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Samsung’s 8-Core Chip Explained: The Exynos 5 Octa Reference Tablet Platform

by Adriana Lee | February 25, 2013February 25, 2013 2:30 pm PDT

One of the most efficient processors is the SoC, or system-on-a-chip. ARM architecture simply pantses x86 (in the mobile space, anyway), thanks to the dance of power management that takes place — cores don’t unnecessarily fire all at once, but are called up depending on the task. Granted, that’s a simplistic explanation of a complicated technology, but the end result is a no-brainer for end users: They get the processing heft they need, just when they need it, without draining their battery dry in an instant.

Amazing what a wee little processor can do. Samsung knows that better than anyone. Apart from being a mobile device maker, the South Korean company is a leader in processor chips, with its own Exynos stuffed into its hugely popular collection of tablets and smartphones. And the latest in this line is a rather droolworthy advancement.

Meet the company’s latest Exynos chip, the eight-core Exynos 5 Octa. Like other SoCs, not all of its cores are identical — they don’t have to be. The 5 Octa responds dynamically depending on what’s going on: When the task is processor-intensive, the more powerful cores are invoked. When the processes are less-demanding, it relies on the low-powered ones. In this case, we’re talking about four Cortex-A15 cores and four Cortex-A7 cores, arranged to optimize performance and power consumption.

The hotness factor here is not that Samsung is pushing the envelope on some concept project, but that this is the chip we could see very soon in the upcoming Galaxy S IV. PhoneArena captured a short demo vid at Mobile World Congress, where Samsung whipped out a reference board using Exynos 5 Octa powering a compact tablet. Impressive stuff. Switches between Cortex-A7’s and A15’s are happening deftly — like every second — and video playback doesn’t seem to suffer at all, even when run off the low-power cores. Check it out above, and then let us know what you think in the comments below.


Adriana Lee

Adriana is the resident writer-slash-culture vulture who has written about everything from smartphones, tablets, apps, accessories, and small biz...

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