EE|Times: Galaxy S3 teardown reveals Samsung LTE modem

A deconstruction of the Galaxy S3 E210s mobile phone from Samsung by ABI Research has revealed that Samsung has dropped an externally supplied modem in favor of an internally developed one.

The market research firm speculates that Samsung’s use of its own ICs in the Galaxy S3 phone iteration could be the start of a platform war with Apple as Samsung and Apple both attempt to take control of more of the underlying semiconductor technology that drives their equipment businesses.

ABI said that while Samsung has been known for its high-end application processors under the Exynos brand it has typically used modem ICs supplied by companies such as Qualcomm, Intel, Broadcom, ST-Ericsson and Via Telecom.

“Mid last year it [Samsung] introduced a CDMA/LTE phone that was produced with a Via Telecom CDMA modem, a Samsung LTE modem, and a Samsung application processor,” said James Mielke, vice president of engineering at ABI Research, in a statement. “What makes this variant of the Galaxy SIII so interesting is the modem is a single-chip HSPA/LTE integrated circuit designed and manufactured by Samsung.”

In an earlier teardown of the Galaxy S3 smartphone UBM Techinsights showed Intel had taken advantage of its recently purchased Infineon wireless business unit with design wins for the X-GOLD 626 PMB9811 baseband processor and the PMB5712 GSM/CDMA RF transceiver. Intel is not mentioned in account of the ABI teardown.

In the third quarter of 2012 the Samsung Galaxy S3 was the leading smartphone in the market selling 18 million units to grab about 10.7 percent of the smartphone market of 167.8 million units, according to another market research firm Strategy Analytics. The same firm said Apple sold 16.2 million iPhone 4S handsets and 6.0 million iPhone 5 handsets.

As Samsung’s position in the smartphone market rises its growing reliance on captive ICs could be a major concern for the likes of Qualcomm and Via Telecom, according to ABI Research. Samsung also fabricates the A6 and A6X ARM-based processors for Apple.

Samsung’s recent purchase of the CSR handset IC business also indicates a move towards a platform battle between Samsung and Apple, said ABI.

Samsung LTE/HSPA+ modem (CM221S), Exynos Application processor and Wolfson Audio hub/codec (WM1811AE) shown on Galaxy S3 E210s motherboard. Source: ABI Research

The ABI teardown of the Samsung Galaxy S3 LTE (SHV-E210s) reveals the components include:

Samsung: 2G/3G/4G 40-nm modem CMC221S
Samsung: Quad core Exynos 4412 application processor
Samsung: high-performance ISP
Triquint: QuadBand EDGE PA
Avago and RFMD: 3G PAs
Broadcom: BCM4334 WiFi/BT/FM combo connectivity chip
Wolfson: WM1811AE audio hub IC
Knowles: MEMS microphones
STMicroelectronics: inertial and pressure sensor
FCI: FC7860 2G/3G/4G transceiver IC
Maxim: power management ICs


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