Samsung just detailed its first Exynos 99x-series processor that is a step above the Exynos 9820 in the Galaxy S10
family, or even the 9825 in the Note 10 models. The 9820 was an odd 8nm bird that is slightly inferior to the Snapdragon 855 in the US versions of the S10 which is made with the first-gen 7nm process. The 9825 righted that wrong as it is made on the second-gen 7nm process that is also employed by Apple's newest A13.
The problem with the Galaxy S10 processor was that Samsung didn't have enough spring yield from its second-gen 7nm process made with the superior Extreme Ultra Violet (EUV) lithography to satisfy the demand, so it went with the middle ground 8nm Exynos 9820 abroad that is still made with the old fine metal mask process. This showed, both in benchmarks and in real world performance, especially when it comes to battery life, graphics and camera performance.
With the Note 10, however, the tables turned. The Exynos 9825 was the first mass-produced mobile chipset made with the latest second-gen 7nm method, and it scored impressive benchmarks. Apple's A13, however, landed with a 7nm EUV node, too, and started wiping the floor with every other Android out there, including Qualcomm's upgraded Snapdragon 855+.
This is why we decided to pit the two most important current mobile processors - Snapdragon 855 and Apple A13 - against Samsung's newest kid on the block, the Exynos 990. The Snapdragon and Apple's processor will be tiding us over at least until the spring, when the 990 and 865 enter retail devices.
Exynos 990 vs Apple A13 vs Snapdragon 855+ specs comparison
We are comparing the currently known Exynos 990 specs and features below for your viewing pleasure. For reference, we included the current Snapdragon 855 that is in most 2019 Android flagships already.
|Exynos 990||Exynos 9825||Snapdragon 855+||Apple A13|
|Production process||7nm EUV||7nm EUV||7nm (TSMC FF)||7nm (TSMC N7P)|
|Processor cores||2x Exynos M5|
2x Cortex A76
4x Cortex A55
|2x Exynos M4 @2.73GHz |
2x Cortex A75@2.4GHz
4x Cortex A55@1.95GHz
|1x Kryo 485 Gold (custom Cortex-A76) @ 2.96GHz|
3x Kryo 485 Gold (custom Cortex-A76) @ 2.42GHz
4x Kryo 485 Silver (custom Cortex-A55) @ 1.80GHz
|2x Lightning @2.66GHz|
4x Thunder @1.7GHz
|GPU||Mali-G77 MP11||Mali-G76 MP12||Adreno 640||Apple custom quad-core|
|Modem||Exynos 5123 |
Downloads up to 7.3Gbps (mmWave), 5.1Gbps (sub-6GHz), or 3Gbps (4G LTE), 8xCA
Uploads: up to 422 Mbps
Downloads up to 2Gbps, 8xCA
Uploads: up to 316 Mbps
Exynos 5100 5G modem add-on
|Snapdragon X24 LTE|
Downloads: up to 2Gbps, 7xCA
Uploads: up to 316Mbps
X50 5G modem add-on
Downloads: up to 1.6Gbps, 7xCA
Uploads: up to 225Mbps
|AI co-processor||Yes, dual-core NPU||Yes, dual-core NPU||Yes||Yes, octa-core Neural Engine|
|Video encode||4K HDR at 150fps|
8K HDR at 30fps
|4K HDR at 150fps|
8K HDR at 30fps
|4K HDR10+||4K HDR at 60fps|
|Misc.||UFS 3.0 storage support for up to 2.9GB/s speeds|
LPDDR5 memory support
Single-camera up to 108MP
120Hz display refresh rate
|UFS 3.0 storage support for up to 2.9GB/s speeds||4K HDR Bokeh Video|
8K 360 VR video playback
Always-on noise cancellation
Machine learning capable of 1 trillion operations per second
Will the Exynos 990 benchmarks be worthy of a Galaxy S11?
While we are still to see a device with Exynos 990 benchmarked, the sheer fact that it stays on the same production node as the Exynos 9825 shows that Samsung is gunning for other improvements than a mere performance/efficiency ratio upgrade.
The Exynos 990 does carry Samsung's newest 5th-gen Exynos M5 core as opposed to the M4 in 9825, and Mali-G77 GPU instead of G76, but these account for about 20% performance increase, says Samsung itself, graphics boost included. Surprisingly enough, Samsung's comparison is against the 8nm 9820, not the newer 9825, so the 990 benchmarks may not be all that impressive next to what your Note 10 can do right now.
Where the Exynos 990 stands out, however, is that it is the first mobile chipset with true DDR5 support, and the first announced with an option for integrating a 7nm mmWave 5G modem, the Exynos 5123. The modem itself is leaps and bounds above what anyone, including Qualcomm, is offering at the moment, with its peak 7Gbps download speeds, though we'd wager to guess that the upcoming Snapdragon 865
may catch up.
The Exynos 990 benchmarks will likely be similar to what the Snapdragon 865 here scores, a bit lower than A13
For now, the Exynos 990 is shaping up to be a monster of a chipset with the best that the current 7nm node can offer. The only thing that puts its existence in the Galaxy S11 at stake is the production process, as next year we should be at 5nm
Given that Apple has yet to make an A-series chip with the EUV method, and that even the latest Snapdragon 855+ is still on first-gen 7nm tech, the 5nm node may have to wait for the second half of 2020, and that may be perfectly fine, considering what the best of Exynos, Snapdragon, and especially the A-series, are currently benching. With the 7Gbps 5G modem integration and DDR5 support, however, the Exynos 990 is the best mobile chipset announced so far, at least on paper.