December 12, 2017
Contributing Authors: Stacy Wegner, Daniel Yang
As the gift-giving season approaches and people start
dreading thinking of their New Year’s resolutions, the fitness wearable market becomes more active (pun intended, more to come).
We have seen our share of smart watches and fitness bands, including a couple, if not all, of what Samsung has on offer. One of their early fitness bands, the 2014 Gear Fit SM-R350 was followed up with the Samsung Gear Fit 2 SM-R360. Both were well designed and offered a range of features, but any activity involving water left them both… dead in the water.
The first Gear, the Gear SM-R350, included Bluetooth connectivity, and was based on an STMicroelectronics ARM Cortex-M4 MCU. The follow-up Gear Fit 2 SM-R360 upgraded to include WiFi and GPS, and was based on a Samsung Exynos 3250 Applications processor (AP). But this year Samsung jumped in to the deep end and upgraded the Gear Fit 2 series to the new 5 ATM waterproof Gear Fit 2 Pro SM-R365. It includes everything offered in the SM-R360, plus the addition of swim activity tracking.
TechInsights started our Christmas shopping early, and we have already torn down the Samsung Gear Fit2 Pro SM-R365, so let’s take a short stroll and go through what we found.
First, we will look at everything that was the same between the Gear Fit 2 SM-R360 and the Gear Fit 2 Pro SM-R365.
Application Processor (PoP)
The SM-R365 has the same Exynos 3250 Dual-Core Applications processor in a Package on Package (PoP) assembly underneath the same Samsung KMFJ20005D-A213, an eMMC with 4 GB MLC NAND Flash and 512 GB LPDDR3 SDRAM mixed-memory package.
Navigation and Wireless SoC
Here, too, the Gear Fit 2 and the Gear Fit 2 Pro fitness bands use the same GNSS hub and WiFi / Bluetooth SOC components. Both have the Broadcom BCM4774 for GPS, GNSS, Glonass, Galileo, and Beidou support, and the same Broadcom BCM43436 for WiFi / Bluetooth connectivity. Even though Broadcom sold their IoT business to Cypress Semiconductor, which we understood to include the Broadcom Wearable portfolio, we continue to see WiFi / Bluetooth SoCs in Wearables bearing the Broadcom package marks.
Pressure Sensors – a One-Two Punch?
Here is something sort of new. We say ‘sort of’ because we first found the same STMicroelectronics LPS22H pressure sensor in both the SM-R350 and SM-R360 smart fitness bands.
What is new however, is the second pressure sensor we found: the STMicroelectronics LPS33HW, a water-resistant MEMS pressure sensor. The LPS33HW is how Samsung upgraded from the Gear Fit 2 IP68 water-resistance rating to the 5 ATM rating, and added swim activity tracking in the Gear Fit2 Pro SM-R365.
STMicroelectronics LPS33HW water resistant MEMS pressure sensor
Yes, we found not one, but two pressure sensors. We will proceed with our full Deep Dive teardown report due early next year and strive to understand how the pair of pressure sensors work together, if they work together at all, or if each has its own separate purpose.
Other wearables with swim tracking, like the Casio WSD-F10 use only one sensor - the Alps HSPPAD132A - while the popular Finnish-designed Polar M600 can also track swim activities without a using a pressure sensor at all. Instead, the Polar M600 tracks swimming activities using an app and the STMicroelectronics LSM6DS2 6-axis MEMS accelerometer & gyroscope. Yes, the same STMicroelectronics LSM6DS2 found in the Gear Fit 2 fitness bands.
Which brings us to some final observations beyond wearables and other things. First, MEMS (sensor) is the word. In our multitude of teardowns, we often find MEMS sensors such as accelerometers, pressure sensors, and even microphones. MEMS are an integral part of the internet of things, enabling those things to react and col-sm-12 col-lglect data. And whether things are fitness bands, drones, smart speakers, or mobile phones, we know from experience we will find some type of MEMS sensor col-sm-12 col-lglecting that data. We have conducted enough research and analysis to know STMicroelectronics components appears often, and we can conclude they have a good presence in the wider MEMS market, beyond the wearables mentioned here.
But it is not just about gathering data, it is also about computing, using, and sharing data between these things, just like the Gear Fit 2 Pro can share with your synched mobile phone or the cloud.
In the sharing of said data, we have also noted a STMicroelectronics presence in other areas besides the MEMS sensor wins. We see STMicroelectronics in sockets like MCUs, Bluetooth, and we are currently working on verifying STMicroelectronics supplying RFSOI fabs for RF front-end ICs in the recent Huawei Mate 10 phones.
Wearables like the SM-R365 will continue to play their role in an IoT ecosystem, and from what we can see, several semiconductor manufacturers like STMicroelectronics are aggressively staking their claims in the IoT space, and coming along swimmingly.