Exynos 4412 - what's in store with the quad-core processor in the Samsung Galaxy S3

Exynos 4412 - what's in store with the quad-core processor in the Samsung Galaxy S3
This week marks the most anticipated event this smartphone season - the announcement of the Samsung Galaxy S3 on Thursday - the Android phone a lot of buyers are waiting to see before they pull the trigger on any other Android phone.

Let's play a bit of a spec preview game what will the phone offer, starting off with the new quad-core processor in it, which all hints point to be the first mobile chip with four cores made with the 32nm process - the Samsung Exynos 4412. Some US versions of the Galaxy S3 will likely come with the dual-core Snapdragon S4, which is still made with the similar 28nm process, and shows pretty stellar benchmarks in itself. With the die shrinkage you can fit more transistors on the same space, increasing performance, or opt for similar performance and smaller footprint - the end result is usually a combination of both, optimized for the smartphone realities. 

Yet the word "quad" sells, no doubt about it - even normal users who don't care what silicon is inside, register subconsciously that "quad" is more than "dual". We'd wager to say that this might be one reason Samsung stuck with Exynos 4412, instead of the Exynos 5250 dual-core, which is an entirely different generation of processor, as it is based on ARM's Cortex-A15 platform. The other reason is that the 5-series 5250 chip is built from the ground-up for tablets, as Samsung explicitly states, meaning the packaging and graphics oomph of the ARM Mali T-604 GPU inside would be an overkill for the relatively small screen of a phone. 

Exynos 5250 is made to power those 2560x1600 pixels of an eventual high-res Android tablet from Samsung, as the Koreans demonstrated to us at the CES show in January this year, or a Windows 8 slate, and that's that for now. We will eventually see a Cortex-A15 Exynos in a phone, but wouldn't be holding our breath for it this year, so let's focus on the quad-core 4412 now, shall we?

Another first for Samsung, except the production method for the quad-core 4412 beast, is that it has resisted the temptation to just slap a low-frequency core for the mundane tasks like standby and UI browsing, but used intelligent power management solutions instead. The advantage of having four cores is in multitasking and applications like web browsing, video editing and 3D games, where a lot of processes can now be run at parallel, instead of waiting for the core(s) to free up. Samsung has graced the Exynos 4412 with hot-plug functionality to turn on or off each core, as needed, and adopted a "per-core dynamic voltage and frequency scaling (DVFS)" technology. All this simply means that each core can work at any frequency in its range at any time, depending on the workload, which greatly reduces power consumption.

Samsung showed us the power consumption measurements of the Exynos 4210 in the Galaxy S II made with the 45nm process, compared to the next-gen 4212 made with 32nm. Both 4-series Exynos chipsets are based on the same ARM Cortex-A9 architecture, so there is no generation bias, as it would have been if compared to the Cortex-A15 Exynos 5-series next to it.

The charts on the right show about 40% less power consumption on average, despite the 32nm Exynos CPU being clocked higher. This is more than the 20% power draw reduction Samsung claims in the official description of Exynos 4412, but let's not forget the ARM-Mali 400 GPU inside is probably being clocked much higher for the Samsung Galaxy S3, judging from its record preliminary benchmarks.

Granted, Samsung is taking full advantage of the 32nm wafers the chip is built on to up the MHz speed on both the CPU and GPU, since it is a proven way to bring significant performance increases, while the die shrink leaves plenty of room for decreased power consumption still. 

As we saw with the leaked AnTuTu and GLBenchmark scores we are enclosing here, the end result will likely be the most powerful Android device out there, that will be gentler on the battery than the previous Samsung flagship, all else being equal.

It is not just overclocking that Samsung has done with the 4412, though, which was the reason for disappointment in some when it became clear Cortex-A9 instead of Cortex-A15 processor cores will be used. Those four cores support up to 128-bit instruction internally, double what the previous Exynos supports. The chipset also has other potential advantages like USB-on-the-go, USB-host and -device regimes, as well as a number of other options, including the ability to connect up to four memory cards. Which of those features will be unlocked in the retail Galaxy S3 is anyone's guess, though.

