Samsung is rumoured to be working on a new 8-core CPU design for its smartphones and tablets, but the focus could be more on power efficiency than grunt.
EE Times is reporting that Samsung will unveil a new Exynos processor in February next year, which is believed to reference the ARM big.LITTLE processor architecture. This means that the new chip would include four lower-powered Cortex-A7 cores, clocked at 1.2GHz, and four high-demand 1.8GHz Cortex-A15 cores, with the latter making use of the latest 28nm semi-conductor manufacturing process.
ARM's big.LITTLE processor design is similar in concept to the companion core we saw on the Nvidia Tegra 3. Basically, the system analyses the workload and allocates tasks into two categories: high-demand processes, like controlling animations or rendering web pages, which are sent to the A15 cores; and low-power tasks, like music playback, which are moved over to the A7 cores. The gains in efficiency should provide a lower power profile overall, which ARM estimates could result in a 70 per cent gain in battery life.
Interestingly, in ARM's own reference designs, the chipset doesn't include a graphics processing unit (GPU). Instead, all power-hungry tasks that would be dealt with by a GPU are handled by the A15 cores. We'll have to wait until February to see whether Samsung follows the ARM design as closely, or whether it sees the benefit in adding dedicated graphics processing to the mix.
Samsung's new Galaxy S4 handset is also tipped to be unveiled in February, but at an entirely different expo. With this being the case, it is unlikely that we'll see this 8-core monster powering a smartphone so soon.