Samsung's Director of Marketing, System LSI, talks Exynos 5 Octa


We're seeing tons of innovation in the mobile CPU space lately, and this shouldn't really surprise anyone. These little chips are at the core of the amazing experience that our smartphones present us with. That's why we welcomed the opportunity to have a chat with Samsung's Director of Marketing, System LSI (part of Samsung Semiconductor), Akshay Agarwal - a person who's pretty well informed about Samsung's doings and intentions as far as silicon goes.

As you might expect, the recently announced Exynos 5 Octa processor quickly became the main topic of our conversation. Being quite passionate about mobile processors, we wanted to know as much as Akshay could share with us, though Samsung obviously isn't ready to disclose too much information about its latest chip yet. Anyway, we took the usual leap of faith by asking about any scheduled availability dates for the first devices to take advantage of the Exynos 5 Octa, and we weren't exactly shocked to hear the words "We're still working on the time frame." from Mr. Agarwal. However, just between you and us, it seems relatively safe to expect the Exynos 5 Octa to arrive around mid-year as part of the Galaxy S IV. If there's a suitable phone to mark the debut of the new chip, that must be it.

A stand-out feature of the Exynos 5 Octa is the ARM big.LITTLE architecture that it uses. What this means is that while the Exynos 5 Octa is indeed an octa-core processor, four of its cores should actually be considered "companion" cores. The four "little" cores are used in typical low-power tasks in order to save on battery life. In a similar manner, the Nvidia Tegra 4 also has a companion core (although just one), which makes it a penta-core CPU. Of course, we should always keep in mind that the higher number of cores doesn't always mean higher performance (just like megapixels don't always mean better image quality). By doing that Samsung hopes to both maximize performance and minimize power usage.

The four cores that will handle the resource-demanding tasks will be powered by ARM's Cortex-A15 architecture, while the four power-efficient ones will be Cortex-A7s.

Although this is technically an octa-core CPU, many could argue that this may be a bit misleading for consumers, since these are not eight equally powerful cores. And again, Nvidia hasn't branded its Tegra 3 and 4 as "penta-core" CPUs, so it has chosen a different route by not counting the companion core. However, Samsung's Agarwal argues that "going with the notion of quad would not really differentiate it [the Exynos 5 Octa] much, because there are so many quad-core processors out on the market." He then goes on to explain that the end user doesn't understand or care about the exact type of CPU used, like A9 or A15. It's not reasonable to think that everyone will have enough technical knowledge to make the difference between these technologies, so Samsung felt that it should simply go with the "Octa" term as a way of signaling the excessive power of the chipset.

You may not be aware of it, but Samsung is actually open to licensing its Exynos CPU to other device makers. The reason you may not be aware of it is that Samsung hasn't been very successful at this, at least from our standpoint. When we asked Agarwal about Samsung's position with regards to licensing the Exynos 5 Octa, he was quick to point out the customers of the current Exynos line-up, which include Lenovo and some smaller Asian companies like Meizu and Quanta, and ensured us that Samsung is devoted to broadening the range of customers of its chipset division. At this time, though, that range seems to be quite limited when compared to the penetration of its rivals in this space, Qualcomm and Nvidia. On the other hand, the South Korean giant probably doesn't have too much to worry about, seeing that it has access to a wonderful market for its processors through Samsung Mobile.

It's actually a bit surprising to hear that Samsung Mobile acts like a typical customer to Samsung's other divisions, and yet it seems it does just that.

One would think that being part of the Samsung family, the company's mobile division would be treated in a special way. Still, Agarwal wants us to know that it's a customer like any other. Following the recent break-up between Apple and Samsung, the biggest phone maker in the world doesn't admit any tension inside its chip-making division, as it continues to rely on a "broad set of customers", including the growing business of Samsung Mobile.

