Mobile World Congress is right around the corner, and that means the various SoC vendors are gearing up to talk about their next-generation hardware. Yesterday, Samsung announced a new Exynos processor built on its 14nm technology and aimed at midrange devices — the Exynos 7 Octa 7870.
Samsung’s verbiage implies that this new chip will tap the company’s second-generation 14nm technology (14nm LPP), rather than the 14nm LPE process that powered both the Galaxy 6’s Exynos 7 7420 and Apple’s iPhone 6. The new midrange SoC will feature eight Cortex-A53 cores clocked at up to 1.6GHz; the Korean manufacturer claims that these chips consume 30% less power than its 28nm HKMG technology while offering identical performance. This appears to be Samsung’s first foray into eight-core Cortex-A53 processors — other companies, like MediaTek and Qualcomm, have launched a number of chips in this family, but Samsung has held off.
It’s not clear how overall performance will compare against other midrange Samsung SoCs. The company’s previous 28nm chips were typically Cortex-A15 + Cortex-A7 cores in a 4+4 big.Little configuration. Data from Anandtech suggests that the Cortex-A53 is as much as 49% faster, clock-for-clock, than the older Cortex-A7 (a direct comparison against the Cortex-A15). Compare the SPEC and Geekbench results for the Cortex-A15 against the A53, and it’s clear that the 64-bit low-power CPU doesn’t compare well against the 32-bit Core-A15 in terms of absolute performance.
While I don’t expect an octa-core A53 to be a high performer, there’s a positive side to this: Samsung is clocking the Cortex-A53 at just 1.6GHz. That’s significantly lower than we saw from MediaTek at 28nm, where its CPUs often hit 1.9 – 2.1GHz — and that means these new cores should be quite power-friendly.
I’m not going to make any promises before we know if smartphones bound for the United States will use this SoC, but Samsung’s 1.6GHz octa-core might make for a great midrange smartphone with modest top-end performance but excellent battery life.
It may face some steep competition from Qualcomm when it launches. The upcoming Snapdragon 625 is also an eight-core Cortex-A53 design built on 14nm LPP at Samsung, but with a top speed of 2GHz. Expect to see both devices duking it out for market share between the two companies, though they may be confined to Asian markets, which have traditionally put more emphasis on CPU core counts.
FCC data suggests that the upcoming Samsung Galaxy J7 will pack a 3300 mAh battery, substantially more than the 2,550 mAh battery used in devices like the Galaxy S6. Combined with the power improvements at 14nm, these new phones should have excellent battery life. Samsung’s Galaxy S7 is expected to debut the company’s firstcustom CPU core, but Samsung is leaning on ARM for its midrange products and designs.
P.S.: Samsung, please do something about your product nomenclature before next year rolls around and we’re all forced to say “Exynos 8 Octa” or something equally silly.