Samsung's processor foundries missed one production cycle of the flagship Snapdragon 8-series processor and their new and superior extreme ultraviolet (EUV) lithography didn't win the hearts of Qualcomm's management for the production of Snapdragon 865, either.
Qualcomm revealed at the 865's unveiling that it is done with TSMC's second-generation 7nm process, the same one that allowed Apple to cram 8.6 billion transistors in its A13 chipset in the iPhone 11
The Exynos 990 that will be powering the global Galaxy S20
models, however, has Samsung's 5G modem integrated while for Snapdragon 865 the X55 modem comes as a separate entity that manufacturers can tack on for easier onboarding of the complicated 5G connectivity.
Thus, we are going to see a real competition in the world of mobile processing units this year, as Samsung's Exynos 990 and Snapdragon 865 chipset lines will be done at separate foundry production facilities but on the same second-gen 7nm process. The Snapdragon 855 that is in the Galaxy S10
for the US is done at the first-gen 7nm production node, while Exynos 9820 for the global versions is on 8nm.
Qualcomm promised up to 25% performance gains at the same clock speeds between 855 and 865, and thus, the Galaxy S20 will eventually thus have a chipset that is much faster than the fastest Android chips at the moment, with the corresponding graphics subsystem gains.
The big bump, however, is in the value-added features like multi-mode 5G, high-res camera support, or up to 144Hz display refresh rates. Here is a quick comparison table with all the known Snapdragon 865 features against the Exynos 990 and some other notables.
Snapdragon 865 and 855+ vs Exynos 990 vs Apple A13 specs comparison
We are comparing the currently known Exynos 990 and Snapdragon 865 specs and features below for your viewing pleasure. For reference, we include the Snapdragon 855 and Apple A13 that are in 2019 flagships already.
|Exynos 990 (Galaxy S20)||Snapdragon 865 (Galaxy S20)||Snapdragon 855+||Apple A13|
|Production process||7nm+ EUV||7nm (TSMC N7P)||7nm (TSMC FF)||7nm (TSMC N7P)|
|Processor cores||2x Exynos M5|
2x Cortex A76
4x Cortex A55
|1x 2.84GHz A77|
3x 2.42GHz A77
4x 1.8GHz A55
|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||Adreno 650 at 587MHz||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
|X55 5G modem add-on|
up to 7 Gbps over 5G, and 2.5 Gbps download speeds on LTE
|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||Yes||Yes, octa-core Neural Engine|
|Video encode||4K HDR at 150fps|
8K HDR at 30fps
|8K HDR||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
|LPDDR5 memory support||4K HDR Bokeh Video|
8K 360 VR video playback
Always-on noise cancellation
Machine learning capable of 1 trillion operations per second
Galaxy S20+ vs Galaxy S10 benchmarks, Snapdragon 865 vs 855 score
In addition, we already got tipped by Droidshout
the first benchmark of the US Galaxy S20+ version
that recently appeared at the FCC, and made a quick comparison with its S10 equivalent running on Android 10 as well.
As you can see, the Snapdargon 865 in the S20+ scores a fair bit higher for the same clock speed, as can be expected, and the S20+ is listed as having 12GB RAM, perhaps even in the base version.
While a 25% performance gain is nothing to sniff at when compared to Snapdragon 855, the added value of today's chipsets are not the clock speeds - they are high enough as it is - but rather the accompanying features and especially the modems now that we have 5G connectivity to support, too.
Based on the Snapdragon 865 and Exynos 990 specs alone, we can deduce that, yes, the Galaxy S20 will indeed sport a 108MP camera, have fast DDR5 memory, and a display refresh rate of 120Hz.
Moreover, Samsung's finest for the spring season would be capable of smooth 8K video recording, and up to 7.5Gbps download speeds on mmWave networks like Verizon's 5G. All specs that you don't even have on your high-end laptop at home, and sound pretty crazy to have in your phone, but may very well become reality before March has rolled out in earnest.