Ziguang: Don’t even think about opening a 6nm chip without $200 million
2019 is the first year of 5G commercial use, and major mobile phone brands are rushing to launch 5G mobile phones. However, 5G is currently a feature only available on flagship phones. Therefore, when will 5G mobile phones be affordable to everyone has become a hot topic for many times.
From the perspective of 5G processors, perhaps when the second-generation 5G SoC Tiger T7520 released by UNISOC will be commercialized on a large scale, we will also usher in the large-scale popularization of 5G mobile phones.
How about a 5G SoC built over $200 million?
On Wednesday, Ziguang Zhanrui released the second-generation 5G smartphone platform Tiger Ben T7520, which is the world’s first chip using the 6nm EUV process. Advanced craftsmanship also means expensive. Chu Qing, CEO of Ziguang Zhanrui, said at the press conference: “If you don’t have 200 million US dollars, don’t even think about opening a 6nm chip.”
The cost of tape-out alone exceeds 200 million US dollars, and the overall cost of 5G SoC exceeds 200 million US dollars – Tiger Ben T7520, the CPU uses 4 Arm Cortex-A76 cores, 4 Arm Cortex-A55 cores, and the GPU uses Arm Mali-G57 cores.
In terms of 5G performance, based on UNISOC’s new-generation 5G technology platform Makalu, the Tiger Ben T7520 supports 5G NR TDD+FDD carrier aggregation, as well as uplink and downlink decoupling technology, which can improve the coverage by more than 100%. At the same time, it supports Sub-6GHz frequency band and NSA/SA dual-module network, and supports 2G to 5G seven-mode full Netcom. In SA mode, the downlink peak rate exceeds 3.25Gbps. It also supports dual SIM dual 5G and EPS Fall back, VoNR HD voice and video calls.
AI performance, the Tiger Ben T7520 integrates a new generation of NPU, which achieves excellent power consumption control compared to the previous generation, and the energy efficiency (TOPS/W) is improved by more than 50% compared with the previous generation.
In terms of multimedia processing performance, the Tiger Ben T7520 is equipped with the sixth-generation image engine Vivimagic solution and the second-generation FDR (Full Dynamic Range) technology independently developed by UNISOC, a dedicated AI acceleration processor, and a newly upgraded quad-core ISP architecture. Supports ultra-high resolution up to 100 million pixels and multi-camera processing capabilities.
In addition, the Tiger Ben T7520 adopts a new generation of multi-core Display architecture, supports a refresh rate of up to 120Hz, full-channel, full-format HDR standard rendering capabilities, and multi-screen display can support up to 4K HDR 10+, which can greatly improve users in high frame rate competitions. Experience in visually immersive scenes such as games, 5G ultra-high-definition video viewing, and AR/VR.
In terms of security, the Tiger Ben T7520 adopts the second-generation integrated security solution of Zhanrui, which integrates the financial-grade iSE security unit into the SOC. Compared with the external SE, it is more difficult to attack and locate and has higher security.
Among the six features, we focus on technology, 5G performance and AI.
The world’s first 6nm EUV chip will be mass-produced this year
6nm is unfamiliar to most people, because the most advanced semiconductor processes currently in commercial use are 7nm and 7nm EUV, and many processors will switch to the 5nm node this year. During TSMC’s China Technology Forum last year, TSMC’s global president Wei Zhejia revealed that after 7nm+, TSMC’s first launch was not 6nm but 5nm.
Wei Zhejia explained that the reason why 6nm (N6) chose to launch after 7nm+ and 5nm is to use the experience of 7nm+ and 5nm, so that 6nm has better logic density than 7nm+, and is compatible with 7nm IP, using the 7nm+ process. IP can continue to use the 6nm process, reducing process complexity and reducing costs.
Lei Feng.com also learned that in TSMC’s planning, 7nm will be a transition node, and 6nm is a major node, which is expected to play an important role for a long time.
In other words, UNISOC’s second-generation 5G SoC chose a future mainstream node, which is a reasonable choice to reduce risks.
