Samsung Electronics said Monday it has started mass producing the world’s first 14-nanometer mobile application processor. It hopes the latest chip technology will give the Korean tech giant a competitive edge over rivals such as U.S.-based Qualcomm. According to the company, Samsung’s new Exynos 7 Octa has 20 percent more processing power and spends 35 percent less electricity than 20-nanometer processors that have thus far been widely used in the mobile chip market. The latest chip technology also features a three-dimensional transistor design, known as the FinFET, unlike the conventional flat chip design, it added.
“Samsung’s advanced 14nm FinFET process technology is undoubtedly the most advanced logic process technology in the industry,” said Han Gab-soo, executive vice president of Samsung’s system LSI business in a press release. “We expect the production of our 14nm mobile AP to positively impact the growth of the mobile industry by enabling further performance improvements for cutting-edge smartphones.”
Samsung Electronics has established a team to work on hi-tech innovative business projects, officials said Monday. Its core mission includes projects on virtual reality, robotic telepresence, drones and robots, three-dimensional (3D) printing and unmanned vehicles.”The team will explore how technologies could help people’s daily life for a better future,” an official said.
Samsung mobile chief Shin Jong-kyun will lead the team inside the mobile division.
The team, which has no direct links with the company structure and divisions, will operate independently. “Given the significance of the team, members will have more authority and independence because the main purpose of the team isn’t to develop single devices for any imminent results, but to develop solutions to go with Samsung’s manufacturing capabilities,” the official said.
The competition among Samsung, LG, Apple and other smartwatch makers is expected to intensify this year, industry watchers and analysts said Sunday. Samsung Electronics plans to unveil a new, round smartwatch, codenamed “Orbis,” at the Mobile World Congress (MWC) 2015 which takes place in Barcelona, Spain, next month. Consumers have already applauded the circular displays of the Moto 360 from Motorola and the G Watch R from LG Electronics, so it is no surprise that Samsung has been working on its own round watch, industry insiders said.
So far, Samsung’s 3 wrist watches ― the Gear, Gear 2, and Gear S ― were square-shaped, under the strict concept of smart device rather than traditional wrist watch. Orbis is a Latin word that has many meanings including circle. The project name gives a hint that the company’s next model will be circular.
A senior executive at Samsung Electronics said Wednesday that it plans to mass-produce chips to be used in various healthcare devices within the next three years. “Samsung is in the process of developing chips to be used in wearable devices. We aim to mass-produce such chips in the next two or three years,” said E.S. Jung, executive vice president of the firm’s semiconductor research center. He made the remarks in a keynote speech at the SEMICON Korea conference in the COEX Convention Center, southern Seoul.He said memory chips will play critical role in the Internet of Things (IoT) as every single product from leading manufacturers will be connected.
Samsung Electronics has said that all its appliances will be connected by 2020.
“Samsung is looking toward wearable memory chips,” Jung said. The company is betting on healthcare, and is collaborating with IBM, Microsoft and SAP to put their health platforms on Samsung devices. Jung said semiconductors are the basis of its healthcare products.
Samsung Electronics said Tuesday a new order prevails in the global consumer electronics industry with the Internet of Things (IoT) leading the way, prompting it to search for new business opportunities in the field. “There’s no question that IoT is the next key driver for Samsung,” Samsung Electronics co-CEO Yoon Boo-keun said at a news conference in Seoul. Yoon said Samsung wants IoT to be totally open. “By 2020, every single product that Samsung sells will be connected,” he said. He said IoT will significantly change everyone’s life and Samsung is positioned to become a leader in a more connected era.”Samsung aims to closely collaborate with industries to really make IoT happen. We will continue pursuing a human-centric business philosophy,” he said.
He made the remarks at an event to unveil new home appliances at the company’s Secho Tower in southern Seoul. Yoon said consumes are embracing IoT, which will be relevant across all segments from industry to wearables, smart homes, cars and more, with multiple devices from different parts of people’s lives being connected.
The Park Geun-hye government’s creative economy initiative received its biggest boost thus far on Wednesday with the opening of innovation centers in Gumi and Pohang in North Gyeongsang. That brings the number of innovation centers nationwide to five, designed to assist start-ups and support regional economies.
The Pohang center in particular received a lot of attention for being independently established by Korea’s largest steelmaker, Posco. It is the first innovation center established and run by the private sector. Samsung Group, which established an innovation center in Daegu in September, opened another one in Gumi to help nearby electronics manufacturers and suppliers enhance production efficiency by implementing smart systems in their factories.
