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Samsung's Super Impressive Next-Gen ARM Orion

By - Source: Tom's Hardware US | B 28 comments

Smartphones and tablets are going to get a lot more powerful next year.

While some of the smartphone CPUs we have today are fairly capable at 1GHz, the path they are taking is similar to the mainstream desktop and laptop processors – going multi-core.

Samsung today announced its next-generation dual-core 1GHz ARM Cortex A9-based dual-core application processor, codenamed Orion. Samsung says the chip is made for "high-performance, low-power mobile applications including tablets, netbooks and smartphones."

“Consumers are demanding the full web experience without compromise while on the go,” said Dojun Rhee, vice president of Marketing, System LSI Division, Samsung Electronics. “Given this trend, mobile device designers need an application processor platform that delivers superb multimedia performance, fast CPU processing speed, and abundant memory bandwidth. Samsung’s newest dual core application processor chip is designed specifically to fulfill such stringent performance requirements while maintaining long battery life.”

Designed using Samsung’s 45 nanometer low-power process technology, Orion features a pair of 1GHz ARM Cortex A9 cores, each comes with a 32KB data cache and a 32KB instruction cache. Samsung also included a 1MB L2 cache to optimize CPU processing performance and provide "fast context switching in a multi-tasking environment." In addition, Samsung boasts that the memory interface and bus architecture of Orion supports data intensive multimedia applications including full HD video playback and high speed 3D action games.

The Orion encoder/decoder supports 30fps video playback and recording at 1080P full HD resolution. The GPU is also beefed up, as Orion is capable of delivering five times the 3D graphics performance over the previous processor generation from Samsung, according to the company.

Considering that the Samsung Hummingbird chip currently has the best GPU in the smartphone market with the PowerVR SGX 540, we're anxiously waiting to see how much better Orion will be.

Orion features an onboard native triple display controller architecture that can drive two on-device display screens, while driving a third external display such as a TV or a monitor, via an on-chip HDMI 1.3a interface.

In addition, a global positioning system (GPS) receiver baseband processor is embedded in the processor.

Orion is designed to support package-on-package (POP) with memory stacking to reduce the footprint. A derivative of Orion, which is housed in a standalone package with a 0.8mm ball pitch, is also available.

Integrators using the chip will be able to choose from various storage options: NAND flash, moviNAND, SSD or HDD providing both SATA, and eMMC interfaces, as well as memory options including low power LPDDR2 or DDR3.

Samsung’s new dual-core application processor, Orion, will be available to select customers in the fourth quarter of 2010 and is scheduled for mass production in the first half of 2011.

Samsung Galaxy Tab 2, anyone?

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  • 1 Hide
    back_by_demand , September 8, 2010 10:14 AM
    That is one seriously beefy chip!
  • 1 Hide
    distanted , September 8, 2010 10:26 AM
    This sounds (on paper anyway) like a video person's dream phone. Hard to believe your battery will last long doing all that, though...
  • 1 Hide
    IAF , September 8, 2010 11:06 AM
    How it compares to nVidia Tegra 2?
  • Display all 28 comments.
  • 2 Hide
    saturnus , September 8, 2010 11:28 AM
    IAFHow it compares to nVidia Tegra 2?

    Though to say but with Orion, Tegra2, Ontario, and several other both higher and lower performing parts available in the very near future it's hard to see where Intel with Moorestown will find a foot to stand on in the very low power consumption market.
  • 1 Hide
    Stifle , September 8, 2010 11:58 AM
    I don't foresee the demise of the desktop any time soon, but this is a pretty impressive chip. It would easily outperform the first PC that I built in 2001, from new parts.
  • 1 Hide
    cscott_it , September 8, 2010 12:12 PM
    I can't wait to see this up against Moorestown. The mobile sector will continue to grow rapidly. I just can't wait until I have a fully functional x86 phone.
  • 3 Hide
    RooD , September 8, 2010 12:16 PM
    I dont see desktops going away, I see laptops however starting to become less and less wanted.

