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Samsung tricks out Gear S3 smartwatch with a 64-bit chip

Samsung tricks out Gear S3 smartwatch with a 64-bit chip

Samsung starts the era of 64-bit chips in smartwatches

If Apple was the first to bring 64-bit to the iPhone, Samsung is among the first to bring it to smartwatches.

The recently launched Samsung Gear S3 has some of the most advanced circuitry found in wearables, according to a teardown of the device by Linley Group.

Inside, engineers found a dual-core 64-bit ARM Cortex-A53 processor running at 1.0GHz combined with high-definition graphics, memory, power management and LTE connectivity. That makes it roughly equivalent to a low-cost smartphone.

That's notable because engineers typically fit much lower performance components into phones to keep power consumption down and battery life long.

Even with these components, the Gear S3 Frontier and Classic models offer a battery life of up to 3 days.

But what does this mean for consumers?

One advantage comes in image processing, said Jim McGregor, principal analyst at Tirias Research. Paired with a good graphics processor, a 64-bit chip can get more processing done within fewer clock cycles, which means longer battery life.

The chip will also allow a more modern operating system to run, and that opens the way to new uses and applications that weren't possible in the past. The Gear S3 has Tizen OS, which can now work with ARM-based 64-bit chips.

The teardown also found the Gear S3 has a Mali-T720 graphics processor, which is an interesting choice. The chip can handle high-definition video far beyond what's required on the small 1.3-inch circular AMOLED display on Gear S3.

"Watching a movie on one’s wrist seems unlikely," said Linley Gwennap, an analyst at Linley Group, but he noted the display processing in the watch could conceivably support higher resolution displays.

Additionally, the smartwatch has separate chips for LTE Cat 4 mode, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and NFC. It has a satellite navigation chip that works with the U.S. GPS, Russian Glonass, and Chinese Beidou systems.

Samsung used the 14-nm process to make the chipset for the Gear S3. It achieved high levels of integration that allowed it to shrink a 64-bit processor and 720p-capable GPU into a smartwatch.


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