Print 22 comment(s) - last by Reclaimer77.. on Apr 27 at 4:13 PM

New chip is likely to power the Galaxy S3

With the Galaxy S3 super-phone from the world's top Android phonemaker, Samsung Electronics Comp., Ltd. (KS:005930), set to launch at a special event in London, UK on May 3, the hot question on everyone's mind is what might be inside.  Samsung might have tipped its hand regarding the system-on-a-chip (SoC) driving the phone, today announcing its quad-core variant of the fourth generation of Exynos CPU.

While Samsung continues to play with Texas Instruments Inc.'s (TXN) OMAP processors (a potential acquisition target), the South Korean firm still makes much of its CPUs in-house.  It's a pretty poorly kept secret that Samsung also manufactures virtually all the CPUs for its smartphone arch-nemesis Apple, Inc.'s (AAPL) iPad and iPhone.

Even as the firm is rumored to be preparing its fifth generation Exynos 5 chip for PC offerings, the Exynos 4 quad core -- clocked at 1.4 GHz -- represents the company's direct response to its competitors quad core designs like NVIDIA Corp.'s (NVDATegra 3 and Qualcomm Inc.'s (QCOMSnapDragon 4.  Samsung claims that despite adding two cores, the die-shrink from 45 nm to 32 nm allowed it to drop power draw by 20 percent, while doubling computation power.

The new chip is built on Samsung's mature 32 nm high-K metal gate (HKMG) technology, a process refinement that helps fight leakage, the power losses that plague the semiconductor world's ever-shrinking circuits.

Each core on the chip can be switched off via so-called "hot plug" technology.  The chip also packs dynamic voltage and frequency scaling (DVFS) for its cores, allowing them to be selectively underclocked based on workloads.
Exynos 4 quad core
The Exynos 4 quad-core will drive the Galaxy S3. [Image Source: Samsung via Anandtech]

The only disappointment is that the GPU onboard the chip is not expected to get a bump [source], instead using the same old Mali-400 MP4 intellectual property core from ARM Holdings Plc. (LON:ARM).  That means that Samsung is unlikely to be able to keep pace with nemesis Apple in GPU performance, although the Galaxy S3 aims to be very competitive with Apple's smartphone CPUs.  The core does receive one minor graphical improvement in getting a 1080p hardware codec engine, capable of shooting 30 fps HD video and piping out video of HDMI 1.4.

The new Samsung chip is the same size as the first-generation dual-core Exynos 4 and fully compatible with its predecessor's pin-out.  Hence the chip is expected to be a very easy upgrade to existing handsets, given its lower power draw.

The chip is currently in mass production with most of the early stock likely going toward the Galaxy smartphones, which sell tens of millions of units a quarter globally.

Samsung Galaxy S3
The chip will be planted in the Galaxy S3, which launches in just over a week
[Image Source: Samsung]

Hankil Yoon, Senior Vice President of Product Strategy Team, Samsung's Mobile Communications Business kills any suspense about whether the chip will wind up in the Galaxy S3, candidly sharing, "The application processor is a crucial element in providing our customers with a PC-like experience on mobile devices. Samsung's next Galaxy device, which will be officially announced soon, offers uncompromised performance and ground breaking multi-tasking features, thanks to Exynos 4 Quad's powerful performance and efficient energy management technology."

Sources: Samsung [press release], Anandtech (GPU)

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By Goty on 4/26/2012 3:09:40 PM , Rating: 3
I was really hoping for something more in the SGSIII. It's been shown rather conclusively with Tegra 3 that quad-core CPUs are woefully underutilized in almost all normal usage scenarios in cell phones and tablets with the current crop of software, and the fact that the cores are still A9-based is even more of a letdown. I was hoping for an Exynos 5000-series SoC, to be entirely honest. The GPU side isn't that big a deal to me since the most demanding thing I play on my phone is Cut the Rope, and my aging OMAP 4440 handles that just fine.

Oh well, I guess I'll just have to hang onto my Galaxy Nexus for another year or so.

RE: Disappointing
By chµck on 4/26/12, Rating: -1
RE: Disappointing
By The0ne on 4/26/2012 3:48:40 PM , Rating: 2
So you look to a phone for...fad? Ah yes, iPhone for you then I guess. You're here at DT reading supposedly tech news and articles and you're complaining, more specifically about Andriod users, about choosing something because of its spec? You can't be serious.

What he said is right but I disagree in that having the power there is good in case someone decides to make use of it. Our PC is a prime example of the history the smartphone is going through. PCs are so powerful now most consumers don't even utilized the duo-core or worst the quad-core for their everyday use. Hell, I'm an engineer and I don't even use the power of my PC all the time but IT'S there when I need it.

RE: Disappointing
By kmmatney on 4/26/2012 3:46:34 PM , Rating: 3
I have a feeling by the time the software for phones really utilizes all 4 cores, the processor speed much faster anyways, negating the point of having the extra cores "for future use".

