▲ Jongsoo Lee, Dong-Hwan Lee, and Hyeokman Kwon from the left.
Wearables, like smartwatches, have evolved beyond being the hottest accessory du jour. They’re now part of our lifestyle, keeping us fit, safe, and alert. A CES 2023 Innovation Award winner in Wearable Technologies category, the Exynos W920 processor, built on an advanced 5-nanometer (nm) Extreme Ultra-Violet (EUV) process node, integrates a powerful GPU, dual-core CPU, and an LTE modem to provide the degree of performance demanded by the next-generation wearable devices. At the same time, the companion Exynos RF 6550, built on a 28nm process, integrates Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and GNSS connectivity adding the utmost reliability into the Exynos W920 design.
Designed for the next-generation smartwatch
The Exynos W920 is designed to power the cutting-edge wearables to run visually appealing applications with zippy responsiveness while keeping users connected on the go. Hyeokman Kwon, Head of System LSI Marketing Team, said “Targeting the premium smartwatch market, the Exynos W920 stands out from its predecessors and competitors thanks to its low-power consumption, and upgraded 3D performance, all in a compact design.” Smartwatches requires diverse wireless connectivity options, including Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and GNSS. To achieve that in a small form factor, the Exynos RF 6550 supports various wireless connectivity at low power consumption.
Featuring a powerful Arm® Mali™-G68 GPU, the Exynos W920 offers a 10 times better graphics performance than its predecessor for more realistic and fascinating 3D UIs on a qHD (960x540) display. With a dual-core Cortex®-A55 CPU, the processor offers next-generation smartwatches the performance they need to keep up with users’ evolving demands such as running advanced applications and faster app switching.
Bringing Exynos to life: Better power efficiency and smaller in size
“From the beginning of the development process, we knew the Exynos W920 would be small, but mighty,” said Dong-Hwan Lee of Innovative AP Development Team. As such, a 5nm process and FO-PLP packaging were selected to make the Exynos W920 compact, and as energy-efficient as possible. “Its specifications and performance were tested and verified at every stage of development,” said Dong-Hwan Lee. “We worked closely with diverse teams to reassess the innovations within. Eventually, we achieved our goal to make the advanced wearable processor that offers powerful performance, ultimate efficiency within tiny chipset size.”
The Exynos W920’s ultra-compact design is the result of several space-saving technologies including 5nm EUV process and the advanced packaging technologies. The cutting-edge 5nm EUV process helps to maximize transistor density while freeing up more room for other innovations. The FO-PLP and SiP-ePoP packaging technology, makes it possible to integrate the processor and diverse components including a power management IC, LPDDR4 and eMMC in a single package. “By adopting such space-saving tech., Exynos W920 allows smartwatches to become less bulky and more powerful. Furthermore, its low-power design lets the user do more for longer period, without worrying about battery life,” said Dong-Hwan Lee. To further extend battery life, always-on-display operations are handled by a dedicated low-power processor, rather than relying on the main CPU.
Improving power efficiency was also the top priority when designing Exynos RF 6550. “Most smartwatches tend to use Wi-Fi/BT, rather than cellular connectivity; the focus had to be on integrating the modem’s GNSS (Global navigation satellite system) to RF,” Jongsoo Lee of RF Development Team stated. “The most challenging part was integration of diverse functionalities, while at the same time optimizing the chip size, improving power efficiency and ensuring GNSS performance. To satisfy the target specifications, we took the risk of applying a challenging RF structure and designing it into the product, which proved a success.”
Industry recognition: CES Innovation Award
The Exynos W920 with the Exynos RF 6550 were recently given a CES Innovation Award. Recognized for its integrated connectivity solution with enhanced BOM competitiveness and overall reliability.
Why is the Exynos W920 with RF 6550 a gamechanger? According to Hyeokman Kwon “Exynos W920 offers top-class power efficiency, requires very small area for chips, and offers ultimate GPU performance. Also, with support for Wi-Fi/Bluetooth as well as GNSS, Exynos RF 6550 has more competitive surface mount area than a two-chip solution in the market.”
Jongsoo Lee said, “Despite the tight development schedule, we worked hard to ensure strong performance, low power consumption, and reliability. Such efforts paid off with the successful adoption by the cutting-edge wearable devices in the market. Integrating RFIC to the smartwatch platform was like laying the final piece of the puzzle. It is a great honor to make a meaningful contribution to the business and receive an award with the successful technology deployment.”
Looking to the future of wearables
Samsung is constantly working to improve and innovate on its SoCs for wearables, so ongoing efforts to develop new technologies such as low-power design, adopting LPDDR5, SiP packaging based on FO-PLP and advanced low-power process are a key focus when it comes to new solutions.
“We will continue to release products that can maintain Samsung’s leadership position in the Android wearable market through collaboration with customers and OS providers” said Hyeokman Kwon.