Despite the season's best efforts to give weary editors a rest, last week remained active as ever, producing some major news items that impact 1H16.
As quickly as possible, then our news recap video:
Last week's hardware news saw the acquisition of Inotera, a supplier with a seven-year history working with the Flash manufacturer. Micron's $3.2 billion acquisition buys-out the remaining two-thirds stake of Inotera, enabling Micron to purchase DRAM and cost and reduce its overall BOM on memory products.
NVidia recently filed a complaint against Qualcomm and Samsung with the United States International Trade Commission (ITC). NVidia has also filed a suit against Samsung and Qualcomm. The GPU giant claims that Samsung and Qualcomm are infringing upon nVidia’s patents, specifically ones pertaining to GPU architecture and technologies. Despite the fact that nVidia is often better known for their desktop and high-performance GPUs, they have a significant presence in the supercomputing and mobile sectors. This makes the lawsuit very relevant as all three are significant players in the mobile sector.
This complaint and suit are due to alleged patent infringements in Samsung and Qualcomm’s graphics processors: the Exynos (Samsung) and Snapdragon (Qualcomm).
Samsung's vertically stacked NAND was introduced in June of 2014, heralding an era of increased capacity with (theoretically) reduced endurance concerns when compared against TLC. The NAND type takes a page from Intel's 3D transistor book and stacks NAND vertically, making for greater density in “apartment high-rise” fashion.
Samsung's 850 EVO and 850 Pro have been around for a little while now, with the 850 Pro debuting 3D NAND (also called “VNAND”). The company's 850 Pro capped at 1TB of storage, but has been refreshed in 2TB capacities as of today; the 850 EVO – a cheaper alternative for consumer-class usage – has also been refreshed to 2TB.
CES has officially ended and the floor was busy. We pushed, elbowed, headbutted, and bit our way through the crowds. Our first destination was Samsung, right in the middle of it all and with their own building-inside-a-building booth construction. After looking around their booth with all the TVs, mobile phone tech, and business options, we managed to find some things that gamers care about.
Samsung and nVidia have been embroiled in a tit-for-tat legal battle for the better part of 2014, with Samsung opening a counter-suit against nVidia for patent violation. NVidia originally targeted Samsung and Qualcomm for alleged implementation of nVidia-patented GPU technology in mobile devices, demanding that Samsung devices be removed from circulation in the United States. In a counter-suit, Samsung levied its own patents against the GPU giant, making similar demands on trade restrictions.
Samsung announced the launch of its 850 Pro earlier this year, introducing 3D Vertical NAND (VNAND) to the SSD market. 3D VNAND doubles endurance over what triple-level cell (TLC) NAND devices allowed, but simultaneously increases density – two aspects of NAND that have previously been opposed. The density increase comes as a result of stacking the NAND vertically (like an apartment highrise vs. single-home neighborhood), similar in top-level concept to Intel's 3D transistors.
Conveniently, we recently published an article and accompanying video exploring the future of Flash technology: 3D V-NAND Flash memory. VNAND stands as the next step in the SLC/MLC/TLC progression, except instead of primarily adding additional bits per cell, it's beginning to stack cells in 3-dimensional space -- similar in concept to Intel's 3D transistor architecture. This allows higher cell density in the same square area, but reduces the granular voltage requirements introduced by incrementing the cell levels (an exponential voltage level requirement with each level, from SLC to TLC).
Samsung showcased some of its VNAND concept just before CES, but we didn't have reason to believe it'd make it to market so quickly. The first consumer product to use VNAND, a type of Flash fabricated internally at Samsung, will be the company's 850 Pro. The 850 Pro champions the 840 Pro, released just before CES 2013.
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