Modern smartphone designers have many compromises to make. Customers want sleek, thin smartphone designs with large, high resolution displays, high performance processors, more wireless radio technologies than I drink coffees a week, combined with something that doesn’t melt their hand through running hot and can go for at least a day to a charge. Space inside a modern handset is at a premium: there’ll be no cat swinging taking place in here. We’ve seen some important developments happening around the smartphone industry owing to the requirements to pack more into a smaller space, which is one of the reasons why Qualcomm have sold so many System-on-Chip (or SoC) packages: Qualcomm’s Snapdragon combines the application processor, baseband (modem) and has compact antenna designs too. And now this development is joined by the first mass production of an ePoP memory unit.
ePoP stands for “embedded package on package” and it means a single component now includes the memory that a smartphone uses, both the internal storage and the RAM for the processor. Samsung are now mass producing a 3 GB RAM, 32 GB storage (plus controller) unit, which is some 40% smaller than other technologies. Samsung’s ePoP module is built on the 20nm die size, the same fabrication class as their current processors. This development could be set to save a significant amount of internal space. Samsung’s Senior Vice President of Memory Marketing said this on the matter: “By offering our new high-density ePoP memory for flagship smartphones, Samsung expects to provide its customers with significant design benefits, while enabling faster and longer operation of multi-tasking features.” He added that they were planning on further development over the coming years. The unit joins a similar, wearable memory package designed for even more compact hardware. Currently, Samsung’s plans are for their new ePoP unit to be used in smartphones and tablets.
I’m encouraged by the new development for a couple of reasons. Firstly, it may not be the most innovative development that Samsung have announced in the last few years but it’s arguably one of the more important as it shrinks the size of components used in the device. And second, the first ePoP unit is a 32 GB unit, which might point towards the Samsung Galaxy S6 being launched with a minimum of 32 GB of internal storage.