Samsung’s new eight-core Exynos 5 Octa SoC promises not to hog battery

Samsung logoNot to be outdone by Nvidia's Tegra 4 announcement and Qualcomm's Snapdragon 800-series announcement, Samsung took to the stage today to announce the next processor in its Exynos 5 lineup: the Exynos 5 Octa is an eight-core SoC destined for tablets and high-end smartphones.

Not all of these CPU cores are created equal: four of them are high-performance Cortex-A15 cores, the very same found in the Exynos 5 Dual that powers the Nexus 10 and Samsung's ARM Chromebook. The other four are Cortex-A7 CPU cores—these have the same feature set and capabilities as the A15 cores, but are optimized for power efficiency rather than performance.

This makes the Exynos 5 Octa one of the first (if not the first) products to actually use ARM's big.LITTLE processor switching technology, something we outlined back in October of 2011. The SoC is designed to dynamically split the workload between the high-performance and the high-efficiency CPU cores based on the task at hand—less strenuous activities like browsing an app store or checking e-mail might be done on the A7 cores, for instance, while gaming and number crunching could be handed off to the A15 cores.

Samsung’s new eight-core Exynos 5 Octa SoC promises not to hog battery

The A15 and A7 cores can work in concert with one another, making it theoretically possible to create a device that can set new speed records without devouring your battery (though of course we'll need to get actual devices in for testing to see how well the technology works in practice.) This differs from Nvidia's Tegra 3 and Tegra 4 SoCs, which include a low-power Cortex-A9 and a Cortex-A15 (respectively) "companion core" that can only be used when all of the SoC's other CPU cores are powered down. There's nothing to say that one approach is inherently better than the other, but while they're conceptually similar, they're functionally quite different.

The new SoC is also built on a 28nm manufacturing process that promises to be more power-efficient than the 32nm process used by the Exynos 5 Dual.

Samsung didn't name a particular GPU while it was on stage, but did say that it featured "twice the performance of any previous-generation processor." Assuming that "previous generation" includes chips like Samsung's own Exynos 4, we're probably talking about the same Mail-T604 GPU found in the Exynos 5 Dual, which in our Nexus 10 benchmarks turned in performance roughly twice that of the Exynos 4 (though if we find any evidence to dispute that fact we'll update this article).

Source: Ars Technica

Tags: CPUs, Samsung

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