While we mentioned this in our Galaxy Alpha launch article, Samsung is finally announcing the launch of their new Exynos 5430 SoC.

The main critical upgrade that the new chips revolve around is the manufacturing process, as Samsung delivers its first 20nm SoC product and is also at the same time the first manufacturer to do so.

On the CPU side for both the 5430, things don’t change much at all from the 5420 or 5422, with only a slight frequency change to 1.8GHz for the A15 cores and 1.3GHz for the A7 cores. We expect this frequency jump to actually be used in consumer devices, unlike the 5422’s announced frequencies which were not reached in the end, being limited to 1.9GHz/1.3GHz in the G900H version of the Galaxy S5. As with the 5422, the 5430 comes fully HMP enabled.

A bigger change is that the CPU IP has been updated from the r2p4 found in previous 542X incarnations to a r3p3 core revision. This change, as discussed by Nvidia earlier in the year, should provide better clock gating and power characteristics for the CPU side of the SoC.

On the GPU side, the 5430 offers little difference from the 5422 or 5420 beyond a small frequency boost to 600MHz for the Mali T628MP6.

While this is still a planar transistor process, a few critical changes have been made that make 20nm HKMG a significant leap forward from 28nm HKMG. First, instead of a gate-first approach for the high-K metal gate formation, the gate is now the last part of the transistor to be formed. This improves performance because the characteristics of the gate are no longer affected by significant high/low temperatures during manufacturing. In addition, lower-k dielectric in the interconnect layers reduce capacitance between the metal and therefore increase maximum clock speed/performance and reduce power consumption. Finally, improved silicon straining techniques should also improve drive current in the transistors, which can drive higher performance and lower power consumption. The end-effect is that we should expect an average drop in voltage of about 125mV, and quoting Samsung, a 25% reduced power.

In terms of auxiliary IP blocks and accelerators, the Exynos 5430 offer a new HEVC (H.265) hardware decoder block, bringing its decoding capabilities on par with Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 805.

Also added is a new Cortex A5 co-processor dedicated to audio decoding called “Seiren”. Previously Samsung used a custom FPGA block called Samsung Reprogrammable Processor (SRP) for audio tasks, which seems to have been now retired. The new subsystem allows for processing of all audio-related tasks, which ranges from decoding of simple MP3 streams to DTS or Dolby DS1 audio codecs, sample rate conversion and band equalization. It also provides the chip with voice capabilities such as voice recognition and voice triggered device wakeup without external DSPs. Samsung actually published a whitepaper on this feature back in January, but we didn’t yet know which SoC it was addressing until now.

The ISP is similar to the one offered in the 5422, which included a clocking redesign and a new dedicated voltage plane.

The memory subsystem remains the same, maintaining the 2x32-bit LPDDR3 interface, able to sustain frequencies up to 2133MHz or 17GB/s. We don’t expect any changes in the L2 cache sizes, and as such, they remain the same 2MB for the A15 cluster and 512KB for the A7 cluster.

The Galaxy Alpha will be the first device to ship with this new SoC, in early September of this year.

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  • Gondalf - Thursday, August 14, 2014 - link

    No 2X this year obviously :).
    My bet is A8 pretty similar to A7 with a some sort of turbo (one core) up to 2Ghz, there isn't space for other things on 20nm.
    The main Apple news will be the form factor and the display, this is the reason IMO iPhone 6 will not sell much more than iPhone 5.
  • kwrzesien - Thursday, August 14, 2014 - link

    "The main Apple news will be the form factor and the display, this is the reason IMO iPhone 6 will not sell much more than iPhone 5."

    That is *exactly* why it will sell massively well, as much as they can deliver, and with as much or more excitement for it as the iPhone 5.
  • GC2:CS - Friday, August 15, 2014 - link

    I think you are rather underestimating their "magic", as they aren't newbies in this space anymore, they don't fear to make drastic changes in chip design, every year.
    But we will see.
  • jjj - Wednesday, August 13, 2014 - link

    Failed to notice this one, wonder how far it can clock in bigger phone, maybe we'll see it in the Note 4.
  • HillBeast - Wednesday, August 13, 2014 - link

    "While details are somewhat sparse, this new SoC is a big.LITTLE design with four Cortex A15s running at 1.8 GHz and four Cortex A7s running at 1.3 GHz for the CPU side"

    Seriously Samsung... ARMv7 is getting old now. Switch to ARMv8.
  • JoshHo - Wednesday, August 13, 2014 - link

    ARM v7 will probably be around until 2015 for Android phones.
  • Alexvrb - Thursday, August 14, 2014 - link

    Outside of Apple, does anyone even have a phone on the market with a 64-bit ARMv8-A chip and full OS support? Not that I really think there's a huge rush, without software support it won't help performance and on mobile we're not quite at the memory limit anyway.
  • madmilk - Thursday, August 14, 2014 - link

    Most Android code is in Java, so only ART has to support ARMv8 to reap most of the benefits.
  • melgross - Thursday, August 14, 2014 - link

    Samsung can't innovate too much with their designs because unlike Apple and Qualcomm, they don't have an architecture license, just a processor license. That limits what they can do to process innovations and minor modifications to ARM's original designs.
  • ArthurG - Wednesday, August 13, 2014 - link

    and still no article on Nvidia Denver, the most interesting CPU in a long time...

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