Meet the chip that will power the Samsung Galaxy S10

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Samsung (NASDAQOTH: SSNLF) is the world’s largest smartphone maker by unit share, capturing 21.7% of the market in 2017, according to the International Data Corporation. The company is also a major manufacturer of key components that go into smartphones such as DRAM, NAND flash, camera sensors and even application processors.

Last quarter, Samsung reported that its semiconductor business generated operating profit of just over $ 12 billion, representing about 77.7% of the company’s total operating profit. Memory semiconductor sales represented approximately 85% of the Company’s total semiconductor sales in the quarter.

Image source: Samsung.

This is because Samsung not only operates its own chip manufacturing operations – it makes chips for itself and on a contract basis for others – but it also designs its own application processors for a range of its own devices. . The company’s flagship smartphones, the Galaxy S and Note series, for example, are available in variants powered by processors designed by Samsung. These processors are sold under Samsung’s Exynos brand.

On November 14, Samsung announced the next member of its Exynos application processor family and the chip that will surely power some of the company’s Galaxy S10 and Galaxy Note smartphones over the next year: Exynos 9820. Here’s what that you need to find out.

New processor, faster LTE, AI engine

Samsung says the Exynos 9820 has a new custom-designed processor core that “delivers about a 20% improvement in single-core performance or 40% in power efficiency over its predecessors which can load data. or switch between apps much faster ”.

Multicore performance, according to the company, is up “by about 15%.”

The Exynos 9820 includes two of these custom processors, two of Arm Holdings Cortex A75 cores, and four of Arm’s low-power Cortex-A55 cores, for a total of 10 cores.

The chip also incorporates Arm’s Mali-G76 graphics cores, which Samsung says offers “a 40% performance increase or 35% power savings, allowing for longer playing time of mobile games at graphic intensive or interactive [augmented reality] applications. “

Samsung is also following the trend Apple and Huawei’s HiSilicon set by integrating a dedicated “neural processing unit” that the South Korean giant claims “to perform [artificial intelligence] tasks about seven times faster than the predecessor. “

And finally, the Exynos 9820 has a cellular modem capable of download speeds of 2 gigabits per second.

Manufacturing technology and calendar

Samsung’s Exynos 9810 was built using the company’s second-generation 10-nanometer technology, known as LPP 10nm. The Exynos 9820, according to Samsung, is built using the company’s 8nm LPP technology, which WikiChip describes as an “extension” of the 10nm LPP.

The 8nm LPP, Samsung explains, “reduces power consumption by up to 10% compared to the 10nm LPP process.”

In other words, it looks like the big performance and efficiency increases in the Exynos 9820 come largely from design improvements rather than the change in manufacturing technology.

The company says this chip is expected to be in series production by the end of 2018, which is the right timeline for a chip that is expected to power its upcoming flagship Galaxy S10 smartphones in the first half of 2019.

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