[Editorial] The Itsy-Bitsy Mighty Chip in a Great Big Digital World

on April 7, 2015 by Inyoung Kim
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Samsung’s Leadership in the Semiconductor Industry Part 1


“Innovation” may probably be one of the most over-used buzz words of our generation. It seems that we encounter ‘innovation’ daily.  In defense of those in the IT world, though, it’s just testament of how fast technologies are evolving. Their life cycles are getting increasingly shorter and breakthroughs are getting that much more difficult to come by. The good news is that engineers are innate problem-solvers, and thanks to them, technology continues to move forward, even in semiconductors down at the nanometer (nm; one billionth of a meter) scale.


In this three-part series, we’ll explore the feats in the semiconductor industry and how Samsung Electronics has tackled some of the most mind-boggling challenges in chip technology.


From our connected world of “things,” more than a whopping 400 ZB of data will be generated by 2018. Given that an average internet user would currently go through about 30 gigabytes (GB) of data a month—sharing emails, HD videos, presentations, copious amount of photos and what have you—this is roughly the equivalent of having the entire population of China frolic in the internet for about nine months. Adding to that, consumers will continue to want smarter connected devices capable of pumping out even more data—50 billion devices by 2020 according to a projection*.


Datacenters that actually have to shoulder most of the job will increasingly have a hard time keeping up with this snowballing trend. About 3.1 zettabytes (ZB) of data traffic went through datacenters globally in 2013**. By 2018, that amount is expected to nearly triple to 8.6 ZB. On top of the sheer amount of data to be processed, the need for electricity and space for these facilities also climb up. If these trends continue, industry calls for some serious innovation from hardware at the system level all the way up to consumer devices.


Taking the charge in rewriting the way we process data is no small undertaking. But it’s something that we, Samsung Electronics, actually can be bold enough to dare. Not only do we offer awesome consumer electronics, but we also have the cutting-edge component solutions up our sleeves—the very chips that hum behind the scenes of our data-driven world. To us, this is our innovation. And we’re pretty serious about it.


The advancements of today’s electronic devices have become more interesting than ever and semiconductors have risen as heroes of this progress. But it’s a little-known fact that Samsung has been a veteran in this field for more than 40 years. In fact, Samsung has been the leading memory manufacturer since 1993 (that’s 23 consecutive years!) and are the second largest semiconductor company in the world. Today, Samsung is the only company that offers a comprehensive portfolio of component solutions spanning from DRAM and NAND flash memory, logic products such as mobile application processors (AP), CMOS image sensors (CIS), display driver ICs (DDI), near field communication (NFC) chips to LED light sources, just to name a few.


Earlier in February this year, Dr. Kinam Kim, Samsung’s Semiconductor Business president and IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers) fellow, talked about “silicon technologies and solutions for the data-driven world” in his keynote during the ISSCC (International Solid State Circuit Conference) in San Francisco. Dr. Kim addressed the crowd of eager engineers in the audience on the advancements and opportunities in chip technology. Although he spoke mainly about the developments within the industry at large, Samsung’s footprint in the landscape definitely shined through.


Despite their small mundane appearances, the level of sophistication and sheer capabilities that our chips hold keep us excited. And the ways they make a difference in our lives will keep us going.


*Source: Cisco The Internet of Things: How the Next Evolution of the Internet Is Changing Everything, 2011

**Source: Cisco Global Cloud Index: Forecast and Methodology, 2013-2018, 2014

by Inyoung Kim

Manager at Device Solutions Division, Samsung Electronics

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