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Revenue of Top 10 IC Design (Fabless) Companies Reaches US$29.8 Billion for 2Q21, Though Growth May Potentially Slow in 2H21, Says TrendForce

In view of the ongoing production capacity shortage in the semiconductor industry and the resultant price hike of chips, revenue of the top 10 IC design companies for 2Q21 reached US$29.8 billion, a 60.8% YoY increase, according to TrendForce's latest investigations. In particular, Taiwanese companies put up remarkable performances during this period, with both MediaTek and Novatek posting YoY growths of more than 95%. AMD, on the other hand, experienced a nearly 100% YoY revenue growth, the highest among the top 10.

TrendForce indicates that the ranking of the top five companies for 2Q21 remained unchanged from the previous quarter, although there were major changes in the 6th to 10th spots. More specifically, after finalizing its acquisition of Inphi, Marvell experienced a major revenue growth and leapfrogged Xilinx and Realtek in the rankings from 9th place in 1Q21 to 7th place in 2Q21.

ZeroPoint Technologies wants to Compress the Data in your RAM

Some of you might be old enough to remember various "RAM doubling" software software solutions that appeared back in the late 1980's for Apple, as well as in the mid 90's for Windows 95 computers. Most of them never really delivered on their claims, but now it looks like we might be getting something similar, albeit in hardware.

Swedish company ZeroPoint Technology AB has announced that it has raised €2.5 million in a seed round to bring its Ziptilion patented memory compression technology IP to the market. ZeroPoint claims a compression ratio of two to three times depending on the workload, which seems very impressive. Unlike current software compression technologies such as ZSWAP or ZRAM that are used to compress data in RAM at a rate of 1.4 to 1.5 times, ZeroPoint promises that it's hardware IP won't have any real world negative effects on system performance. In fact, they claim it'll only cause one nanosecond of extra latency when writing data and 100 nanoseconds delay when it comes to reading the compressed data from RAM.

Samsung Receives its First Global Carbon Footprint Certification for Logic Chips

Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd., a world leader in advanced semiconductor technology, today announced that four of its System LSI products received product carbon footprint label certification from the Carbon Trust, the first of Samsung's logic chips to do so. Having received the semiconductor industry's first carbon footprint accreditation for memory chips from the Carbon Trust in 2019, Samsung has now broadened its ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance) spectrum with this global recognition of 'eco-friendly' logic chips. Samsung also grabbed the industry's first triple Carbon Trust Standard for Carbon, Water and Waste in June 2021.

The Carbon Trust is an independent and expert partner of organizations around the world that advises businesses on their opportunities in a sustainable, low carbon world. The Carbon Trust also measures and certifies the environmental footprint of organizations, supply chains and products. Of the various certification categories of the Carbon Trust, Samsung's System LSI products received the CO2 Measured product carbon footprint label. The label certifies the chip's carbon footprint, which informs consumers of the impact that the product and its manufacturing process have on the environment. Receiving the CO₂ Measured label is a critical first step for carbon reduction, since it verifies the current carbon emissions of the product with globally recognized specifications (PAS 2050), which Samsung can use as a benchmark to measure future carbon reductions.

Sony Takes a Step Backwards with PlayStation 5, Cuts on Cooling Capacity in the new Revision

Sony's latest gaming console, PlayStation 5, has been selling at loss up until August 4th, when the company announced that the new console is now profitable. However, it seems like Sony is trying to extend those profits even further with the latest revision of PlayStation 5 that is seemingly taking a step backward. According to the latest report, Sony has updated its PlayStation 5 internal design and the console is now featuring a smaller heatsink, which you can see below. The new revision is featuring a significantly smaller heatsink and an absence of the large copper cold plate. The fan that cools the heatsink is also reduced, resulting in a complete thermal downgrade.

While there was no in-depth testing of the cooling performance, the exhaust system of the new PS5 revision is spitting out 3-5 degrees Celsius higher temperatures. That is just measuring the air coming out, where the actual SoC could run hotter by an even larger margin. As we wait for more testing of the new PS5 revisions, we have to wonder why Sony opted to cut corners on such an important piece, that ultimately provides the console with longevity, due to cooler silicon.

