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Samsung starts building 10-nanometer processors

Chip companies are battling Moore’s Law tooth and nail, but Samsung says it’s the first to start building processors using a 10-nanometer process, ahead of Intel and others. To put that into scale, the transistors will be just 50 times the size of a silicon atom, which is around 0.2 nanometers across. Samsung didn’t say who it’s building the system-on-chip for, but Korea’s Electronic Times says it has an exclusive deal to build Qualcomm’s next-gen Snapdragon 830 processors using 10-nanometer tech.

The company is using its 10-nanometer FinFET process to build a multi-layer 3D transistor structure with an improved design. That’ll yield 27 percent better performance and 40 percent lower power consumption than its 14-nanometer chips, resulting in faster and more battery-friendly devices. With transistors approaching atomic sizes, Samsung needed to do “triple-patterning,” etching the chips three times with electron beams to increase the feature density.

Samsung’s 10-nanometer chip tech will likely power the next-gen Qualcomm Snapdragon 830 and many of Samsung’s own upcoming phones.

Samsung said that first-gen system-on-chips will start to appear in devices early next year, while second-gen tech will come in the second half of 2017. If it does build the Snapdragon 830 as rumored, Samsung tech will find its way into devices by Google, HTC, Sony and others. They’ll also power US versions of Samsung’s own Galaxy S7 successor, and possibly a new Note product. Given the Note 7 disaster, it’s probably not hyperbolic to say those will be Samsung’s most important mobile products ever.

Source: Samsung

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Existing EV batteries could be recharged five times faster

Lithium-ion batteries have massively improved in the last half-decade, but there are still issues. The biggest, especially for EVs, is that charging takes too long to make them as useful as regular cars for highway driving. Researchers from the University of Warwick (WMG) have discovered that we may not need to be so patient, though. They developed a new type of sensor that measures internal battery temperatures and discovered that we can probably recharge them up to five times quicker without overheating problems.

Overcharging a lithium-ion battery anode can lead to lithium buildup, which can break through a battery's separator, create a short-circuit and cause catastrophic failure. That can cause the electrolyte to emit gases and literally blow up the battery, so manufacturers impose strict charging power limits to prevent it.

Those limits are based on hard-to-measure internal temperatures, however, which is where the WMG probe comes in. It's a fiber optic sensor, protected by a chemical layer that can be directly inserted into a lithium-ion cell to give highly precise thermal measurements without affecting its performance.

The team tested the sensor on standard 18650 li-ion cells, used in Tesla's Model S and X, among other EVs. They discovered that they can be charged five times faster than previously thought without damage. Such speeds would reduce battery life, but if used judiciously, the impact would be minimized, said lead researcher Dr. Tazdin Amietszajew.

Faster charging as always comes at the expense of overall battery life but many consumers would welcome the ability to charge a vehicle battery quickly when short journey times are required and then to switch to standard charge periods at other times.

There's still some work to do. While the research showed the li-ion cells can support higher temperatures, EVs and charging systems would have to have "precisely tuned profiles/limits" to prevent problems. It's also not clear how battery makers would install the sensors in the cells.

Nevertheless, it shows a lot of promise for much faster charging speeds in the near future. Even if battery capacities stayed the same, charging in 5 minutes instead of 25 could flip a lot of drivers over to the green side.

Via: Clean Technica

Source: University of Warwick