Feb 08 AT 2:50 AM Taylor Wimberly 56 Comments

Samsung Galaxy S II will be the first device powered by dual-core Orion?

In just five days Samsung will announce the successor to the Galaxy S at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. Samsung has been teasing the device, but the hardware specs have remained a mystery.

We heard stories before the Nexus S launch that Samsung was testing multiple devices which could become the final product (hence the dual-core rumor) and it sounds like they are up to it again.

I’ve always read that it takes handset makers over a year to develop a new smartphone, but in my view these things are crammed together in just a few short months. These big companies watch what the competition is doing (just like us) and then they tweak their handset designs right up until the last deadline before a big trade show (like MWC).

Motorola raised the bar for what we should expect from a high-end mobile device (with the Atrix at CES), and now Samsung is trying their hardest to top that.

Early rumors said the Galaxy S II might be a Tegra 2-powered device after Samsung placed a large order with NVIDIA, but more recent reports have suggested the CPU could come from Samsung. I’ve even heard people saying it could be Qualcomm or Texas Instruments. The first Galaxy S sold well over 10 million units, so it’s easy to see why everyone is getting excited over who won this lottery.

Based on everything I have heard, the top two candidate to provide the CPU for the Galaxy S II were NVIDIA (for their early availability of the Tegra 2) and Samsung Electronics (for their Samsung-ish-nesh). Samsung Mobile hinted during IFA last year that they were open to using an application processor from a competing company, but the latest intel we have thinks that they stuck with their own.

Samsung’s dual-core 1 GHz Orion processor was first announced back in September and they said it would be “available to select customers in the fourth quarter of 2010 and is scheduled for mass production in the first half of 2011.” They missed their target availability of Q4 2010, but recent news has suggested that Orion would arrive in devices by Q2 2011. We don’t know why the date was moved back, but there have been reports that Samsung might have clocked the Orion cores up to 1.2 GHz to compete with Qualcomm’s dual-core Snapdragon.

Going with the Orion application processor could be a real wild card for Samsung because little is known about how it stacks up with the competition. Samsung revealed that the Orion would feature two 1 GHz Cortex-A9 cores and then we discovered it has an ARM Mali-400 GPU capable of producing “5 times the 3D graphics performance over the previous processor generation from Samsung.”

No other Android devices have used the Mali-400 GPU. We don’t know what to tell you about its performance other than to say it should be very competitive with the GeForce GPU inside the Tegra 2.

So what made Samsung go with their Orion over the Tegra 2? We honestly don’t know at this point, but hopefully it’s because they believe that Orion will deliver a better experience to the end user. Samsung will lose access to the premium content designed for Tegra 2, but the Orion platform may have other benefits that are unknown at this time.

Part of me also thinks that Samsung is just playing it safe and sticking with what Apple would do. Samsung has long manufactured the application processors that Apple designs and it was recently reported that they are quadrupling their mobile chip production in 2011, with half of their inventory going to Apple. The A4 chip inside the iPhone and iPad used an almost identical ARM Cortex-A8 core and similar PowerVR GPU to Samsung’s Hummingbird, so I’m betting that Orion will closely resemble the new A5.

I believe that Samsung wants to be the next Apple and this strategy ensures that both the Galaxy S II and iPhone 5 will have relatively the same capabilities and performance. This means that Samsung will really have to focus on premium content (Samsung Media Hub) and customer support if they want to come out on top.

Most of you know I’ve been a fan of Tegra 2 for the last couple of months, but I’m really excited to see how the Orion processor stacks up. Samsung’s Hummingbird processor offered the fastest GPU (PowerVR SGX540) when it launched, so it’s nice to see that Orion promises 5x the graphics performance. Hopefully Samsung teamed with some application and game developers that can take full advantage of this powerful GPU.

What do you think about Samsung’s decision to go with Orion? Could it surprise us and become the new fastest dual-core processor? Do you ever see Samsung using another companies’ application processor or do you think they will remain loyal to their own?

