambus, the Korean firm will get a perpetual fully paid up licence to some DRAM products.

Rambus is notoriously litigious, and is ready to start a case against Samsung, Hynix and Micron over an alleged breach of antitrust laws. That’s delayed because a Micron lawyer involved in the case is unwell.

US distributor sues Samsung, AU, Chi Mei, over LCD conspiracy

A New York based distributorship has filed a case in a Brooklyn district court alleging that a large number of Asian companies conspired to fix prices on LCD displays.

Electrograph Systems Inc named the defendants in the case as Epson, Hitachi, Sharp, Toshiba, Toshiba Matsushita, Sanyo, LG Display, Samsung, AU Optronics, Chi Mei Optoelectronics, CMO Japan, Nexgen Mediatech, Chunghwa Picture Tubes, Tatung, Hannstar Display and Mitsui & Co.

The filing claims that “the defendants and their co-conspirators formed an international cartel which conducted a long running conspiracy extending at a minimum from at leasy January 1996 through at least December 11, 2006.”

It continues: “The purpose and effect of the conspiracy was to fix, raise, stabilise and maintain prices for Thin Film Transistor Liqid Crystal Display panels.

The effect of the alleged conspiracy ran into billions of dollars, according to Electrograph. The conspirators, the filing alleges, met or talked to agree on product prices and as new producers entered the market, the new producers also agreed to fix prices and to control supply.

“Defendants’ conspiracy included agreements on the prices at which defendants would sell TFT-LCD products to their own corporate subsidiaries and affiliates, as well as their co-conspirators.”

The filing pointed out that five of the defendants – LG, Sharp, Chunghwa, Hitachi and Epson have pleaded guilty to a fixed price conspiracy.

Electrograph said it bought TFT LCD products and so suffered damages and is bringing the action to recover overcharges it believes it paid during the relevant period. Electrograph Systems is a value added wholesale distributor of display technology.