Even though the Exynos 5 Octa SoC will probably end up in Samsung devices only (OK, and some Asian ones too), it's safe to say that it'll be about as good as what the other manufacturers have announced in the form of the Tegra 4 and Snapdragon 800. Thankfully, we won't have to wait for too long before we can see exactly what possibilities these next-gen CPUs will enable. As we said in the beginning, it wouldn't surprise us to see the commercial debut of the Exynos 5 Octa in a few months as part of the Galaxy S IV. And, we also have no doubts that Samsung will once again update its TouchWiz UI, so that it can take advantage of the chip's power.

What new features do you guys think we'll be able to enjoy later this year, when the next-gen SoCs like the Exynos 5 Octa hit the market? How are you going to use all of this horsepower?

Hit the play button below to watch the unveiling of the Samsung Exynos 5 Octa!



FEATURED VIDEO

28 Comments

1. Joshing4fun

Posts: 1245; Member since: Aug 13, 2010

Why wouldn't other OEMs want to use this chip? i really don't get that.

3. MeoCao unregistered

The obvious thing is price, it will not be cheap. But the bigger reason is phone makers depend heavily on chip makers for software optimisation, modems.. while SS is the biggest competitors to any phone maker. This marketing guy try to convince people that they and SS Mobile are independent but I doubt many believe him.

5. AppleHateBoy unregistered

Why doesn't Samsung use it's own chipsets in their cheaper phones. For eg. Samsung should have used Exynos 4 Dual in the Galaxy S3 Mini. The performance would have been far better.

2. AppleHateBoy unregistered

I just wish it uses ARM Mali-T604. It's performance would be even better on the Galaxy S4, since the Galaxy S4's screen has half the number of pixels vs. Nexus 10's screen. If it uses Mali-T658, it would be even better, but T604 should be more than sufficient if it is optimized well.

4. Lyngdoh

Posts: 319; Member since: Sep 06, 2012

Exynos 5 octa = 808 pureview. Killing the competion too early.

6. DKMDROID

Posts: 103; Member since: Aug 09, 2011

How are those two even related they are in noway related so why even say that

18. cripton805

Posts: 1485; Member since: Mar 18, 2012

its just iDiots taking a new form.

25. Lyngdoh

Posts: 319; Member since: Sep 06, 2012

IMO samsung is too early releasing octa core. They should increase frequency and efficiency rather than just increase the number of cores and about the 808 Pureview, its also the number game. 41mp camera is beyond the proper limit of today's trend when 8mp is doing just great. Competition is always there it just seems like they are scared of being defeated. Its just like having two kids and employing 8 nannies to look after them.

20. HDShatter

Posts: 1021; Member since: Jan 17, 2013

More cores does not mean better. Look at the amd fx-8350 vs an i7, ya specs wise it should destroy the i5 but they are better in less than 1% of applications because barely anything can use more power than 4 cores and intel bet on per core performance which is much better than adding more cores.

23. T.R.O.L.L

Posts: 51; Member since: Jan 20, 2013

Cause the software isn't optimised to handle or let 8 cores do the works So if you had 20+ programs as active each CPU will utilise to push; 1 the screen, 2 the OS, 3 for the programs that are active, 4 for the net, 5 for the ....... edd etc®

27. zazori08

Posts: 113; Member since: Dec 21, 2011

the 808's OS is not optimized for multi-core processors, and if it's even optimized. they will not have fun tinkering with the software. and symbian does not really need multi-core since it's smooth even with just a single core processor.

11. SamsungFan

Posts: 201; Member since: Apr 16, 2012

Exynos 5 octa is the best chip available in the market

12. PhoneArenaUser

Posts: 5498; Member since: Aug 05, 2011

Does Exynos 5 Octa is already available in the market???

