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Samsung kicks off production of 14nm Exynos system-on-chips

Samsung Electronics has announced that it had begun mass production of a new Exynos 7 system-on-chip for mobile and multimedia devices using 14nm FinFET process technology. The news Exynos 7 Octa processor will likely power the company’s upcoming mobile devices, including flagship smartphones.

Samsung started to mass produce chips using 14nm low-power early (14LPE) fabrication process late in 2014, but the company did not reveal many details about the process. This week Samsung said that if compared to its 20nm manufacturing technology, the new process enables up to 20 per cent higher clock-rate, 35 per cent lower power consumption and 30 per cent productivity gain. The latter fact is surprising because both 14nm and 20nm technologies developed by Samsung use the same back-end interconnect flow, which means that the chips made using the two processes should be similar in sizes. Performance improvement and reduced power consumption are results of usage of three-dimensional (3D) FinFET transistors.

Samsung did not reveal precise specifications of the new Exynos 7 Octa, but the one it introduced last year integrates eight cores that work in Big.Little HMP [heterogeneous multi-processing] configuration: four high-performance ARM Cortex- A57 cores and four low-power ARM Cortex-A53 cores for heavy loads and lighter jobs, respectively. Thanks to the HMP technology, all cores can operate at once in order to perform certain very demanding tasks. The new system-on-chip features ARM Mali-T760 graphics engine with 16 shader cores and support for OpenGL ES 1.1, 2.0, 3.0, 3.1; OpenCL 1.1 and DirectX 11 application programming interfaces.


The new application processor from Samsung also features sophisticated multi format codec (MFC) block that is capable of encoding/decoding video in up to 4K (3840*2160) UHD resolution (using HEVC/H.265 and other codecs) and supports output to ultra-high-definition displays or TVs. Like other modern mobile APs, the Exynos 7 features one 16MP and a 5MP image signal processors.

“Samsung’s advanced 14nm FinFET process technology is undoubtedly the most advanced logic process technology in the industry,” said Gabsoo Han, executive vice president of sales & marketing at system LSI business at Samsung Electronics. “We expect the production of our 14nm mobile application processor to positively impact the growth of the mobile industry by enabling further performance improvements for cutting-edge smartphones.”

Later this year Samsung will use its 14nm LPE process technology to manufacture other chips for its devices as well.

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KitGuru Says: It is unknown whether Samsung plans to use the new 14nm Exynos 7 Octa chip for its upcoming Galaxy S6 smartphone. If it does, then it looks like the company not only managed to start manufacturing of 14nm chips considerably ahead of Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co., but it has managed to initiate high-volume production about half of a year ahead of its rival.

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