Confirming several months of rumors, Samsung has announced their Exynos 5 Octa, an eight core powerhouse which may be the new top dog in the smartphone processor wars.
After announcements from Qualcomm (Snapdragon 600 & 800) and NVIDIA (Tegra 4), it was only a matter of time until Samsung issued their own broadside in an effort to sink the competition. The result is an eight core SoC dubbed the Exynos 5 Octa.
While Samsung does refer to the 28nm Exynos 5 Octa as an eight core processor, its actual construction is slightly less straightforward than previous generations. The lion’s share of die space is taken up by a quartet of ARM Cortex-A15 cores which take care of the heavy application lifting which are paired up with four low performance Cortex-A7 cores.
It may be an odd, unbalanced design on paper but the Cortex-A7 cores are able to handle background tasks such as managing network traffic, SMS logging and audio stream decoding so the A15′s are free to accelerate primary workloads.
This pairing of a low power secondary processing engine with high powered cores is central to ARM’s big.LITTLE initiative and this is one of the first times we’re seeing it come to fruition. NVIDIA has already used a similar “fifth core” approach within their last Tegra architecture.
Samsung hasn’t yet discussed performance but judging from their presentation it looks like the A15 cores will be running at 1.7GHz while the A7s will run at a slightly more lethargic 1.2GHz. Meanwhile, there wasn’t any mention of the graphics architecture housed within this new chip but it may be the same quad core Mali-T604 which graces Samsung’s Exynos 5 Dual. However, due to the move to a more efficient 28nm manufacturing process and other architectural modifications, Samsung expects a 70% improvement in efficiency versus the Exynos 4412 used in the Galaxy Note II.