Including Apple, we've covered six major players in the high end smartphone SoC space: Apple, Intel, NVIDIA, TI, Samsung and Qualcomm. Not all of these six will survive in the long run. We'll see acquisitions, poor execution and architectural inefficiency all contribute to the whittling down of this list. The process will take a while, but in the long run I don't believe the market will be able to support this many players in the SoC space. Today I believe we may have seen the first sign of weakness from one of the players.
 
Samsung's Galaxy S line of smartphones and the Galaxy Tab both used Samsung's own Hummingbird SoC. At its press conference before Mobile World Congress Samsung announced the Galaxy Tab 10.1 and a new Samsung superphone will both use NVIDIA's Tegra 2 SoC instead of something of Samsung's own creation.
 
All isn't lost for the Samsung SoC group as it also announced that the forthcoming Galaxy S 2 will use Samsung's recently announced Orion SoC.
 
I can't stress how big of a win this is for NVIDIA. To have the mobile arm of one of your competitors use a Tegra 2 in a tablet and phone is huge. While LG was first out the gate, Motorola brought the polish and name NVIDIA needed in a partner. Samsung will likely take that to the next level.
 
The move also makes sense for Samsung. By going with NVIDIA, Samsung gets access to the reference platform for Honeycomb and will likely get to market sooner than if it had waited. 
 

The Galaxy S II

 
Samsung also announced the Galaxy S II based on Samsung's own SoC design.

 
The Galaxy S II has a 4.3-inch Super AMOLED Plus display and is only 8.49mm thin. The phone continues the Galaxy S tradition of being incredibly lightweight at 116g.
 
 
The Galaxy S II has a 1650 mAh battery and Samsung is promising improved standby and talk time vs. the original Galaxy S. 
 
The phone also supports NFC, HSPA+ 21.1 Mbps, Bluetooth 3.0, 1080p full HD recording/playing, an 8MP rear facing camera with LED flash and WiFi Direct for wireless syncing. The Galaxy S II will run Android 2.3.
 
More info as we get it.
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  • dagamer34 - Sunday, February 13, 2011 - link

    I wouldn't really call it a weakness Anand. It's probably that the time-to-market for Samsung's Exynos processors would have delayed the Galaxy Tab 10.1 a few months, and Samsung is not the type of company that will forsake good sound business decisions just to use its own products. I vaguely remember a quote that Samsung's semiconductor division has to bid for contracts with Samsung's mobile division just like everyone else. It's a good way to keep one part of the company from dragging down everything else. Even if Exynos were ready now, nVidia has already been "christened" as the reference platform for Honeycomb. Tablet marketshare with the brand "Galaxy Tab" is FAR more important than anyone actually knowing what hardware is running underneath the screen.

    Plus, all of the other semiconductor companies you've listed are HUGE players (except Apple, their chips are for their use only, so I don't see any merging there). The only company on that list I can see existing the smartphone CPU market is Intel, but then again, they technically aren't in the market yet with any actual products.
    Reply
  • thrust2night - Sunday, February 13, 2011 - link

    So you don't consider Samsung's inability to bring it's SoC to the market as quickly as it's direct competitor a weakness? or the fact that it brought it's own SoC to market so late in order to release new competitive products it had to use a competitor's SoC?

    Fact is Samsung used Nvidia and not their own SoC. That is a weakness regardless of how you spin it.
    Reply
  • LauRoman - Sunday, February 13, 2011 - link

    Then what do you think (from a bussiness pov) about companies like Samsung not always using their own manufactured material to build things like low end HDTV (Screens).

    I think that they put the Tegra in the tab not only because it is somewhat superior to their own at the moment, but also as marketing scheme. Tegra is the hottest (i honestly really don't know if it is the best) chip atm and it certainly will help sales (at least slightly).

    Didn't Apple bought an ARM license or some company with a license and slapped their bitten fruit logo on to it?
    Reply
  • sarge78 - Sunday, February 13, 2011 - link

    Samsung have used different manufacture SoCs in the past and will do so in the future.

    There will be many issues regarding Samsung's A9 SoC we don't know. Had Samsung planned on using Intrinsity again for a cortex A9/Fast14 SoC? (Before Apple bought out Intrinsity in 2010) Is Orion/Exynos designed around the 32nm process? etc

    Although Anand does make a good point, luckily there's ARMs reference SoC to fall back on. If that becomes uncompetitive then we could see companies like Marvel etc fail.
    Reply
  • thrust2night - Sunday, February 13, 2011 - link

    Actually from a business pov I would agree with dagamer34. But I am not talking from a business point of view and I don't believe Anand was either.

    Unlike televisions, most people want to know what SoC goes into their smartphones. With HDTV's all you hear are LCD, LED, contrast ratios or 3D capabilities. To find out who made what, you have to dig around.

    This is because, people find information like the type of SoC and its capabilities important now as opposed to 3-5 years ago.

    From this perspective, when Samsung that makes it own SoC's, which btw are much better than Nvidia's, decides to use Nvidia in it's high end smartphone, then that sends serious messages and in turn strengthens Nvidia's position in the market, something that will only hurt Samsung in the future.

    The use of Tegra 2 in Samsung's tablet can be justified by the fact that Tegra 2 was used as a reference platform for Honeycomb. But apart from not having enough SoC's available Samsung can't really justify using Tegra 2 in one of it's high end smart phones. And not having enough SoC's is a weakness.

    I personally think this weakness is brought about by the fact that Samsung has its hands in so many things ranging from microwaves, washers, and dryers to all kinds of computer products and accessories. With a limited amount of resources you can only diversify so much and try to maintain leadership.

    Don't get me wrong, I like a lot of Samsung products, but I think they need to do more in the smartphone area because just having a good SoC doesn't mean much if you can't even make enough of it to put into your own phones.

    You are right about Apple. I think they bought a company called Intrinsity and used it to make their processors in-house. Not sure what you were trying to say by bringing up Apple though.
    Reply
  • rgsaunders - Sunday, February 13, 2011 - link

    I really think you should qualify your statement in para 3, to read to the effect that a few people, or tech geeks, or something of that nature, as the vast majority of people in the market for a smartphone don't know about or care about the underlying technology, all they are concerned with normally is whether or not it will do what they want, or what the retailer can talk them into wanting.

    Just a quick observation, you, like many others on these forums, have extended your own technical interests to encompass the public at large. As someone who spent 4 decades in the electronics tech fields before moving into retail, I can say that most people just don't care.
    Reply
  • sdffds6546 - Tuesday, February 22, 2011 - link

    The phone looks amazing -- I hope Samsung understands though that a lot of the more knowledgeable purchasers (who also serve as advisors to the less knowledgeable) are wary of Samsung's slow to respond to Android updates. Reply
  • usama_ah - Sunday, February 13, 2011 - link

    The phone looks amazing -- I hope Samsung understands though that a lot of the more knowledgeable purchasers (who also serve as advisors to the less knowledgeable) are wary of Samsung's slow to respond to Android updates. Reply
  • Exodite - Sunday, February 13, 2011 - link

    The one marring feature is that horrible button-pad, that alone can probably keep me away from this phone. Reply
  • Chloiber - Sunday, February 13, 2011 - link

    According to Engadget, there won't be a Tegra 2 in the Galaxy S 2. Reply

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