Galaxy S4's U.S. version needs added image processor for eye-tracking
IHS iSupply teardown finds that Snapdragon chip in Samsung GS4 likely needs help from Fujitsu chip to handle heavily-promoted feature
Computerworld - Samsung has built several different Galaxy S4 smartphones, including a U.S. version running a Snapdragon processor that requires an extra image processor to enable heavily promoted user functions such as eye-movement recognition.
IHS iSuppli, which conducted a teardown of the GS4, said Samsung sells a different model in South Korea that runs an eight-core Octacore Exynos 5 processor. The Octacore Exynos 5 chip costs $28, or $8 more than the Snapdragon, the market research firm said.
Unique eye-tracking capabilities in the GS4, such as a Smart Pause feature that can pause videos when a user looks away, have been heavily promoted by Samsung but have worked only sporadically for early users and reviewers.
"The Octacore Exynos 5 enables some unique, processor-intensive applications that are not possible with the Snapdragon processor," IHS iSuppli said in a statement released Thursday.
A Snapdragon processor by itself wouldn't allow the GS4 to fully support eye tracking. The addition of a Fujitsu image processor would be required to offload core processor functions.
Several features, including Smart Pause, were heavily promoted by Samsung executives when the GS4 was unveiled at Radio City Music Hall in New York City on March 14.
The IHS iSuppli teardown found that a U.S. GS4 model with 16 GB of flash memory includes $229 worth of materials. Samsung's cost rises to $237 when manufacturing costs are added. The materials used in a South Korean GS4 with 16 GB of memory costs $244 for materials, and $252 including manufacturing costs.
IHS iSuppli conducted a virtual teardown of the GS4 in March and found that a 16 GB U.S. LTE version was estimated to cost $233 for materials and rose by only $4 to $241 when manufacturing costs were added.
Vincent Leung, an analyst at IHS iSuppli, said that Samsung has built at least four different versions of the Galaxy S4 for different locations, including the U.S. and South Korea.
"Samsung is demonstrating its strategy of offering a mobile product that has appealing features and pricing -- and then adapting the device to suit the tastes of varying markets or regions," Leung said in a statement. "This approach is in stark contrast to the one-size-fit-all philosophy used by Apple, Samsung's primary competitor."
Leung noted that the South Korean and U.S. versions of the GS4 "look pretty much the same" and use many of the same core features, such as the enclosure, display, camera and battery.
In addition to different processors, the U.S. and South Korean versions include different wireless, sensor and interface, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, FM radio and GPS subsystems.
Samsung manufactures the Octacore Exynos 5, which includes the "big-little" architecture created by ARM. The processor consists of four 1.6 GHz Cortex A 15 "big" cores and four 1.2 GHz Cortex-A7 "little" cores. The big cores handle high priority tasks while the little ones handle lower priority tasks.
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