One guiding principle of smartphones is that long battery life and power efficiency remain high on the list of our requirements, especially as we depend on mobile devices to keep our lives connected. Consumers want to use their smartphones all day — for communication, for research, for GPS navigation and for entertainment — preferably without needing to recharge. We have all been there sometimes, holding a dying phone, searching for electrical outlets and feeling frustrated that we didn’t bring our phone chargers with us.
Just how important is battery life? The results of the UBS Evidence Lab 2Q21 Smartphones Survey1 show that battery life ranks as the most important feature to smartphone buyers, followed by network quality, price, screen size/specs and operating system. Battery life rated well ahead of processor and camera specs, which didn’t even make the top five.
Micron thinks a lot about power efficiency for our memory and storage technologies, which include a portfolio optimized for budget and midrange smartphones, as well as about our leadership in next-generation memory for top-of-the-line flagship phones.
Micron’s mobile memory products are designed for faster, more efficient access to data. Our portfolio, one of the broadest in the mobile industry, enables our OEM customers to deliver handheld and portable products that balance demands for storage and computational power against size constraints, cost-effectiveness and battery life. And now we’re expanding memory options for budget and midrange solutions.
Our new mobile DRAM for midrange and budget phones offers an extra hour of power
Micron low-power DRAM memory made with our 1α process: LPDDR4X
Micron recently announced we have begun shipping the world’s first 1α (1-alpha) node low-power DRAM (LPDRAM) memory. Our innovation with manufacturing nodes will bring power savings to the entire mobile LPDRAM product family, starting with LPDDR4X. LPDDR4X for budget to midrange smartphones is in volume production now in Micron’s advanced DRAM fabrication facilities in Taiwan. In line with the emphasis on battery savings, 1α LPDDR4X is up to 20% more power efficient2 than the previous 1z LPDRAM for memory-intensive applications like video and photography. DRAM accounts for approximately 10% of the total system power use, so this can give consumers up to an extra hour of battery life over three days of use.3
This new memory is available in capacities from 2GB to 8GB to support budget to midrange smartphones. Micron innovates for all consumers including budget-conscious smartphone consumers. This group now makes up the majority of the global marketplace, says a recent report by IDC. This smartphone market share was 60% in the second quarter of 2020 and is expected to grow to 63% during 2021.
How does the Micron 1α node change deliver power improvements?
A new DRAM manufacturing node typically delivers a 10% power savings, so the power savings of 1α DRAM is greater than average. Like other semiconductor products, DRAMs require extremely fine lithography to deposit, remove and etch materials onto the chips, and we’ve made those processes more efficient than the previous 1z node manufacturing.
Micron’s 1α manufacturing process enables a 40% improvement in memory density, in addition to the drop in power consumption. Around half of the performance boost was achieved by improvements in DRAM design as well as by using better materials and more advanced tooling.
Watch Rebecca Lewington and me discuss LPDDR4X power savings in “Boosting Battery Life with 1α Mobile Memory”
Lenovo is the first qualified mobile customer
Our longtime memory customer, Lenovo, became intrigued early on with the news that Micron was innovating mobile DRAM appropriate for budget and midrange smartphones, a segment that typically receives little attention for technology innovation. Lenovo became the first to qualify 1α LPDDR4X, proving the quality and maturity of our mobile 1α low-power DRAM.
“As consumers increasingly multitask with more power-draining multimedia apps and data-intensive features, they are increasingly discerning about battery life when selecting a smartphone,” said Andy McLaughlin, senior director at Lenovo. “We’re impressed with Micron LPDDR4X’s drastic power savings, which will equip our consumers with extended battery life even when using their phones all day for gaming, immersive entertainment, photography and more.”
Mobile power efficiency can be critical
The need for extra battery life in budget smartphones can often be significant because of the challenges some consumers of those phones might face. The extra hour of battery life could be a lifesaver, especially in emerging economies that may have to deal with unreliable electricity or natural or other disasters.
Power savings from 1α at Micron are planned to extend beyond LPDDR4X, so watch for new product releases and blogs. Want to learn more? Visit micron.com/mobile for more information.
1 UBS Evidence Lab 2Q21 Global Smartphones Survey (13th edition) at www.ubs.com, prepared by UBS Securities Asia Limited. UBS Evidence Lab is a team of alternative data experts, independent of UBS Research, who work across more than 55 specialized areas creating insight-ready datasets.
2 Micron-simulated data compared to previous 1z node LPDDR4X
3 Expected maximum power savings in a day of use with 4GB, two-channel uMCP4 using two two-channel 1α die compared to previous 1z node LPDDR4X based on Micron-simulated data.