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.
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.
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.
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.