Apr 26 AT 2:55 PM Taylor Wimberly 29 Comments

Samsung Galaxy S confirmed to have S5PC110 processor, but how fast is it?

We have taken an increased interest in the upcoming Samsung Galaxy S given the possibility that it could arrive on all four major U.S. carriers.

Among the most interesting highlights of the phone is its mysterious high-powered graphics processing unit (GPU). Samsung’s Omar Khan claimed their 1 GHz platform could “process a staggering 90 million triangles per second” in a keynote speech at CTIA. They boasted the Galaxy S contained “at least three times the power of other smart phones”.

So what is this mysterious processor being used in the Samsung Galaxy S? Last month I authored a post which echoed Samsung’s claims – The Galaxy S would have 3x the GPU power of Snapdragon Android phones.

I do not have all the answers in this story, but I will share what I found so that others might be able to piece together the puzzle.

The official press release never mentioned which CPU was being used, so I speculated it was the new Samsung S5PC110 application processor (codenamed Hummingbird) which was announced last year.

After a couple of emails to our Samsung Mobile contacts, we were finally able to confirm the CPU.

“I apologize for the delay in getting back to you. The processor is the Samsung S5PC110 Cortex-A8 model. The only information I have about the Galaxy S memory is 16GB / 8GB; external memory slot (upto 32GB) . More specifics will be available closer to launch.”Samsung Mobile Spokesperson

So if there were any doubters left, yes the Galaxy S uses the S5PC110 “Hummingbird” CPU. The only information I have yet to see officially released is the actual GPU that is built in and the amount of RAM.

In Samsung’s press release for the S5PC110, they mention it includes a “PowerVR SGX 3D graphics engine”, but they do not include the model. Previously I speculated it might be the new PowerVR SGX540, but I had no hard evidence.

After digging around for a couple more weeks, I found another Android device using Samsung’s S5PC110 application processor. The upcoming ODROID-T from Hardkernel will also sport Samsung’s latest offering. This is notable because they list the GPU as the SGX540, which they claim does up to 20M triangles/s and 1000M pixels/s.

Since the GPU is built in to the application processor, then all S5PC110′s should include the PowerVR SGX540 GPU. Thus, the Samsung Galaxy S is likely using the PowerVR SGX540.

So now we have Samsung claiming the Galaxy S can do 90 million triangles per second (Mt/s) and another source says it’s only 20 Mt/s. As you may remember from the first article, the Qualcomm Snapdragon GPU does 22 Mt/s, which would place both phones in the same range.

The PowerVR SGX family.

Not a lot is known about the SGX540, so it is hard to determine how fast it will be. Imagination Technologie’s spec sheet for the PowerVR SGX family does not provide specific performance for each model GPU.

In a press release for the OMAP4 platform, Imagination Technologies said it would also include the SGX540. They claim the OMAP4 will offer 5x the graphics performance of the OMAP3 series, which included the PowerVR SGX530. This is not a fair comparison with the Samsung S5PC110 (Cortex-A8) because the OMAP4 is based on the next generation Cortex-A9 platform.

What does it all mean?

I have no conclusion because the numbers still do not add up. Samsung is making some wild performance claims (90 M/ts), but the hardware they are using does not seem capable of producing those results.

To throw in an interesting twist since the last article, the company Instrisity who jointly developed the S5PC110 with Samsung has been acquired by Apple.

This post goes out to Sean since he is our new self-proclaimed GPU expert an obssessed tech blogger. Hopefully he can point out where I went wrong and help us get to the bottom of this issue.

Taylor is the founder of Android and Me. He resides in Dallas and carries the Samsung Galaxy S 4 and HTC One as his daily devices. Ask him a question on Twitter or Google+ and he is likely to respond. | Ethics statement

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  • http://www.google.com/profiles/anakin78z anakin78z

    Interesting stuff.
    Funny how I completely stopped caring about pc specs, since everything is pretty high end these days, but now we’re all about phone specs, since they’re essentially our new computers.
    I’d have to believe that a company like Samsung wouldn’t just put out wild lies like that, but then again, some big companies (**cough Apple cough**) make up stuff all the time cause it makes them look good.

  • http://Website hiddengopher

    DirectX 9 and 10.1 support?? Hmm…

    • http://androidandme.com Taylor Wimberly

      DirectX is a collection of APIs on Microsoft platforms, not Android.

  • http://buhbomp.com Cashless

    Oh wait…. Could it be that Samsung is lying? Well, they ARE “The MOST CORRUPT COMPANY IN ASIA”!!!

    http://gizmodo.com/5524174/controversial-book-claims-samsung-is-basically-the-most-corrupt-company-in-asia

    • http://sean-the-electrofreak.blogspot.com/ Sean

      Maybe not lying per se, but stretching the truth maybe?

      I’m going to guess that the 90 Mt/s number is not a sustainable value, but actually a peak value than can be hit briefly because of an improved GPU cache.

      Or I could be wrong. I contacted Samsung and they didn’t return my email. At first I wondered if maybe they haven’t mentioned memory because they’re using something cutting-edge like Rambus’ Mobile XDR. But it’s a little bit TOO cutting-edge (like, announced 2 months ago) and wouldn’t likely be compatible with a Cortex A8 chip anyhow. Besides, Rambus told me that they aren’t licensing it out to anyone yet. A shame, because it would have been the perfect answer to the bandwidth problem.

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  • http://Website Mark

    SGX540 has higher fill rate than SGX535. i.e., it can push more pixels per sec. It really doesnt matter very much coz, the mobile devices have far less pixels.

    Here is my math. Lets say SGX 535 can do 512 M Pixel/s. That would 512 M/ (854*480) = 1250. This way more than the 60 frames you need for butter smooth scroll. The only that really matters is the memory bandwidth, which is normally the bottleneck.

