Linley Newsletter: August 1, 2019

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Linley Newsletter

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Issue #663

August 1, 2019


Independent Analysis of Microprocessors and the Semiconductor Industry

Editor: Tom R. Halfhill

Contributors: Linley Gwennap, Mike Demler, Bob Wheeler


In This Issue:

- Helio P65 Upgrades Midrange Phones

- Huawei Takes Lead in Smartphone AI

- ST Accelerates Motor Control


Drive World With ESC Launches in Silicon Valley This August

On August 27-29, the Drive World Conference & Expo launches in Silicon Valley with North America's largest embedded systems event, the Embedded Systems Conference (ESC). This inaugural three-day showcase brings together the brightest minds across the automotive electronics and embedded systems industries who are looking to shape the technologies of tomorrow. Linley Group analysts Linley Gwennap and Mike Demler will be presenting at this premier event. For more information and registration, visit:

http://driveworldexpo.com/invite


Helio P65 Upgrades Midrange Phones

By Bob Wheeler

The new Helio P65 could be MediaTek's last midrange application processor without AI acceleration. Rather than integrate a deep-learning accelerator (DLA), the company lets the GPU do the work. On the other hand, the P65 follows the recent trend of including two powerful cores and six little cores. In this case, the 2+6 configuration uses Arm's Cortex-A75 and Cortex-A55, matching the big-brother Helio P90. By sticking with 12nm technology, MediaTek can price the P65 for midrange smartphones.

Gaming performance begins with fast CPUs, and the P65 is no slouch. With its big cores operating at up to 2.0GHz and little cores at 1.7GHz, we estimate the new chip delivers 92% of the P90's single-thread performance and 89% of its multithread performance. Like the P90, the P65 includes a shared L3 cache of undisclosed size. For the GPU, MediaTek picked Arm's Mali-G52 after using Imagination's PowerVR GM9446 in the P90 and the Mali-G72 in the P60 before that. The chip can drive 2,520x1,080 displays and perform 2K-video encoding at 30fps.

MediaTek created confusion with the Helio P65 name. Calling it the P45 would've clarified the new chip's position as an upgrade to the P35, and it would've better explained omission of a DLA to reduce cost. Its exact price tier will become apparent once OEMs announce P65-based phones. Overall, it's a throwback application processor with solid performance upgrades, but it may be the last of its kind.

Microprocessor Report subscribers can access the full article:

https://www.linleygroup.com/mpr/article.php?id=12175

Huawei Takes Lead in Smartphone AI

By Mike Demler

The Huawei Kirin 810 processor targets the highly competitive mid-premium smartphone tier, but because it has a new deep-learning accelerator (DLA), it crushes the company's flagship Kirin 980 by a whopping 43% on the AI-Benchmark summary score.

Those test rankings change frequently as vendors update their drivers, but on the latest 3.0.2 version, the 810 catapults into the top spot with a cumulative score that beats its nearest competitors by more than 15%.

The company manufactures the Kirin 810 using the same 7nm TSMC technology as the Kirin 980, making it the first mid-premium smartphone processor at that node. The 7nm shrink also enables the chip to raise the bar for CPU and GPU performance in that segment, delivering 10-15% higher scores than competitors on the Antutu and Geekbench tests. The 810 is in volume production, and Huawei recently started shipping the first 810-based phone: the Nova 5, selling for about $400 at the company's online store.

Launching the industry's first 7nm mid-premium chip has given it an advantage over its rivals. Huawei has already overtaken Apple for second place in smartphone shipments, and it's closing in on Samsung for first place. Like Apple, it doesn't sell chips to other handset makers, but unlike Apple, its HiSilicon subsidiary produces a broad range of chips covering entry to flagship phones. With its latest design, Huawei will gain even more market share, reducing opportunities for all of its competitors.

Microprocessor Report subscribers can access the full article:

https://www.linleygroup.com/mpr/article.php?id=12178

ST Accelerates Motor Control

By Tom R. Halfhill

STMicroelectronics is shipping new Arm-based MCUs with unique math accelerators for controlling electric motors, industrial machines, and digital power supplies. The STM32G4-series is also unusually well equipped with mixed-signal peripherals, such as analog-to-digital converters (ADCs), digital-to-analog converters (DACs), pulse-width modulators (PWMs), comparators, and op amps. Integrated flash memory, SRAM, security, and I/O interfaces round out these devices.

The CPU is a 32-bit Cortex-M4F with a floating-point unit (FPU) and memory-protection unit (MPU). Its maximum clock frequency is 170MHz, which is typical for an MCU in this class. Some models have up to 512KB of flash memory, up to 160KB of SRAM, and an extended operating-temperature range of -40º to +125ºC. They're power efficient in active and standby modes, and they come in a variety of packages from 5mm to 14mm. Our survey of distributors found unit prices that will likely fall to the $2-$5 range for 1,000-piece volumes.

The STM32G4 primarily targets motor control, digital power supplies, industrial equipment, and test-and-measurement instruments, but it can also serve in other types of embedded systems. Even at its maximum clock speed, it typically draws only about 27mA when active and 720 nanoamps (nA) in standby while sustaining the real-time clock. Thus, it's suited to battery-powered designs that mostly sleep as well as to line-powered systems.

Assuming that other MCUs will employ Arm's CMSIS-DSP software library for trig functions, ST's math accelerators should deliver superior performance in applications that frequently call those functions. The STM32G4 also has more analog peripherals, smaller packages, and lower prices than similar MCUs from other vendors.

Microprocessor Report subscribers can access the full article:

https://www.linleygroup.com/mpr/article.php?id=12177

About Linley Newsletter

Linley Newsletter is a free electronic newsletter that reports and analyzes advances in microprocessors, networking chips, and mobile-communications chips. It is published by The Linley Group. To subscribe, please visit:

http://www.linleygroup.com/newsletters/newsletter_subscribe.php

Domain: Electronics
Category: Semiconductors

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