    But I would like more 5-6inch screen "phones" I mean most people text only now and it would bring more power to the machines and easier on the eyes.
  • 1 Hide
    -Alessandro- , September 8, 2010 1:28 PM
    "five times the 3D graphics performance over the previous processor"
    that's a hell of a processor... and you can even have a triple display controller...
    Just buy the device with that chip in it, plug a monitor and PC Keyboard... good to roll !!!
  • -2 Hide
    willgart , September 8, 2010 1:48 PM
    its interesting for an enterprise to have a desktop with this type of processor when there is no need of power.

    But ... is it possible to benchmark these type of CPU/GPU to compare them to a standard desktop product?
  • -3 Hide
    mresseguie , September 8, 2010 2:06 PM
    This phone sounds exciting. Is there a chance you could supply a picture or two?
  • 1 Hide
    zaixionito , September 8, 2010 2:08 PM
    Meh. Phones need better battery life... Just look at the HTC Evo. It would be nice to see how efficant it is.
  • 2 Hide
    back_by_demand , September 8, 2010 2:33 PM
    zaixionitoMeh. Phones need better battery life... Just look at the HTC Evo. It would be nice to see how efficant it is.

    The CPU is not the factor in draining battery life, it is the 4G connection.
    If you temporarily disable the 4G and rely on the standard connections it's battery life jump way up with the best in the market.

    The main factors in killing the battery are screen and transmissions.
  • 2 Hide
    eyemaster , September 8, 2010 2:59 PM
    So, phones these days are more powerfull that computers 7 years ago? That's so impressive!
  • 0 Hide
    flacoman3 , September 8, 2010 3:24 PM
    hey look, that picture is my desktop right now hehe
  • 0 Hide
    cookoy , September 8, 2010 3:37 PM
    Specs look pretty impressive. Didn't know Samsung is making their own ARM chips.
  • 1 Hide
    g00fysmiley , September 8, 2010 4:06 PM
    this moorestown, tegra2, or bobcat .. who will get the performance crown, taking bets here

    my guess is tegra offereing best visuas lacking other processing power, moorestown providing best flat power but lacking visuals, arm loses power crown but stays pretty in the middle on everything, and bobcat takes power crown and jus ta bti over average on everythign while not toppign any charts (other than power usage)
  • 3 Hide
    Dkz , September 8, 2010 5:08 PM
    Lets see how it works up.
    Sound like a kickass phone if you ask me.
    But, i'm using a "normal" old phone, Samsung U600.
    This devices are too expensive for a pocket fun device.
  • 0 Hide
    zaznet , September 8, 2010 5:11 PM
    Samsung Galaxy Tab 2, anyone?

    Given that the Samsung Galaxy Tab uses TFT display instead of Super AMOLED along with the limited OS upgrade to 3.0 with no plans to support beyond that I think the Galaxy Tab 2 was well in mind during the designing of the original.

    Now add in the recent news that they plan to increase OLED screen production by ten times by early 2011 and I think the picture is pretty clear for the Samsung product lineup.

    I'm really looking forward to the Galaxy Tab 2 given the momentum Samsung is making recently.
  • 2 Hide
    awood28211 , September 8, 2010 6:49 PM
    back_by_demandThe CPU is not the factor in draining battery life, it is the 4G connection.If you temporarily disable the 4G and rely on the standard connections it's battery life jump way up with the best in the market. [...] -life.htmlThe main factors in killing the battery are screen and transmissions.

    Actually, don't be narrow on the Evo. I NEVER use 4G, not in my area, and my battery life stinks. It's radios in general. Leaving on 3G for 8 hours leave me at 20% now. GPS on too? 8 Hours is death. Turning off all radios except phone... 8 hours = 90% + ...

    And while the CPU may not eat lots of battery, we'd have to assume new devices are coming with all these antennas too and will eat power just as radically without some better management.

    I'd really like my phone to be able to come on, check for a connection on 3G, sync data and then turn if back off for an hour or two instead of the always on or always off scenario. I know there are apps that can do it, but meh, it should have been a default feature.
  • 0 Hide
    ares1214 , September 8, 2010 6:55 PM
    This is interesting. The mobile and super mobile markets are shaping up to be EXTREMELY interesting soon. Lots of new players and new cpus entering both markets.
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