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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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Quad
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.


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