After teasing fans with a Twitter post proclaiming "#ExynosTommorow", Samsung surprised them with a chip they weren't expecting. Or maybe they should have been.
Exynos is a series of application processors based on ARM Holdings plc's (LON:ARM) Cortex A Series cores. Samsung's original Galaxy S introduced the chip line, and ever since some variants of the Galaxy S Series smartphones and Galaxy Note Series phablets have been powered by Exynos chips.
Today it announced a new quad-core Exynos chip -- the Exynos ModAP. The name is a blend of the words "modem" and AP -- the acronym for "applications processor." The new chip is built on Samsung's second-generation 1.0-volt 28nm HK/MG (high-K dielectric, metal gate) gate-last process, which will soon be replaced by 0.9 volt 20 nm HK/MG gate-first transistors.
Various sources had instead been expecting a new octacore Exynos, the Exynos 5433. The Exynos 5433 was rumored to be powering at least some variants of the Galaxy Note 4, a device that was recently confirmed to feature a QHD (2560x1440 pixel) display.
Instead we'll have to wait on that announcement -- perhaps in September -- when the Galaxy Note 4 is expected to debut. The Exnos 5433 is expected to feature the same A7 LITTLE core, A15 big core layout as its predecessor, according to SamMobile.
However, the entrance of the ModAP shouldn't exactly be altogether unexpected. Technically this chip has been around for a little while, but is only now reaching volumes that Samsung required to make a commercial availability announcement.
The new chip is aimed at the budget to mid-end smartphone and tablet markets. Samsung first highlighted the Exynos ModAP in one of its investors' day presentations late last year. Nam Sung "Stephen" Woo, Ph.D, the general manager and president of Samsung's "Systems Large Scale Integration (LSI)" group, presented the slide deck.
This is not unusual -- Intel, the largest applications processor designer in the PC space, typically starts shipping two to three quarters before it makes its official commercial release announcement. In that regard, the news today is that Samsung has built up sufficient stock over the last three quarters that it can now start using its new 28 nm processor in its portfolio of mobile devices.