Update Will Unlock All Eight Cores in Exynos 5 Octa

Samsung has certainly caught some grief over the way it has marketed the Exynos 5 Octa chip (5410) for smartphones and tablets since its introduction back in Q2 2013. The company placed a heavy promotional emphasis on the chip's eight cores as a source of superior performance and speed. And while yes, the chip does have eight physical cores, ARM's big.LITTLE architecture prevents all eight from firing up at once. The SoC either uses the Cortex-A7 cores or the Cortex-A15 cores, depending on the application.

Then in July 2013 the company began teasing an "evolved" Exynos 5 Octa chip, firing up speculation that this version might actually switch on all eight cores simultaneously by using ARM's new and improved big.LITTLE MP (multi-processing). That wasn't the case at all. Instead, Samsung replaced the GPU cores and cranked up the clock speed of the CPU cores just a notch in the "extreme" follow-up chip (5420). Thus the company's eight-core chip still performs like a quad-core model, but provides better overall performance than the original.

Now Samsung has plans to introduce what seems to be a software update based on big.LITTLE MP, aka Heterogeneous Multi-Processing (HMP), enabling the use of all physical cores at the same time. HMP will send software threads with high priority or high computational intensity to the 'big' Cortex-A15 cores while threads with less priority or are less computationally intensive can be performed by the 'LITTLE' Cortex-A7 cores.

"Software implementation is essential to maximizing the benefits of big.LITTLE technology," the company said. "Multi-processing software controls the scheduling of threads of execution to the appropriate core. In earlier versions of the big.LITTLE software, the whole processor context is moved up to the 'big' core or down to the 'LITTLE' core based on the measured work load. In-depth study and analysis of diverse use case scenarios enable Samsung to achieve efficiency and high-performance, while managing power levels to deliver optimal user environments."

The latest "evolved" Exynos 5 Octa chip contains six ARM Mali-T628 GPU cores, four Cortex-A15 cores clocked at 1.8 GHz and four Cortex-A7 cores clocked at 1.3 GHz. The new chip also has a memory bandwidth of 14.9 GB/s paired with a dual-channel LPDDR3 at 933 MHz, and a variety of Full HD 60 frames per second video hardware codec engines. The chip is even capable of performing General-Purpose computing on Graphics Processing Units (GPGPU), and supports OpenGL ES 3.0 and Full Profile Open CL 1.1. This new chip is in the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 and the Galaxy Note 10.1 2014 Edition.

"ARM big.LITTLE multi-processing technology delivers the highest performance and efficiency across the widest range of workloads," said Noel Hurley, vice president, Strategy and Marketing, Processor Division, ARM. "We welcome Samsung's continued commitment to deploying the leading-edge technology on their latest chips featuring the ARM Cortex-A series of processors, ARM Mali GPUs and ARM Artisan physical IP."

Samsung said the HMP solution for Samsung's Exynos 5 Octa SoCs will be available to customers in 4Q of 2013.

  • yannigr
    Someone should thank mediatek for this.
  • stingstang
    There goes the battery life
  • Steveymoo
    ARM chips feel a bit like Intel in the early days. When you couldn't really tinker with them much, and the architecture just wasn't mature enough to overclock the hell out of.
  • edwd2
    why not do 6 cores instead of jumping straight to 8 at the same time.
  • rwinches
    ^ Up to all eight cores at the same time.
    It's done on a thread basis.
  • darkchazz
    My current Note 2 will be my last exynos device as long as they keep not releasing sources and documentation.
    For once, I'd like to flash stable full-speed cyanogen mod and AOKP roms.
  • virtualban
    Now to get heterogeneous cores for the PC...
  • irish_adam
    11530638 said:
    Why didn't they enabled all 8 cores in the first place to save all that hassle? =(

    You have to remember that Samsung doesnt really design the architecture of the chips ARM does that, it wasnt designed for all 8 cores to work at the same time. Samsung have probably been working on a way to use all 8 cores since the beginning but have only now managed to release it to the public. At the end of the day its a bonus to those with the chip in their phones
  • maddad
    Once again an "APPLE" announcement pays dividends to some "Android" folks. I suspect SAMSUNG had the ability to do this all along; they just didn't need to until the fruit company announced a 64bit phone!
  • KillYourConsole
    11530670 said:
    why not do 6 cores instead of jumping straight to 8 at the same time.

    Do you work for Intel?