Bloomberg News

Samsung Debuts New Powerful Smartphone Chip

January 09, 2013

Samsung Debuts New Phone Chip as Mobile Processor Race Heats Up

Dr. Stephen Woo, Samsung Electronics President, Device Solutions Business speaks during a keynote address at the 2013 International CES at The Venetian, Las Vegas, on Jan. 9, 2013. Photographer: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Samsung Electronics Co. (005930), the world’s second-largest semiconductor maker, showed off a speedier and more powerful processor, seeking a bigger stake of the surging smartphone market.

The company will begin selling a chip that has eight processors built into the same piece of silicon, Stephen Woo, president of Samsung’s System LSI unit, said at the International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. Four of the processors are designed to run fast when the device needs operating power and the rest are engineered to help conserve battery life.

Samsung is following announcements this week by chipmakers such as Nvidia Corp., Qualcomm Inc. and Intel Corp. of processors designed to make handheld devices more powerful. The Suwon, South Korea-based company is trying to build on its position as a supplier to Apple Inc. (AAPL:US) and its own handset division by winning orders from other phone makers with a full range of integrated components including processors, memory chips and screens, Woo said in an interview.

“In the world, the only company that has logic, memory and display is Samsung Electronics,” he said.

Woo’s appearance at the show is designed to showcase the company’s capabilities outside of televisions and phones, where Samsung has market leadership, he said. The executive is also showing off flexible and curved display technologies designed to make phone screens viewable from different angles.

Handset Business

Samsung’s new mobile processor, the Exynos 5 Octa, will build on its predecessor’s success, Woo said. The previous version appeared in 53 million devices, he said, and was chosen by Google Inc. for its Chromebook notebook computer.

While Woo’s System LSI division is focused on the smartphone market -- where Samsung and Apple have more than half of industry sales -- the unit is independent of the company’s handset business.

“They use others’ components,” he said. “Even though we have very good components they choose to use others. It’s their choice. They are looking after their interests and we are looking after ours.”

Woo declined to comment on other customer relationships. In the third quarter of last year, Qualcomm led the applications processor market with 42 percent revenue share followed by Samsung with 27 percent, according to market researcher Strategy Analytics.

Samsung, also the world’s biggest supplier of ultra-thin organic light-emitting diode, or OLED, displays, probably saw rapid growth at its display business in the final three months of 2012, largely driven by sales of its own mobile devices, said David Choi, a Seoul-based analyst at SK Securities Co.

Operating profit at Samsung’s chip business was estimated at 1.52 trillion won ($1.43 billion) in the fourth quarter, down from 2.31 trillion won a year earlier, according to a Bloomberg News survey of five analysts.

To contact the reporters on this story: Ian King in San Francisco at ianking@bloomberg.net; Jungah Lee in Seoul at jlee1361@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Tighe at mtighe4@bloomberg.net


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