Park and Deputy Prime Minister for the Economy Choi Kyung-hwan attended the opening ceremonies for both centers on Wednesday. “Regional economies have prospered mainly around industrial complexes for the past 40 years, but those areas nowadays have struggled with deteriorating production facilities and low technological competitiveness,” Park said at the ceremony. “The two new innovation centers will certainly revitalize these places by helping traditional manufacturers roll out new products inspired by technologies like the Internet of Things, big data and 3-D printing.”
Samsung Electronics, the world’s leading memory chip producer, plans to invest 13.5 trillion won ($12 billion) in semiconductor facilities next year, up from the 13 trillion won spent this year. “Samsung doesn’t expect a drastic change in the overall level of spending on chip facilities,” said a source Monday. He said the small increase in chips is because its strategy is all about maintaining market equilibrium and price stabilization.
The global memory chip industry is being controlled by “top-three” players including Samsung, SK hynix and Micron Technologies of the United States. They produce more than 93 percent of global chips, according to research firms. Samsung invested 12.6 trillion on chip plants in 2013, 13.85 trillion won in 2012 and 13.03 trillion won in 2011. Samsung plans to build a new NAND flash type memory chip line in Xian, China, where Samsung already operates its massive facilities.
“Corporate research institutes nowadays are reducing mid- to long-term projects and have started reassigning researchers into business departments,” said a researcher in his 40s who is employed at Samsung. “I wanted to pursue my research career in a more stable environment, so I applied to the ETRI despite the lower annual salary it offers.”
Conglomerates are under increasing pressure to find the next-generation hit product. That leads them away from mid- to long-term research and development (R&D) projects. In such a fast-changing market, companies like Samsung, LG and SK are trimming their long-term R&D departments.
Samsung Advanced Institute of Technology (SAIT), located in Yongin, southern Gyeonggi, was the birthplace of key semiconductor and smartphone technologies. It mainly researches next-generation products that could be profitable years down the line. In September last year, SAIT started downsizing its research workforce of 1,500 researchers with doctorate and master’s degrees by 50 percent. The researchers are being relocated to Samsung’s other research institutes that study the commercialization of almost-completed technologies, including a mobile handset research center and an electronics material research complex.
“SAIT studies technologies that will nurture the ‘seed industries,’ which will be Samsung’s leading business,” an official from Samsung Group said. “This is simply a reshuffle of research workforce, moving them a step closer to the business departments as their key projects have matured to be commercialized soon.”
Samsung Electronics has signed a 10-year peace treaty with Google that will prevent the two companies from waging a patent war against one another, a move the Korean tech firm believes will help further isolate arch rival Apple. Samsung said yesterday it signed a patent cross-license agreement that covers “a broad range of technologies and business areas” with Google. The “mutually beneficial agreement” covers not only existing patents but also new patents to be filed by 2023, Samsung said.
“We’re pleased to enter into a cross-license with our partner, Samsung,” said Allen Lo, deputy general counsel for patents at Google, in a statement. Samsung said the deal paves “the way for deeper collaboration on the research and development of current and future products and technologies.”
Samsung declined to detail how many of the two companies’ patents will be subject to the cross-license deal, saying that it is confidential. But a significant portion of the patents held by Samsung and Google are believed to be included. Samsung holds about 100,000 patents, while Google owns around 50,000. “We can’t say everything, but it is wide ranging and comprehensive,” said a Samsung Electronics official.
The deal, analysts say, will help the two companies improve on each other’s weak points: software in the case of Samsung and hardware for Google. But Samsung is also expected to benefit from some of the hardware technologies that Google has worked on in recent years, such as robotics and wearable devices.
Polarization will continue to become a key feature of not only Korean society but also the landscape of industries this year, the Hana Institute of Finance said in its recent industries outlook report for 2014. “The export-driven Korean economy will be on a gradual recovery track in line with a pick-up of the global economy, but the polarization by industry and by corporate ranking within industries will intensify,” the report pointed out.
By industry, the information technology sector, led by Samsung Group and other tech giants, will continue to power the nation’s economic growth, while non-IT sectors except the car industry are forecast to remain stagnant. The projection means that economic dependence on the nation’s top two corporate names ― Samsung Electronics and Hyundai Motor ― will further deepen this year.
Data from the Korea Exchange found Samsung Electronics and Hyundai Motor accounted for more than half of net profits generated by the top 100 companies by sales Korea’s as of 2012. The share of net profits generated by the two heavyweights continued to increase from 19 percent in 2007 to 35 percent in 2009, 36 percent in 2011 and a record-high 51 percent in 2012.