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.youtube.com/emogamer Christopher Chavez

    All I know is…….. Samsung is gonna BRING it with the Galaxy S 2′s.

    I wasn’t a fan of the first gen Galaxy S’s but that trailer was REALLY good…. LOL

    • http://Website DP

      You see the thinness of the S2 (the reflection in the mirror wasn’t blurred. You can also see the profile in the promo pic. Give me that bright, beautiful SAMOLED Plus and Orion and all thoughts of lack of upgrades cease to exist – temporarily. Hello, XDA!

  • http://Website vasra

    If you study the spec sheets you fill find that on paper Orion is the fastest (Qualcomm, TI, nVidia) clock-for-clock out of the chips shipping before Q3/2011.

    What will the real world performance be on Android? How well has Samsung been able to tweak the code to the SoC?

    That remains to be seen.

    However, do remember that Hummingbird on Galaxy S is objectively faster than the Qualcomm Snapdragon on Nexus One.

    However, due to working so close to the hardware to optimize Android OS, Nexus One turned out to be faster in real life for many applications / uses (not all, esp. not gpu related).

    So, again – it’ll be interesting to see if Samsung has been able to pull off some honest to god optimisations this time around.

    • http://Website UniqueNate

      Yea, it will be interesting to see what happens in the real world. Also, it’ll be web better when Google actually supports dual core in the OS, because it’ll actually show the true power of these dual cores. The OS would be much cleaner and more fluid.

      Despite their bad habits, it gets old tk say what people want to say about them. Know for a fact thu have some of the best hardware around. Quality in everything. A few bugs here and there, but what’s perfect? Similar hardware to the iPhone and we all know our biggest manufacturer rival, Apple has quality in everything. Samsung brings that to Android. I will gladly welcome the Galaxy S II. Mark me negative if you want, but that Samsuck, no updating, etc, is old. Every carrier and manufacturer pulls something off that the public doesn’t like. You just need to pick who is worth suffering for. Learn to be satisfied. It’s something better every 6 months and true successors every year or so. Pick and choose.

      I mean imagine a phone that doesnt need root. Why root something you payed for. If it’s something you know your going to root when you get it, then why get it? I know the benefits from it(cause I’ve done it before), but I don’t understand. In the long run, I personally think rooting has a big time affect on your devices performance. I just use a launcher and and customize it how I want and call it a day. And never understood why people root a already stock phone. So your rooting a stock phone to get a cm7 stock on it? Hmmmm…. Besides the extra tweaks it gives you what are you actually accomplishing? If it’s a device that’s not getting to much support from the carrier anymore and dev teams are supporting it still, then yea I see why.

      That’s another debate but I didn’t even mean to go into that. Transition was just there. Waiting game is now in play from here to march.

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

      Honestly, I’m not sure they can. They used Intrinsity for the majority of the tweaks that put the Hummingbird (S5PC110) ahead of the pack, but Apple’s since bought them.

      Given Samsung’s order of Tegra 2 chips and the fact that Intrinsity was stolen from them, I’m guessing Orion’s on the back burner for the time being.

      I’m going to guess that Galaxy S 2 is running Tegra 2, unless Samsung suddenly decided to turn Orion into a hard-copy implementation of ARM Cortex-A9 like Tegra 2 is.

  • http://Website Austin

    The galaxy S 2:

    Duel core,
    awesome screen,
    Best CPU and GPU on the market
    Launches with Froyo and never gets updated.

    And all the customers get rick rolled again.

    • http://Website Hans

      I have a Samsung Fascinate with the (non)official Froyo from Verizon. ;)

    • http://Website vasra

      I bought Galaxy S in 6/2010 with Android OS 2.0.

      During fall I upgraded to 2.1

      Now I upgraded to 2.2.1.

      Samsung is now working on 2.3.

      So what are you talking about?