Chu Qing, CEO of Ziguang Zhanrui
Chu Qing explained that EUV is a revolutionary improvement for lithography machines. It has brought Moore’s Law back to life. The industry’s first process node using EUV is 7 nanometers. We did not choose 7 nanometers, but 6 nanometers. This is because 6 nanometers has reached a more mature new node for the use of EUV, and its technical advantages are very sufficient.
Use numbers to reflect this quantitative advantage. Compared with the previous 7nm, the density of 6nm EUV transistors has increased by 18%, which will enable the integration of more transistors per unit area of the chip, reduce chip power consumption by 8%, and provide longer battery life. time.
In the long run, Ziguang Zhanrui can reduce costs. TSMC has said that 6nm will play an important role for a long time. Chu Qing also said that the cost of tape-out 6nm chips is at least $200 million. Combining the statements of the two parties, it can be understood that although the cost of UNISOC’s first 6nm EUV is as high as 200 million US dollars, the IP using this process can still be reused for a long time in the future, and it can save a lot in the future. Development costs. From the perspective of UNISOC’s overall 5G strategy, it is undoubtedly a choice to reduce risks and increase returns.
It is reported that the Tiger Ben T7520 will be mass-produced within this year.
5G coverage is doubled, and power consumption is reduced by 35%
What 6nm EUV can bring is an improvement in the performance and power consumption of the entire SoC. Specifically, in 5G, what improvements does the new generation of platforms bring? In an interview with Leifeng.com (public account: Leifeng.com) and other media, Zhou Chen, executive vice president of Ziguang Zhanrui, made it clear that the 5G modem integrated in the Tiger Ben T7520 is not the Ivy V510, but is based on a new generation of Makalu platform. But he did not disclose the specific name of the new generation of 5G baseband.
Zhou Chen, Executive Vice President of UNISOC
However, the 5G capabilities of the new generation platform are obviously more powerful and more practical. One of the highlights is that the integrated full-scene coverage enhancement 5G modem of the Tiger Ben T7520 supports 5G NR TDD+FDD carrier aggregation, as well as uplink and downlink decoupling technology, which can improve the coverage by more than 100%.
What is the significance of carrier aggregation? Chu Qing explained that for mobile scenarios, such as cars on high-speed kilometers or high-speed trains, FDD is very advantageous. If it is in the scenario of high-density communication, TDD can show unparalleled advantages in spectrum utilization.
One of the features of the latest generation baseband Snapdragon X60 released by Qualcomm last week is support for TDD and FDD carrier aggregation.
In addition, Ziguang Zhanrui has a particularly important innovation. Chu Qing said: “Uplink enhancement technology is also a particularly important innovation of the Huben T7520. We have enhanced the uplink transmit power, including some new frame technologies to enhance it. After the enhancement, the uplink and downlink signal quality is as good, even if the Small wireless devices powered by lithium batteries are also comparable to base stations powered by fair electricity.”
This technology can increase the upload rate by 60% for the near point of the community, and solve the pain point of enhanced VR, 4K/8K ultra-high-definition video live broadcast and other services that require larger uplink bandwidth.
Zhou Chen also introduced, “When using 5G, it may appear in a certain position that we see that the signal displayed on the mobile phone is good, but it just doesn’t feel smooth. This is because the transmission power of the mobile phone and the base station power are inconsistent in the high frequency band. As a result, some points can receive the signal of the base station, but the data cannot be sent to the base station. Our full-scene coverage enhancement technology allows users to clearly feel that based on our full-scene coverage enhancement technology, the experience of data transmission signals can be improved. To achieve a 100% increase in the coverage of the up and down, to achieve a balance between the up and down.”
However, if power consumption increases with performance, it will be unacceptable to consumers. However, the data given by Ziguang Zhanrui shows that compared with the previous generation of the Tiger Ben T7510, the overall power consumption of the Tiger Ben T7520 is reduced by 35% in the 5G data scenario, and the power consumption in the 5G standby scenario is reduced by 15%.
The reduction in power consumption mainly comes from technical improvements in three aspects. Zhou Chen said in an interview: “First of all, thanks to the most advanced 6nm EUV process we have adopted, this has brought at least 8% power consumption reduction. Second, multi-mode integration has made 5G and previous generations of communication technologies all done. Well integrated, this fusion is further improved on the basis of the previous generation Makalu platform, and the upgraded fusion architecture can reflect the best performance, stability and power consumption. Also, we have a lot of detailed allocation technologies To match different scenarios, and using AI technology, the 5G baseband is also intelligently allocated to achieve the effect of reducing power consumption.”
