Tech News – Quick Analysis

Read below for quick updates on some of the tech world’s recent developments. The race for more powerful processors continues to heat up as more companies look to challenge Intel’s manufacturing and fabrication. AMD continues to pursue Intel’s dominant market share with help from TSMC. Qualcomm continues to try and build a foundation for Windows on ARM processors. Sharp looks to compete with Samsung in the new world of foldable displays with new OLED display tech news. Features in Apple’s upcoming iOS 13 start to surface. Intel acquires FPGA video acceleration and inferencing company Omnitek. Apple is expanding iPhone production in India with Foxconn. Apple and Qualcomm finally settle patent legal fights. Continue reading to find out more about today’s exciting tech news. Featured image of processor wafer is credited to Intel.

The Race for Most Advanced Processor Fabrication Heats Up

As it becomes harder and harder to shrink microprocessor fabrication sizes the competition has narrowed significantly. In an area where Intel used to be the clear leader many companies have managed to catch up. A press release from Samsung (Posted on TechPowerUp) reveals that Samsung has successfully completed 5nm EUV (Extreme Ultraviolet) development. This is a major edge for Samsung as EUV offers big improvements over current processor production. In this case samsung is offering up to a 25% increase in logic area efficiency, 20% lower power consumption or 10% increase in performance over their 7nm process. EUV has been promised as just around the corner for years and has been difficult for Processor fabricators to work with. It seems that we are finally going to see EUV fabricated processors come to market soon.

An image of a Samsung manufacturing facility.
Credit to TechPowerUp and Samsung

Samsung isn’t the only one working to advance their processor fabrication. In related tech news TSMC (Taiwanese Semiconductor Manufacturing Company) also recently announced their 6nm process (TechPowerUp). TSMC is also utilizing EUV for their new process. They are promoting 18% higher logic density over their 7nm N7 process. Both Samsung and TSMC advertise compatibility with their previous process meaning transition to the new and improved process will be easy for their existing customers.

AMD and Intel Enthusiast Sales Volume

Graph from Gamer's Nexus showing past sales trends.
Credit to Gamer’s Nexus

Gamer’s Nexus has released a fascinating report that analyzes sales data gathered from their viewers and readers for AMD and Intel going back 3.5 years. Their report goes over share of sales amongst their audience and the shifts that took place as AMD became more competitive with their Ryzen processors and the impacts of Intel’s 14nm processor shortage. Average selling prices are also compared as the two companies target the market in different ways. Finally, sales data based around each companies different series is compared. You can watch their video about the report below and you can click the link above to read their great report.

AMD Zen 3 CPU Improvements

In related tech news, AMD’s upcoming Zen 2 based CPUs are approaching release and we are already starting to get fresh information on their successor, the Zen 3 based processors. A report from PCGamesN highlights some of the benefits that next year’s processors from AMD will bring. While the upcoming Zen 2 processors will be fabricated on TSMC’s current 7nm process, AMD’s Zen 3 processors will benefit from TSMC’s new 7nm+ EUV process. This could allow AMD to increase transistor count by 20% over their Zen 2 based processors. This will certainly help increase their competitiveness in relation to Intel and hopefully allow for high clock speeds as that is a point AMD has struggled to match Intel on in recent processors. This will put further pressure on Intel to maintain their market share in the face of difficult competition that it has not seen in a while from AMD.

Firefox and Qualcomm In Tech News

Qualcomm and Windows 10.
Credit to Qualcomm

Qualcomm has been looking to compete with the x86 processor architecture dominance and it recently announced a new accomplishment (reported by AnandTech). In partnership with Mozilla (the developers of the Firefox web browser) Qualcomm and Mozilla have created a native build of the Firefox browser for the Windows on Snapdragon users. Snapdragon is a line of ARM64 based processors produced by Qualcomm. These processors dominate a sizeable portion of the mobile computing world. The work to get Windows working on these processors is a major step in providing more options beyond the long used x86 architecture used by Intel and AMD. The more popular software Qualcomm can get ported to this operating system the more likely their goal of becoming a competitive processor vendor for Windows systems is. Right now (and for the foreseeable future) Intel and AMD are the only x86 processor manufacturers due to a myriad of patents and cross licensing between the two companies. If Qualcomm is successful in growing this platform it could provide fresh competition to a narrow industry.

New Folding OLED Display Tech From Sharp

Folding display from Sharp.
Credit to AnandTech and Sharp

Reported by AnandTech, Sharp demonstrated their own folding display technology in Tokyo. This follows Samsung’s recent release of their folding smartphone featuring Samsung’s own folding OLED display. The Sharp display is an OLED display with a 2992×1440 resolution at a 19:9 aspect ratio. While this tech is still in the early stages, it looks to be an exciting technology to watch develop in the coming years as companies are able to commercialize it. There are many devices that could benefit from such a unique option for displays.

iOS 13 and macOS 10.15 Details Start to Hit Tech News

As Apple’s newest updates approach details have started to emerge. According to an Ars Technica article, iOS 13 will bring multiple windows to iPads as well as setting Safari to default to desktop web pages on iPads. A new gesture for undoing and redoing actions will be added as well as a section in the settings for this feature. Additionally a dark mode will be coming to iOS 13, a feature many sites and devices continue to add. In macOS it looks like users will be able to use an iPad as an external display for a Mac, also allowing the use of Apple Pencil. This will be a welcome feature for artists who like to work digitally. As USB attached displays have existed for a while it is surprising that it has taken Apple this long to add this feature as it seems like a natural pairing of their ecosystems, especially given the popularity of Apple products in the content creation community.

Intel Acquires Omnitek

Intel has just acquired Omnitek. As reported by AnandTech, Omnitek makes FPGA (field programmable gate array) video acceleration and inferencing devices. FPGAs are a type of processor that can be configured in the field by the customer, as opposed to conventional processors or ASICs (application specific integrated circuits) which can only do what they were designed to do. Omnitek is based in the UK and will remain there.

Omnitek FPGA Block Diagram.
Omnitek FPGA Block Diagram. Credit AnandTech and Omnitek

FPGAs are useful for when companies need to customize an integrated circuit but do not have the resources or the need to invest the extremely high cost and development time the goes into producing ASICs. Intel has acquired other FPGA companies in the past so it makes sense that they are looking to expand their presence in this market. This acquisition seems like a good fit that will benefit both Intel and omnitek in reaching new customers.

Apple Looks to Expand iPhone Production Locations

While Apple has produced iPhones primarily in China for years it looks like Apple will be expanding production of their popular smartphone in India. According to an Ars Technica Article, Apple is planning on investing $300 million to expand the iPhone manufacturing capabilities in India. It appears this is in partnership with Apple’s long standing manufacturing partner Foxconn. This move makes a lot of sense for Apple as tensions between the United States and China have increased recently. Additionally, Apple has never liked to be reliant on one entity as a source in the past. This will also help with Apple’s penetration of the lucrative Indian smartphone market that Apple has had difficulty with in the past.

Qualcomm and Apple Finally Settle Patent Fight

Apple and Qualcomm have been locked in legal battles for many years over patent royalties. With Apple refusing to pay what it felt were unfair royalties and also encouraging their suppliers to not pay them. Qualcomm while not only wanting the royalties paid sought to ban import of iPhones in certain markets over these issues. After a huge trial in San Diego started just the other day between the two companies they have apparently reached a deal after only one day in court, as reported by Ars Technica. This ends what has likely been (and would have continued to be) very costly litigation for both companies. Apple has agreed to pay Qualcomm an undisclosed amount in exchange for a 6 year license agreement.