|Samsung (UN55ES8000F) 8000 series TV – a good step forward in convergence
Home A/V networking reminds us of the wild west. Chaotic, crazy, lots of money to be made and . . . well . . . confusing. But also the next great convergence battlefield (more on this later).
Networked receivers, digital boxes, smartphones, tablets, universal remotes, wireless routers, plus a baffling array of acronyms like HTPC, NAS, NMP, DLNA, UPnP, PVR, ATV, H.264, MP4, and an equally vast number of streaming content providers with different rules in different countries. All this adds up to provide an array of amazing choices (frustration?) for those brave enough to take on the task of building a really cool TV experience.
However, when you consider the TV experience, even the technically dedicated of us don’t always want to be forced to use a full keyboard and mouse just to watch TV. We also don’t want failure points, such as kids messing with the Wi-Fi network, just as we’re about to watch Bubba Watson hit it in the trees during the second playoff hole of The Masters tournament. Moreover, for the non-indoctrinated, isn’t TV supposed to be a nice passive activity even when it includes nifty new capabilities.
And that is where Samsung’s flagship Smart TV is a solution. It combines the slick interface of a media player (like Apple TV) with motion and voice recognition to simplify access to the TV. It delivers the goods without the pain of set up. We took some time to test out the features (at right), and while there was an undoubted learning curve and a couple use cases that we found a little dubious, the overall capabilities and quality impressed us so much that it pained us to take the back off this $3000 set.
|Taking the back off
But, to bring all this great capability to market requires a combination of silicon that one would traditionally expect to see in a TV with silicon required for computing, and with a camera thrown in to boot. At least they didn’t try work an accelerometer or gyroscope into a 55” TV because the use cases for that could be dangerous!
There is a strong ridged frame to keep it all together. You can see several layers that include clear plastic and a thin white sheet of plastic to (likely) diffuse the edge lighting. The LEDs are visible along the edge in this view as well.
First, a yellow board that has the critical high power elements, we’re not going to talk about that (sorry).
The main circuit board is housed in the aluminum structure. The I/Os run along the bottom and the image engine chip in the middle under all that thermal compound.
|The Samsung 8000 series TV is chock-a-block with Samsung semiconductor technology
From memory to applications processors to imaging technology, Samsung has a lot of design wins and intellectual property in this TV. Since many of these are high cost devices in the $20 to $50 range, they are able to capture a lot of margin from each sale by being the downstream and upstream provider.
The main board features the SDP1106 which has DNIe markings on the package. DNIe (Digital Natural Imaging engine) is a brand that Samsung (lightly) uses to promote its video capability. This is a large chip, measuring 8.86 mm x 8.94 mm across, and thermally “connected” to the back for heat dissipation. The top metal is shown at right, and for the lower metal and process details, you need to order a Functional Analysis Report.
The innovation doesn’t stop with the die’s layout because the SDP1106 also features the latest generation 32 nm high-k metal-gate technology from Samsung. This is only the second time we have seen this technology, with the other being the high volume Apple A5 processor.
|A second board features more of the TV capability and two more large chips from Samsung. First, the SDP1107 LCD timing controller (7.09 mm x 7.30 mm) and the SDP1111 Echo-FP DTV MCU/LED frame rate controller (7.4 mm x 8.23 mm). There is also 1 GB of Samsung DDR3 SDRAM; if this has to behave like a smartphone/tablet screen, you need the DRAM in there too!|
|Other boards and interesting demonstrations of convergence
There is a component and board dedicated to the speakers that includes a Conexant CX20708 far field voice input processor for speech recognition. Despite the vertical integration seen on a lot of this TV, the image sensor is a back illuminated CMOS image sensor from OmniVision (die markings shown). And the Wi-FI module features the RALink 5572N Wi-Fi module.
|Frankly, a simple teardown article can’t do justice to the amount of technology that has found its way into such a sophisticated machine. This new technology may be a start in trying to turn better profits from the cut-throat consumer TV market, through a combination of higher value and (maybe) a share in the revenue from the streaming services that they enable out of the box.
Here is the list of some of the other silicon that we have catalogued:
This TV is one of the leading edge devices in a new convergence war that, as it heats up, promises to be even more aggressive and litigious than the convergence war going on in the smart phone world today. With phones you had computers, phones, cameras, walkmans, and GPS systems all coming together. With the smart home you have computers, phones, cameras, TVs, DVDs, audio equipment, gaming, media content, and even lighting and HVAC systems potentially coming together. Each technology comes with its incumbent players, competitive landscapes, distribution channels, expertise, and rich patent portfolios. They all come together in devices that (unlike phones) are designed to be repairable, therefore, technically a little easier to investigate. It is going to make for another wild ride.
Reports available on Samsung DTV SoC devices in this Smart TV
- Samsung SDP1101 DTV SoC Functional Analysis Report – this device consists of component/composite video interfaces, audio interfaces, HDMI interface, PLLs, and bias and voltage references
- Samsung SDP1111 DTV SoC Functional Analysis Report – this device consists of LVDS input/output interfaces, PLLs, dimming controllers, and processors
- Samsung SDP1107 DTV SoC Functional Analysis Report – this device consists of LVDS high-speed input/output interfaces, PLLs, and timing controller processor
- Samsung SDP1106 Functional Analysis Report – this device consists of USB interfaces, HDMI interface, Ethernet interface, PLLs/clock generators, ARM Cortex-A9 processor, LVDS output interfaces, and a DDR3 interface
- Samsung 32 nm HKMG Structural Analysis Report (from the Apple A5)