Samsung’s S.LSI Developers on Semiconductors Supporting Ultra-High-Definition 8K TV Technology – Samsung Global Newsroom
With the continued evolution of HDTVs, the worlds displayed on our TV screens are becoming more realistic than ever. 8K televisions, which represent the new standard in high-end television, maximize immersion by delivering high definition so vivid that it is as if users are watching the scenes before their eyes.
This incredibly crisp resolution was made possible by the improvement of semiconductors in televisions. Capable of activating functions allowing sharper resolution, these solutions are DTV SoC (Digital TV System on Chip), T-CON (Timing Controller) and DDI (Display Driver IC). Samsung Newsroom spoke to the developers of S6HD820 (which opened the door at 8nm1 DTV SoC), S6TST21 (the industry’s first 8K 120Hz T-CON) and S6CT9BC (a DDI with a maximum speed of 8 Gbps) to hear the story of the invisible innovation behind these solutions.
From DTV SoC to DDI – Sending Video Signals to Displays
Unlike in the past when televisions were only used for watching shows, the role of television has gradually expanded over time. These days, our televisions are becoming a platform that also allows us to play games, train and do a wide range of other activities. While people expect a more diverse range of features from their TVs, a higher standard of premium features is being brought to TVs as well.
Televisions are output devices for content, which makes a high level of picture quality crucial for user satisfaction. Digital signals typically go through three stages before being displayed. First, the DTV SoC receives compressed data from broadcasts or the Internet, extracts the data to convert it to video, and sends the video and audio to the screen and speakers. The T-CON then receives the processed video data and sends it back to the DDI with careful timing to ensure smooth operation. Finally, the digital signal sent to the DDI is converted to an analog format and the video is displayed on the TV screen.
Simplification of the DTV SoC with “ One Chip ” and improvement of the NPU function
The DTV SoC, which receives video data from a cable or set-top box, is also called “the brain of the TV”. Hansoo Seong, part of the DTV SoC development team, explains that “The DTV SoC extracts the audio and video signals separately from the compressed input stream. It then provides the function which adjusts the audio and video data according to each displayed scene. “
As picture quality has evolved from the 4K standard to the 8K standard, the role of DTV SOC has become more important. The developers at Samsung are committed to finding a solution that would support 8K resolution while reducing power consumption at the same time. An NPU (Neural Processing Unit) has been applied to the DTV SoC so that AI technology can be applied to the overall improvement of picture quality and audio processing. This technology has led to a much more accurate display output. In addition to this, the DTV SoC has been integrated with a scaling IC2 to improve energy efficiency.
The biggest obstacle to the creation of 8nm1 DTV SoC, known as S6HD820, was the complex engineering required to integrate two integrated circuits into a single chip and the resulting overheating problem. “The higher the performance of the NPU, the more AI learning is enhanced, which leads to better TV performance. But it also makes semiconductors much more complex to design and leads to more severe overheating, ”said Hansoo Seong. “We worked hard to find the right balance to avoid excessive overheating and ultimately succeeded in optimizing the solution.”
The evolution of T-CON: from two 60Hz chips to one 120Hz chip
The T-CON takes the video data from the DTV SoC and converts it according to the demands of the DDI. “The larger the panel size and the higher the resolution, the more important the role of T-CON becomes,” said Junghyun Lim, who was involved in the development of Samsung’s latest 8K T-CON. “The data transmission speed of the T-CON is also important when it comes to quickly transmitting high-resolution video data to DDI.”
With the improvement from 4K to 8K, the screen resolution increases four times. Thus, the amount of data to be sent also quadruples, which means that the speed of the T-CON also needs to be improved. The development team solved the overheating issue that comes with the rapid increase in speeds by applying a new knot process and simplifying the chips. In addition, the two 8K 60Hz chips have been integrated to become an S6TST21.
Previous systems required four semiconductors in 8K TVs, including DTV SoC, the upscaling IC2 for 8K and two T-CON. The new system reduced the total amount of semiconductors required to two by combining the DTV SOC and the scaling IC.2 into one solution and merge the two T-CONs into one. These changes have made it much easier to design the required maps.
DDI integration increases speeds and reduces the number of chips
The DDI is responsible for the last step before the video is displayed. This is where the digital data received from the T-CON is converted into an analog signal which will be used as an input for the display. Yongjoo Song, who was involved in the development of DDI, said, “DDI needs to deliver high analog voltage to the panel quickly and accurately to allow T-CON video data to be displayed accurately.”
To facilitate the increase in voltage, a new control integrated circuit became necessary, capable of simultaneously handling higher voltages and avoiding overheating. “Increasing the speed of the driver’s buffer was the most difficult challenge,” said Yongjoo Song. “After modifying the circuit structure and layout in various ways to reduce the I / O latency of the IC, we were able to develop a new driver IC that could operate at faster speeds.
The development of a DDI operating at high speeds has reduced the number of DDIs by almost half and the number of relevant chips by several dozen. This facilitates the construction of the TV panels.
The secret of technological leadership: development of Samsung’s own interface and organic semiconductor
From 4K TVs to 8K TVs, the secret to Samsung’s technological leadership lies in its craftsmanship and the high level of consumer trust it has built up over time. Additionally, Samsung is constantly analyzing market and technology trends to apply them to products, and Samsung’s own interface has played a huge role in these efforts. “The Samsung interface not only offers speed, but also uses the company’s semiconductor driver technologies,” Sangdeok Kim said. “Using its own interface, Samsung was able to create the industry’s fastest interface-based DDI TV 8K.”
Another of Samsung’s unique advantages is that it develops DTV SoC, T-CON and DDI in tandem. This offers a big advantage, as it allows for better integration and compatibility between the three components that have to work together.
The developers of Samsung’s S.LSI Business make no secret of their enthusiasm for 8K TV technology and the future of semiconductors. “When I started working in this field, I was making semiconductors for FHD resolution televisions. I remember being very proud when the products entered mass production, ”said Yongjoo Song. “Already, TV resolutions have gone beyond 4K to reach 8K, and TV screens keep getting bigger and bigger. With the introduction of larger high-resolution televisions to the market, semiconductors must be equipped to perform more complex functions, adding to the challenges of their development. But overcoming these challenges will remain the permanent goal of developers like us. “
1 nm: nanometer
2 Upscaling IC: a semiconductor that converts low resolution videos to high resolution (converts 2K and 4K videos to 8K)