Nov 11 AT 11:36 AM Taylor Wimberly 14 Comments

Samsung shows off dual-core Cortex-A9 Orion, features quad-core Mali-400 GPU

We have known for awhile now that Samsung was working on a dual-core processor named Orion (which is based on ARM’s Cortex-A9 design), but the GPU remained a mystery until recently. Samsung chose the PowerVR SGX540 GPU from Imagination Technology for their Hummingbird processor (found in the Galaxy S lineup), but they will be using ARM’s new Mali-400 GPU for the upcoming Orion.

The Mali GPU was first introduced way back in June 2008 by Falanx, a Norwegian graphics IP company, and was later acquired by ARM. I’m having a hard time finding many design wins for the Mali-400 GPU, but that should be a different story now that Samsung has licensed it.

Notable features of the Mali-400 GPU include 4 cores (or “fragment processors”), 1080p video decode/encode, and fives times the 3D graphics performance of previous Samsung processors. We don’t know how it will stack up with other mobile GPUs, but the 5x graphics performance is the same phrase being used to describe NVIDIA’s Tegra 2 processor.

Some sites have begun to speculate that the Orion processor will appear in a future Samsung tablet, but we have no confirmation of that right now. NVIDIA has already named Samsung as one of their biggest customers and it is rumored that the Tegra 2 will power Samsung’s first Honeycomb tablet.

To catch a quick glimpse of Android running on the Orion processor, check out this video from ARMdevices.

Via: Slash Gear

Source: ARMdevices

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://Website Mike V.

    From what I understand Tegra 2′s GPU is about on par with the Hummingbird’s GPU, the PowerVR SGX540. Tegra 2 only excels in processing power when compared to the Hummingbird SoC, so the Mali-400 will definitely far surpass Tegra 2′s GPU. Expect Orion to be a monster processor.

    • http://Website Lucian Armasu

      Tegra 2 has been delayed quite a lot this year and even though it has started to appear in tablets on the market, it’s months till we’ll see it in phones. Nvidia CEO said that Tegra 3 is almost ready. I think we’ll see Tegra 3 devices (phone and tablets) much earlier next year. Notion Ink founder first said the Adam tablet will come at the end of June, and we knew it has Tegra 2 CPU. Now again he said that the next gen Adam tablet will come in summer 2011 and have Tegra 3.

      What I’m trying to say is that I doubt there will be a difference in time bigger than 2-3 months between an Orion phone and a Tegra 3 phone. Personally, I’ll take the Tegra platform because it has Unreal 3 support and some amazing exclusive games have been announced for it. It’s not all about specs anyway. It’s about code optimization too and Nvidia is historically good at that, too (driver support). Just take a look at the Adreno 200 GPU from the Snapdragon SoC, which is supposed to be 3x better than the GPU in iPhone 3GS on paper, and yet I haven’t seen any game that runs on HTC phones to look better than their iPhone 3GS version.

      Anyway, trust me, even though we’ll see Tegra 2 phones in Q1 2011, we’ll see Tegra 3 phones much earlier than Q1 2012.

  • http://Website MrChaz

    This article is a little confusing, if I’m right that image is of a single core. A fragment processor is another name for a pixel shader execution unit so each core can (presumably) process up to 4 pixel shader operations at any one time.
    So it seems like each core can have 1-4 pixel shader units and the systems can have 1 – 4 GPU’s

    might be wrong though…

    • http://Website MrChaz

      i am indeed wrong :)

      Seems like more of a ps3 type setup with each of those fragment processors dealing with a tile on it’s own. Interesting.

    • http://Website G10

      The image is only for the GPU core, and not the whole chip. that’s why it looks like a single core.


  • http://Website zymo

    google should have waited with the nexus s to let samsung put this baby into the nexus s. then the nexus s would have been the fist smathphone with gingerbread and with a dual core processor!

    • http://Website incrediblecub

      Your head is in the clouds.. think about it this way. If they set the bar that high with the Google Dev device.. Of course manufacturers would have to up their ideas for the next year or two. One problem with that is their devices for the next year and probably more are already in motion, they’d have to change up everything and start from scratch which means waiting longer to get new devices that could stay up to par with the dev phone, why do you think Google still currently uses the N1? Because it sets the baseline for what an Android device should be capable of, thats why our current devices mostly surpass and exceed the N1 in one or many aspects, so basically if the dev phone can do it, then nobody else should have any issues.

    • http://Website Formula350

      Dual-core chips have been in smartphones for years now… It amazes me that no one seems to know that -_- Samsung’s Blackjack II featured a dual-core ARM at something like 300MHz.

      (Sorry to threadromancy this, but I came across this article searching for S5PV310.)

  • http://Website ANDEEE

    Samsung seriously need to bring ORION to the table.


    Isn’t DEV phone supposed to include newly developed Android OS capabilities AND higher standard of hardware?

    Where is the higher standard of hardware if it is still Hummingbird…….

    • http://Website Ryan Kim

      Why does every one assume that the Orion is not in the Nexus S? For all we know, the Nexus S might actually be the first gingerbread phone with a dual core processor.

      • http://Website ANDEE

        Because Taylor Wimberly makes it sound like “Nexus S” is not going to have dual core :o

        • http://Website Hans

          He’s still just one guy. :p
          He can be wrong.

  • http://Website tiger4j

    Ive been thinking about the nexus s and the Orion as well (by the way, the nexus s was shown on best buy mobile this morning.) All I’ve ever heard was that it would be running at 1.2. Samsung did say that it would be available to “certain” customers at the end of the year before being released to all next year. Would love to see this in a Google phone. If not now then it will be coming soon. :)

  • Mike Leahy

    This is fantastic news! As Mike V and Mr Chaz made some good comments. I haven’t had too much time to post up here for a while and don’t recall if I made my mobile GPU prediction post here or another blog, but this is right in line with what I expect for second half of ’11 which is essentially the introduction of multicore GPUs as the next step. The big benefits of a multicore GPU whether it’s subdividing / tiling approach as Mr Chaz leaned towards in his comment is that fill rate will be massively improved and that is the bottleneck presently (and always is). Fun times ahead for sure! I’d take a gander that this GPU will out do the Tegra 2. As others commented on particular companies targeting the Tegra 2 it really shouldn’t affect things per se in terms of compatibility as long as the GL drivers are solid. I welcome our Orion/Mali overlords!