LG taps TSMC to bake its first-ever mobile chip

Joins Apple, Samsung in ARM chipmaking party with Nuclun


South Korea's LG Electronics has announced its first self-made mobile system-on-chip (SoC), along with plans to debut the chip in a new smartphone to be released within the week.

Nuclun (LG says it's pronounced "NOO-klun," somewhat like how Americans pronounce "nuclear") is an eight-core application processor based on ARM's big.LITTLE technology. It marries four 1.5GHz Cortex-A15 cores with four 1.2GHz Cortex-A7 cores, plus next-generation LTE-A Cat 6 wireless that's backward-compatible with current LTE networks.

From the sound of it, LG doesn't plan to market these chips to other phone makers. Instead, it will use Nuclun as a way to cut costs and deliver devices that are better differentiated from the competition. Previously, LG has mostly sourced SoCs for its mobes from Qualcomm – as do many other vendors.

"With this in-house solution, we will be able to achieve better vertical integration and further diversity our product strategy against stronger competition," Jong-seok Park, CEO of LG's Mobile Communications Company, said in a canned statement. "Nuclun will give us greater flexibility in our mobile strategy going forward."

This is the first time that LG has created its own processor since it divested its earlier chipmaking business during the Asian financial crisis of the 1990s. Behind the scenes, LG is reportedly working with Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company to fab the chips, as the Korean firm has no production facilities of its own.

According to a report in the Wall Street Journal, LG has been collaborating with TSMC for the last few months to develop Nuclun.

LG Nuclun mobile SoC

LG says its new Nuclun mobile chips will give its smartphone line greater diversity

The move sees LG joining Apple and Samsung in creating its own silicon for its mobile devices – although Samsung, at least, is not exclusive to its homebrewed Exynos line and still sources processors from several other vendors, as will LG.

The Korean firm says the first phone to be built around Nuclun is the G3 Screen, an Android 4.4 "KitKat" device that's based on the popular LG G3, with a 5.9-inch full HD screen, 2GB of RAM, 32GB of eMMC storage, a 13-megapixel front camera, and a 2.1-megapixel rear camera.

LG says the G3 Screen will ship "this week," but there's a catch: it will only be available in South Korea, having been "developed specifically" for the Korean market. ®


Other stories you might like

  • Robotics and 5G to spur growth of SoC industry – report
    Big OEMs hogging production and COVID causing supply issues

    The system-on-chip (SoC) side of the semiconductor industry is poised for growth between now and 2026, when it's predicted to be worth $6.85 billion, according to an analyst's report. 

    Chances are good that there's an SoC-powered device within arm's reach of you: the tiny integrated circuits contain everything needed for a basic computer, leading to their proliferation in mobile, IoT and smart devices. 

    The report predicting the growth comes from advisory biz Technavio, which looked at a long list of companies in the SoC market. Vendors it analyzed include Apple, Broadcom, Intel, Nvidia, TSMC, Toshiba, and more. The company predicts that much of the growth between now and 2026 will stem primarily from robotics and 5G. 

    Continue reading
  • Deepfake attacks can easily trick live facial recognition systems online
    Plus: Next PyTorch release will support Apple GPUs so devs can train neural networks on their own laptops

    In brief Miscreants can easily steal someone else's identity by tricking live facial recognition software using deepfakes, according to a new report.

    Sensity AI, a startup focused on tackling identity fraud, carried out a series of pretend attacks. Engineers scanned the image of someone from an ID card, and mapped their likeness onto another person's face. Sensity then tested whether they could breach live facial recognition systems by tricking them into believing the pretend attacker is a real user.

    So-called "liveness tests" try to authenticate identities in real-time, relying on images or video streams from cameras like face recognition used to unlock mobile phones, for example. Nine out of ten vendors failed Sensity's live deepfake attacks.

    Continue reading
  • Lonestar plans to put datacenters in the Moon's lava tubes
    How? Founder tells The Register 'Robots… lots of robots'

    Imagine a future where racks of computer servers hum quietly in darkness below the surface of the Moon.

    Here is where some of the most important data is stored, to be left untouched for as long as can be. The idea sounds like something from science-fiction, but one startup that recently emerged from stealth is trying to turn it into a reality. Lonestar Data Holdings has a unique mission unlike any other cloud provider: to build datacenters on the Moon backing up the world's data.

    "It's inconceivable to me that we are keeping our most precious assets, our knowledge and our data, on Earth, where we're setting off bombs and burning things," Christopher Stott, founder and CEO of Lonestar, told The Register. "We need to put our assets in place off our planet, where we can keep it safe."

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022