Still, the most overlooked feature of the quad-core Exynos 4412 has to be the new dedicated Image Signal Processor (ISP) Samsung has integrated in it. HTC made a proprietary ImageChip of its own for the One trio of handsets, instead of using the ho-hum standard ones supplied with Snapdragon or Tegra, and immediately went from mediocre in the camera department, to rivaling phones like the Xperia S or the iPhone 4S in the speed of use and quality of smartphone photos.

Given that Samsung already has a great phone camera in the Galaxy S II, we can't wait to see what it has done with the proprietary image chip in the Galaxy S3. On paper the silicon still supports 1080p video capture at 30fps, but the difference in picture quality, camera speeds and extra features could be night and day. As for the resolution - it really doesn't matter whether an 8MP or 12MP module will be used, unless you intend to print billboards of your smartphone pics.

To recap our preview of the quad-core Exynos 4412 that will more than likely power the Samsung Galaxy S3, we'd say that based on information from Samsung and some preliminary benchmark leaks, it could turn the phone in the most powerful Android handset to date with top-notch camera abilities, while the power optimizations and die shrink could make it the most frugal for its class. Thursday can't come soon enough.

Related phones

Galaxy S III
  • Display 4.8" 720 x 1280 pixels
  • Camera 8 MP / 1.9 MP front
  • Processor Samsung Exynos 4 Quad, Quad-core, 1400 MHz
  • Storage 32 GB + microSDXC
  • Battery 2100 mAh(11.60h 3G talk time)



1. bobfreking55

Posts: 866; Member since: Jul 15, 2011

i agree with the "quad is better than dual" thing when it comes to consumers. i'm already wondering how Samsung will advertise their Exynos 5 tablet compared to the next iPad (which would probably quad core). thursday can't come soon enough!

6. hung2900

Posts: 966; Member since: Mar 02, 2012

Actually quad-core CPU is useless for iOS (who needs 4 threads to use skype or listening to music in background?). I guess that they will use dual cortex A-15 (Real A6 SoC?) when the next Ipad is introduced in March 2013. However, if SS introduces a tablet in summer 2013, it will probably quad cortex A15. But I dont know why SS still uses 32nm process for Exynos 5 which is quite obsolete compared to 20nm process of TSMC chips.

16. cheetah2k

Posts: 2198; Member since: Jan 16, 2011

No. TSMC's planned 20nm production begins in 2013. CurrentlyTSMC only produce non-HKMG 28nm S4's. TSMC's 28nm HKMG trial process was having major yield issues as far back as Oct 2011, which is why they've chosen to use a substandard 'last gate' approach non-HKMG for the S4 until the end of 2012 (and another reason why TSMC has indicated chip shortages throughout 2012) So that leaves Samsungs ever so slightly more "conservative" 32nm HKMG Exynos, based on 'first gate' tech which is designed from the ground up using already proven high yield CPU's produced by the IBM/GLOFOUNDRY Alliance (AMD) Your guess is as good as mine as to what will come out on top, but I'm hedging my bets on the Exynos:)

21. rd_nest

Posts: 1656; Member since: Jun 06, 2010

Full technical specs for 4412 below: http://8gpad.com/?p=302 Also read from XDA: http://www.xda-developers.com/android/the-galaxy-s-iii-s5e4412-processor-a-hackers-overview/ This SoC supports up to 128bits internally. Cortex-A8 and A9 cores work on 64 bits at a time, and the Cortex-A15 does 128 bits. So it looks like Samsung pulled the wider NEON unit from the A15 to put in their A9's.

32. hung2900

Posts: 966; Member since: Mar 02, 2012

You're right but I meant the quad Cortex-A15 Exynos , not the dual-core. I don't remember exactly but I saw an article said that SoC Exynos 5450 Quad-core would be introduced in 2013 with 32nm HKMG process.

17. kshell1

Posts: 1143; Member since: Oct 05, 2011

They said 20nm was coming not that it was already here, plus they made it at 32nm because have you seen the shortages going on with the 28nm s4 chips? Samsung was probably trying to get as efficient as they could with creating shortages for themselves.

23. PackMan

Posts: 277; Member since: Mar 09, 2012

Exynos 5xxx is not going to come out before OMAP5, that's a fact.