RE: Disappointing
By Reclaimer77 on 4/27/2012 1:02:46 PM , Rating: 2
Quad Core is now the standard in new high end phones. But the OP seems too wrapped in his own rhetoric to see why that's the case.

In fact it seems like almost everyone gets hung up on the whole "OMG phones don't need quad core!!" instead of focusing on the end result.

RE: Disappointing
By Goty on 4/27/2012 4:01:51 PM , Rating: 2
You really shouldn't take things so personally. I have to think that if you actually had a reason for disagreeing with me other than the fact that you're still upset that I don't see Intel in the same glorious light as yourself, you'd have stated it instead of resorting to personal attacks. Also, your evident advocacy in quad core SoCs in smartphones seems to be somewhat at odds with your infatuation with Medfield. Funny, that. ;)

RE: Disappointing
By Reclaimer77 on 4/27/2012 4:13:38 PM , Rating: 2
Might wanna pay attention when I say "high end" phones. Medfield certainly isn't, it's not even targeted at that market in the first place.

And I'm not taking anything personally, nor am I making personal attacks. Just disagree with your faux-authoritive judgements on pretty much everything. Criticizing Samsung for going quad-core on the GS3 is just crazy talk. Seriously.

RE: Disappointing
By Apone on 4/26/12, Rating: 0
RE: Disappointing
By xti on 4/26/2012 5:20:20 PM , Rating: 2

RE: Disappointing
By chµck on 4/26/12, Rating: 0
RE: Disappointing
By MrBlastman on 4/27/2012 12:19:33 PM , Rating: 2
chµck = A troll looking for some silly way to justify his existence.

RE: Disappointing
By Goty on 4/26/2012 9:57:02 PM , Rating: 3
Actually, I like performance and battery life in equal measure. ;)

By GoodRevrnd on 4/26/2012 8:22:17 PM , Rating: 2
So these are A9s?? When are we going to see the 2xA15 + 2xA7 cores we read about so many moons ago?

RE: Quad
By GoodRevrnd on 4/26/2012 8:34:27 PM , Rating: 3
From ARS:
"(Update: Slashgear reports that the US version of the Galaxy S III may not feature the new Exynos chip, and may instead have a Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 processor. The European and Korean versions of the phone would have the Exynos chip, and access to LTE networks only in Korea.)"

Dunno what to make of this, but if there's no LTE that's a deal breaker.

RE: Quad
By GoodRevrnd on 4/26/2012 8:42:02 PM , Rating: 2
Wait, so Krait is A15 based, so the American version should be way faster...? Phone specs are far too confusing.

RE: Quad
By B3an on 4/27/2012 3:12:33 AM , Rating: 2
S4/Krait isn't A15.

Qualcomm has an ARM architecture license enabling it to build its own custom architectures that implement the ARM instruction set. On a feature and performance basis the Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 (Krait) is a lot more similar to ARM A15 than ARM A9, but it's NOT an A15.

The A15 can do slightly more work at the same clock speed as the S4, but the S4 could possibly be clocked higher due to it's slightly longer pipeline depth which may cancel out any advantage the A15 has.

Performance should be very similar, but S4 isn't an A15.

Yeah but....
By Amiga500 on 4/26/2012 3:39:30 PM , Rating: 5
Can it play



Its pretty sad...
By 1ceTr0n on 4/26/2012 3:40:04 PM , Rating: 3
How much e-penis smacking contest goes on here just for smartphone specs

RE: Its pretty sad...
By Rukkian on 4/27/2012 8:56:46 AM , Rating: 2
Yeah, I actually cannot believe that on a tech site people would be discussing technical issues!

I think we should all just discuss flower power and carebears on the TECH site!

I could care less about quad cores at this point, as they are not needed, but 100% faster and 20% less power use is huge on a smartphone.

By kmmatney on 4/26/2012 3:45:17 PM , Rating: 2
Seems like this would be better suited for tablets than for a phone, especially for something like Windows 8. Quad core just seems like a waste for a phone at this point in time.

RE: Tablets...
By MZperX on 4/27/2012 12:25:11 PM , Rating: 2
Indeed. Kind of like pure clock speed was for PC's back in the day, the number of cores is becoming a marketing gimmick for phones. Now don't get me wrong if/when the OS and applications catch up and can actually utilize four cores, by all means we should have them. But the phones of today will benefit very little if at all from four (or more) cores. Are there people out there really running FEA on their handset? Or any scientific applications? Doubtful. As of right now I can see the benefit of having two cores, but beyond that the name of the game is single core processing speed and low, LOW, LOOOOWWWW, power use.

What if...?
By Ramstark on 4/27/2012 12:25:03 PM , Rating: 3
Ye'all companies start thinking in optimizing your software instead of making me pay $1000 more for a quatrillion cores proccesor that will only be used when I play my mega sudoku? Let's make that old statement of resource economy a little more real ok?

"I want people to see my movies in the best formats possible. For [Paramount] to deny people who have Blu-ray sucks!" -- Movie Director Michael Bay

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