Samsung’s 7nm Exynos 9820 Mongoose M4 Could Crush Mighty ARM Cortex-A76

Samsung Exynos

Among the many market segments that Samsung competes in, the company builds its own custom processors based on ARM's architectural designs. You know these as "Exynos" chips and they are often found in the international versions of Samsung's flagship smartphones. Samsung's next top-tier chipset, the Exynos 9820, will take performance to a new level and is said to be faster than ARM's recently introduced Cortex-A76.

That's a pretty big deal, considering the Cortex-A76 is the latest and greatest from ARM. As we discussed in a previous article, the Cortex-A76 represents ARM's most radical overhaul over previous designs to date. It's a brand new architecture that brings decisive improvements to power and efficiency, as ARM's engineers concentrated their efforts on outperforming designs by the competitors with half the area and power consumption.

So where does Samsung and its Exynos 9820 fit into all this? The upcoming chipset is likely based on ARM's Cortex-A76 design, but custom built by Samsung. We're talking about the "big" cores here, in ARM's big.LITTLE architecture. GPU-wise, Samsung has a history of using off-the-shelf ARM Mali parts, so we expect the Exynos 9820 will feature a next-gen Mali G76 GPU, but that is speculation on our part. We won't know for sure until the Exynos 9820 launches.
In the meantime, online leaker Ice Universe said on Twitter that Samsung's next Exynos part featuring Mongoose M4 cores will deliver performance "far beyond" that of ARM's Cortex-A76. Even though Exynos 9820 is likely based on the Cortex-A76, the claim is plausible for a couple of reasons. The first is that Samsung's custom design on the big cores gives it some performance leeway. It's somewhat similar to what Apple does with its custom A-series processors.

Secondly, there's the clockspeed to consider. Since we are speculating, it's possible that Samsung's Exynos 9820 will feature faster clockspeeds than the Cortex-A76. ARM previously stated that the upper limited for its new processor is 3.3GHz, though realistically it's likely to be clocked below 3GHz in most smartphone devices, due to cooling constraints. So, Exynos wouldn't need to top 3.3GHz to outpace Cortex-A76.

For comparison, Samsung's existing Exynos 9810 is an 8-core SoC with four third-generation custom high performance cores operating at a heady 2.9GHz. It's not inconceivable to imagine Exynos 9820 running at 3GHz, or a tick above, depending on what refinements have taken place underneath the hood. Along those lines, it's believed that Samsung is producing its next-generation Exynos 9820 SoC on a 7-nanometer manufacturing process, down from 10nm on Exynos 9810.

As for when it will show up, there is no official information to go on yet. However, it will likely debut alongside or near the launch of Samsung's Galaxy S10 in early 2019.

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