S.W. Jeong, executive vice president, Sales & Marketing Team, System LSI Business, Samsung Electronics Co Ltd, took the podium at the 2013 Symposium on VLSI Circuits, which took place from June 12 to 14, 2013, in Kyoto, Japan.
He spoke on the impacts of the rapid spread of mobile devices such as smartphones and tablet computers on the advancement of semiconductor technologies. The title of the speech was "Perspectives on Mobile Devices and Their Impact on Semiconductor Technologies" (lecture number: C7-1).
First, Jeong pointed out that the appearance of mobile devices drastically changed the electronics industry. As events that represent the change, he cited the facts that the shipment volume of smartphones exceeded that of personal computers in the fourth quarter of 2010, that the shipment value of semiconductors for mobile devices exceeded that of microprocessors for personal computers in 2012 and that the shipment volume of tablet computers is expected to exceed that of personal computers in 2014 or 2015.
With the rapid growth of mobile devices, the advancement of semiconductor technologies began to be aimed at "smaller size" and "lower power consumption," Jeong said. As for the smaller size, he said that the miniaturization of smartphone cases is reaching its limit and the demand for smaller electronic parts is becoming stronger.
In regard to the lower power consumption, he said that the capacities of the batteries of mobile devices are increasing at an annual rate of about 20% but they are still not high enough and that the demand for electronic parts with lower power consumptions is increasing.
Then, Jeong mentioned the trend in the advancement of electronic parts and displays for mobile devices. He pointed out that the resolutions of image sensors for smartphones' camera modules are coming close to those of image sensors for compact digital cameras' camera modules. Specifically, the pixel counts of smartphones' image sensors will increase to 13 million in 2013 and 16 million in 2014, which are close to the pixel counts of digital cameras (about 20 million), he said.
As for displays, the resolutions of 5-inch smartphone displays and 10-inch tablet displays will reach WQHD (2,560 x 1,440 pixels) and UHD (3,840 x 2,160 pixels), respectively, within a few years, he said.
In such a situation, the processing powers of GPUs used in mobile devices become important, Jeong said. In recent years, the processing powers of CPUs used in mobile devices have been increasing by 120% per year, but this trend is expected to slow down due to heat issues. Instead, the processing powers of GPUs will drastically improve, he said.