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 inches
    1280 x 720 pixels
  • Camera 8 MP (Single camera)
    1.9 MP front
  • Hardware Samsung Exynos 4 Quad, 1GB RAM
  • Storage 32GB, microSDXC
  • Battery 2100 mAh
  • OS Android 4.3
    Samsung TouchWiz UI

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52 Comments

52. troy200550

Posts: 1; Member since: Jul 31, 2012

Il apreciate someone recomend a fast cpu abouth 2ghz.. i like video streaming and stuff but most phone apps can only use one core,,, having 12 core just heat up your phone cuz youre only using one anyway

48. darac

Posts: 2156; Member since: Oct 17, 2011

This sounds like way way better chip than tegra 3, in every respect. So much more than just a doubled and clocked up previous Exynos. So if I understood correctly, on top of all it also incorporates asynchronous mode like quad core s4? I just might end up buying the galaxy s3

42. Vrils

Posts: 42; Member since: Sep 17, 2011

so you are saying Samsung doesn`t use Exynos 5250 because it would be too powerfull for today phones and god forbid you can hold your phone more than 2 years! it would be a shame if you could buy a powerfuul phone today whoch you could use 4-5 years, noooo we don`t want that cause that doesn`t bring enough money, Apple style !

39. fwinst

Posts: 64; Member since: May 08, 2010

The processing power of a dual core as opposed the the quad core will likely make little real world, daily difference for me. However, the thing that bugs me is that by installing the Qualcomm chip into the U.S. versions, we lose out on the dedicated ISP that is supposed to dramatically improve the camera. I'm annoyed by that.

31. superguy

Posts: 480; Member since: Jul 15, 2011

I'd love to see a US phone not get gimped because we actually use LTE. While Korea's frequency bands may be different, if they can put a full quad core solution in Korea, why not do it for the US too? Or even better, build the flexibility into the Korea model so it can be used in both the US and Korea.

34. hung2900

Posts: 966; Member since: Mar 02, 2012

Cos Qualcomm's suck. They wanna keep the monopoly power with LTE radio chip of their crapdragon SoCs.

38. superguy

Posts: 480; Member since: Jul 15, 2011

Still doesn't explain how Korea's getting a quad core. Question is if they're going to use a Qualcomm or Nvidia for Korea ... or if they have an Exynos that will work with LTE there. I'm already not a fan of Qualcomm. I'm using one in my Rezound. While it's not terrible, I know it could be a lot better than what I have.

40. fwinst

Posts: 64; Member since: May 08, 2010

LTE in Korea works on a different frequency than that of LTE in the US. It's just easier for Samsung to use the Qualcomm chip in the States. I'm sure Sammy wouldn't have bothered with making a chip for Korea if that wasn't home.

41. superguy

Posts: 480; Member since: Jul 15, 2011

I know they're different frequencies. The question is why can't they add support for the US frequencies while they're adding Korea's in? I'd think that'd be easier than designing a whole solution around a completely different chip.

30. mobilefuture

Posts: 224; Member since: Nov 12, 2011

*mind

29. mobilefuture

Posts: 224; Member since: Nov 12, 2011

DAMN! I have alot to learn about mobile tech. I thought i knew alot but after reading these "chip" articles and comments im baffled. Well i got the whole summer. Also kshell1 i wouldnt mins having some explanation dropped off at my email. :)

27. Xquisite

Posts: 87; Member since: Apr 23, 2012

I've used the Galaxy SII, HTC Rezound, Galaxy Nexus, HTC One S, and the iPhone 4/s. They're all extremely fast in my opinion ( I don't play many games besides temple run so idk how they perform in gaming), so I honestly don't see the reason for a quad core. Sure if the U.S. version had a quad core cpu it would be a plus, but it certainly wouldn't be a deal breaker if it didn't have it. I also don't know too much about phone cpus, but if they're like computer CPUs that means apps need to be optimized to use them. On some computer programs dual cores outperform quad core cpus because the program is optimized for a dual core cpu.

28. XiphiasGladius

Posts: 813; Member since: Aug 21, 2011

True even the dualcore S3 (crapdragon) running Sony Xperia S beats the Tegra3 (quadcore) HTC one X in the web browsing department.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YzFbVvscrEo

51. remixfa

Posts: 14605; Member since: Dec 19, 2008

are we watching the same video? They go back and forth between who loads what page faster. you need to look at the lil spin wheel on the xperia S .. it doesnt stop moving before the T3 all the time. Also, the T3 is way better at gliding over the page, zooming, and reformating the screen for easier reading, the latter which the Xperia doesnt even do. There is a lot more going on under the hood of the T3 because of the Sense optimizations for browsing, than there is on the Xperia's stock browser. Even with those optimizations, they run about the same loading.. which means the T3 is doing a better job since its doing all the extra stuff at the same time.

26. XiphiasGladius

Posts: 813; Member since: Aug 21, 2011

I don't care about the hardware anymore, cuz we already know it's a no brainer when it comes to Samsung's Flagship Battle Cruisers (Beastly). I'm wishing they'd make a hell of a leap in the improvements of their design/aesthetics for this phone in order for the to finally put the icing in the apple cake.

24. grif_

Posts: 61; Member since: Apr 28, 2012

if its more power efficient then adding a bigger battery would be great.

22. xenonn1

Posts: 19; Member since: Apr 13, 2012

Hope to see a big battery in this monster and touchwiz 5.0.

19. 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.

14. rg987

Posts: 130; Member since: Dec 29, 2011

i think, that invitation card........that SAMSUNG sent to invited people..............has those blue and white ceramic colours bcoz .........the black coloured S3 will have white coloured CERAMIC coating And the White coloured S3 will have blue coloured CERAMIC COATING........and if it is so.....S3 would look marvellous in both colors....

8. grif_

Posts: 61; Member since: Apr 28, 2012

stupid auto correct! Exynos:p

7. grif_

Posts: 61; Member since: Apr 28, 2012

Enynos:)

9. azri05 unregistered

U r just got smartphowned

12. kshell1

Posts: 1143; Member since: Oct 05, 2011

Enynos? Exynos*

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: 1846; 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: 1846; Member since: Feb 10, 2009

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

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