Linley Newsletter: Thursday June 21, 2018

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Linley Newsletter

(Formerly Processor Watch, Linley Wire, and Linley on Mobile)

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Issue #605

June 21, 2018

Independent Analysis of Microprocessors and the Semiconductor Industry

Editor: Tom R. Halfhill

Contributors: Linley Gwennap, Mike Demler, Bob Wheeler

In This Issue:

- Qualcomm Targets High-End IoT

- ASSPs Hold Their Own in Comms

- Helio P22 Pushes 12nm to Lower Cost

Save the Date:

Linley Fall Processor Conference 2018

October 31 - November 1, 2018

Hyatt Regency, Santa Clara, California

The Linley Fall Processor Conference is a two-day event featuring technical presentations about processors for communications, IoT, servers, and advanced automotive systems. This in-depth technical conference is the industry's premier processor event and we expect several new product announcements. In addition to more than 20 expert presentations, the program will include a keynote session covering technology and market trends in processor design.

This year's conference will feature presentations by Synopsys, Arm, Micron, Rambus, Imagination Technologies, NetSpeed Systems, ArterisIP, Cadence, CEVA, Andes Technology, InsideSecure, SiFive, SecureRF, GLOBALFOUNDRIES, NXP, Efinix and Mellanox.

This conference is for chip designers, system designers, equipment vendors, OEM/ODMs, service providers, press, and the financial community. Admission is FREE for qualified applicants. Advance registration will begin soon. Meanwhile, save the date! For more information, please access:

Qualcomm Targets High-End IoT

By Tom R. Halfhill

Qualcomm's new QCS605 and QCS603 IoT processors are powerful SoCs that derive from the Snapdragon 710 smartphone chip. By upgrading the image-processing hardware and software, they offer superior computer-vision capabilities. The chips are suited to high-end IoT devices that need Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity plus geolocation services. In addition to security cameras, the target applications include sports/action cameras, 360-degree panoramic cameras that stitch together images from multiple inputs, virtual-reality headsets, robotic vacuum cleaners, and any computer-vision system that must analyze high-resolution images in real time.

These chips are powerful enough to perform visual analytics and machine learning on the fly instead of relying on remote servers or offline processing. They can also analyze audio signals -- for example, to serve as the intelligent ears in the gunshot-location detectors deployed in some cities.

Like its Snapdragon forebears, the QCS605 is a fast low-power processor that bolsters its octa-core CPUs with an Adreno GPU, Hexagon DSP, and dual ISPs. Also like the Snapdragons, it uses Arm's Cortex-A75 and Cortex-A55, which Qualcomm has tweaked for better power efficiency. The A75 clocks at 2.5GHz and the A55 at 1.7GHz. The QCS605 uses these 64-bit CPUs in the familiar Big.Little configuration, sporting two of the former and six of the latter. The lower-price QCS603 has two slower A75 cores (1.6GHz) and only two of the little A55 cores.

Both chips began sampling in 1Q18; we estimate volume production will start in 4Q18. Computer vision and CPU horsepower are their main strengths, but they also provide fast wireless connectivity through 802.11ac Wi-Fi, and their broad support for geosatellite services is valuable for IoT devices that need to map their locations or synchronize their real-time clocks.

Microprocessor Report subscribers can access the full article:

ASSPs Hold Their Own in Comms

By Bob Wheeler

Big and stable yet fragmented -- that's the communications-IC market in a nutshell. We track sales of application-specific standard products (ASSPs) as well as embedded processors and FPGAs. Aggregating sales of these chips, communications systems consumed $13 billion worth in 2017. That figure represents only 1.7% growth in 2017 following an outstanding 2016.

The weak wireless-infrastructure market continued to hold back the leading FPGA and embedded-processor vendors in that segment, dampening overall growth. Wired communications performed well across most segments, but a down year for optical components also held overall ASSP growth to 1.7%. Hyperscale data centers drove excellent growth in 10Gbps-and-above Ethernet switching, whereas decelerating Chinese PON deployments constrained broadband growth.

Embedded processors and FPGAs for communications are relatively small; combined, they're less than half the size of the ASSP market. In 2017, the three categories performed similarly, with FPGAs underperforming slightly due to their wider use in wireless infrastructure. The largest of our top-level ASSP categories are Ethernet, broadband, and the catchall "other" category, respectively earning industry revenue of $4.0 billion, $2.5 billion, and $2.4 billion in 2017. The smallest category, processing, includes the network-processor and security-accelerator subcategories.

Despite the rise of software-defined networking (SDN) and network functions virtualization (NFV), processors and FPGAs haven't meaningfully displaced ASSPs. In many designs, these chips are instead complementary, with ASSPs offering the best power/performance and processors or FPGAs adding customer programmability.

Microprocessor Report subscribers can access the full article:

Helio P22 Pushes 12nm to Lower Cost

By Linley Gwennap

After recently rolling out the more expensive Helio P60, MediaTek introduced its Helio P22. The new processor targets smartphones that cost $150 to $250 and is the first in this price tier to implement 12nm technology, reducing power. Compared with its predecessor, the Helio P23, the new chip also improves dual-camera support and wireless connectivity while adding a sensor hub. It's already in production and should appear in phones shipping this month.

Although the P22 offers a few minor improvements over the P23, the company's focus for the new design was cost reduction. TSMC's 12FFC process is essentially a 10% (half-node) shrink from 16FFC. Compared with 16FFC, the 12nm technology offers similar speed and about 10% lower power. Nvidia's Tesla V100 was the first product to use it, reaching production late last year, but MediaTek also adopted this process for its P60 and now the P22.

The P22 (MT6762) follows the P23 (MT6763), which the company announced last year. Whereas the P23 has a top CPU speed of 2.3GHz (in the turbo version), the P22 is limited to 2.0GHz -- hence the retrograde product numbering. Most of the other specifications remain the same, however. The P22 contains eight Cortex-A53 CPUs, four running at a maximum speed of 2.0GHz and four topping out at 1.5GHz to save power. Although the GPU changes from a dual-core Mali-G71 to a PowerVR GE8320, the company expects the graphics performance to stay roughly the same. The video engine continues to encode and decode 1080p at 30fps.

Microprocessor Report subscribers can access the full article:

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 and consolidates our previous electronic newsletters: Processor Watch, Linley Wire, and Linley on Mobile. To subscribe, please visit:

Domain: Electronics
Category: Semiconductors

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