Apple & Samsung could be only smartphone makers with 7nm chips in 2018

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  • Reply 21 of 28
    DigiTimes sources said...
     :D 
  • Reply 22 of 28
    avon b7avon b7 Posts: 7,512member
    avon b7 said:
    avon b7 said:
    This information also came from Digitimes and just a few weeks ago. Seeing as Globalfoundries will probably be entering the 7nm fray, there would appear to be more potential capacity than with 10nm. Yields permitting.

    https://www.notebookcheck.net/Intel-Globalfoundries-and-Samsung-reportedly-competing-for-contract-to-produce-Huawei-s-Kirin-ARM-SoCs.259548.0.html
    But how much is the demand for the top of the line Kirin SoCs? Around 20 million per year (including all Mate, P and Honor series phones) is my guess. Relatively, this is a smaller number than even Qualcomm's top SoCs of the respective year. Would Samsung be really competing with others to get this business, which HELPs their close competitor big time? I doubt it.
    Top of the line Kirin SoCs and the different components on them flow down into other products.

    We tend to associate them with Huawei and Honor Mobile phones and tablets but they are present in many other areas ranging from general communications, surveillance cameras and storage systems, displays, set top boxes, networking devices and more. In terms of units and the smallest edge of the wedge in terms of sales, Kirin's mounted on reference boards are very popular. 

    https://www.96boards.org/products/

    A 970 board is on the cards.

    I would say that apart from the contracted capacity they have with their current supplier, the fact that they seem to be looking to diversify suppliers and that candidates appear to be pitching attractive offers to HiSilicon perhaps means they have high expectations.

    The latest Kirin970 wasn't actually developed with the latest technology available. They deliberately chose more mature but optimised ARM technology. The clear focus was on efficiency and the NPU. 

    It might be that the 980 is a little closer to release than some think. Then there are rumours of an in house GPU.

    I really don't know how things will play out.

    In terms of sheer unit sales numbers, Huawei overtook Apple mid year 2017 and has repeatedly stated that it wants to be the world's number one producer around 2020/21.

    Seeing how quickly the top end 970 arrived on the Honor (lower priced platform), it looks like unit sales of 970 SoCs might scale faster than was first imagined. I also wonder if they plan to stop using Snapdragon chips on some models if Kirin output can be increased.


    I was not aware of the other uses of Kirin SoCs, apart from smartphones (Mate, P and Honor series). Thanks for sharing the  info.

    In terms of sheer unit sales numbers, Huawei overtook Apple mid year 2017 - Yes, but the majority of them were due to mid-range Kirin SoCs (Kirin 655/659 in Honor mid-range phones) and few Snapdragon mid-range devices (Nova series come to mind). Sales number for phones with Kirin 960/970 (their top tier SoCs in 2016/17 - Mate 9/9 Pro/10/10 Pro, Honor 8 Pro/9, view 10, P10/P10 Plus) - All of them put together would come around 20-30 million at the max. And this has a huge negative impact on Samsung, not Apple. So my question is - why would Samsung want to HELP their biggest rival (even more than Apple) since they are eating into their core business (devices in $300 to $600 range) all over the world.


    I also wonder if they plan to stop using Snapdragon chips on some models if Kirin output can be increased. - They have already literally STOPPED using Snapdragon SoCs in their models. 9 out of 10 models launched by Huawei have Kirin SoCs only. And they are using Snapdragon SoCs only in mid-range phones ($300 to $400). They are NOT using Snapdragon in SoCs in high-end phones (Mate, P series) at all from the beginning. So they have already maxed out on the number of phones which can use their latest and greatest SoCs. Growth, if any, comes only with mid-range priced (value for money flagship) Honor series phones. Not sure, how this would help in increasing their already meager profits, justifying the additional investment on the latest process nodes for SoC manufacturing.


    It might be that the 980 is a little closer to release than some think. - I don't think so. Kirin 980 will be out only next year Sep-Oct in its usual timeframe, with the next Mate flagship being the first one to use it. I don't think so that Huawei will use the Kirin 980 SoC for P series next year (with Mate and Honor series phones already out with Kirin 970).

    Yes, it's all a bit of a guessing game.

    On the Samsung question I think we might have something similar to the Samsung/Apple situation.

    On the one hand Samsung Mobile could be adversely affected by having Samsung supply a major competitor like Huawei with components but on the other, getting fabrication revenues is important for Samsung's fab business. If they were also to throw in screen components as part of any deal this would be still more business while taking that same business away from Samsung's component competitors.