Chu Qing added, “Reducing power consumption first requires more efficient hardware, but ultimately the user experience largely depends on software. Software needs to make accurate judgments and allocate different resources according to different scenarios. We use AI technology to The scene makes intelligent judgments, and I hope that the battery life of 5G mobile phones can be the same as or even longer than that of 4G.”
NPU performance can reach more than 8TOPS
When Ziguang Zhanrui released the Tiger Ben T710 application processor in August last year, its AI benchmarking score topped the AI Benchmark running score of ETH Zurich. The newly released Tiger Ben T7520 integrates a new generation of NPU. Compared with the previous generation platform, the computing power has been greatly improved, and at the same time, the innovative architecture design has achieved better power consumption. The official statement is that the energy efficiency has increased by more than 50% compared with the previous generation.
Zhou Chen revealed that the performance provided by the Tiger Ben T7520 NPU is at least double that of 4TOPS.
Why do you need such AI computing power? Judging from the current situation, 5G will bring various real-time high-definition videos with higher resolution, and AR and VR are also expected to explode with the popularity of 5G. Zhou Chen said: “From a technical point of view, to achieve real-time high-definition video segmentation or other processing, at least 4TOPS is required, and AI applications will be superimposed, which requires higher AI computing power. We define Huben The T7520 was based on the needs of the next two or three years, so we provided such AI performance.”
Lei Feng.com, I also previously reported that the AI IP launched by Arm last year provides 1-4TOP/s computing power.
Like 5G baseband, how to achieve higher AI performance while controlling high power consumption is also a big challenge. In this regard, Zhou Chen said: “We have done an overall analysis of the models used in the main scenarios of mobile phones and found that the most demanding performance requirements are real-time certain image vision algorithms. When these algorithms continue to work, It will generate a lot of energy and heat, which will have an impact on performance. We have done more hardware-level work for this type of scene during design, and used dedicated hardware circuits to ensure that scenes with particularly high performance requirements have Higher efficiency, and finally a relatively better energy efficiency ratio.”
UNISOC will promote the popularization of 5G mobile phones
It can be seen that the latest generation of UNISOC 5G SoC, although the CPU, GPU and baseband are not the top in the industry, still shows good competitiveness. Of course, this is related to the positioning and goals of UNISOC, Chu Qing said, “The 5G technology of UNISOC is the same as that of first-tier manufacturers, but our goal of entering the market is different, and some manufacturers are leading the way by holding high the technology banner , Ziguang Zhanrui is to serve the largest number of users, which is our positioning.”
Tsinghua Unigroup is currently promoting the popularization of 5G with its first-generation 5G solution, the Huben T7510 (Ivy V510 + Huben T710 application processor). This solution has been carried on the Hisense 5G mobile phone F50, which will also be launched soon.
In addition, China Unicom’s own brand 5G CPE VN007 using Ivy V510 has also been launched. This CPU can support 4G/5G wireless and wired Internet access at the same time. It has a built-in 5G full-band antenna and supports 5G mainstream frequency bands such as n78/n41/n79. The whole network coverage is basically achieved, the download rate can reach 2.3Gbps, the ring layout design, 360-degree signal coverage, and the price is only 999 yuan.
In addition, the terminal forms developed by OEMs and solution providers based on Ivy 510 include modules, MiFi, set-top boxes, AR, VR, IP cameras, industrial gateways, live broadcasters, automatic guided vehicles (AGVs), Drones etc. In 2020, dozens of 5G terminals equipped with Ivy V510 will be commercialized.
As for the official commercial time of the Huben T7520, Chu Qing said: “The Huben T7520 is developing a market strategy. In addition, we need to listen to customers’ opinions when it is appropriate to announce it.”
Then, when the first 6nm EUV 5G SoCial is mass-produced, the Tiger Ben T7520 with better performance and experience is applied on a large scale, and the entire 5G industry chain is more mature, we will usher in the large-scale popularization of 5G mobile phones.