Samsung on Wednesday rolled out a new flagship Exynos 9 series 9820 system-on-chip (SoC) for mobile devices. Likely destined for the Galaxy S10, the Exynos 9820 brings together eight processor cores bolstered by a neural processing unit (NPU), making it equipped for on-device artificial intelligence applications.
Sporting an enhanced architecture design, the Exynos 9820 features a tri-cluster architecture consisting of two fourth generation custom CPU cores for "ultimate processing power," a pair of ARM Cortex-A75 cores for "optimal performance," and four Cortex-A55 cores for "greater efficiency." An intelligent task scheduler juggles workloads appropriately, resulting in what Samsung claims is a 15 percent boost in multi-core performance compared to the previous generation Exynos 9810, and up to 20 percent better single-core performance. It's also capable of increasing power efficiency by up to 40 percent.
As with almost everything these days, Samsung is touting the Exynos 9820's AI prowess. The onboard NPU is a separate hardware AI accelerator that performs AI tasks around seven times faster than the previous version, Samsung says. Having the NPU onboard also means the Exynos 9820 can carry out AI tasks locally rather than sending the task to a server. Samsung says not only is this faster, but it's also more secure.
"As AI-related services expand and their utilization diversify in mobile devices, their processors require higher computational capabilities and efficiency," said Ben Hur, vice president of System LSI marketing at Samsung Electronics. "The AI capabilities in the Exynos 9 Series 9820 will provide a new dimension of performance in smart devices through an integrated NPU, high-performance fourth-generation custom CPU core, 2.0Gbps LTE modem and improved multimedia performance."
On the graphics side, Samsung embedded the latest Mali-G76 cores into the Exynos 9820. Depending on the workload, these GPU cores can either increase performance by around 40 percent, or boost power savings by around 35 percent, according to Samsung.
The ability to record at 4K is a given for any new flagship chipset, but the Exynos 9820 kicks things up a notch by supporting 8K video encoding and decoding at 30 frames per second. That's more of a bragging point though, than a useful feature for the typical user—4K is still relatively new in the mainstream. For 4K content, it can encode and decode at 150 fps. It also renders colors in 10-bit.
Samsung says the Exynos 9820 will be in mass production by the end of the year. That's presumably at least a couple of months before the Galaxy S10 arrives, assuming it gets announced on or around Mobile World Congress in February 2019.