      Oh, you must mean your sucky US operator, who has modified the phone and refuses to release the upgrade to you and there’s very little Samsung can do about it.

      Perhaps you US consumers should wisen up, buy a non-package deal (GSM unlocked) and just upgrade it straight from the manufacturer.

      But no, you like paying more for your phones, so you suffer.

      Your loss.

      • http://Website Sammusucks

        Yeah, that also explains why Motorola and HTC haven’t updated their high end flagship devices to Android 2.2…oh, wait, they did, so the problem is more with Samsung since the other manufacturers had to put up with the same carriers, and still got their updates released in a reasonable amount of time. Samsung Sucks, and if you buy their products, you’re essentially saying you like getting anally raped.

        • http://twitter.com/thebignoob Ryan F

          I’m loling at all these North American haters, if most you don’t know Samsung rolled out it’s froyo update a mater of month’s after Google announced 2.2. Clearly I understand you’re animosity, but as for me, purchasing an unlocked phone is where it’s at.

          I’m also predicting LTE on this bad boy, so this thing is gonna fly on my VZW plan.


          I was the last comment, but I saying Orion then, and Orion now.

          Hater’s gonna hate.

          • http://Website DP

            I am a US customer and I know this, smdh. Sprint tweeted before CES that they were working and testing the upgrade and it wouldnt be released until it passed their tests. Well,Feb 8th and we dont have but. BUT… I have XDA. Been on Froyo since November! :)

            SPRINT’s fault, do not blame Samsung. You can’t when the rest of the world has 2.2.1, for months now. US carriers are just butt-raping a-holes. See what VZW did with the XOOM?!? Yeaa.

      • http://Website Ramayana

        You’re right that U.S. Carriers are a major part of the problem when it comes to upgrades. To purchase a phone and not be able to completely choose what software is running on it seems insane. However, there’s a flaw in your suggestion of “… buy a non-package deal (GSM unlocked) and just upgrade it straight from the manufacturer.”

        Only a very few phones out in the U.S. market run Android independent of carrier influence. There’s also a shift happening in the production of phones for the U.S. market where phones are being produced exclusively for (and sold exclusively for) a particular carrier. Even the Galaxy S line has been customised with models for each carrier. Taking it a step further, phones are being produced where they can only operate on a single carrier’s network. For example, the Nexus S (one of only a few phones running stock Android) is technically unlocked, whether you buy it with contract or without. However, besides already being a GSM phone, and thereby limited to two of the four major carriers (T-Mobile, AT&T), it cannot operate on AT&T’s 3G network. It will make voice calls on AT&T, but for data, it’s pretty much limited to T-Mobile. Another example: Motorola and its new found penchant for locked down bootloaders, which prevent custom ROM’s from being used on their devices.

        So the problem here isn’t just U.S. consumers alone, it’s a problem with the collaborative partnership between phone manufacturers and wireless carriers, and together with their death-grip on the smartphone market. I’ll give you this though, U.S. consumers will need to be much more discerning on their part in order to help reverse this disturbing trend.

      • http://Website Anonymous

        You’re forgetting 1 very important thing here.

        GSM unlocked phones only work onT-Mobile’s 2G/Edge & Verizon/Sprint don’t even use GSM.

        How is buying unlocked GSM phones supposed to benefit us?

    • http://Website Rhino3081

      Here’s hopeing that Sammy has learned from their mistakes and launch the Galaxy 2 with android 2.4.

    • http://Website Ryan

      You forgot the last part…

      Samsung releases the Galaxy S II 4G 6 months later.

      Then we get rick rolled.

  • http://Website zymo

    It was known for quite a long time that Samsung would use an Orion CPU for the GS 2. People having hands-on prototypes said this, the most popular was Eldar. For Samsung it is cheaper to use their own products instead of buying them from others.

