At this year’s CES, Samsung apparently couldn’t let Nvidia and Qualcomm steal the show in terms of new mobile chipset announcements. So, while the Korean company hasn’t unveiled any new smartphones or tablets in Nevada, it has introduced an eight-core processor (or octa-core) – the Samsung Exynos 5 Octa.
Yes, eight-core. You read that right, but there’s a catch. See, you’ll never actually be using all eight cores at once, since they’re divided into two separate four-core clusters. Essentially, if you get a device with this processor built-in (cough, Galaxy S IV, cough), you’ll have two quad-core CPUs available. One will feature the ARM Cortex-A7 architecture, being ideal for light loads and consuming very little energy. The other consists of four Cortex-A15 cores, the absolute latest design from ARM. These will handle the tasks in which the most processing power is needed.
This is the first actual announced incarnation of ARM’s big.LITTLE initiative, that aimed to create exactly this sort of pairing between A7 and A15 parts.
So don’t worry, thankfully we haven’t already moved to eight-core (all active at once) designs in the mobile world (which would have happened faster than in the desktop / laptop world had it occurred now).
Samsung claims 70% power saving with this chip compared to its Exynos 5 Dual (also using Cortex-A15 architecture, seen on the Google Nexus 10 tablet so far). All that while reportedly providing twice the 3D rendering power compared to any previous Samsung CPU, including the Exynos 4 Quad seen in the Galaxy S III and Galaxy Note II. So all great, then.
Like all its recently announced competitors from the likes of Nvidia and Qualcomm, the Samsung Exynos 5 Octa is going to be manufactured using a 28 nm process. Which means it’s going to have a good performance / power consumption ratio. Just how good exactly remains to be seen, of course, when the first device to be powered by this beast will start shipping.
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