Chip Shortages Could Continue Well into 2022, Predicts NVIDIA CEO Jensen Huang

In his Q2-FY2022 Results call, NVIDIA CEO Jensen Huang commented that he expects the ongoing chip supply situation to remain bad for the most part of 2022. "Meanwhile, we have and are securing pretty significant long-term supply commitments as we expand into all these different markets initiatives that we've set ourselves up for. And I so I think—I would expect that we will see a supply contained environment for the vast majority of next year is my guess at the moment," he said.

His comments are telling, as NVIDIA relies heavily on cutting edge silicon fabrication nodes for its logic products, such as GPUs, HPC processors, and vehicle SoCs. 2022 will see NVIDIA introduce its "Lovelace" graphics architecture, powering the GeForce RTX 40-series GPUs; as well as a variant powering next-generation HPC processors. The company is looking to design its chips for TSMC's 5 nm silicon fabrication process, unless Samsung can fix its 5 nm-class foundry woes in time, and win back the company.

Google Teases Upcoming Custom Tensor Processor in Pixel 6

In 2016, we launched the first Pixel. Our goal was to give people a more helpful, smarter phone. Over the years, we introduced features like HDR+ and Night Sight, which used artificial intelligence (AI) to create beautiful images with computational photography. In later years, we applied powerful speech recognition models to build Recorder, which can record, transcribe and search for audio clips, all on device.

AI is the future of our innovation work, but the problem is we've run into computing limitations that prevented us from fully pursuing our mission. So we set about building a technology platform built for mobile that enabled us to bring our most innovative AI and machine learning (ML) to our Pixel users. We set out to make our own System on a Chip (SoC) to power Pixel 6. And now, years later, it's almost here. Tensor is our first custom-built SoC specifically for Pixel phones, and it will power the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro later this fall.

Samsung Electronics Announces Second Quarter 2021 Results

Samsung Electronics today reported financial results for the second quarter ended June 30, 2021. Total consolidated revenue was KRW 63.67 trillion, a 20% increase from the previous year and a record for the second quarter. Operating profit increased 34% from the previous quarter to KRW 12.57 trillion as market conditions improved in the memory market, operations normalized at the Austin foundry fab, and as effective global supply chain management (SCM) helped maintain solid profitability for the finished product businesses.

The Semiconductor business saw a significant improvement in earnings as memory shipments exceeded previous guidance and price increases were higher than expected, while the Company strengthened its cost competitiveness. For the Display Panel Business, a one-off gain and an increase in overall prices boosted profits.

NVIDIA Brings RTX and DLSS to Arm Platform

NVIDIA at GDC dropped a major hint at where it wants to take PC gaming post the Arm acquisition. The company is demonstrating its RTX real-time raytracing technology, and the DLSS performance enhancement, on an Arm processor by MediaTek. To the PC, this means NVIDIA is laying the foundations of gaming in the post-x86 world where it holds Arm IP; foundations that were dug up by Apple and its mighty M1 chip, based on Arm CPU technology.

Making this unequivocal, was MediaTek. "RTX is the most groundbreaking technology to come to PC gaming in the last two decades," said PC Tseng, general manager of MediaTek's Intelligent Multimedia Business Unit."MediaTek and NVIDIA are laying the foundation for a new category of Arm-based high-performance PCs." The Taiwan-based Arm SoC major has developed a new Arm-based PC processor called Kompanio 1200, which it hopes will power PC platforms much like the Apple M1 or the Qualcomm Compute Platforms.

Samsung Exynos 2200 SoC, Built on 4 nm, Packs Faster RDNA2 GPU

Samsung intends to take its partnership with AMD for graphics further, by designing its next-generation Exynos 2200 "Pamir" SoC with a faster GPU based on the AMD RDNA2 graphics architecture. Bound for the second half of 2021, Exynos 2200 will be built on Samsung's swanky new 4 nanometer 4LPP (4 nm Low Power Plus) silicon fabrication node, and integrate an RDNA2-based GPU codenamed "Voyager." Samsung hopes to compete with Qualcomm's Snapdragon 895 SoC and its Adreno 730 GPU. Interestingly, the new Snapdragon is also expected to be built on the same Samsung 4 nm node. It will be interesting to see what device the Exynos 2200 debuts with, given that both the Galaxy S22 and Galaxy Note 21 won't arrive before 2022.

