Samsung to Unveil Eight-Core Chip for Smartphones and Tablets

Samsung is about to raise the stakes in the smartphone wars as it gets ready to detail the first mobile applications processor built around ARM's big.LITTLE architecture. Big.LITTLE is essentially an expansion of the "4-Plus-1" core technology used in NVIDIA's ARM-based Tegra 3 SoC, which is designed to deliver quad-core performance when needed and battery-saving single-core performance the rest of the time.

According to EETimes, Samsung plans to talk about an upcoming 8-core chip at the International Solid-State Circuits Conference in February. Clearly based on ARM's big.LITTLE concept, Samsung's chip will be a 28nm SoC with a pair of quad-core clusters. One of those clusters is clocked at 1.8GHz, has 2MB of L2 cache, and will tackle high-performance chores like games and other demanding apps; the other cluster runs at 1.2GHz and is tweaked for power efficiency.

Samsung Exynos

That adds up to eight cores, half of which are 32-bit ARM Cortex A15 cores and the other half derived from ARM's A7 processor.

ARM Benchmarks
Source: ARM

"We expect the Samsung part is the first big.LITTLE processor," Kevin Krewell, senior analyst with Linley Group, told EETimes. "The A7 cores should be capable of handling most tasks, with the A15 cores only required for maximum performance needs, like video games."

Could this be the chip that Samsung shoves into its upcoming Galaxy S IV smartphone? That's a very real possibility, though Samsung may opt to debut its first big.LITTLE chip in a tablet instead.