In more than 30 years of semiconductors, we have seen many technology-induced disruptions in our ecosystem, be it healthcare, consumer, mobile, aerospace, or any other field for that matter. To name a few are portable healthcare devices at much lower prices, video conferencing over internet that reduced the need of physical travel, smartphones that have made many businesses much efficient, and so on. One thing is for sure, all these developments have happened because of newer and newer semiconductor technologies being infused in the equipment that are core to these applications.
Applehad a record breaking sale of more than 13 million iPhone 6s and 6s Plus in the first 3 days of their availability, not without reason. Of course Apple has a ‘built over the years’ fan club, but the key ingredient in iPhone 6s and 6s Plus is a bunch of new technologies including 3D Touch, camera with 4K video recording, unique storage solution, low power and high performance CPU and GPU powered by FinFET technology from TSMC 16nmand Samsung 14nm, and so on. I will talk more about these later in the context where such technologies vis-à-vis iPhone can disrupt some of the established markets; I’m already seeing one very good possibility.
A couple of months ago I was reviewing a comedy movie ‘Tangerine’ which was shot completely using an iPhone 5. It’s a nicely shot commercial movie with wide screen, saturated colors, intimately woven, level of details, etc. all at a meagre budget of slightly above a hundred thousand dollars. I just grabbed a scene from this cinematic movie to put it into context here.
Look at the clarity and quality of the picture, and the level of details captured! The writer and director of ‘Tangerine’, Sean Baker filmed this movie entirely using iPhone 5 in the vicinity of Hollywood at Los Angeles encompassing the magnificence of the city. The iPhone lens was fitted over with an adapter from Moondog Labsto achieve the kind of cinematic feel we see in this movie. The iPhone also had inexpensive app from Filmic Pro that helped in controlling focus, exposure, white balance, and so on. Well it’s not only for low-budget that iPhone was used but also for better quality, ease of setup and handling, familiarity with iPhone, and so on. Baker was frustrated with standard-definition videos normally used in low-budget films.
So, what’s the key here? Definitely camera quality and other technologies related to camera. But it’s more than that, the video recording, image processing, graphics, and not to mention performance and latency in capturing all activities. Imagine Baker wants to make an animated movie, or a movie with high graphic content and gaming. The GPU along with CPU is equally important.
This is where I see iPhone 6s and 6s Plus much advanced in supporting more of such filming in the movie making industry. It provides 4K video recording, the best-in-class high performance low latency storage solution, FinFET enabled GPU for high performance graphics processing and gaming at much lower power, and higher CPU performance to assist the high performance GPU in validating the right API calls for setting up the frames. Does that sound like these phones can be used in the main stream movie production? Let’s park this thought here and see some of the initial performance benchmarks AnandTech has performed on the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus.
The storage controller uses a hybrid SLC/TLC NAND solution where any write goes through a large SLC cache before being committed to TLC NAND. There are many other benchmarks including games, graphics processing, and battery life which can be seen at AnandTech website here. Clearly iPhone 6s and 6s Plus stand apart from the rest. It’s the power of FinFET, newer NAND, state-of-the-art storage controller and other semiconductor technologies that have enabled such developments; of course Apple has mastery in hardware as well as software.
Coming back to the kind of disruptions we can see in the film industry and elsewhere. I checked Moondog and Filmic are already organizing contests for movie making by using their inexpensive app and other technologies along with iPhones. Imagine these kinds of contests evolving into a commercial movie contest across the world, something like an “Oscar on iPhone” :). Definitely, other than USA, there are many regions on the Globe which needs awareness about such low-budget good-quality move making option. More awareness can bring disruption in movie making industry bringing up hidden talent in acting. The talent will not have to wait to enter Hollywood or Bollywood to show it on the screen. Moreover, Bollywood movies in India can be targeted to be developed on low-budget using iPhones, absolutely. Use the money needed elsewhere!
Are there any other thoughts on disruptions which can be brought up by such cutting-edge semiconductor technologies? Expert Drones?
Pawan Kumar Fangaria
Founder & President at www.fangarias.com