  • http://Website BlueScreenJunky

    I’m pretty sure the hardware will be great, but I think samsung should just stop trying to develop their own version of the software and do one of the following :
    -Just release their phones with vanilla Android (like the Nexus S).
    -Ask cyanogen to port CM to their phones and release them with CM preinstalled.
    -Sell their phones without any OS installed, and only an unlocked bootloader.

    Any of the above would be much better than what they’ve always done…

    It’s pretty sad because I’m looking to replace my Nexus One, and I think I’ll skip the Nexus S (it sells for more than 800$ here in france T__T), and I think this Galaxy S 2 will be great. But even if it is I’ll probably end up buying an Optimus 2X because I know the Galaxy will almost never be updated.

    • http://Website CTown

      The Nexus One is just the HTC Desire with capactive buttons. So, how about the Desire 2 when it comes out?

  • http://Website Nedjo

    that “big order of Tegra 2″ was utter FUD that contributed to prices of NVIDIA stock!
    Why on earth would Samsung spend millions on buying 3rd party chip when they have superior in-house design and cutting-edge manufacturing?

    • http://Website UniqueNate

      It’s called competition. They want to make it exclusive. They might debut Orion for the Galaxy S II and use Tegra for other phones they make for carriers. It’s kind of a win win. They make awesome hardware and a smooth OS(maybe not the most attractive) and have either Orion or Tegra. And what consumers will really take the time to see the difference between Tegra and Orion. Only us nerds. The public will just grow on the name dual core alone and see it all the same.

    • http://twitter.com/thebignoob Ryan F

      There is also speculation that Samsung is using the T2 chipsets for their next line of Galaxy Tab.

      • http://androidandme.com Taylor Wimberly

        Yup I still believe that to be true. It sounds like it was their only choice since Tegra is the lead platform for Honeycomb.

  • http://honeycombtablet.info willbill

    Do we already know the OS of this device? Will it run on Honeycomb? Honeycomb is not only for tablets right?

    • http://Website asch5885

      gs2 running andriod 2.3 -from sammy blog

    • http://Website UniqueNate

      Honeycomb is only for tablets. We will get fragments from it. Think of that as features. A totally different overhaul will be for our mobile phones. That will probably be Ice Cream. 2.3 was a slight ui change and better performance, and quality. 2.4 is rumored to be updated to give our os support for dual core on our phones. GINGERBREAD IS NOT SUPPORTING DUAL CORE. So it actually isn’t running as smooth as you think it could. I can’t wait cause it seems smooth already. I’m sure that will bump quadrant scores up for all that pay attention to that. I’m sure more then just dual core support will be in 2.4. It will also still be known as gingerbread. Not every update is an overhaul. It’s feature, performance, and quality in between each overhaul. Think of apple. They have plenty of updates in between that add little features here and there and yearly they give you all that and something new to be compatible with hardware. the os must be built a long side the guts for best performance. You can’t just toss a dual core in and expect it to change everything. They have to play nice.

  • http://Website Nicholas Kollgaard

    It doesn’t matter what’s under the hood in my opinion – Samsung make sickeningly ugly phones with crappy polished plastics. No thanks.

  • http://androidapps.co.il Droi

    Wow, who would believe that Samsung will come out with great phones, i didn’t…

  • http://Website Andy

    Why would anyone buy the Vibrant 4G when this phone is coming out soon.

    The manufacturers clearly leave out features on their phones so then they can get people to buy every model, such as the Vibrant 4G getting only minor upgrades.

  • http://Website dmass

    This is the longest article with absolutely no information whatsoever in it.

  • http://Website Shawn P

    Since I upgraded my Virbant to 2.2, my phone runs virtually flawlessly. That being said, the next generation phone should run like a dream if in-fact it is going to be operating with the Orion.

  • http://Website ihatefanboys

    Do I really have to say it ? why would anyone buy this phone. its a SAMSUNG. between the non updating Vibrant, which with the Vib4g coming out, will never see another update…when this new phone comes out the vibrant 4G will cease to get updates as well. dont even get me started with the heaping mess that the Nexus S is……..SAMSUNG should get out of the mobile phone business, they suck at it. Just keep making those big ass TVs, as far as i know they havent screwed that up yet. i wouldnt know, i have a sony bravia and my phone is a G2, no complaints EVER.