Surface Pro X with Windows 11 Shown Running Microsoft-branded Qualcomm Arm SoC

A next-generation Microsoft Surface Pro X with Windows 11 was shown running a Microsoft-branded processor that's expected to be a design collaboration between the company and Qualcomm, in a bid to develop a high performance/Watt solution rivaling the Apple M1. Microsoft's contribution to this is the x86-64 emulation heavily integrated into Windows 11, letting you run native x86-64 apps seamlessly, with the OS handling the hardware abstraction much like WOW64.

Called the Microsoft SQ2, the silicon features an 8-core/8-thread CPU, and an iGPU that meets the minimum requirements of Windows 11 for its standard UI, with just enough power for web-browsing with high-res videos. The CPU runs at speeds of up to 3.15 GHz, and has a fairly advanced memory system that includes a 3-level cache and LPDDR5 memory.

Qualcomm Wants to Build an M1-Like Processor for PCs

Qualcomm is trying to get into the PC space with their mobile Snapdragon chips, which offer great battery and decent performance. However, so far only Apple managed to get the right formula for developing custom low-power, high-performance chips. It is exactly Apple's M1 processor in question that Qualcomm intends to mimic. According to the recent interview with Qualcomm's new CEO Cristiano Amon, we are informed that Qualcomm plans to produce laptop chips that would directly compete with Apple's. That means that, despite the ecosystem differences of Apple M1 (macOS) and Qualcomm Snapdragon (Windows-on-Arm), the company wants to deliver equal if not better performance and great battery life.

With the recent acquisition of Nuvia, Qualcomm has a team of very talented engineers to back up its claims. The company also recently hired some of the developers behind Apple's M1 chip. The company notes that it will be using only the best solutions for its upcoming SoC, which will include a 5G modem. Mr. Amon has also noted the following:
We needed to have the leading performance for a battery-powered device. If Arm, which we've had a relationship with for years, eventually develops a CPU that's better than what we can build ourselves, then we always have the option to license from Arm.

AMD 4700S Desktop Kit Features PlayStation 5 SoC Without iGPU

Previously, we have assumed that AMD 4700S desktop kit is based on Xbox Series X APU. Today, according to the findings of Bodnara, who managed to access one of these units, and we got some interesting discoveries. The chip powering the system is actually the PlayStation 5 SoC, which features AMD Zen 2 based system architecture, with 8 cores and 16 threads that can boost up to 3.2 GHz. The board that was tested features SK Hynix GDDR6 memory running at 14 Gbps, placed on the backside of the board. The APU is attached to AMD A77E Fusion Controller Hub (FCH), which was the one powering Xbox One "Durango" SoC, leading us to previously believe that the AMD 4700S is derived from an Xbox Series X system.

The graphics of this APU are disabled, however, it was the same variant of RDNA 2 GPU used by the PlayStation 5. Right out of the box, the system is equipped with a discrete GPU coming in a form of the Radeon 550, and this configuration was tested by the Bodnara team. You can find the images of the system and some performance results below.
Performance:

Samsung Exynos SoC with RDNA2 Graphics Scores Highest Mobile Graphics Score

We recently reported that Samsung would be announcing their next-generation flagship Exynos processor with AMD RDNA2 graphics next month. We heard that the RDNA2 GPU was expected to be ~30% faster than the Mali-G78 GPU present in Galaxy S21 Ultra however according to a new 3DMark Wild Life benchmark it would appear the new processor scores 56% higher. This result would give the upcoming Exynos processor the fastest graphics available in any Android phone even matching/beating out the Apple A14 Bionic found in the iPhone 12. This early performance benchmark paints a very positive picture for the upcoming processor however we still don't know how the score will be affected under sustained load or if this will performance will even be replicated in the final product.

Western Digital Launches iNAND MC EU551 Storage for 5G Smartphones

Western Digital Corp. today announced its second-generation UFS 3.1 storage solution for 5G smartphones. The new Western Digital iNAND MC EU551 delivers the high-performance storage consumers need to be able to use their phones for emerging applications like ultra-high-resolution cameras, AR/VR, gaming and 8K video.