    The normal release cycle would see the 980 land in September/October 2018 and on a Mate but there have been rumours pointing to its inclusion on a P series phone. The next P series model will probably be for MWC2018 (early 2018). The associated rumour of a new HiSilicon designed GPU being ready or almost ready adds to the guesswork.

    Huawei has said Latin America is going to see a push in 2018. There are also rumours of a push into the US via a major carrier which perhaps could be supported by something nice at MWC2018. If this happens, things will probably centre on the Honor and Mate 10 (Kirin 970) and the next P series phone (P11 or 20 according to rumours) and a 970 or a surprise early reveal of the 980. No doubt, other phones will get the 970 too during the year.

    At the presentation of the 970 in September, someone from Google came on stage to put some weight behind the AI plans of Huawei, seemingly indicating that early next year Google would be announcing something for Huawei phones. What wasn't clear to me is if it was 970 related, Android related or related to something else. I originally took it to mean something related to voice assistants but it was somewhat open to interpretation. It could have been marketing spiel too though.

    In global unit shipments Huawei is now punching harder than ever before. Mid 2017 saw them push ahead of Apple. Apple, supercycle in hand, should pull ahead again for this year end and now has a more varied SoC lineup (like Huawei) but 2018 (if trends continue) will be tough for the top three.

    Although unit shipments are still relatively low, Huawei also saw massive growth in tablet sales that also use HiSilicon SoCs.

    They have also moved into laptops although that's a different story.
  • Reply 23 of 28
    ksecksec Posts: 1,569member
    wizard69 said:
    With that node change we dhould see close to a doubling of on board transitors.  That is amazing in itself but then you have to imagine how Apple will use those trandistors.  Maybe an Apple designed modem processor, maybe an enhanced and acesssible AI processor,  maybe far larger caches. The point is many avenues exist to beef up performance and drive features.    If they get another 30-50% increase in processor performance iPads and iPhones will be matching many laptops without qualification.  
    It doesn't double the transistors, a 10nm to 7nm first will bring 20 to 25% density improvement. And if Apple is really making a Plus size of X,
    they will need to increase the GPU processing power. I have a suspicious feeling the A12 will only be a slightly tweaked, double GPU version of A11. Not saying that is necessarily a bad thing.

    Because 7nm will be here for 2018 and 2019. We are still uncertain of 2020, whether that is 5nm with EUV or not.
  • Reply 24 of 28
    tjwolftjwolf Posts: 424member
    tjwolf said:
    Whatever Apple does in terms of chip density, so will Qualcomm. Qualcomm isn't going to let Apple get the upper-hand. Qualcomm's CEO swears he'll keep challenging Apple, no matter what, and keep all Android smartphone manufacturers on equal footing with Apple's iPhone. That's why both Microsoft and Google are scared if Broadcom purchases Qualcomm. They think that if Broadcom takes over Qualcomm, some advantage is going to go to Apple as Broadcom won't try to keep pace with Apple's A-series SoCs. I'm eagerly waiting to see what happens if a takeover occurs. I like the idea of Microsoft and Google sweating it out over some imagined Apple advantage.

    I don't think it's really necessary for most consumers to have a need for 7nm-based smartphones. I'm sure the 10nm SoCs are good for another year or two for most smartphone manufacturers selling mainly low- and mid-range smartphones. Most current flagships have more than enough power for most tasks consumers need to perform. Apple is probably the only company that can easily afford to keep pushing forward in chip density and probably has the most to gain from it.

    Apple needs as much power in the iPhone as it can get.  A corollary to their stance on privacy is that a lot more intelligence has to reside on the device.  The neural engine silicone they added in the A11 is just the beginning.  Google, which makes 95% of its profits by 'knowing' its users and selling targeted ads based on that knowledge wants to do most intelligent functions on their servers.  So Android phones don't have quite as pressing a need for better silicone.
    Android phones don't have quite as pressing a need for better silicone. - It is a naïve argument. The better silicone will be used for High end Apps (AR/VR), Games etc, not for data mining for targeting Ads.
    Your brilliant observation that Android phones need power for AR/VR & games is just as valid for iPhones.  I simply pointed to some CPU intensive tasks - e.g. image recognition - for which an iPhone needs native horsepower, but which is often offloaded by Android devices to Google servers.  Example: a guy who just takes pictures, surfs the web, reads email, surfs the web, and watches an occasional movie on his phone.  No fancy AR/VR/games (there are lots of people like that, believe it or not).  On an iPhone he'd still need a lot of CPU power if he wants to quickly find all the photos that have a 'motorcycle' in them.  An Android user would probably do fine with a middling processor because he probably keeps his photos on Picassa (or whatever Google's photo app is called) and lets Google server do the searching for his motorcycle pictures.  I'm not explaining rocket science here.
  • Reply 25 of 28
    tjwolftjwolf Posts: 424member
    Kuyangkoh said:
    But but but, they already have a face ID on thier smartphones, so whats next?? 
    TwofaceID (multiple account support) would be nice.  Especially for iPad.
    Good point - wife and I are already pissed we now have to remember each other's pass code whenever we want to use the other's phone.  The iPad isn't more frequently shared (by daughter) - we need "ThreefaceID" :-)