35. remixfa

Posts: 14605; Member since: Dec 19, 2008

the 5250 is supposed to be in tablets in the second half of 2012 so I'd check your facts. OMAP5 has been eerily quiet. don't get caught up on a NM numbers game. a more advanced 32nm can squash a 28nm easily. just like an advanced 4cylender can squash a 6 cylendar. Samsung has already shown they should have a battery and power advantage over the s4. btw phone arena.. quit perpetuating the s4 rumor. it doesn't make a bit of sense. Samsung has lte working on 4412 and they have more than. enough chips to go around.

43. Phullofphil

Posts: 1757; Member since: Feb 10, 2009

There is an artical saying that a Samsung officer or official or what ever there corporate people are called said stateside s3 would be the s4 so it is more than a rumor but still not for sure I guess

49. kshell1

Posts: 1143; Member since: Oct 05, 2011

Why in the hell would it be the s4 and what kind of stuff you been smoking to see those rumors?

50. remixfa

Posts: 14605; Member since: Dec 19, 2008

yea an "unnamed samsung official". AKA, its an unsubstantiated rumor. However, an actual NAMED samsung official, in an actual interview article, said that LTE and HSPA+ 42 was a priority for the 4412 and 5250, and that they both work perfectly fine with the new chips and they have their own solution. They wanted to avoid having to switch out chips again. The S4 rumor is a propagation of some lonely website that got regurgitated by every other site that picked up the story and wanted a new S3 rumor for the day. Now its been regurgitated so often people think its fact... when its not.

2. kshell1

Posts: 1143; Member since: Oct 05, 2011

Strongest phone on the planet yet again Sammy.

4. Jimstar

Posts: 259; Member since: Oct 24, 2011

until quad core s4's and OMAP5s start rolling out, though knowing Samsung they'll be among the buyers of at least the S4's too.

20. bobfreking55

Posts: 866; Member since: Jul 15, 2011

then the next exynos crushes quad s4 and omap5. BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA. Rumors for the Galaxy S4 starts now!

36. samfrancisco

Posts: 12; Member since: Feb 26, 2012

The next Nexus phone first!

3. wendygarett unregistered

I dunno... hope the touchwiz ui change and that all i want

5. wendygarett unregistered

please dont give me a thunb down... im only 14 and know nothing about these chips stuff... at least im learning :)

11. kshell1

Posts: 1143; Member since: Oct 05, 2011

Its fine ive only been learning since August myself and im 15. If you ever need help email me. Its on my page.

25. kshell1

Posts: 1143; Member since: Oct 05, 2011

Anyway I accidently bricked my e4gt so later when i get home from school Im going to get the new NAND memory chip i ordered and sauter it in.

33. vijay0715

Posts: 10; Member since: Feb 28, 2012

Me too :)

44. Phullofphil

Posts: 1757; Member since: Feb 10, 2009

Learning is partly being disappointed at first and growing from the experience. So I am giving yo your first disappointment and thumbing you down kid

45. Phullofphil

Posts: 1757; Member since: Feb 10, 2009

But keep the interest alive maybe you will be a developer considering you are starting earlier than most

46. Phullofphil

Posts: 1757; Member since: Feb 10, 2009

Oh and don't worry if you get thumbed down if your not getting thumbed down every so often your not trying hard enough

10. azri05 unregistered

Dun worry kid, u r not alone. Many customer also want the same thing. Here some thumbs up for ya

13. wendygarett unregistered

its stupid that hanging with those ifans and keep sayin A5 chips is better than latest qualcomm and exynos... but now thanks to PA i know abit more those chips... kinda geek but...

15. kshell1

Posts: 1143; Member since: Oct 05, 2011

If you want to learn more about qualcomm or exynos they should have it on their website somewhere lol.

18. PackMan

Posts: 277; Member since: Mar 09, 2012

Here, thumps up for you kid.

37. remixfa

Posts: 14605; Member since: Dec 19, 2008

the A5 chip is a rebranded 4210 exynos dual core with a different GPU. Its the same chip found in the GalaxyS2, but under clocked to 800mhz

47. Phullofphil

Posts: 1757; Member since: Feb 10, 2009

I believe exenos chips have been having the upper hand the last year or two tegera comes out with the chips first but usually are the slowest ones. Texas instruments has had really good chips in the past. I believe apples iPhone and iPad have there tech all come from mostly Samsung. Wich is weird with all the bad blood in the recent press about patents. Samsung have been doing really good with processors and screens in mobile phones lately. But stuff changes fast

7. grif_

Posts: 61; Member since: Apr 28, 2012


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