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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  • GC2:CS - Thursday, August 14, 2014 - link

    Yeah the alpha is an experiment, I heard its going to be in limited special production device (who will even buy that ?) with just a million produced by the end of the year. The price is so high because of metal, and I heard about very bad yield rates on the 20nm process for now. Samsung had to ramp up the production to some real world devices , so they created the alpha to kick it up. They will possibly continue this with the octa version of note 4, or exynos 5433, which I think is just 5430 but heavily over-clocked to fit the battery size (28 nm exynos 5422 has 2,1/1,5 Ghz clock speed)
    I would not expect Apple to use this as last year samsung started their 28nm experimental ramp-up with introduction of first exynos octa in January and they needed almost 8 months to pass it from announcement to the big mass production of Apple A7 comfortably. Also considering strange delays of TSMC's 20nm process for nvidia, amd and Qualcomm, it could mean two things, they have a delay or a new very lucrative consumer that can afford to buy entire 20nm production capacity for quite some time.(they want to make ~70 millions of new iPhones before the end of the year, plus who knows how many new iPads) Also sales of samsung's semiconductor divisions are failing, while in previous years they were always up this quarter, because of new iPhone ramp up.
  • przemo_li - Thursday, August 14, 2014 - link

    Good analysis.

    Also Intel/AMD/Nvidia are all behind "expected" node shrink.

    Meaning nobody is really ready for that next move.
    (Which may serve Samsung well if they open their fabs to somebody else)
  • extide - Thursday, August 14, 2014 - link

    Uhh, what are you talking about? Intel's 14nm is a full generation ahead of everyone else's 20nm, and was also a true shrink from 22nm, as opposed to TSMC/Samsung's "16nm" which isnt really a shrink at all...
  • ruzveh - Thursday, August 14, 2014 - link

    World is moving onto 14nm and they are introducing 20nm.. wow
  • kron123456789 - Thursday, August 14, 2014 - link

    Not world, only Intel. Or Intel IS your world?
  • R3MF - Thursday, August 14, 2014 - link


    intel is about to move to 14nm, the rest of the world is transitioning to 20nm.
  • devashish90 - Thursday, August 14, 2014 - link

    Samsung has already started mass producing 10nm NAND chips. So its not too far from them to achieve the same for AP's and modems.
  • devashish90 - Thursday, August 14, 2014 - link

    Rather 10nm class (10-20nm)
  • extide - Thursday, August 14, 2014 - link

    Flash memory fabrication is totally different, and not comparable at all.
  • iwod - Thursday, August 14, 2014 - link

    Wait a minutes, is this Fabed by TSMC? I am pretty sure Samsung skipped 20nm and went straight to 14nm.

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