IDC expects 5G smartphone shipments to account for more than 40% of global volume in 2021 and grow to 69% in 2025. As networks continue to expand available bandwidth and offer lower latency to enable new user experiences, Western Digital's iNAND solutions deliver the high-capacity, high-performance embedded storage needed to power these exciting new applications.

SiFive Performance P550 Core Sets New Standard as Highest Performance RISC-V Processor IP

SiFive, Inc., the industry leader in RISC-V processors and silicon solutions, today announced launched the new SiFive Performance family of processors. The SiFive Performance family debuts with two new processor cores, the P270, SiFive's first Linux capable processor with full support for the RISC-V vector extension v1.0 rc, and the SiFive Performance P550 core, SiFive's highest performance processor to date. The new SiFive Performance P550 delivers a SPECInt 2006 score of 8.65/GHz, making it the highest performance RISC-V processor available today, and comparable to existing proprietary solutions in the application processor space.

"SiFive Performance is a significant milestone in our commitment to deliver a complete, scalable portfolio of RISC-V cores to customers in all markets who are at the vanguard of SOC design and are dissatisfied with the status quo," said Dr. Yunsup Lee, Co-Founder and CTO of SiFive. "These two new products cover new performance points and a wide range of application areas, from efficient vector processors that easily displace yesterday's SIMD architectures, to the bleeding edge that the P550 represents. SiFive is proud to set the standard for RISC-V processing and is ready to deliver these products to customers today."

Samsung Exynos SoC with AMD RDNA2 Graphics Coming Next Month

The partnership between Samsung and AMD began in 2019 when the two companies announced that they would work together to integrate Radeon graphics IP in Samsung Exynos processors. We can see the results of this partnership with Dr. Lisa Su confirming at Computex that RDNA2 graphics will be integrated into the next flagship Samsung Exynos SoC. The RDNA2 GPU found in the upcoming mobile chip will include support for raytracing and variable-rate shading with a strong possibility that it will power the next Galaxy S series flagship. Samsung was initially expected to announce this new chipset in June however the event was postponed until July where the complete details and performance numbers will be unveiled.

Update Jun 22nd: The upcoming GPU is expected to be 30% faster than the current Mali-G78 GPU present in Galaxy S21 Ultra which should give it a comfortable lead of ~10% against the next generation Mali GPU. The GPU does appear to suffer from quite severe thermal throttling with a 20% performance drop after the second run and 30% on the third run. Samsung seems pleased with the collaboration and has engaged in talks with AMD to extend the contract for future GPU architectures.

Qualcomm Moots a Consortium of Chipmakers to Buy Arm if NVIDIA's Bid Fails

Qualcomm is proposing a consortium of companies that will make a competitive bid to acquire Arm Holdings from SoftBank, if NVIDIA falters in its acquisition, according to a report in The Telegraph citing an interview with Qualcomm CEO Cristiano Amon. Unlike NVIDIA's bid, where a single company that's in the SoC designing business, gets to own Arm IP, giving it a competitive upper-hand over other Arm licensees; the consortium would be made up of several companies, including Qualcomm, one of Arm's largest IP licensees, which makes SoCs for smartphones, tablets, wearables, and IoT devices, across all market segments.

"If Arm has an independent future, I think you will find there is a lot of interest from a lot of the companies within the ecosystem, including Qualcomm, to invest in Arm," said Amon. "We will definitely be open to it, and we have had discussions with other companies that feel the same way. That's the reason it's a logical conclusion for us, and for many other companies, that to invest in a strong and independent Arm is probably the best for everyone," he added. NVIDIA is in the process of acquiring Arm Holdings, lock, stock, and barrel, in a humongous $40 billion deal, which has run into hold-ups with competition regulators across the globe, including the UK, the home of Arm Holdings.

AMD, Samsung Partnership to See Variable Rate Shading, Ray Tracing on Exynos SoC

AMD at its Computex event shed some light on its IP partnership with Samsung. We already knew this was going to be a closer collaboration than most IP licensing deals, as AMD themselves announced this would be a semi-custom solution designed between both companies. AMD CEO Lisa Su described the technology to be embedded in the upcoming Samsung Exynos SoC as being based on RDNA2 - but this likely is just a marketing and clarity perspective on AMD's technology being implemented, since between the design of RDNA2 and the announcement of the Samsung partnership a lot of water has necessarily run under AMD's graphics IP bridge.

