How Chips Support Creativity for All

By February 24, 2022 March 18th, 2022 No Comments

People have been creating new things since apes first learned to make tools. The British, on a sudden whim, started the age of steam with the steam engine in the 1760s, replacing manual labor with machines. In the 1870s, the internal combustion engine and the dynamo were introduced, and no one could have imagined that electrical appliances would replace machinery as a new source of energy to complement and replace the steam engine. This was Industry 2.0 – the Age of Electricity. The rapid development of semiconductor technology and microcomputers, as well as major breakthroughs in science came in the 1980s, ushering the planet into the third industrial revolution – the digital revolution.

Creativity has not only contributed to the development of industrial production, but also liberated the workforce. People now have more time and resources. With a steady stream of creative output from generation to generation, various forms of art, such as literature, music, films and television have blossomed and boomed, enriching the lives of mankind.

A New Era of Creativity for All

With the roar of the steam engine, the wheel of history steered into the modern age and continues to drive forward. In today’s highly advanced world of information technology, we have entered a new era where anyone can be creative and become content creators. Whether in the form of texts, images, video, or audio, with the support of high-speed internet, all-in-one portable devices and a wealth of sharing platforms, anyone can plant the seeds of creativity when inspiration strikes, cultivate the flowers of novelty and share them with the world.

According to data collected by Statista, all major content platforms around the world have a large number of monthly active users. YouTube, the world’s largest video social platform, has 2.3 billion monthly active users and 38 million active content channels, attracting a wide range of viewers with its quality content. Meanwhile, TikTok, the rising star of social platform, has gained 1 billion monthly active users in just a few years and has become one of the most popular content platforms today.1

Figure1: Monthly Active Users on Major Platforms Worldwide in 2021

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The huge user base of the major social content platforms fully reflects the new era of content creation and sharing for all. In such an era, people’s love for content is no longer limited to the multi-million-dollar productions created by entertainment giants. At a time where information technology is extremely advanced, every content creator with great skills and imagination can use their creativity to path a way to the global stage and make their mark under the global spotlight.

This era of creativity for all is supported by technological developments. And it all starts with the semiconductor, an essential component of modern technology that is constantly evolving to support every step of the creative process and offer more possibilities for every creator’s whim.

Semiconductor chips support creativity for all

With the rapid development of information technology, anyone’s creative content has the potential to gain a huge audience and the opportunity to turn ideas into immediate cash rewards: the digital flow of currency and sharing platforms involving almost anyone at any time have raised people’s creative motivation to an unprecedented level.

Creative content is taking on new forms prompted by the boom of multimedia platforms. TikTok, owned by ByteDance, is a testament to the evolution of today’s creative forms. Paired with music, special effects and a wealth of convenient editing features, videos of less than a minute have inspired countless emerging creators to share their wild ideas and interesting lives on the platform and around the world, allowing them to use their creative content in exchange for pass to overnight fame.

Step-by-step, from creation to editing to sharing, how do semiconductor chips help content creators bring inspiration to life?

Step 1 – Capturing Materials: Record Anything Cool, Anytime, Anywhere

Inspirations come and go. With smartphones and other portable, easy-to-use devices, content creators can capture ideas anywhere and anytime. Features such as quick focus and night mode help users preserve every moment quickly and provide a constant source of material for their creations.

Figure2: SK hynix’s CMOS Image Sensors

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A smartphone camera is composed of various parts, including a lens, infrared cut-off filter, auto focusing actuator, and CMOS image sensor (CIS). The advantages of CIS – resolution, sensitivity, signal-to-noise ratio(SNR) and fast and accurate focus – make it possible to create higher quality images and videos.

Today, the CIS image quality of smartphone cameras has surpassed the level of compact cameras, and the gap from DSLRs is continually being narrowed, giving creators more creative space, and helping them get the most authentic, exciting shots.

SK hynix’s recently introduced A4C (All 4-Coupled) image sensor has one micro lens on each group of four-color filters of the same color pixels, enabling fast and accurate focus by calculating the parallax of each pixel. Such a unique structure allows each pixel to be output independently to improve resolution, and four pixels of the same color to be output simultaneously to improve sensitivity in low light conditions. This contributes to the improvement of image quality in all situations, which helps camera creators to capture accurate and vivid images more quickly.

Figure3: Structure of A4C Sensors

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In addition to A4C sensors, SK hynix is developing new image signal processing (ISP) technologies, such as HDR (High Dynamic Range), Non-Bayer, and Pixel Binning. SK hynix has developed 0.7um and 0.64um miniature pixels to increase the level of integration of the CIS pixels and take photographic creation to the next level.

