Samsung plans to introduce a new processor for phones, tablets and other mobile devices in February. Some folks are calling the new chip an 8-core processor, and that’s actually kind of true. But really, it will offer the performance of a high-end quad-core ARM-based processor and the power savings of a low-power quad-core ARM chip.

That’s because it will have 4 ARM Cortex-A15 high performance cores as well as 4 Cortex-A7 cores, arranged in a big.LITTLE configuration.


Big.LITTLE is ARM’s chip design that lets you pair a low power companion core with a high performance chip. When a phone or tablet is idle or performing basic tasks, it can shut down the high power core to save power and rely on the companion core.

Right now, Samsung’s highest performance ARM-based chip is the Samsung Exynos 5250 dual-core ARM Cortex-A15 processor. That’s the chip found in the $249 Samsung Chromebook and $399 Google Nexus 10 tablet.

According to EE Times, Samsung will unveil its new quad-core variant in at a conference in February.

The chip will be based on a 28nm design. The Cortex-A15 cores will run at speeds as high as 1.8 GHz and feature 2 MB of L2 cache. The Cortex-A7 cores will go up to 1.2 GHz.

While Samsung is introducing the new processor in February, we probably won’t see it in actual products until later in the year. Samsung introduced the Exynos 5250 almost a full year before that chip actually started shipping.

via Android Headlines and reddit

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11 replies on “Samsung working on quad-core ARM Cortex-A15 chip with 4 extra low power cores”

  1. the arm 15 as a dual core is faster than most 4cores even in a theoretical sense. this isn’t like the introduction of the tegra2 where it was a less than stellar core but it had the benefit of having 2 of them. this is taking the best and making it better. there is nothing bad about that.

  2. Kind of odd. What is the situation where you’d need 4 low-power cores running, rather than a smaller number of fast cores. I can totally understand the chips announced to this point with one little core for idle tasks and low-power use, and two or more fast cores that can be spun up when needed.

  3. So, is there an increasing trend in mobile OS apps that take advantage of 4 or more cores?

    So far, on the desktop side, software that can utilize 4 or more cores are mostly targeted towards small groups of users.

    1. I’d rather have a higher frequency dual core than a lower frequency quad core.

  4. Definitely looking forward to it.

    I am wondering whether there will be an afterburner mode, when all 8 cores remain active.

    1. No, the point of using two sets of cores is they’re both optimized for the opposite extremes. The A15 cores provide good performance but aren’t as good at power efficiency. While the A7 cores are good at power efficiency but not as good at performance.

      So it’ll be like switching gears while driving… thus the concept of big.LITTLE as it’s really hard to make a processor both a good performer and still be really power efficient past a certain point.

  5. With chips like that and if Google decides to create a REAL desktop OS (ChromeOS is a joke) running on ARM, the couple Intel/MS would need to really worry.
    But if Windows keeps on running on x86 chips exclusively, ChromeOS stays limited and internet centric, it’s ARM chips makers who need to worry.
    Android/iOS, on tablets, has a couple of years left ’till W8/W9 and Atom machines penetrate the market (because of cheaper hybrid devices than OEMs try to sell today).
    W8 is off to a bad start but because it’s unnecessary on non touch laptops/PCs, W7 is a good OS (low incentive to upgrade), the learning curve (for W8) is more justified on a touch enabled device (hybrids) and because these new W8 machines are too expensive for the vast majority of people for now (the economic crises doesn’t help either. It’s slow down the upgrading rate considerably).
    When more and more OEMs lower the price of their tablets/hybrids, people will make the jump.
    When W9 arrives (if it’s optimized and gives people a choice on using the new UI or not) on the market, MS will be able to expect the same market share they have now in the PC’s one.

    1. ChromeOS is not a joke, merely a foretaste of the Internet-centric computing that is to come, and it’s extremely unlikely that MS will ever dominate the mobile space as it has desktop — a market that it essentially dominated from day one. This time they are a long long way behind. They will no doubt catch up, but neither Apple nor Google will be resting on their laurels while they do.

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