Samsung introduces Exynos 5 Octa CPU with 8-cores… kinda

Samsung has announced plans for a new chip it’s calling the Exynos 5 Octa. It’s sort of an 8-core processor, but it’s really probably better to think of it as a quad-core ARM Cortex-A15 processor with some extra power saving features.

That’s because the Octa uses ARM’s big.LITTLE architecture to pair four high-power CPU cores with four lower-power cores. When you need performance, the beefier chips will do the heavy lifting. When you can get by with the lower power cores, they’ll handle the grunt work to help reduce power consumption and give your phone, tablet, Chromebook, or other device longer battery life.

samsung exynos 5 octa

Samsung started talking about this design back in November, but during a press event at CES today, the company gave the upcoming chip the Octa name.

Calling it an 8-core chip is a bit like calling NVIDIA’s Tegra 3 and 4 a 5-core chip, since they’re both quad-core processors with low-power companion cores. For that matter, Tegra 4 has 72 graphics cores… so it’s kind of a 77-core chip.

Update: Actually, ARM’s big.LITTLE architecture does allow you to use all 8 cores at once — so this really is an octo-core processors. It’s just that 4 of the cores will be much more powerful than the rest. thanks octobeast!

But ultimately it’s not the number of cores that are important here. While multi-core processors can improve performance in tasks that support multiple threads, improve battery life by distributing the load among different cores, and improve multitasking, there are other core architecture elements that affect a chip’s overall performance.

And that’s why we probably won’t know whether the Samsung Exynos 5 Octa, NVIDIA Tegra 4, or Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 will be king of the hill until all three chips are released later this year.

For now, Samsung’s dual-core Exynos 5250 ARM Cortex-A15 is already one of the most powerful ARM-based processors on the market.

via Engadget and Gizmodo

  • menting

    if they can make it such that for the most demanding tasks, all 4 of the A15 cores as well as all 4 of the A7 cores are put to use, that would be very impressive.
    Of course, it’ll probably overheat, so doubt that’ll happen.

    • http://soltesza.wordpress.com/ sola

      It is only a matter of thermal management and battery management. Even now, then Exynos5250 (dual) is thermally restricted in the ARM ChromeBook so if the thermal management system reaches a certain threshold, it downclocks the A15 cores.

      So, if the peak-performance requirement is not continuous, they system can easily manage all of the 8 cores at full power.

      • menting

        I think it’s much more complicated than that. The power planes that provide power to the cores have to be designed for it as well, as instantaneous power draw might cause the voltage droop to be too much to be stable. Not to mention all the extra logic needed for the cores to have their own private memory in that case (right now I think it’s shared between 1 A15 and 1 A7 core.

  • Guest

    The low power space is where most of the action is…great to see ARM, AMD delivering low power performance, relieving us from INTEL give them The ATOM N2600 and they will buy it even if it was fairly bad….

  • octobeast

    “Calling it an 8-core chip is a bit like calling NVIDIA’s Tegra 3 and 4 a 5-core chip, since they’re both quad-core processors with low-power companion cores”

    This is not so.

    Samsung (afaik) have specified the big.LITTLE usage model, (see http://www.linaro.org/linaro-blog/2011/12/15/big-little-technology-two-usage-models/)

    It might be using the MP model, in which case it genuinely is an 8 core beast.

    • octobeast
      • http://www.liliputing.com/ Brad Linder

        Thanks! And that is interesting… not sure how I missed it!

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jean-Luc-Aufranc/100000690503162 Jean-Luc Aufranc

      Octobeast is right. There are 2 ways to use big.LITTLE. IKS in case it’s really using 4 cores, and HMP which will be able to use all 8 cores. cnxsoft

  • leo

    Time to trademark the term: dual-quad, i guess

  • http://soltesza.wordpress.com/ sola

    If they put this in a new ARM Chromebook, I will have to buy that one too :)