Just a week before its Samsung Mobile Unpacked 2012 event where it will announce "the next galaxy smartphone," Samsung has officially announced what SoC will be inside. The answer is Exynos 4 Quad, which is no doubt the Exynos 4412 we've heard about before. Exynos 4 Quad is built on Samsung's 32nm HKMG process and consists of 4 ARM Cortex A9s running at up to 1.4 GHz. Samsung reports 20% lower power with Exynos 4 Quad over Exynos 4 Dual (4210), though it doesn't say at what clocks or workload. In the past, Samsung has claimed 40% lower power on 32nm HKMG compared to their 4xnm process.

Samsung also notes that Exynos 4 Quad has power gating on all four A9s, in addition to per core frequency and voltage scaling. This is an interesting move away from the one frequency plane shared across all cores architecture of Exynos 4210, and to the aSMP (asynchronous SMP) architecture similar to what Qualcomm has so far exclusively used. Samsung doesn't note what GPU blocks are inside Exynos 4 Quad, however Mali400MP4 at higher clocks seems likely. Samsung notes that the Exynos 4 Quad is both package (12 x 12 x 1.37 mm) and pin compatible with the 32nm Exynos 4 Dual (4212). Lastly, Samsung Semiconductor hasn't updated its A9 series catalog page, however I woud fully expect the new SoC to pop up before day's end. 

Update: Samsung Semi has also uploaded a YouTube video demonstrating the Exynos 4 Quad and Exynos 5 Dual SoCs. Exynos 5 is shown powering a WQXGA display, and there are some clear shots of the Exynos 4 Quad running GLBenchmark Egypt.

Source: Exynos 4 Quad Minisite, Korea Newswire

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  • SilentSin - Thursday, April 26, 2012 - link

    So what does that say about the power profiles when the phone is actually in use or you're using it to play games? How intelligent is the power gating? All they are showing is that the worst case scenario for a quad core is far worse than the worst case for a dual and the return on that for the end user on a phone is going to be very small. If 2 of the cores are power gated 99% of the time wtf was the purpose of including them in the first place? Use the space for a better GPU.
  • UpSpin - Thursday, April 26, 2012 - link

    If an app only needs 1 core, only 1 core will be active. If an app only needs two cores, only two cores will be active and the SoC will consume as much as a dual core, if an app needs 3 or 4 cores, 3 or 4 cores will be active and the app will run significantly faster than on a dual core, but therefore consume more power than the dual core, still probably the same as the SGSII which is build on 45nm. I really don't see your problem.
  • SilentSin - Thursday, April 26, 2012 - link

    I just think it's a complete waste and winds up holding the overall performance back for the vast majority of use cases. 2 or 1 core usage will happen much more frequently. Speaking hypothetically: Max speed of a dual core is 2GHz , max speed on 2 of 4 cores on a quad is 1.5GHz . Who wins on the most common usages? Unless the 4412 profiles are using some form of "turbo" and the running cores at the same frequency as a dual core would be at this is fairly useless imo. The fact that the A15 chips will go back to using a dual core architecture should say something..Faster individual cores, better GPU, or higher memory throughput would be a better use of die space and power.
  • S20802 - Thursday, April 26, 2012 - link

    It will finally boil down to how well the operating system manages processor core affinity. If an app needs 100% of one core then it could get scheduled exclusively on one core instead of sharing it with other apps with a single core processor. In case of dual core the chances of a single app getting 100% improves but not as much as in a quad. Then there is multithreading. But most apps are hopelessly multithreaded unfortunately.
  • Conficio - Thursday, April 26, 2012 - link

    If an app only needs 1 core ==should be==> If all apps running only need 1 core

    If an app only needs two core ==should be==> If all apps running only need two cores

    The problem becomes that apps running in background and the app running in parallel with the OS, etc. will eat up your battery and you don't really know who is at fault.

    I'd love to see the OS schedule the core count intelligently. When powered, like in the car, or on my desk, run more cores then when on battery and give me an extended battery option that I can switch, because I know I'll be going on a hike or travel and power will not be easy to come by.
  • NeoteriX - Thursday, April 26, 2012 - link

    Your general premise I agree with, but you're still an idiot. :)

    It's not a marketing "gimmick," it's the best Samsung could do under the circumstances. Everyone wishes that instead of quad A9 cores, this would be an A15 device but they are not ready. NO ONE has put out an A15 cortex based into production yet and the delays are just evidence of the immense challenges in designing new architecture and the fabrication process.