Step 2 – Material Management & Editing: A Magical Touch on Your Fingertip

Few directors can do a one-take shot without any rehearsal or editing. For content creators, a great challenge is to find what you want from a lot of raw material and weave them into an excellent work.

Fortunately, with the help of evolving memory technology, mobile devices such as smartphones have a larger and stronger reading and storage capacity, providing space for every content creator’s infinite creative output. Meanwhile, with convenient and smooth file management systems, creators can browse and organize their material at any time and easily find the best ones.

In December 2020, SK hynix developed the industry’s most multilayered 176-layer 512 Gigabit (Gb) Triple-Level Cell (TLC) 4D NAND flash. SK hynix has been promoting 4D technology from the 96-layer NAND flash products that combine Charge Trap Flash (CTF) with high-integrated Peri. Under Cell (PUC) technology. The new 176-layer NAND flash is the third generation 4D product that secures the industry’s best number of chips per wafer. The read speed and the data transfer speed has been improved, making it usable in mobile storage solutions. To be specific, mobile storage products are expected to increase the maximum read speed by 70% and the maximum write speed by 35%.

Figure4: 176-layer 512Gb 4D NAND flash memory

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Beyond NAND flash, high-performance processors and memory also enhance the computing power of mobile devices greatly, making work-intensive tasks, such as image or video editing a breeze. Content creators can now edit and process materials large and small on a variety of devices smoothly, bringing more sophisticated and colorful contents into fruition.

In March 2021, SK hynix announced the industry’s largest capacity 18GB (gigabyte) LPDDR5 mobile DRAM for premium smartphones, with processing speeds of up to 6400Mb/s (megabits-per-second) to support the transmission of high-quality video content. This is approximately 20% faster than the mobile DRAM (LPDDR5, 5500Mb/s) for existing smartphones. The ability to process and store data with “zero-time lag” enables high-frequency interaction and collaboration for multitasking at the terminal, allowing smooth creative steps such as image editing, video editing and playback. In addition, the application of the 18GB LPDDR5 is expected to expand to latest technologies, including ultra-high-performance camera applications and artificial intelligence (AI), adding more excitement to content creation on mobile devices.

Figure5: SK hynix’s 18GB LPDDR5 mobile DRAM

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Step 3 – Content sharing: A Creative Universe of Talents from All

After capturing, editing and finalizing their ideas, content creators can quickly upload their work to various platforms with the help of 5G networks and high-speed broadband at home. Through these platforms’ well-designed algorithm recommendations, each creator’s original ideas have a chance to reach their potential fans. High-speed network with high-performance memory allows excellent works from all corners of the world to reach everyone and gives like-minded creators more opportunities to communicate and inspire each other, planting the seeds of inspiration for the birth of the next brilliant creation while bringing more possibilities for creators to earn more.

Every upload by content creators, every “For You” by platforms and every refreshing and interaction by users all weave into an infinite data universe, which creates a powerful Internet economy and fuels the progress of our generation. Meanwhile, the huge amount of data generated by content sharing, recommendations and interactions has posed a huge challenge to the data processing capacity of each platform. According to statistics, 500 hours of video content are uploaded to the YouTube platform every minute, which reflects the enormous amount of data generated by online content sharing.2

A few months ago, SK hynix announced the successful development of HBM3, the world’s best-performing DRAM, which will undoubtedly help the data centers of major content platforms better distribute and recommend great creative content.

HBM3, the fourth generation of HBM (High Bandwidth Memory) technology, is a high value product that innovatively raises the data processing rate. The product can process up to 819GB (Gigabyte) per second, meaning that 163 FHD (full-HD) movies (5GB each) can be transmitted in a single second

It also corrects data (bit) errors with the help of the built-in ECC (on-die error-correction code), significantly improving the reliability of the product.

Figure6: SK hynix’s HBM3 DRAM memory

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From tool inventors to content creators, creativity has always accompanied the changes of the times and contributed to the development of society. At SK hynix, creativity has been given immense value and it is firmly believed that creative talents of all kinds should be cherished. SK hynix has been pushing the boundaries of innovation, developing new technologies for the semiconductor world, and bringing more possibilities and potentials to modern society. In the future, SK hynix will continue its efforts to support the creative ideas and content creation of all people through technological innovation. We will light up our path to the future with creativity and fearlessly move forward, together as all mankind.