Curious about which processor will be used in the Samsung Galaxy S III? Rumors have suggested that Samsung was working on a quad-core 2.0 GHz processor. That sounds crazy, but there is a small chance it might actually come true.
Samsung already announced their upcoming dual-core 1.5 GHz Exynos 4212. This system-on-a-chip appears to be similar in design to the 1.2 GHz Exynos 4210 found in several Galaxy S II phones. But it is now built with Samsung’s advanced 32nm High-K Metal Gate (HKMG) low-power process, which promises “30 percent lower power-level over the previous process generation.” It looks like the smaller process technology allowed Samsung to crank up the speed of the GPU too, because they are promising “50 percent higher 3D graphics performance over the previous processor generation from Samsung.”
I’m sure many of you would love a phone that operates at 30 percent lower power while delivering 50 percent higher 3D graphics performance, but is that a big enough jump for the Samsung Galaxy S III? If Samsung holds off on releasing the SGSIII till the second-half of 2012 there might be another option.
At this week’s ARM TechCon 2001 John Kalkman, VP LSI, Samsung Electronics said, “I’m extremely excited to announce that Samsung will deliver a new Exynos processor in 2012 that leverages both the Cortex-A7 and big.Little technology to meet the crucial demands of always-on and always-connected computing.”
I don’t want to dive into all the technical details of big.Little processing again, but the basic concept is that you combine high performance cores along side low-power cores in order to achieve the best possible combination of performance and battery life.
And when it comes to battery life, the early numbers are looking good. ARM is promising big.Little processing can extend battery life by up to 70%.
The most likely setup that Samsung would go with would be two high-performance Cortex-A15 cores around 1.8-2.0 GHz and two low-power Cortex-A7 cores at 1.2 GHz. Based on the proposed release schedule, this would be built on a 28nm process technology.
That scenario might sound like a stretch, but we were already expecting the first Cortex-A15 processors like the OMAP5 around the second-half of 2012. Qualcomm will also release the first mobile processor at 28nm (Snapdragon S4) during the first-half of 2012, and we expect most of the high-end processors to migrate to 28nm by the end of next year.
I would be pretty amazed that Samsung could pull this off so fast, but they have been working closely with ARM for many years. Several eyebrows were raised when Samsung dumped Imagination Technologies’ Power VR GPU for the ARM Mali-400, but I heard rumors at Mobile World Congress that this move was in exchange for a future favor. It’s possible that Samsung collaborated on the Cortex-A7 design and that’s why they get first access to it.
We probably won’t know till next year’s Mobile World Congress which version of Exynos will be found in the SGSIII, but it’s always fun to speculate on future technology that makes your new phone feel old. If I were Samsung, I’d put all my R&D resources toward rolling out this next-gen Exynos as soon as possible and put it in the SGSIII, even if that means pushing back the release several months.