Heads up Apple, here comes Samsung's 8-core chip

Samsung is set to begin manufacturing its eight-core phone and tablet processor in the second quarter. That's a problem for Apple because Apple is both competing with Samsung and getting its A6 from the South Korean company.

Samsung's Galaxy S4, which features its Exynos 5 Octa.

Think Apple's A6 chip packs a punch? It appears to have some stiff competition from Samsung's Exynos 5 Octa, slated for commercial production in the second quarter, the company announced today.

Featured in Samsung's Galaxy S4, Octa means it integrates a whopping eight CPU cores. Apple's A6 has two, by comparison.

While a raw core count comparison may be too simplistic, Samsung's chip, on paper, should make Apple worry -- especially since Samsung is simultaneously manufacturing the Exynos chip and Apple's A6.

The Exynos 5 Octa uses technology from chip designer ARM called big.LITTLE. In other words, there are four "big" high-performance cores (up to 1.8GHz) and four "little" power-efficient cores (up to 1.2GHz), referred to as Cortex A15 and A7, respectively.

ARM describes the Cortex A15 as suited for "heavy workloads," like gaming, and the Cortex A7 for doing more mundane workloads, such as managing operating system activities.

And Samsung is giving the graphics processor a boost too. The Exynos 5 Octa "enhances the...3D graphics processing capabilities by more than two times over the Exynos 4 Quad," Samsung said in a statement.

All that processing power is needed to drive the S4's high-resolution 5-inch, 1,920x1,080 display (that's 440 pixels per inch versus the iPhone 5's 326 pixels per inch for those keeping count).

Other Exynos 5 Octa specs include:

  • Very-high-resolution displays: Drives up to a 2,560x1,600 (WQXGA) display.
  • USB 3.0: Uses an e-MMC (embedded multimedia card) 5.0 and USB 3.0 interface for fast data transfer speeds.
  • Video hardware: Incorporates full HD 60fps (frame per second) video hardware.
  • Camera: an embedded 13 mega-pixel 30fps image signal processor interface.
  • Memory: 12.8GB/s memory bandwidth interface.
About the author

Brooke Crothers writes about mobile computer systems, including laptops, tablets, smartphones: how they define the computing experience and the hardware that makes them tick. He has served as an editor at large at CNET News and a contributing reporter to The New York Times' Bits and Technology sections. His interest in things small began when living in Tokyo in a very small apartment for a very long time.

 

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