Samsung’s smartwatch: and the winners are Qualcomm, ST and… DSP Group

12 November, 2015

A Teardown Report from chipworks labs, reveals deep involvement of Qualcomm in Samsung's acclaimed Gear S2 smartwatch. DSP Group contributed its unique speech recognition capabilities

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SAMSUNG A Teardown Report from chipworks labs, reveals deep involvement of Qualcomm (Nasdaq: QCOM) in Samsung (005930.KS)’s acclaimed Gear S2 smartwatch. DSP Group (Nasdaq: DSPG) contributed its unique speech recognition capabilities 

Samsung’s new smartwatch, Gear S2, was the company’s first product in this category to receive enthusiastic applauds from the geeky blogosphere around the world. Its smooth operation, compact classic round shape and the innovative and easy to use interface, drew huge attention. This is a real competition to Apple’s smartwatch: not only because of its functionalities, but also due to its densely packed technology suite populating an elegant and small form factor.

chipworks Teardown Report

Just imagine: this device communicates Android machines via Bluetooth Low Energy or Wi-Fi, reach the global network via all the cellular standards: 2G, 3G and LTE , and consists of NFC wireless charging system. It receives audio activated commands, allows to download many applications and works seamlessly with other smartphones.

So, how could Samsung succeed in packing all these technologies into a small unisex hand-wrist watch? Luckily, Techtime saw the Teardown Report for the Gear S2 SM-R730S WCDMA Smartwatch prepared by chipworks labs, and learned who are the winners in this project.

Gear S2 under the hood
Gear S2 under the hood

The device is built around double sided PCB that contains all the electronics and semiconductors content. The PCB is positioned beneath the capacitive touchscreen, and above the battery and its four wireless antennas.

When you look at the electric circuitry, it is clear that Qualcomm is the big winner here with five different chips:  Snapdragon 400 as the main CPU of the system, the RF transceiver, the audio codec, the power management (there are 2 power management devices – the other is from Broadcom) and the baseband processor (MSM8226).

Along with Qualcomm, Samsung put three of its own chips: DRAM memory, NFC controller and Wi-Fi module. Other suppliers includes also STMicroelectronics (DC-DC converter for AMOLED, accelerometer and gyroscope and barometer) and Texas Instruments (DC-DC converter).

Screen side of Samsung's S2 PCB
Screen side of Samsung’s S2 PCB

Cypress provided the touch screen controller, Atmel provided one micro controller (not clear for which function) and Maxim provided the heart rate monitor and the battery management chip.

Vocal surprise

The biggest surprise is a digital signal processor from DSP Group from Herzliya, Israel, specially dedicated to improve the audio command capabilities of Samsung Gear S2. Techtime has learned that it belongs to the family of HDClear devices.

They include noise reduction algorithms and filtering ambient noise of any kind to deliver “cleaner” speech to ASR (Automatic Speech Recognition). DSP Group claims on its website that HDClear technology outperforms other available solutions, with Word Error Rate (WER) under 20% in any ambient noise environment. Interestingly, DSPG refused to answer questions regarding this impressive win.

Four different wireless antennas
Four different wireless antennas

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