    • http://Website Aston


      • http://Website ihatefanboys

        the proof is all around. behold 2, vibrant, nexus S, either had problems or never ever got updated. u may argue that the vibrant got the 2.2 update, but when ? 8 months after it was released. do u think the vibrant will see 2.3 ? well before everyone else is on 3.0 or 3.1 ? specs and processor dont mean crap if the hardware is mediocre. and so far samsung hasnt proven they can put out a device that doesnt malfunction somewhere, or sometime. and once again, i know someone will say lots of devices malfunction, and its to be expected. when u have a defective phone u bring it back and get one that works. by some of the logic im reading, i should have kept my defective G2 with the screen that froze every time i tried to scroll that i had to take out the battery. guess what ? i had a brain, and i brought it back. i cant wait till u samsung apologists finally realize that one time is a bad egg, twice is a coincidence, third time is a pattern of failure. and samsung is way past third time.

    • http://Website Unique Nate

      Getting old really fast.
      Tell me how they named to sell so much. There doing something right. Get over it.

  • http://Website treefq

    But it’s a Samsung. No thanks, I’ll pass.

  • http://Website joey

    I think that I have lost my faith in Samsung. Good hardware is very important but so is getting updates out to us as well and Samsung has a bad track record there. I don’t like it when as Andy said “when manufacturers leave out features so they can sale more phones”. The first vibrant has the hardware for the FF camera but Samsung left it out Why well we don’t really no but it just seems that well I’ll just leave it as we just don’t no. I don’t think my next phone will be a Samsung.

  • http://Website d

    I’ve been working in a hi-tec software/hardware R&D area for a giant multinational and all I can say is that it is obvious when they go for the Orion since this gives them a very close coörporation with their own hardware chip designers AND so they can work/develop much faster…

  • http://Website Terrell

    Being the owner of an original Vibrant (bought on day 2) I have next to no complaints about my device. Everything I would complain about is subjective and could be a problem with any device. Rooted running 2.2 threw in a ffc just because and this thing is beastly.

    I for one gladly welcome the GS II. Probably will be my next device

  • http://www.seeyouinmynightmares.com KING_KG

    On one end you guys make great arguments on why not to buy a samsung phone.
    -Lack of Software Updates
    -Leaving out Features to sell more phones
    -Crappy Design/hardware
    -Touchwiz over android

    On the other side of things I hope Samsung is looking to improve their image and show that they’ve learned from their mistakes through providing updates to some degree and producing a true high end phone.

    I recently test drove a Nexus S (I went back to my g1 to wait things out) and its an excellent device in terms of its design(acknowledging google’s presence). Hopefully, they picked up some tips from google as far as design and make it vanilla android 2.3 upgradeable to 2.4 with dual core support.

    Those are easy things to accomplish.

  • http://emuneee.com Evan

    Not disagreeing with you rumor, but I do disagree with your assumption that smartphones are “put together in a few short months”. I find that harder to believe since Orion is essentially a new hardware platform for Samsung. Can’t wait to see what Orion brings to the table.

  • http://Website Lucian Armasu

    Tegra 2 3D 1.2 Ghz chip is still faster than the Qualcomm one because it’s fully out of order. This one should be faster than the Qualcomm one, too. GPU wise – that’s where we don’t know yet. Tegra 2 3D GPU is ~30% faster than Tegra 2 GPU, but I’m not sure how that compares with the Mali GPU yet. It might be irrelevant is Mali is slightly faster, because Nvidia is getting game developers to optimize their games for Tegra, and promoting them through Tegra Zone (Unreal 3 and Android 3.0 are also optimized for Tegra).

