Samsung says it has the future of DRAM sorted after success with new EUV process

Already shipped a million units to good reviews, now says DDR5 will launch in 2021


Samsung is confident it has the future of DRAM in the bag after successfully producing memory using a cutting-edge EUV-based lithography process.

EUV technology uses short-wavelength ultraviolet light that are close to soft X-rays. The result is smaller features, and a potentially cheaper and simpler manufacturing process, compared to today's semiconductors and fabrication techniques.

The Korean giant today said it's already produced one million EUV-fabbed 10nm DDR4 DRAM chips and that customers liked what they saw.

The South Korean giant added that it would use the new technology to make all future generations of its DRAM, starting with its 10nm and 14nm models. The company expects to use the technology to mass produce next-gen memory technology, DDR5 and LPDDR5, as early as next year.

The first batches of EUV ships emerged from its new V1 fab in Hwaseong, Korea, which opened last month after US$6bn of up-front investment.

But even with that colossal capital outlay, EUV is attractive because it requires fewer mask levels – a mask is a key component in the lithography process – which means faster production. The tech can also reduce repetitive steps in the fabrication process and do it more accurately, reducing production times.

Chipmakers have been working towards EUV adoption for years, with companies like Intel touting the technology since as far back as 2001. But development has been slow and hit more than a few speed bumps. The main problem has been that the new tech has taken time to refine and put into mass production: for one thing, it requires many companies to build entirely new facilities.

"With the production of our new EUV-based DRAM, we are demonstrating our full commitment toward providing revolutionary DRAM solutions in support of our global IT customers," said Samsung's exec veep of DRAM, Jung-bae Lee.

"This major advancement underscores how we will continue contributing to global IT innovation through timely development of leading-edge process technologies and next-generation memory products for the premium memory market.”

Although Samsung is the first company to use EUV to make DRAM, it is not the first to use the tech overall. Late last year, TSMC began shipping products based on its N7+ 7nm chips, which are made using the new technology. The semiconductor giant said the chips produced using the new tech provide 15 to 20 per cent higher transistor density, as well as 10 per cent lower power consumption than its N7 chips made using conventional methods. Intel is also developing its own EUV technology.

Together with its new V1 facility, Samsung has six fabs between South Korea and the US. The company will start operation on a second DRAM fab in Pyeongtaek, South Korea in the second half of this year. ®


Samsung floats autonomous ships as ready to sail in 2022

Test on tricky route planned for later in 2021, followed by productisation

Samsung has floated the prospect of soon selling autonomous ships, if it can sail one successfully in August 2021.

The Chaebol says it’s teamed with Korea’s Mokpo National Maritime University to fit the Samsung Autonomous Ship system to a 133m-long, 9,200 tonne training vessel and sail it from the port of Mokpo to the island of Jeju.

Passenger ferries make that journey in around five and a half hours, the route features some narrow channels and numerous small islands.

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Does Samsung want you to buy new phones? Asking 'cos Galaxies now get four years of security updates

Even kit from 2019 is covered and so are the modestly priced A and M series

Samsung has announced that all its Galaxy devices will now receive security updates for four years after initial release.

The new policy applies as of now, but also to Galaxy devices launched since 2019. That means even 2019 releases like the Galaxy S10 will now get four years of updates.

"Mobile devices play such an important role in our lives, it's only natural that we want to hold onto them longer," said Samsung's security team head and veep, Seungwon Shin, in a canned statement. "That's why, thanks to the latest technology advancements, we're committing to securing Galaxy devices for even longer, so that everything that should be kept protected stays protected."

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Samsung finally admitted to Google’s Enterprise Android Recommended club

Knox and Google device enrolment now play nice together

Samsung regularly tops Android handset sales charts and has arguably done more than any other handset-maker to make the OS. Yet the Korean company did not make the list at the launch of the Android Enterprise Recommended program, a scheme that Google created in early 2018 to point out which ‘Droids are ready to offer enterprise-grade services like remote management and swift security updates.

As we noted at the time, Samsung seemingly ticked all Google’s boxes but also offered some functions that Google didn’t list - such as its own app store and mass device enrolment tools other than Google’s own.

Now Samsung has made it into the programme and probably revealed what kept it out for over two years.

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Take Note: Samsung said to be thinking about killing off Galaxy phablet series

Flagships are falling out of favour while demand for cheap devices swells

Samsung is reportedly planning to discontinue its Galaxy Note line of phablets next year as hard-pressed smartphone buyers continue to switch from high-end flagship devices to more affordable products.

This would mark the end of a nearly 10-year run for the Galaxy Note series, which won fans thanks to its large screen and stylus. It's believed that Samsung intends to absorb the distinguishing features of the Note into the rest of its premium device portfolio, bringing the pen to the next addition of its S-series, as well as the foldable phone lineup.

