Introduced at CES on Thursday, the new Samsung Exynos 5 Octa processor could be powering your next device, including possibly the Samsung Galaxy S IV. While its name implies the processor has eight cores, it more accurately has two quad-core processors, utilizing the new ARM big.LITTLE concept to combine Cortex A7 and Cortex A15 processors.
The idea is similar to that of NVIDIA's Tegra 3 and Tegra 4 processors, which use a stealth low-power core to perform low-priority tasks, saving the four high-power cores for substantial operations. In the ARM big.LITTLE system, the Cortex A7 will be used for light tasks; saving the Cortex A15 for more complex and power-hungry jobs. If things are really tough, both cores will light up.
There's an advantage that the big.LITTLE system has over NVIDIA's 4-plus-1 system. In the case of extreme need, all the cores can work together. In NVIDIA's case, the ghost or lower-power processor never lights up at the same time to aid the other four cores.
This three-tiered power system should allow the Exynos 5 to use less battery, always a sore point whether one is using a tablet or a smartphone, while also allowing it to outspeed just about any other processor.
Wondering how much of a battery premium you'll see with the ARM big.LITTLE system? According to ARM’s CEO Warren East, he expects “twice the performance and half the power consumption” compared to today’s best processors.
Performance-wise, Samsung on Thursday claimed that its new Exynos 5 Octa will be the most powerful processor to ever be used on a smartphone or tablet. Of course, we just heard this same claim when NVIDIA unveiled its Tegra 4.
Naturally, the big questions are when and where. In other words, when will it be released and where -- in what processor -- will it show up in. Naturally, Samsung didn't open up on these points, but there have already been rumors it will power the new flagship Galaxy S IV when it’s released later this year.