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Feb 12th, 2014
Samsung “Widecon” - Wide IO memory interface for ARM application processors: a closer look
Samsung is currently the largest manufacturer of smartphones and second largest manufacturer of tablets. They are also one of the few remaining fully integrated companies manufacturing both the portable devices and the components such as memory, application processors, image sensors and displays required to build them. At the Jan 2014 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas and the fall 2013 ARM TechCon Conference Samsung highlighted the new technologies such as TSV based wide IO being incorporated into their Exnos processors for mobile devices.. iMicronews thought that this was worth ....A Closer Look.
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The Exynos 5 Octa is an application processor that features eight CPU cores: 4 big cores called Cortex™-A15 and 4 little cores called Cortex™-A7. According to reports, the Exynos 5 Dual Core (Exynos 5250) featured in the Google Nexus 10 tablet reportedly showed surprisingly poor performance and the  Exynos 5 Octa Core (Exynos 5410) was bogged down with cache design issues, which seriously limited the potential of its  core design, more. This is reportedly why Samsung continues to ship phones with Qualcomms Snapdragon rather than its own  processors. An estimated 70 percent of Samsung smartphones shipped with Snapdragon AP’s,with the remaining units being powered by the Exynos octacore chips.

Samsung is Fully Integrated into Mobile Devices and Components

The Exynos 6, scheduled for production early next year, reportedly will be 64-bit which will allow it to address a larger amount of memory , i.e more than the  3 to 4 Gb addressable by 32-bit architectures.   The 64-bit Exynos 6, will reportedly use Cortex-A53 and Cortex-A57 cores from ARM. The first Exynos 6 chip is expected to show up in the Galaxy S5, in late 2014, more. A Samsung switch to Exnos processors could have a significant negative impact on Qualcomm’s bottom line.

In addition to the multicore technology the Exnos 5 Octa and future generations like the Exnos 6 take advantage of what Samsung is calling “Widecon” technology (i.e. wide IO) to maximize both bandwidth and thermal dissipation. Widcon uses TSV’s to connect Exynos processors with wide I/O memory. This solution reportedly  increases memory bandwidth, increases the speed of data transfer and reduces power consumption.
At both conventions Samsung offered a video comparison of  PoP (package-on-package) memory on processor vs widecon TSV based technology, more.

 Samsung “Widecon” vs Traditional PoP Packaging

Samsung demonstrated how an AP solution with Widcon technology provides more bandwidth and consumes less power than a conventional AP solution. Instead of using a relatively narrow, high-speed bus to access main memory, Widecon connects RAM directly to the integrated memory controller in a wider bus configuration by running several hundred TSV connections directly between the processor and the memory. To run the same workload, it uses 60-70% less memory plus memory interface power within the SoC, which is a large part of the power consumption within an ARM SoC.

Samsung believes it can achieve significant performance enhancements compared to both LPDDR3 and LPDDR4 (Widcon 1 vs DDR3  and Widcon 2 vs DDR4).  LPDDR (low power DDR) traditionally increases chip frequency to increase memory bandwidth. Widecon increases memory connections instead and thus can achieve higher memory bandwidth. For example, two channel  LPDDR3 offers 12.8 GB/sec while the wide IO can operate at 17 Gb/sec , a 30% higher rate. The LP DDR3 runs at 800MHz whereas wide IO operates at 266 MHz but has 64 data bits (IO) vs wide IO with 512 channels.

Performance and Power Comparisons of Widecon to LPDDRx

Samsung claims to be  ready to commercialize the technology but offers no firm commercialization introduction date.

Link to the events :

Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas
2013 ARM TechCon



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