GMK: Rethinking The Audio Jack


The lowly audio jack, taken for granted since the days of the transistor radio, is getting a lot of attention these days. Apple thought so little of it, in fact, that it eliminated it altogether with its iPhone 7, choosing to run analog signals through the power cable rather than keeping a separate audio jack. Now GMK, a fabless semiconductor startup in Korea, is taking the reverse approach—r... » read more

Making Phones Better


Beneath a smartphone's slick packaging is some interesting, highly sophisticated technology that makes the user experience what it is today. Much of that experience relies on satisfying our ever growing desire for more data capacity for video, social media and the like. Providing that capacity relies on robust filtering to receive just your data stream amongst many nearby other streams. But tha... » read more

Confronting Design Challenges With Smaller Thermal Envelopes


For design engineers, physics giveth but physics can also taketh away. Consider leading-edge smartphones. Outside the improved performance that each generation gives consumers, the handsets themselves get thinner, sleeker, lighter. The reduction in the Z height is effectively a given with each new generation. In 2010, the HTC Nexus One was 11.5mm thick; this year, the Mate 8 is 7.9mm. Rem... » read more

After Smartphones…Less?


As the rate of growth for smartphone sales slow, questions arise regarding the impact that slower growth will have throughout the semiconductor supply chain. Over the past decade, the 1 billion-plus smartphone market has driven the need for more advanced manufacturing process technologies, new input materials and the need for more fab capacity. It has even legitimized new players into the suppl... » read more

What’s After Smartphones?


One of the unique things about the semiconductor industry is that it has fueled the digital revolution almost entirely by focusing on its core competencies of performance, power and area. There are few, if any, industries that can tie global growth and success to what amounts to an almost isolationist business model. Salespeople have to sell those chips, of course. Marketers have to create ... » read more

Racing To Design Chips Faster


A shift is underway to develop chips for more narrowly defined market segments, and in much smaller production runs. Rather than focusing on shrinking features and reducing cost per transistor by the billions of units, the emphasis behind this shift is less about scale and much more about optimization for specific markets and delivering those solutions more quickly. As automotive, consumer e... » read more

Smaller, Faster, Cheaper


Sometimes the most intriguing market growth comes in “unsexy” applications. Take the mobile market for example. Overall growth rates are cooling, as you’d expect with a maturing market. But in 2020, 1 billion smart phones are expected to ship in the entry-level category. This implies an 8% compounded annual growth rate, making entry mobile the most rapidly expanding mobile market segme... » read more

Counting By The Billions


The semiconductor industry has been on cruise control since the advent of the personal computer. By 2002, a total of 1 billion PCs had been shipped, according to Gartner, and by 2008 that number had doubled. But that was nothing compared with the smartphone. In 2014 alone, Gartner reported sales of 1.2 billion smartphones. Both of those markets will remain healthy for years to come. Despite... » read more

What’s On Your Holiday Gift List?


This month Semico reduced our semiconductor growth outlook for 2015 and 2016. The slowdown is mainly due to lower sales of electronic devices such as new convertible notebooks and even smartphones. TSMC reported near-term uncertainty due to higher than seasonal inventories, customers’ cautious inventory management, along with active inventory reductions. The new iPhone 6s and 6s Plus rolled o... » read more

Image Sensor And Display Enhancements Drive Low-Cost Smartphone Growth


The low-cost smartphone segment is fueling the growth of the overall smartphone market. Smartphones are being adopted in emerging markets and are displacing feature or basic phones in developed markets. Mobile phone device manufacturers are closing the leadership gap with the No. 1 vendor – Samsung – by competing in both the high-end and low-end smartphone segments. See Table 1. Table ... » read more

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