Samsung's Super Impressive Next-Gen ARM Orion

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?

Marcus Yam
Marcus Yam served as Tom's Hardware News Director during 2008-2014. He entered tech media in the late 90s and fondly remembers the days when an overclocked Celeron 300A and Voodoo2 SLI comprised a gaming rig with the ultimate street cred.
  • back_by_demand
    That is one seriously beefy chip!
  • distanted
    This sounds (on paper anyway) like a video person's dream phone. Hard to believe your battery will last long doing all that, though...
  • IAF
    How it compares to nVidia Tegra 2?
  • saturnus
    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.
  • Stifle
    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.
  • cscott_it
    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.
  • RooD
    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.
  • -Alessandro-
    "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 !!!
  • willgart
    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?
  • mresseguie
    This phone sounds exciting. Is there a chance you could supply a picture or two?