The first incarnation of the Galaxy Note initially raised eyebrows due to its large screen, as well as its commitment to pen input, which was largely regarded as anachronistic. By that point most vendors had moved to capacitive touchscreens, aping the design first pioneered by the iPhone, which would eventually set the tone for the rest of the industry.

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Dear team: Please work hard in 2021. I’d help, but I’m in jail. Yours, the boss of Samsung

Management masterclass as locked-up Lee Jae-Yong apologises for his absence

Samsung’s vice chairman and de facto boss Lee Jae-Yong has reportedly sent staff motivational messages from inside prison.

52-year-old Jae Yong was jailed last week for bribery, concealment of criminal proceeds, and embezzlement. But being inside the big house hasn’t stopped the exec from continuing to influence Samsung’s operations.

In memos posted to Samsung’s corporate intranet, and reported by South Korean newswire Yonhap, Jae-Yong apologised for giving the company “this big burden" and pledged to " work on self-discipline and self-reflection in a humble way."

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Samsung seeks to have almost $1bn shaved off property taxes for planned Texas semiconductor fab

Company notes that it can always take its biz elsewhere as tech firms jostle to move to Lone Star state

Samsung is seeking a taxpayer bung of almost $1bn for its proposed semiconductor fabrication plant in Texas, according to documents filed with the state.

The requested package [PDF] includes tax reductions from the city of Austin, Travis County, and the Manor Independent School District, as well as unspecified "assistance" from the Texas Enterprise Fund.

In total, Samsung is seeking $805m in property tax abatements, with Austin cutting taxes by 50 per cent for the first five years of operations, and Travis County foregoing all property tax revenue from the project until 2030. Separate deals with the Manor Independent School District may total more than $200m over 20 years, with Samsung aiming to reduce its tax liability from $2.05bn to $1.79bn.

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Samsung profits – and shares – soar despite challenges in memory and mobile markets

Stock prices sitting pretty at an all-time high of $2,020 after earnings guidance

Despite missing analysts' forecasts, Samsung Electronics' guidance for its final quarter of 2020 paint a rosy picture, with profits likely up by a quarter year-on-year to ₩9 trillion ($8.22bn/ £6.06bn).

Revenues for the period ended 31 December are estimated to come in at beween ₩60-62 trillion ($54.89-56.7bn/£40-41.7bn) versus the ₩59.9bn ($54.7bn/£40.3bn) reported for the same period in 2019.

The festive season is typically a busy time for the electronics world, but Samsung leaves its annual Galaxy S-series flagship refresh for the start of the year. It's therefore conceivable that many people opted to defer upgrades during this period.

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No Huawei, America: Samsung scores $6.6bn for 5G at US giant Verizon

Remember how established carrier vendors were going to clean up after Huawei bans? Not so much, maybe ...

Samsung Electronics has won a $6.6bn contract to supply 5G infrastructure to Verizon in the US, beating out more established and traditional telco suppliers Nokia and Ericsson.

The deal, which was finalised on Friday, is likely one of Samsung's biggest 5G contracts to date, equaling 3.43 per cent of the firm's total sales for 2019, according to a Korean-language stock market filing.

The news will come as a disappointment to industry veterans Nokia and Ericsson, which have been assumed to be in excellent positions to win 5G rollouts after several nations decided to exclude Chinese kit from their next-generation wireless networks.

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Samsung shows off next-generation big-pixel camera sensor tech, coming to an Android phone near you

Good chance a phone you buy this year will use this photography tech

Samsung today announced its latest smartphone sensor tech, the ISOCELL GN2. Already in production, this image sensor promises improved low-light performance over its predecessors, despite supporting a high (50MP) megapixel count.

Why does that matter? Because as of H1 2020, Samsung was the second-largest maker of smartphone cameras globally, accounting for 32 per cent of total sales in the market, according to Strategy Analytics. In first and third spot were Sony (which also produces sensors for the iPhone) and Omnivision, which took home 44 per cent and 9 per cent market share respectively.

As a result, there is a decent chance that buyers of Android phones in the coming year or so may well bag a blower that uses a sensor made by Samsung.

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Samsung to introduce automatic call blocking on Android 11-capable flagships

Yeah I've heard you were in a car accident that wasn't your fault. Is that right? *Click*

Samsung phones will soon come with automatic spam call blocking. The feature, which is part of Samsung Smart Call, will debut on the Galaxy Note20 and will roll out to all new devices released after 2020.

The chaebol has made a deal with Seattle-based caller ID startup Hiya, licensing the firm's tech for five years.

Hiya is not the only kid on this particular block, and competes with other smart caller ID outfits like WhosCall and TrueCaller in what's an undeniably crowded market. Where they differ is largely in implementation. TrueCaller, for example, relies on crowdsourced reports from its millions of users, whereas Hiya depends on automated processes to identify suspect rings.

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