    Keep in mind that only Qualcomm licenses the ARM instruction set and has any personal say in terms of releasing next generation architecture (which it has with the S4); everyone else, TI, nVidia, Freescale, Apple, and Samsung licenses the processor design, so they are at the mercy of that process as well.

    Faced with the need to introduce a second generation processor without second generation architecture, they are forced to either increase clock speeds or increase cores. We're already hitting the points of diminishing returns in terms of clock speeds on the A9 architecture, and so the most power efficient way of introducing noticeably stronger performance is by switching up to quad core.

    Now you're right that many Android processes are lightly threaded, reducing the gains that quad core brings to the table, particularly against an A15 or S4. So yes, faster core architecture in less cores is more ideal. However, it's not a marketing scam, and there certainly are not the battery life concerns you raise -- thanks to aggressive power gating and asynch clocks.
  • SilentSin - Thursday, April 26, 2012 - link

    Maybe I'm taking the wrong approach then. What excites you about having a quad core? What would you be able to do with a quad that you can't on a dual?

    You say my preference towards dual core is silly and this is how technology works but provide no real argument for the quad. They went with quad simply because that was their only option to increase performance? BS

    I don't understand how you can't think this is just Samsung blowing smoke up your arse if you don't get any practical use out of the extra two cores. It's just an arms race (no pun intended) and the winners will be salesmen, nobody else will notice a difference.

    I'd be more excited if they had announced an improved A9 dual core with integrated LTE and MailT658 that uses less power than a 4210 but I guess that's just me? My biggest complaint with current phones isn't lack of multi threading. It's battery life with LTE and graphics performance. Seems easy enough to fix really.

    Why can't the consumers ever seem to get a combo of SoC/form factor/display/battery/carrier that is ideal? With all the phones out there this shouldn't be that hard. Ever since the Droid 1 I've been hard pressed to find a phone that really has it all.
  • NeoteriX - Monday, April 30, 2012 - link

    The point is,

    1) Current real-world tests show that in its current state, practical use of mobile phones does not utilize four cores to their maximum potential, thus, I would agree with you that I would rather see a next-gen dual-core SoC (like the S4 or A15) over a quad core A9.

    However, you're being silly because, yes we would all like to see "XYZ" and in this case, it's an "improved" dual core, but there is a huge gap between the infinite limits of our imaginations and what is a practical reality. What is "easy enough to fix" for you, doesn't reflect reality.

    Here, the reality is that there is not much more to be extracted out of the A9 in terms of power or efficiency. ...Why would Samsung release a next-generation phone with a processor that is only 10% faster and saves 5% more battery over the last iteration? The A15 is late and the only way to deliver a "next-gen" experience is to go quad-core.
  • SilentSin - Wednesday, May 2, 2012 - link

    Dual A9 + better GPU + integrated LTE is a very practical reality, it is not something I just dreamed up. In fact that should be on every phone ARM SoC maker's roadmap because it would/will be their highest volume parts until A15 becomes more mature.

    You're last paragraph is really my point, "Why?" Samsung's own benchmarks showed a "40% power reduction" in dual core chips 45nm vs 32. That would come in very handy in a time where LTE phones go through batteries like candy.

    If they are somehow satisfied with current battery life then they could use that 40% headroom for a more powerful GPU or faster clocks on the CPU/RAM/memory controller. All of those would improve our end user experience in a much more detectable way than slapping on two more cores just so they can get invited to the quad core fiesta. That's like putting a NO system on a civic so you can gloat to people about having a sweet 1/4 mile time. You're still stuck driving a crap civic through the streets where you do 99% of your driving.

    Anyway the latest rumor/trend of Verizon releasing weird one-off versions of phones might come into play here. Speculation is that the US Verizon edition will be a dual core S4 which I would be very happy with.
  • tipoo - Thursday, April 26, 2012 - link

    Like many other comments here I'm a bit let down that it's just Cortex A9 cores, as Qualcomm with the S4 proved hugely more powerful cores are possible at the same or lower power draw. However, I am curious to see if it will be more powerful than Nvidias Tegra 3, seeing as many people think that is limited by the single channel memory controller. Also, the Mali in the last Exynos is still among the fastest Android graphics chips, so I'm excited to see what they brought to the table this time. And 32nm should also help it over the Tegra 3 and get it at least competitive with Kraits power draw.

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