Lisa Su did however confirm that two key RDNA2 technologies will find their way into Samsung's Exynos: Variable Rate Shading (VRS) and Raytracing. This isn't he first time VRS has made an appearance on a mobile SoC - it's already been implemented by Qualcomm in the Adreno 660 GPU (part of the Snapdragon 888 SoC design). However, Raytracing does seem to be a first for the SoC market, and Samsung might just edge out competition in its time to market with this technology. more details will certainly be shared as we get closer to the fabled AMD-partnered Exynos release.

Nintendo Switch Pro Allegedly Launching in September

The upcoming Nintendo Switch Pro is rumored to launch in September or October according to a recent report which claimed production of the new device would begin in July. The Nintendo Switch Pro is expected to feature an upgraded 7" 1280x720 OLED screen with a new NVIDIA processor and graphics based on the Ada Lovelace architecture. Nintendo and its partners are confident in their supply chain and their ability to meet demand including the new NVIDIA SoC which may enable 4K video output when docked by utilizing DLSS technology. Nintendo plans to price the Switch Pro at the same 299 USD MSRP the original Nintendo Switch was launched for and may announce the device before E3 2021 which starts June 12th.

Think Silicon and Ambiq Enable Ultra-Low Power IoT Devices with Smartphone-Class, 3D-Like Graphics

Think Silicon S.A., the leading provider of ultra-low power GPU IP for embedded systems, and Ambiq, a technology leader recognized in ultra-low power microcontrollers (MCU), System-on-Chips (SoC) and Real-time Clocks (RTC), today announced the companies are working together to bring high-end graphics capabilities to designers of everyday wearable devices.

To provide high-performance, low-power graphics, Ambiq's newest Apollo4 SoC family now incorporates Think Silicon's NEMA |pico GPU and NEMA |dc display controller IP. The Apollo4 SoC family is the fourth-generation processor solution built upon Ambiq's proprietary Subthreshold Power-Optimized Technology (SPOT ) platform. The Apollo4's complete hardware and software solution enables the battery-powered endpoint devices of tomorrow to achieve a higher level of intelligence without sacrificing battery life. The Apollo4 is purpose-built to serve as both an application processor and a coprocessor for battery-powered endpoint devices, including smartwatches, children's watches, fitness bands, animal trackers, far-field voice remotes, predictive health and maintenance devices, smart security devices, and smart home devices.

Redesigned Apple MacBook Pro Coming This Summer with up to 64 GB of RAM and 10-Core Processor

According to Bloomberg, which first predicted the arrival of Apple custom processors in MacBooks, we have another piece of information regarding Apple's upcoming MacBook Pro lineup, set to arrive this summer. As you are aware, MacBook Pro right now comes in two different variants. The first is a smaller 13-inch design that is powered by Apple's M1 chip, while the second is a 16-inch design powered by an Intel Core processor. However, it seems like that will no longer be the case when the next-generation lineup arrives. Starting this summer, all of the MacBook Pro models will have Apple's custom silicon powering these devices, which bring Intel's presence to an end.

And the successor to the now-famous M1 chip seems to be very good. As per the report, Apple is upgrading the architecture and the total core count. There are two different chips, codenamed Jade C-Chop and Jade C-Die. Both are 10-core designs, equipped with two small and eight big cores. The difference between the two is the total number of graphics cores enabled. The smaller version will have 16 graphics cores, while the bigger one will have 32 graphics cores. On the SoC, there will be an updated Neural Engine, for better AI processing. These new processors will come with up to 64 GB of RAM in selected configurations as well. The report also notes the arrival of HDMI port, SD card slot, and MagSafe for charging.

AMD 4700S SoC Desktop Motherboard Pictured

Pictures of the mysterious AMD 4700S SoC desktop kit just hit the web, courtesy Disclosuzen. As we reported earlier, the 4700S could be derived from the semi-custom SoC AMD originally co-developed with Microsoft for the Xbox Series X/S consoles. Close-ups of the PC motherboard reveals an interesting aspect—the board lacks any discernible display output, and instead relies on a PCI-Express graphics card. The board is built in the Mini-ITX form-factor, and draws power from a conventional combination of 24-pin ATX and 8-pin EPS power connectors.