13. SamsungFan

Posts: 201; Member since: Apr 16, 2012

I mean it is the best when comparing with other a15 processors like Tegra 4 and snapdragon 800 and samsung outed the first cortex a15 processor in nexus 10

14. PhoneArenaUser

Posts: 5498; Member since: Aug 05, 2011

I see. ;)

16. T.R.O.L.L

Posts: 51; Member since: Jan 20, 2013

All 8 cores should EV been A15s, and CPU load should EV been running at pegusues, not on-deman. This chip Samsung should EV clocked it at 2.5Ghz, so you can feel the Turbo kicking in just like the i7 Intel chips®

26. Lyngdoh

Posts: 319; Member since: Sep 06, 2012

How do you know its the best when there's no benchmark comparisons yet? None of the above processors are out yet. This means that you are just assuming.

28. PhoneArenaUser

Posts: 5498; Member since: Aug 05, 2011

He is not assuming, he is trolling same as he did in comment #11.

21. HDShatter

Posts: 1021; Member since: Jan 17, 2013

8 core arm still slower than intels worst tablet processor.

15. jo_Ny

Posts: 27; Member since: Sep 05, 2012

Here we go, samsung at its finest = marketing twisters. Just because it features 8 cores doesnt mean it's a true Octa-core processor. Exynos 5 Octa is NOT able to run more than 4 cores at the same time. Whenever one A15 core light up there's one A7 that shuts down. If the tasks are heavy, A15s fire up and A7s shut down. It's called big.LITTLE Task Migration. And the tech media are buying and thus misinforming everyone. Oh and the way Nvidia implements its companion core is NOT (at all) comparable to the big.LITTLE 4+4 solution by samsung.

17. T.R.O.L.L

Posts: 51; Member since: Jan 20, 2013

Well for techies and advance users can Root there device and download a software that will give you an option to have all 8 CPUs or its up to you to have how many you want to keep active. Cool and very smart of them ®

19. cripton805

Posts: 1485; Member since: Mar 18, 2012

How many cores are on the chip and how many will it be using regardless? it will be using all 8. Doesnt matter if its all or some. It still has use of all 8 of its cores regardless... Really dumb argument you have.

22. HDShatter

Posts: 1021; Member since: Jan 17, 2013

8 cores is pointless right now, Intel is the only company that has fixed the threading issues with MIC and MIC is only available on their intel knights corner secondary cpus which are 1 teraflop and cost $2500.

29. jo_Ny

Posts: 27; Member since: Sep 05, 2012

lol @ cripton805 are you serious or just trolling? Try to understand this: this SoC can never run more that 4 cores at the same time thus is not an Octa-core cpu. You will be allways working in a quad-core environment. 2011 Omap4430 also features 2 cortex-A9 cores AND 2 Cortex-M3 cores but this doesnt make it a Quad-core, now does it?? Before calling dumb to others arguments try to actually get some knowledge about cpu architectures and how they work. Ok??

32. judriod

Posts: 2; Member since: Jan 25, 2013

rather called a DUAL QUAD core or a Quad duo chips...

24. rcwfox2002

Posts: 41; Member since: Dec 20, 2011

Samsung needs to work on a better battery.

30. Dan71

Posts: 1; Member since: Jan 23, 2013

Hi all. I made an account on phone arena after reading a part of this article. Here's the reason why: " He then goes on to explain that the end user doesn't understand or care about the exact type of CPU used, like A9 or A15. It's not reasonable to think that everyone will have enough technical knowledge to make the difference between these technologies, " So he says, people are dumb. Well, if people are dumb, they ask the ones that know the difference and are not dump and then make the smarter choice. I know the difference and i have friends that don't know anything about mobile processors and ask me, and everibody, when they buy a new phone about witch one is better. That was the dumbest explination i have ever heard of. I like samsung products but not all of them, some have such bad specks that the competition is just easyer to chose for the money.(ex owner of samsung galaxy s)

31. judriod

Posts: 2; Member since: Jan 25, 2013

Exynos 5 Octa is not an OCTA core chip, it is rather better called a DUAL QUAD core chip will be more appropriate.

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