Samsung is one of the leading mobile SoC producers. They have been manufacturing chips for Apple for a long time too now. But besides apple’s chips, they have their very own line of processors for their very own Samsung smartphones. Where companies like Qualcomm are manufacturing high-performance processors and distributing them out to all smartphone manufacturers, Samsung has always mostly relied on their chipsets. The brand under which Samsung works as a chip manufacturer is Exynos.
Samsung top of the line Galaxy Note and Galaxy S series devices always come with the best Exynos processor every year. In 2019, S10 was the first one to feature the high performing Exynos 9820 followed by the Note device. And now for 2020’s flagship devices, Samsung has unveiled that they would be using a new chip called the Exynos 990. Before this announcement, speculations were made that the next big processor from Samsung would be called the Exynos 9830. But Samsung as proved them all wrong by launching the Exynos 990. Let’s take a detailed look at what this upcoming SoC has on offer for the end consumers and Samsung.
Samsung Exynos 990 Processor
CPU: Overall Boost of 13% in Performance
Samsung here went with a 7nm fabrication process for this new processor. The company call it 7nm LPP Extreme Ultraviolet (EUV) fabrication. This is claimed to be better than what TSMC offers on their 7nm fabrication. TMSC’s fabrication is actually what we will probably see on the Snapdragon 865, so Samsung’s Exynos 990 is already ahead of the Snapdragon 865 in terms of fabrication. This will be an octa-core processor with two Exynos M5 cores, two Cortex-A76 cores and four Cortex-A55 cores. The two M5 cores are custom-built cores from Samsung and are claimed to be a 20% improvement on previous years M4s. The two A76 cores are there for moderate task management, while the four A55 are used for efficient task management. Overall, Samsung claims a 13% performance bump over the Exynos 9820.
GPU: Improved Graphics Performance by Up to 20%
In terms of GPU, the Exynos 990 will come with the new Mali-G77 MP11 GPU, which is said to come with a whole new architecture, called the Valhall architecture. The Valhall architecture is claimed to provide a 20% performance and 20% efficiency bump over last year’s Mali-G76 GPU. It still won’t be able to come close to Apple’s A13 Bionic though. The only competition it needs to worry about is the Adreno 650 on the upcoming Snapdragon 865. It will be interesting to see who comes out on top.
AI and Camera:
The biggest upgrade over the Exynos 9820 by the 990 might be in AI performance. In case of the Exynos 9820, there was a single neural processing unit(NPU) design which was capable of giving a computational throughput of about 1.86 TOPs. But for Exynos 990, the company went with a dual NPU design, which when went under tests at the lab, produced a computational throughput of about 10TOPs. This is a huge difference in terms of numbers, so we can something special in the AI from Samsung here.
As for the optics, as more and more megapixel count is deciding the future, Samsung went with an ISP capable of handling a single camera unit of 108MP or a dual camera unit of 24.8MP+24.8MP. This falls perfectly to Samsung’s new 108MP sensor. In terms of encoding and decoding, this ISP can handle 8K at 30 fps and 4K at 120 fps.
Display and RAM:
As for the front panel, Samsung has always been the best with its AMOLED panels. But the Exynos 990 now provides a display resolution support of upto 4K UHD (4096×2160) along with a refresh rate support of upto 120Hz. So we can at least expect Samsung S11 to feature a 90Hz display, if not a 120Hz display.
And for the RAM, we finally have the upgrade with support for LPDDR5 type at a frequency rate of 2750MHz.
2020 is the year for 5G and Samsung is not going to miss out on that. Apart from all the latest Bluetooth and Wifi connectivity, this new Exynos 990 chip has support for virtually all kinds of network bands. This list includes 2G(GMS/CDMA), 3G(WCDMA, TD-SCDMA, HSPA), 4G(LTE) and 5G(Sub-6 and mmWave). To provide 5G connectivity, the chipset has 5G Exynos Modem 5123 which is manufactured using a 7nm EUV process. In mmWave, the Exynos 5123 support download speed of up to 7.35Gbps and 5.1Gbps in sub-6Ghz.
Exynos 990 Benchmarks
Specifications That Matter
|CPU||Dual-core (M5 Custom CPU) + Dual-core (Cortex-A76) + Quad-core (Cortex-A55)|
|Dual-Camera||24.8MP + 24.8MP|
|ISP||3A, PDAF, FD, VDIS, HDR, 3DNR, DRC|
|Video (Encoding)||8K 30fps|
|Video (Decoding)||8K 30fps|
|Storage||UFS 3.0, UFS 2.1|
|Display||WQUXGA (3840x2400), 4K UHD (4096x2160)|
|NPU||Yes, Dual-core NPU|
|5G Modem||Exynos 5123 (7nm)|