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Samsung expands its car parts

New chips, sensors made for autonomous vehicles of future
Oct 18,2018
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Samsung Electronics introduced chips and camera sensors for connected cars in Germany on Tuesday, as it seeks to expand into the business of making components for vehicles of the future.

The new car-related components use new brand names, Exynos Auto and Isocell Auto, according to the world’s No. 1 semiconductor producer.

The products were unveiled at the International Suppliers Fair (IZB) in Wolfsburg, Germany.

The Exynos line, named after the mobile processor Samsung launched in 2011, will have three subcategories devoted to different on-the-road technologies: driver assistance (Exynos Auto A), infotainment (Auto V) and telematics solutions (Auto T).

Chips will be an integral part of autonomous vehicles that are expected to hit the roads by 2020 at the earliest. Today’s vehicles already have some 300 semiconductors, but the number will grow to more than 2,000 for more complicated autonomous vehicles, analysts say.

For a vehicle to deliver a better infotainment experience, the main processor is supposed to be versatile and powerful enough to handle diverse tasks - from driving assistance to entertainment - in a connected environment.

“With powerful computing and graphic-processing performance, the Exynos Auto can manage and operate multiple displays stationed in different domains of the vehicle at once,” Samsung explained in a release. “Thus, a driver and passengers can enjoy different infotainment materials on separate displays.”

Isocell sensors are supposed to make driving safer by offering sensitivity in the dark and dim conditions thanks to advanced pixel technology that is capable of precisely identifying objects and roads.

Both the Exynos Auto and Isocell Auto products will be supplied from the end of this year, according to Kenny Han, vice president of device solutions at Samsung.

According to market researcher IHS Markit, the global market for chips for autonomous cars will see annualized average growth of 7.7 percent to grow to as much as $55.3 billion from $34 billion in 2017.

Samsung has been relying extremely heavily on chips as revenue from smartphones has been waning in recent quarters. In the third quarter, chip division is estimated to have captured 77.14 percent share of the entire operating profit pie at the tech behemoth. But even the prospect for the chip business turned gloomy after Morgan Stanley warned through a report early September about a weakening outlook for server DRAMs and a buildup in inventories.

Separately, Samsung announced on Wednesday it acquired a Spanish start-up specializing in network analysis, called Zhilabs, ahead of the deployment of the 5G network next year.

Samsung did not reveal the terms of the deal, but it purchased a full stake in the firm, established in 2008. Zhilabs has developed a solution that is able to analyze the conditions of networks as well as their performance and data traffic.

The company has 50 mobile carriers as clients for the service around the world.

The acquisition deal and the new chips lie in line with the plan Samsung announced in August that it would invest 25 trillion won ($22.1 billion) on four key new growth fields - artificial intelligence, 5G, auto parts and bio.

The 5G network - set to be commercialized in March at the earliest - will rely heavily on network slicing, a technology that let operators provide portions of their networks for specific usage and functions such as Internet of Things and connected cars will be crucial. That makes network quality control and analysis crucial.


BY SEO JI-EUN [seo.jieun@joongang.co.kr]