    I keep mentioning Tegra 2 3D because it should be out in Q2 also, in Optimus 3D, so both Orion and Qualcomm dual core will be competing with Tegra 2 3D.

  • samirsshah

    3D console quality games.with at least 24 frames per second
    1080p video capture, encode, decode, play
    Android 2.4

    in that order

    should have parity or beat LG Optimus 2X and the one coming from HTC in the above

    If Orion can do it, more power to Samsung

    P.S. Quad core by Jan 1st, 2012

  • ShyGuy

    i think its a good thing samsung go whit orion. the humminbird was a good chip, so i dont see any reason to not trust samsung. on 2011, its gonna be a Apple VS Samsung and maybe HTC fight. cant wait to see that pyramid phone !

  • http://Website Garth

    Who cares. It will be the first device powered by Orion, and the last to get any updated to future Android OS. NEVER AGAIN. I’ve been burned by Samsung with the current Galaxy S. I won’t be giving them any of my business ever again.

  • http://Website Ryan

    I must admit, I despise Samsung as much as anyone here, but this phone looks promising (hardware-wise). In the past, I always had this dilemma. Do I buy the Vibrant with the possibility of it not getting updated? If I don’t, there isn’t anything else with TMobile that compares. It was an annoying emotional battle.

    But now, even if this phone gets me excited, I can rest assured that the HTC Pyramid will be coming to TMobile and I will finally not have to settle for a phone from Samsung.

  • http://Website hec

    Ya I’m not getting this POS because they can’t even fn keep the phone updated for 10million galaxy s customers. Samsung blows I’m going to stick with htc from now on

  • http://Website Eric

    “it has an ARM Mali-400 GPU capable of producing “5 times the 3D graphics performance over the previous processor generation from Samsung.”

    No other Android devices have used the Mali-400 GPU. We don’t know what to tell you about its performance other than to say it should be very competitive with the GeForce GPU inside the Tegra 2.”

    The Tegra 2 has benched about 20-40% faster GPU wise than that Galaxy S. If the mali is 500% faster, they are not comparable. It’s actually surprising how slow the T2 GPU is. I mean, it’s not a slow chip, but it’s not the huge leap either.

    • http://Website metafor

      Where exactly did you pull those numbers from? At least based on Quake 3 and GLBenchmark 2.0, Tegra 2 is at best about 22% faster than the PVR400 in the Galaxy S:


      I’m gonna go ahead and ignore the neocore and quadrant results since (as pointed out in the article), Neocore is capped at 60fps for all devices except Tegra 2 and it’s really unknown exactly what Quadrant uses as a “GPU test”.

      Note the Galaxy S is actually faster in Quake 3 (an actual game).

      As for Tegra Zone. Am I to understand you’re implying games available through Tegra Zone won’t be available through Android Market for other Android devices?

      • http://Website metafor

        Typo, that should be PVR540*

    • http://androidandme.com Taylor Wimberly

      Lots of companies like to use phrases like “5x the graphics performance”. Even NVIDIA and LG did it when comparing Tegra 2 to single-core chips.

  • http://Website DK

    so it could have something from nvidia, samsung, qualcomm, or texas instruments. …man you really narrowed it down. thanks. what color will it be?? I’d say it could be white.. or black. or any other color in the spectrum. you heard it here first folks!

    • http://androidandme.com Taylor Wimberly

      It could be any of those, but it will be Orion.

  • http://Website phoebetech

    i love samsung’s hardware but no matter if it’s single, dual-core or quad-core, touchwiz will remain laggy and will never receive the latest version of android.

  • http://Website hector

    The hardware on this bad boy is sexy owning a vibrant I know samsung is slow with the updates but man they really raise the bar on hardware plus xda takes care of ny updates. My next phone will be.this unless the pyramid blows my mind

  • http://www.facebook.com/shinyhappyhead David

    For a second there I thought that read as “Dual Core Onion.” I thought “Maaan, I know onions have layers, but using them in cellphones?”

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