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  • What is Inside of the Samsung Galaxy S6?

    I've always been curious about what is inside an electronic device, and it was seeing the very first TI handheld calculator that got me started into a career as an Electrical Engineer. Next to Apple, the most popular brand in smart phone devices these days has got to be Samsung and they have just launched the Galaxy S6 device. A teardown company called Chip Works did the honors and has some beautiful photographs of what they found inside of the S6.

    Article: Synopsys Users Group 2012 Keynote: Dr Chenming Hu and Transistors in the Third Dimension!-samsung-galaxy-s6.jpg

    I've owned Samsung phones for the past 6 years, so am very familiar with their product line-up in general. What really sets the S6 apart from other phones are:

    • 8 core processor
    • 64 bit Operating System

    In the past many smart phone companies would get to market quickly by using an application processor off the shelf from a company like Qualcomm, however Samsung is big enough that they can afford their own engineering team to design an application processor and they dub their octa-core the Exynos 7420. Apple is also well-known for custom-designing application processors as the A-series.

    Even though the application processor brains in the smart phone tend to get top billing, there are a slew of other support chips also required to create a complete system. Inside of the S6 you will also find specialized chips like:

    Application ProcessorSamsungExynos 7420
    MemorySamsungLPDDR4 SDRAM
    FlashSamsung32GB NAND Flash
    ModemSamsungShannon 333
    Power ManagementSamsungShannon 533
    RF TransceiverSamsungShannon 928
    Envelope TrackingSamsungShannon 710
    GNSS Location HubBroadcomBCM4773
    Gyro, AccelerometerInvenSenseMPU-6500
    Multimode MultibandSkyworksSKY78042
    Phase Accordance Method (PAM)AvagoAFEM-9020
    Image ProcessorSamsungC2N8B6
    Audio AmplifierMaximMAX98505
    WiFi ModuleSamsung3853B5
    NFC ControllerSamsung-
    Audio CodecWolfsonWM1840
    Power ReceiverTIBQ51221
    Antenna SwitchSkyworksSKY13415
    Touch Screen ControllerSTMicroFT6BH

    Instead of choosing a touch screen controller from well-known suppliers like Synaptics, Cypress, Atmel or a Chinese company we see that Samsung used STMicroelectronics instead in this model.

    Related - Intel Core M vs Apple A8!

    14 nm FinFET Samsung technology is used in the Exynos 7420 application processor, a more advanced process than the 20 nm TSMC technology that Apple has in their A8 chip.

    Article: Synopsys Users Group 2012 Keynote: Dr Chenming Hu and Transistors in the Third Dimension!-die-mark.jpg
    Die mark, Exynos 7420

    Article: Synopsys Users Group 2012 Keynote: Dr Chenming Hu and Transistors in the Third Dimension!-top-metal.jpg
    Top-level Metal, Exynos 7420

    ​Here's a quick comparison of die sizes for the last two generations of S phones from Samsung:

    PhoneChipDie SizeTechnology
    Galaxy S6Exynos 742078 mm^214 nm
    Galaxy S5Snapdragon 801118.3 mm^228 nm
    Galaxy S5Exynos 5422135 mm^228 nm

    Cross-sectional photos show some of the 11 layers of metal and FinFET structures:

    Article: Synopsys Users Group 2012 Keynote: Dr Chenming Hu and Transistors in the Third Dimension!-cross-section.jpg
    Cross-section of metal stack, Exynos 7420

    At DAC last year in San Francisco we saw one of the first wafers in 14 nm technology from Samsung, and this year we can buy a smart phone like the Samsung Galaxy S6 with 14 nm silicon, so FinFETs are enabling progress in consumer electronic devices already. Intel, of course was first to market with FinFET (aka TriGate) technology, so we should expect to see continued competition for FinFET silicon from TSMC, Intel and Samsung.

    Related: Qualcomm LTE Modem Competitors? Samsung, Intel, Mediatek, Spreadtrum, Leadcore… or simply CEVA!