Samsung Building 64-Bit Custom CPU Core

CNET reports that during a presentation at Samsung's Analyst Day in Seoul, South Korea, Samsung revealed a two-prong approach in creating a 64-bit chip: develop a 64-bit chip based on ARM's design, and then its own "optimized" 64-bit CPU core design afterwards. This approach was revealed by Stephen Woo, president of System LSI at Samsung Electronics, although a specific time frame for the custom core was not provided.

"Many people were thinking, why did we need 64-bit for mobile devices?" asked Woo. "People were asking that question until three months ago. And now I think no one is asking that question. They're asking, when can we have that?"

Previously, sources in Korea said that the next-generation 64-bit SoC would be an Exynos Octa eight-core chip using four high-performance Cortex-A57 cores and four energy-efficient Cortex-A53 cores. These cores would be able to operate independently, or in big.LITTLE processing configurations. Samsung presumably intends to release this chip with full support for big.LITTLE MP, allowing the SoC to use all eight cores simultaneously rather than the 4/4 configuration used in the current two chips.

"We are marching on schedule," said Woo. "We will offer the first 64-bit [processor] based on ARM's own core. After that, we will offer an even more optimized 64-bit [processor] based on our own optimizations."

Currently, the biggest benefit from using a 64-bit chip is the larger memory capacity, allowing devices to sport 4 GB and greater. Phones like the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 are already pushing into the PC realm with 3 GB of RAM, and it's only a matter of time before that number doubles. Apple's iPhone 5S may feature a 64-bit chip, but the company chose to remain with 1 GB of LPDDR3 memory. The A7 processor used in that phone is an ARM-based design, but optimized and tweaked by Apple.

The Tech Report adds to CNET's report, stating that Samsung revealed interesting information on Through-Silicon Via (TSV) technology, which allows memory and logic circuitry to be stacked on the same package. Samsung claims it has a real chip that uses TSV and is running all the software -- a chip that offers 14 percent better memory performance than LPDDR3 with 60 percent lower power consumption. The next generation will supposedly boost the performance advantage to 30 percent.

Samsung will reportedly begin producing SoCs using its 14 nm FinFET process starting next year. The company also plans to bring its 3D V-NAND flash memory to client SSDs next year. This vertically stacked NAND is already shipping in Enterprise-class drives and should hit mobile devices by 2015.