Slideshow: Samsung cagey on smartphone SoC at ISSCC
2/27/2013 3:00 PM EST
SAN FRANCISCO – Yongmin Shin stood at the lectern facing a long line of his competitors queued up at the microphone. It was a moment of truth—and obfuscation.
He had just described some of the inner workings of Samsung’s latest mobile applications processor in one of the most anticipated talks at the International Solid State Circuits Conference. Now engineers from Apple, Qualcomm, Intel and other rivals were ready to lob questions at him.
First to the mic was an engineer from Apple, one of Samsung’s largest customers and biggest rivals. The two companies pounded each other over patent infringement in a San Jose courtroom just six months earlier.
The Apple engineer wanted to know details about the method Shin sketched out turning down the dial on the power supply to the chip as it decreases in data rate (below). “It depends on case by case” circumstances, said Shin deflecting the question, and sparking a few chuckles in the audience.
Click on image to enlarge.
Samsung steps down the clock on Exynos--but won't say exactly how.
An Analog Devices engineer went next, digging deeper."Does it really make sense to burn up to six times the power in an array of ARM Cortex A15 cores for just twice the performance of an array of A7s?," he asked.
“That’s a good question,” Shin responded. “Sometimes we have to use high power dissipation because we have to hit the performance target of the application,” he said defending the ARM big.little approach of the Samsung chip he described.
How do you know when to switch between the big bank of A15s and the little bank of A7s, asked the ADI engineer in a counter-punch.
“I am just a circuit engineer, not the software guy--they can explain about this,” he said, again deflecting the question and getting a laugh from the audience.
Next an Intel engineer wanted to know the latency when switching between the two CPU banks. “This is a circuit conference not a software conference, I cannot answer that,” Shin said, setting off another wave of laughs.