    iPad users might want to upgrade to the newest iPad while they still use TouchID :-}
  • Reply 26 of 28
    maestro64maestro64 Posts: 5,043member
    maestro64 said:
    Do not worry, Huawei has already got their hands on the A11 Bionic chip and is the process of reverse engineering the chip, plus they are government own/back so they do not need to make a profit.
    Huawei does need to make a profit. See the problems that LeCo is having right now. But Huawei is massively profitable, not least because smartphones isn't their only business, nor is it their most profitable one.

    so you audit their books? No one really knows if they are making money. Yes I know they have other product IT infrastructure, stole most of it from Cisco, ask Cisco about that, thus the reason their product are not allow to be sold in the US besides the fact have backdoors into their products.
  • Reply 27 of 28
    maestro64maestro64 Posts: 5,043member
    avon b7 said:
    maestro64 said:
    Do not worry, Huawei has already got their hands on the A11 Bionic chip and is the process of reverse engineering the chip, plus they are government own/back so they do not need to make a profit.
    LOL. You mean HiSilicon, which is looking for a second supplier of 7nm to TSMC. 

    Samsung, Globalfoundries and Intel are all trying to woo HiSilicon to be that second supplier. Rumours say Samsung is throwing OLED and other IP into the offer to sweeten the deal.

    The Kirin 980 is apparently very near finished so no, they are not reverse engineering anything. Your mention of that was no doubt tongue in cheek. There are also rumours of a HiSilicon designed GPU that might not be far off either.

    We'll see.

    Not going to pretend I know the feature set of the Kirin 980, what I know is the A11 has the neural-engine in it, which is similar to when Apple came out with a 64 A-series chip and it took everyone 2 yrs to catch up. Also Foundries do not design the chip architecture, just process node technologies, someone like Qcom, Samsung or Huawei has to design actual chip. Huawei is known to have in house chip design capability, well they have lots of people focus on not re-inventing the wheel.
  • Reply 28 of 28
    avon b7avon b7 Posts: 7,512member
    maestro64 said:
    avon b7 said:
    maestro64 said:
    Do not worry, Huawei has already got their hands on the A11 Bionic chip and is the process of reverse engineering the chip, plus they are government own/back so they do not need to make a profit.
    LOL. You mean HiSilicon, which is looking for a second supplier of 7nm to TSMC. 

    Samsung, Globalfoundries and Intel are all trying to woo HiSilicon to be that second supplier. Rumours say Samsung is throwing OLED and other IP into the offer to sweeten the deal.

    The Kirin 980 is apparently very near finished so no, they are not reverse engineering anything. Your mention of that was no doubt tongue in cheek. There are also rumours of a HiSilicon designed GPU that might not be far off either.

    We'll see.

    Not going to pretend I know the feature set of the Kirin 980, what I know is the A11 has the neural-engine in it, which is similar to when Apple came out with a 64 A-series chip and it took everyone 2 yrs to catch up. Also Foundries do not design the chip architecture, just process node technologies, someone like Qcom, Samsung or Huawei has to design actual chip. Huawei is known to have in house chip design capability, well they have lots of people focus on not re-inventing the wheel.
    The current Kirin 970 has an NPU, which, in the benchmarks I've seen, is performing better than the Apple NPU while using the same libraries.

    No idea about the 980 save for a rumour that it could include a new in-house GPU, latest ARM cores and maybe something G5 related. Obviously the early rumours put it on a 7nm process in spite of what this article mentions. Globalfoundries appear to be ready to go.

    Logic says a Mate 11 debut at the end of next year. Rumours point to a surprise at MWC2018 with maybe three cameras.

    More front facing AI would appear to be a given throughout the year on a multitude of new phones.

    On the Apple side of this coin, everything points to next September/October, save for some kind of SE announcement. It's going to be a long year.
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