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What is Inside of the Samsung Galaxy S6?

What is Inside of the Samsung Galaxy S6?
by Daniel Payne on 04-06-2015 at 1:00 pm

I’ve always been curious about what is inside an electronic device, and it was seeing the very first TI handheld calculator that got me started into a career as an Electrical Engineer. Next to Apple, the most popular brand in smart phone devices these days has got to be Samsung and they have just launched the Galaxy S6 device. A teardown company called Chip Works did the honors and has some beautiful photographs of what they found inside of the S6.

I’ve owned Samsung phones for the past 6 years, so am very familiar with their product line-up in general. What really sets the S6 apart from other phones are:

  • 8 core processor
  • 64 bit Operating System

In the past many smart phone companies would get to market quickly by using an application processor off the shelf from a company like Qualcomm, however Samsung is big enough that they can afford their own engineering team to design an application processor and they dub their octa-core the Exynos 7420. Apple is also well-known for custom-designing application processors as the A-series.

Even though the application processor brains in the smart phone tend to get top billing, there are a slew of other support chips also required to create a complete system. Inside of the S6 you will also find specialized chips like:

[TABLE] style=”width: 500px”
|-
| Feature
| Company
| Chip
|-
| Application Processor
| Samsung
| Exynos 7420
|-
| Memory
| Samsung
| LPDDR4 SDRAM
|-
| Flash
| Samsung
| 32GB NAND Flash
|-
| Modem
| Samsung
| Shannon 333
|-
| Power Management
| Samsung
| Shannon 533
|-
| RF Transceiver
| Samsung
| Shannon 928
|-
| Envelope Tracking
| Samsung
| Shannon 710
|-
| GNSS Location Hub
| Broadcom
| BCM4773
|-
| Gyro, Accelerometer
| InvenSense
| MPU-6500
|-
| Multimode Multiband
| Skyworks
| SKY78042
|-
| Phase Accordance Method (PAM)
| Avago
| AFEM-9020
|-
| Image Processor
| Samsung
| C2N8B6
|-
| Audio Amplifier
| Maxim
| MAX98505
|-
| WiFi Module
| Samsung
| 3853B5
|-
| NFC Controller
| Samsung
| –
|-
| Audio Codec
| Wolfson
| WM1840
|-
| Power Receiver
| TI
| BQ51221
|-
| Antenna Switch
| Skyworks
| SKY13415
|-
| Touch Screen Controller
| STMicro
| FT6BH
|-

Instead of choosing a touch screen controller from well-known suppliers like Synaptics, Cypress, Atmel or a Chinese company we see that Samsung used STMicroelectronics instead in this model.

Related – Intel Core M vs Apple A8!

14 nm FinFET Samsung technology is used in the Exynos 7420 application processor, a more advanced process than the 20 nm TSMC technology that Apple has in their A8 chip.


Die mark, Exynos 7420


Top-level Metal, Exynos 7420

​Here’s a quick comparison of die sizes for the last two generations of S phones from Samsung:

[TABLE] style=”width: 500px”
|-
| Phone
| Chip
| Die Size
| Technology
|-
| Galaxy S6
| Exynos 7420
| 78 mm^2
| 14 nm
|-
| Galaxy S5
| Snapdragon 801
| 118.3 mm^2
| 28 nm
|-
| Galaxy S5
| Exynos 5422
| 135 mm^2
| 28 nm
|-

Cross-sectional photos show some of the 11 layers of metal and FinFET structures:


Cross-section of metal stack, Exynos 7420

At DAC last year in San Francisco we saw one of the first wafers in 14 nm technology from Samsung, and this year we can buy a smart phone like the Samsung Galaxy S6 with 14 nm silicon, so FinFETs are enabling progress in consumer electronic devices already. Intel, of course was first to market with FinFET (aka TriGate) technology, so we should expect to see continued competition for FinFET silicon from TSMC, Intel and Samsung.


Related:Qualcomm LTE Modem Competitors? Samsung, Intel, Mediatek, Spreadtrum, Leadcore… or simply CEVA!


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