A look at the current and future state of processors in 2021

A look at the current and future state of processors in 2021

A look at the current and future state of processors in 2021

News unit EMGblog.com: ARM company in the last days of May this year Milady introduced a new generation of products based on its intellectual property introduced and It has announced plans to use them in Android phones by the end of this year and 2021. Products with the name Cortex A78 and Mali-G78 and Mali-G86 graphics processors are among them, along with the Ethos N78 neural processing unit. In this way, a wide range of manufacturers and operators of the smartphone market and its parts are expected, from Qualcomm and Samsung to Huawei and Mediatek put the use of new ARM products on the agenda. But what can we expect from this new technology and the processor industry in general in the next year?

Big jump in processor power of some manufacturers

With the release of new processors Cortex-X1 The product of ARM and the preference of computing power over productivity, the next-generation processors of Android smartphones can experience the biggest performance leap in this field after several years. This strategy means that the efficiency and computing power can be increased by 30% in this processor compared to Cortex-A77 expected that earlier in Qualcomm, Samsung and flagship MediaTek chips are used. At the same time Cortex-X1 from the new processor Cortex-A78, which is also Introduced at the same time, it is 23% stronger.

According to ARM, the Cortex-X1 processor will probably only be available to some chip makers. This means that some brands will not be able to use this powerful processor. In this way, if, for example, Qualcomm can use this processor and Samsung or MediaTek cannot, it will probably create a ground for new competition among Android smartphone manufacturers.

The future of GPUs in 2021

Graphic processor Mali-G78 ARM company Relatively few changes compared to Mali-G77 has experienced that previously in high-end chips Samsung and MediaTek were used. Hence, mobile game enthusiasts may not feel much difference between these two GPUs. This could put ARM in a position that looks interesting in some ways, especially considering Samsung’s decision to partner with AMD on smartphone graphics. In July of last year, Samsung talked about the implementation of its new GPU technology and announced that the design and production process will take about two years, so it can be expected to be released in 2021.

If we pay attention to the collaboration between Samsung and AMD along with Qualcomm’s powerful Adreno graphics, it seems that ARM graphics processors are not an attractive option for the range of high-end products, at least for now.

In such a situation, ARM’s newly introduced Mali-G68 graphics is considered the company’s first mid-range GPU, and it is not only above the Mali-G5X series, but apparently It has all the positive features of Mali-G78. Because previously companies such as Xiaomi, from the unit Mali G76 graphic processing (of course with few cores) in the smartphone Redmi Note 8 Pro, we can hope that the G68 will bring higher graphics capabilities to mid-range smartphones.

In the era of competition to provide a higher refresh rate in the display of smartphones, the importance of graphics processors has doubled; As we have recently seen the introduction of phones in the price range of 200 to 300 dollars that use 90 or 120 Hz displays. This high refresh rate won’t make much of an impact without a GPU upgrade, which is another reason why the market is optimistic about Mali-G68’s launch and bridging the gap between flagship and affordable mobile processors.

Turning towards more efficient design

The chipset production process (measured in nanometers) is another important factor. In fact, the smaller number indicates that more transistors are used in the chip and a processor with more transistors will be more powerful and less consuming. We have already seen advanced mobile processors move from 28nm lithography in early 2014 to 7nm architecture in today’s chipsets.

As you know, manufacturers of high-end Android phone processors are trying to make products with smaller dimensions of 5 nm in 2021. Therefore, it is expected that the top smartphone manufacturers will soon start using these chips. But mid-range processors usually lag behind this trend and therefore may still be designed with a 7nm process or slightly larger for some time.

The new processors also have improved performance. For example, ARM’s Cortex-A55 is one of the processing cores that can be a suitable choice for all manufacturers in combination with more powerful CPUs. This relatively old processor was first introduced in 2017, but the disappointing thing is that ARM has not yet identified a successor for it. However, next year we’ll likely see a replacement for this processor capable of significantly upgrading phones in the $100-$150 price range.

5th generation technology

Moving towards fifth generation communication technology comes with its own difficulties, one of which is high energy consumption. Fortunately, making processors with 5nm lithography will mean less energy consumption in the new 5G chips. Companies like Qualcomm are expected to include integrated 5G modems in their flagship chips, improving overall device performance. When this change is combined with 5nm lithography, we can hope that the 5th generation flagship products in 2021 will perform better in terms of battery life.

Snapdragon X60, which was introduced earlier this year, is the third modem of the fifth generation of Qualcomm and has been upgraded in terms of features such as VoNR (abbreviated Voice Over New Radio) . Also, with the improved aggregation technology of operators, it can have more speed and stability.

Qualcomm, as the American chip maker giant, plans to offer smaller mmWave modules for smartphones in 2021, and smaller components will mean the possibility of using larger and bulkier batteries. MediaTek, as another chip manufacturer, is also looking to upgrade 5G capabilities in its future products. Although MediaTek chipsets do not yet support mmWave technology, some sources have already reported the activities of the Taiwanese company to provide similar or alternative solutions.

Improve the connection

A wide range of advanced high-end and mid-range phones released in 2019 and 2020 use the Wi-Fi 6 standard. Interestingly, this technology finds its place in cheap low- and mid-range platforms such as Snapdragon 460 has also opened; Although the products equipped with this processor are going to enter the market later this year.

