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Summary:

Dual-core applications processors are old hat by now, but as the industry moves on to quad-core processors Samsung has decided to turn the dial up to eight cores with its Exynos 5 Octa.

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Will our insatiable need for incredible graphics and demanding applications from a tablet or mobile phone ever be fulfilled? It’s hard to say, but Samsung’s newest processor core the Exynos 5 Octa, is determined to try. The company showed off an 8-core application processor Wednesday at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, which uses a combination of fast ARM Cortex A15 cores and lower-performance ARM Cortex-A7 cores to deliver raw power.

The combination of the different sized cores has been common on mobile architectures all the way back when Texas Instruments was a big player. Several early application processors used 800 Mhz cores for the heavy lifting and a smaller, 400 Mhz powered core for lighter loads. When the core wasn’t in use it was turned off to save on power. But in 2010 dual-core phones that used symmetrical processing became common and now, this year we’re seeing more quad-core systems on a chip, such as those from Qualcomm and Nvidia.

The ARM-15 cores can clock up to 2.5 GHz, so depending on the design decisions Samsung has taken, we’re looking at some serious performance possibilities. The Cortex A-7 can clock up to 1.2 Ghz per core, which isn’t exactly low-end.

To be fair this level of performance isn’t only for tablets. Companies can put these applications processors into cars, set-top-boxes and any number of devices that could possibly use eight cores.

But the Exynos 5 Octa still has the whiff of a stunt about it. No word yet on where this gargantuan system on a chip is in the production cycle and when it might make it into real devices.

  1. Unless they use big.LITTLE MP (and i highly doubt they are) , it’s a quad core since the 8 cores can’t be used at the same time and you shouldn’t propagate their false claim like this.
    If they do use big.LITTLE MP ,power consumption would get out of hand but it’s unlikely that the software is ready for that anyway.
    Samsung went the simple way here. Nvidia with an extra A15 core, TI with 2 extra M4 cores and without benchmarks it’s impossible to know who wins in power consumption and perf (not including Qualcomm because they use a different core so that’s even harder to guess).

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    1. They are using big.Little MP. And yes, without power consumption info it’s hard to know how the chips will fall.

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      1. Are you sure about that? Do you have a source for it? It sounds very unlikely to me that Samsung would force all 8 cores to work at once. And why would they? That doesn’t sound smart to me. I think they are just using regular big.Little with task migration between the two CPU clusters. That’s why I also get your from your source:

        “To expand on the big.LITTLE concept, Warren East, chief executive officer, ARM, joined Woo on stage and introduced the new technology that has just become available in silicon through the Exynos 5 Octa. Housing a total of eight cores to draw from—four powerful Cortex-A15™ processors to handle processing-intense tasks along with four additional Cortex-A7™ cores for lighter workloads—the application processor offers maximum performance and up to 70 percent higher energy efficiency compared to the previous quad-core Exynos”

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