A custom-design fan-heatsink cools the SoC. There are no memory slots, an unknown amount of hardwired memory under the SoC heatsink. 6-channel HD audio, wired Ethernet, and twelve USB ports (six each of USB 3.x and USB 2.0), make for the rest of the I/O. Storage connectivity is interesting—there are no M.2 NVMe slots, just two SATA ports. Why AMD even came up with this contraption is anyone's guess, but we guess it serves two purposes—1, it lets AMD harvest dies with faulty iGPUs, and 2, it serves as a decent developer platform, for game devs to at least optimize for the CPU. The lack of any NVMe storage interfaces points to the likelihood of this board not being meant for the general audience. Retail channel availability of the board seems unlikely, although it won't surprise us if suppliers on AliExpress list it anyway.

Apple M1 Processor Receives Preliminary Support in Linux Kernel

Apple's M1 custom processor has been widely adopted among the developer community. However, it is exactly this part of the M1 customer base that wants something different. For months, various developers have been helping with the adoption of the M1 processor for the Linux Kernel, which has today received preliminary support for the processor. The latest 5.13-RC1 release of the Linux Kernel is out, and it adds some basic functionality for the M1 processor. For now, it is some basic stuff like a simple bring up, however, much more has to be added. For example, the GPU support is still not done. Not even half-done. The M1 SoC is now able to boot, however, it takes a lot more work to get the full SoC working correctly.

Mr. Linus Torvalds, the Linux kernel developer, and its creator highlights that "This was - as expected - a fairly big merge window, but things seem to have proceeded fairly smoothly. Famous last words." According to one of the main activists for Linux on M1, Mr. Hector Martin, "This is just basic bring-up, but it lays a solid foundation and is probably the most challenging up-streaming step we'll have to do, at least until the GPU stuff is done." So it is still a long way before the M1 processor takes a full Linux kernel for a spin and the software becomes usable.

Samsung's Apple M1-rivaling Exynos SoC Powering Notebooks by H2-2021

Samsung is readying a powerful Arm-based SoC rivaling Apple's groundbreaking M1 silicon, under its Exynos brand. This chip is being designed for thin-and-light notebooks, as well as premium tablets, essentially letting Samsung target Apple's MacBook (M1) and iPad Pro form-factors. Unlike Apple, Samsung won't be burdened with having to rally its ISV partners to develop specifically for its hardware; the company is preparing to launch notebooks in the second half of 2021 that are powered by a Windows 10 on Arm derivative. This would give the notebook access to all of the applications already developed for the OS, including Office and certain Adobe Creativity Suite apps. The M1-rivaling Exynos chip will pack the latest-generation 64-bit Arm CPU cores, as well as an integrated GPU designed by AMD.

Xilinx Reports Fiscal Fourth Quarter and Fiscal Year 2021 Results

Xilinx, Inc. (Nasdaq: XLNX), the leader in adaptive computing, today announced record revenues of $851 million for the fiscal fourth quarter, up 6% over the previous quarter and an increase of 13% year over year. Fiscal 2021 revenues were $3.15 billion, largely flat from the prior fiscal year. GAAP net income for the fiscal fourth quarter was $188 million, or $0.75 per diluted share. Non-GAAP net income for the quarter was $204 million, or $0.82 per diluted share. GAAP net income for fiscal year 2021 was $647 million, or $2.62 per diluted share. Non-GAAP net income for fiscal year 2021 was $762 million, or $3.08 per diluted share.

Additional fourth quarter of fiscal year 2021 comparisons are provided in the charts below. "We are pleased with our fourth quarter results as we delivered record revenues and double-digit year-over-year growth in the midst of a challenging supply chain environment," said Victor Peng, Xilinx president and CEO. "Xilinx saw further improvement in demand across a majority of our diversified end markets with key strength in our Wireless, Data Center and Automotive markets, the pillars of our growth strategy. Our teams have executed well and we remain focused on continuing to meet customers' critical needs.
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