By Kim Yoo-chul
Samsung Electronics has teamed up with U.K.-based semiconductor designer ARM to develop the Exynos 5400 advanced mobile application processors (APs) to be used in the Galaxy SIV scheduled to be unveiled early next year, according to industry sources Wednesday.
''Samsung's system division ― part of the firm's semiconductor business ― is in the process of developing advanced system chips with ARM by using 28-nanometer high-k metal gate (HKMG) technology,'' said an industry source, Wednesday. HKMG is an advanced transistor technology
The 5400 will be the latest in the Exynos series. Exynos refers to ARM-designed system chips manufactured by Samsung Electronics. Advanced system chips are called logic chips.
''Mass production of the Exynos 5400 chips will materialize sometime within the first quarter of next year,'' according to the source who asked not to be identified."
Samsung has applied ARM's most-advanced Cortex A15-architecture to the new chip. That means the Exynos 5400 is much faster and far better in battery consumption than its predecessor as it uses four core CPUs and a graphic processing unit.
''If Samsung starts the mass-production of Exynos chips as planned, then it's the first time for it to produce its own main logic chips using the latest technology,'' said the source. Samsung produces logic chips for U.S.-based chip giant Qualcomm but the Korean firm is applying industry mainstream silicon oxynitride (Si-ON) technology for the chips, not HKMG.
Last year, Samsung introduced the Exynos 4212, as the successor to the 4210, and applied 32-nanometer technology but with the HKMG process.
The sources said Samsung's system division is in talks with the telecommunications division to provide new logic chips for the upcoming Galaxy smartphones.
''As far as I know, the new logic chips will be used for the upcoming Galaxy mobile. Consumers in Korea would be the first to use the Exynos 5400-embedded Galaxy S4'' the sources said.
Exynos logic chips have evolved from the earlier S3C, S5L, S5P line of System-on-Chips from Samsung. More recently, the company released the Exynos 4 Quad that is powering its main flagship products such as the Galaxy SIII and the Galaxy Note II.
As a strategy to cut its conventional reliance on the volatile and cyclical memory chip business, Samsung is being aggressive to invest more for the logic chip business as it is highly-profitable and growing faster than memory chips. Logic chips are used to control an entire computing system, while memory chips are limited just to read, write and store data.
Spokesman Ken Noh declined to comment on whether the new Exynos chips will be mass produced from the first quarter of 2013.