While not all smartphones and chips support Wi-Fi 6 yet, the Wi-Fi 6E standard has arrived. Although the Wi-Fi 6E speed has not increased significantly compared to the previous generation, the significant reduction in congestion cannot be ignored, which reduces latency. None of the current chipsets on the market support this standard yet, and we have to wait and see which of the processor manufacturers will release the first Wi-Fi 6E-equipped product to the market. Of course, Qualcomm, which recently uses the FastConnect brand for wireless products in its Snapdragon chips, has recently introduced subsystems FastConnect 6700 and FastConnect 6900 as the first 6E Wi-Fi based chips has unveiled.

Bluetooth is another important communication feature and currently many advanced processors and some mid-range processors support Bluetooth 5.1. Meanwhile, Qualcomm less than a month ago 7 nm chip Snapdragon 768G has been added to its product portfolio, the overclocked version Snapdragon 765G And it is the first chipset that supports Bluetooth 5.2. Also, the American company has considered support for the new version of Bluetooth for FastConnect modems, which were mentioned earlier.

Bluetooth 5.2 supports the Low Energy Audio standard to reduce energy consumption in wireless audio, audio broadcast, and the LC3 codec has been upgraded compared to the previous model. Naturally, new chips will be needed to take advantage of this feature, and since the use of the new standard is equivalent to higher sound quality and more reliable connection instead of relying only on AptX technology, we can expect interesting changes in this field.

Machine learning in 2021

This year, it seems that all the major chip manufacturers have implemented some form of neural processors in their products. As Huawei, MediaTek, Qualcomm and Samsung chipsets are equipped with neural processing unit (NPU), artificial intelligence processing unit (APU) or artificial intelligence accelerators (AI accelerators). Also, most flagship Android processors use artificial intelligence chips, and manufacturers are looking to use this hardware in mid-range chips.

But what draws attention in the meantime is that manufacturers do not currently provide machine learning hardware for low-end processors. A trend that is unlikely to change in 2021, as advances in CPUs and GPUs mean that many machine learning tasks can be performed at high speeds without relying on a dedicated neural processor. In addition, upgrading the CPU and GPU means that the machine learning processes will not reduce the battery life of the device as much as before.

However, smartphone brands have introduced offline inference capabilities such as Live Caption (to automatically add subtitles to videos and audio files), augmented reality and ultra-high-resolution processing, which is likely to launch dedicated chips in It has increased these fields.

The future of Samsung’s Exynos processors

Processor Exynos 990 due to significant difference with Snapdragon 865 generated significant negative reactions. However, 2021 can be seen as a restructuring phase for the Samsung knew Aside from the Korean company’s GPU collaboration with AMD, which was mentioned earlier, Samsung’s recent CPU efforts have not been very successful. The company closed its custom CPU manufacturing unit in Austin, Texas at the end of last year; This means that the company’s processors will rely entirely on ARM Cortex technology.

Samsung has apparently decided that the current situation is the best time to stop producing the company’s customized CPUs and use more ARM products. Because Cortex-X1 seems to have a philosophy similar to the Korean company’s products, focusing more on processing performance. Of course, we still don’t know if the first Exynos chip with AMD graphics processor will be unveiled in 2021, but in any case, such a product will arouse the market’s curiosity; Because it is AMD’s first attempt to enter the field of smartphone graphics.

The future of Huawei’s Hisilicon processors

HiSilicon division Huawei since The beginning of US sanctions is one of the company’s strengths and the way to produce and meet the needs of the Chinese company within this Made the country smooth. This has become doubly important due to the fact that Qualcomm is not allowed to provide its technologies to Huawei, and HiSilicon processors have helped to fill this gap.

But New prohibitions of the US Department of Commerce To cut off Huawei’s relationship with chip manufacturers, this company will be in trouble at least in the field of processor supply Has set. Of course, the American government has allowed the chipset manufacturers to deliver the chips under production and previous orders to the Chinese company up to 120 days after the new law is approved. It is natural that the implementation of this law significantly affects Huawei’s ability to develop the latest technologies in this field. After all, if the chip maker can’t actually produce it, what was the point of designing it anyway?

One of Huawei’s possible ways to get out of this situation is to turn to other chip manufacturers such as Samsung or smaller Chinese factories. But such work is conditional on the fact that these manufacturers do not rely much on American technical knowledge. Before this, news about The gradual handing over of the manufacturing of Huawei chips from the Taiwanese company TSMC to the Chinese company SMIC was published. On the other hand, in order to counter the new US decision, the Chinese government invested an amount equal to 2.25 billion dollars in one of the SMIC factories . Of course, SMIC currently uses 14nm lithography, which is far from the 7nm architecture of today’s flagship processors.
Meanwhile, Huawei’s relationship with ARM is a promising factor, as this company has used ARM’s CPU and GPU technologies in all its processors. Although when the US trade ban began in May 2019, ARM announced that it would comply with the regulations, but in October of the same year, it announced that it had granted Huawei access to its next-generation technology.

In general, despite the serious problems faced by Huawei in providing chipsets, the possibility of not producing custom Samsung processors and the company’s use of AMD graphics along with the maturity of the fifth generation technology, it seems that next year will be with new ARM products. It will be an interesting year in the smartphone industry.


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