  • http://sean-the-electrofreak.blogspot.com/ Sean

    Self-proclaimed GPU expert, no. I’m not an ARM engineer, just an obssessed tech blogger. :)

    But I have put a lot of time working on figuring out exactly what you’ve written about here Taylor, because it is quite a mystery.

    My article, as you linked it, describes my own theories… many of them you seem to share as well.

    http://sean-the-electrofreak.blogspot.com/2010/03/hummingbird-vs-snapdragon-1ghz.html

    I’ll be happy to stop back here tomorrow to try to help puzzle this one out myself further alongside your readers. I suspect there are readers who will be able to come up with some of their own impressive theories.

    • http://sean-the-electrofreak.blogspot.com/ Sean

      :-p Thank you for the correction, Taylor.

  • http://Website The boss man

    I want one now. It gets better and better

  • http://Website sam

    I didn’t think it is a PowerVR GPU.
    I think it is a Mali GPU design from ARM it self.

    http://www.arm.com/products/multimedia/mali-graphics-hardware/index.php

    You can find the the press release here:
    http://www.samsung.com/us/business/semiconductor/newsView.do?news_id=1128

    This announcement was placed very closely to CTIA 2010 presentation of the Galaxy S. So IMO it could be very possible that the Mali design is inside of Hummingbird.

    Many other Handset Companies announced to use the Mali design instead of PowerVR GPU’s too.

    • http://sean-the-electrofreak.blogspot.com/ Sean

      I’d like to believe that, but Samsung says specifically that it’s a PowerVR SGX solution here:
      http://www.samsung.com/global/business/semiconductor/newsView.do?news_id=1043

      “Both the S5PC110 and S5PV210 are equipped with a powerful built-in POWERVR SGX 3D graphics engine, licensed from Imagination Technologies, to support sophisticated 3D UI and high-caliber games.”

    • http://Website Darkseider

      I would like to believe it is the Mali GPU but I was under the impression that the Mali GPU was going to be used with Cortex A-9 chips? I could be wrong though.

  • http://Website does it matter

    If we didn’t have worry about power consumption, then I’d care more about the fastest GPU processor for gaming on a mobile phone. But right now (and likely in the immediate future) most apps aren’t able to use this power. It’s like getting the latest PC GPU, but it takes a while for game developers to use it. So we basically get this powerful GPU that likely sucks even more power and no apps to use it.

    • http://sean-the-electrofreak.blogspot.com/ Sean

      Actually, efficiency is more important than power, but in mobile computing, power is also efficiency.

      To quote from my article:

      While it’s almost universally agreed that power efficiency is a priority for these processors, many criticize the amount of processing power these new chips are bringing to mobile devices, and ask why so much performance is necessary. Whether or not mobile applications actually need this much power is not really the concern however; improved processing and graphics performance with little to no additional increase in energy needs will allow future phones to actually be much more efficient in terms of power. This is because ultimately, power efficiency relies in a big part on the ability of the hardware in the phone to complete a task quickly and return to an idle state where it consumes very little power. This “burst” processing, while consuming fairly high amounts of power for very short periods of time, tends to be more economical than prolonged, slower processing. So as long as ARM chipset manufacturers can continue to crank up the performance while keeping power requirements low, there’s nothing but gains to be had.”

  • http://Website Darkseider

    Well regarding the question as to how fast it is I believe a story on Engadget answered this yesterday. Apple has purchased Intrinsity, which was the company that made the Hummingbird which also happens to be, according to the article, a very similar if not EXACT same processor as the A4 in the iPad. So if everything in the article is correct. A4 = Hummingbird and there you have your real life, currently available analog to compare it to.

    • http://sean-the-electrofreak.blogspot.com/ Sean

      I can say with quite a bit of confidence that the S5PC110 Hummingbird is not inside the Apple A4. Hummingbird has a single-channel memory controller, so the Samsung S5L8930 in the A4 is probably a modified version of Hummingbird’s sister chip, the S5PV210, which has a dual-channel memory controller like we know the A4 has.

      I’ve seen more and more people saying that Hummingbird is in the A4, and it’s just more uninformed speculation that tends to proliferate. While it’s possible in theory, Hummingbird was designed for smartphones while the S5PV210 was designed specifically for tablets and MIDs, and thus S5PV210 would be the obvious choice to use. They were both introduced last year together in this press release, which has some more info about S5PV210:

      http://www.samsung.com/global/business/semiconductor/newsView.do?news_id=1043

      Intrinsity has worked for Samsung as well as Apple, though I personally believe that it was PA Semi (which Apple acquired last year) that modified the S5PV210 into the S5L8930 for the A4, simply because on June 10th 2008, Steve Jobs told the WDC that he was having PA Semi work on chips for iPhones and iPods (and we all know that really, the iPad is just a big iPod!)

      • http://sean-the-electrofreak.blogspot.com/ Sean

        I should point out for those who are not aware, Intrinsity did most of the work for Samsung modifying the Cortex-A8 into the Hummingbird (S5PC110) and the S5PV210. Samsung then manufactures the chips.

        Apple probably has to pay royalties to Samsung AND Intrinsity for the chip. Heck, if they hadn’t had bought out PA Semi, they would have had to pay them too. What Apple is doing is reducing their costs; in the future, all Samsung will be doing for Apple is manufacturing the chip, as Intrinsity should already have the ARM licenses it needs to take Cortex A8 and A9 chips and modify them directly into whatever Apple needs.

        It’s kind of a shame really, Intrinsity is a really good at what they do, and we won’t be able to see their work in any future Android devices past Hummingbird.

        • Mystery

          if you only knew the real story

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  • boyrizal

    good stuff….pls do more high processor