Published: 27 April, 2012
Samsung Electronics is the latest to show its hand in the quad-core mobile processor race. It has shown off the latest member of its Exynos chip family, which will soon turn up in its own Galaxy smartphones, as well as being marketed to rival handset makers.
The new 32nm processor, the Exynos 4 Quad, formerly codenamed Aquila, is based on the ARM Cortex-A9 platform with four cores running at 1.4GHz, and is made using the high-k metal gate process for low power consumption. All this adds up to a doubling of processing power, said the vendor, at 20% lower energy usage than the current top end, the 45nm Exynos 4 Dual.
The GPU architecture has not been confirmed but is likely to be ARM's Mali quad-core T400, also used in the previous Exynos, though Samsung may have upgraded to the Mali T604 or T658, or even reverted to the Imagination Technologies graphics platform, which it uses in some other models.
Although many still doubt whether quad-core performance is really necessary for handsets, it will certainly boost applications such as gaming and 3D video which benefit from parallel processing - and these are big drivers of tablet uptake. But the power hunger has to be kept low too for on-the-move devices, so Samsung says it adopted hot-plug functionality to support on-off switching for each core,. It also harnesses per-core dynamic voltage and frequency scaling (DVFS), which offers a dramatic reduction in power consumption by adapting different levels of voltage and frequency when changing workloads. And it has developed a power management companion chip, the S5M8767.
The Exynos 4 Quad is pin compatible with the 32nm Exynos 4 Dual, and also incorporates a full HD 30 frame per second video hardware codec engine for high resolution 1080p video recording and playback; an embedded image signal processor interface for cameras; and an HDMI 1.4 interface for connecting to home media equipment.
The new processor is sampling to major handset makers and is expected to appear in the Galaxy S3, expected to debut in the coming month. "Samsung's next Galaxy device, which will be officially announced soon, offers uncompromised performance and ground breaking multitasking features, thanks to Exynos 4 Quad's powerful performance and efficient energy management technology," said Hankil Yoon, SVP of product strategy at Samsung's mobile communications business, in a statement.