Over the weekend Samsung quietly announced that it had started the mass production of its latest system on chip products. These will use its second-generation 10nm FinFETprocess technology, which promises higher performance or improved battery life over the first-generation products.
While Samsung does not specify which products will benefit from the increased specifications of these system-on-chips, it does state that the “SoCs designed with 10LPP process technology will be used in digital devices scheduled to launch early next year”. There’s one handset on the horizon that is tailor-made to showcase this chip.
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Samsung has publicly fired the gun on the chips that many suspect are destined for the Galaxy S9 and S9 Plus flagships.
Traditionally Samsung’s Galaxy S handsets have come with two flavours of system-on-chips – Samsung’s in-house Exynos SoC, and Qualcomm’s SnapDragon SoC. Because of the varying frequencies and systems offered by 4G networks around the world, Samsung needs to cover the various options so the Galaxy S handsets can be truly ‘world’ phones. That means mixing up the production with Exynos and Qualcomm.
That’s not the only difference. Although fulfilling the same design brief, there are subtle differences in the two options, as Anandtech’s Matt Humrick discussed earlier this year when comparing the Exynos and SnapDragon flavoured Galaxy S8 models earlier this year:
Both models deliver excellent graphics performance, although the [Exynos] E8895 model and its 20-core Mali-G71 GPU is a little faster in most workloads. The flip side is that the [Qualcom SnapDragon] S835 model’s Adreno 540 offers much better efficiency, prolonging battery life by an extra hour in our GFXBench Manhattan ES 3.1 battery test.
Peak performance is good for bragging rights, but what really matters when playing the most demanding games is sustained performance. Interestingly, both S8 models deliver the same steady-state performance after throttling GPU frequency to stay within their thermal limits. While neither SoC can maintain peak frequency for very long, sustained performance is still excellent, which is important if you want to use the S8 with Samsung’s Gear VR system.
The Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus topped five million sales in the first month. Samsung will be looking for a similar explosive launch with the S9. With the South Korean company expected to tease the launch of the Galaxy S9 at CES in January 2018 and a full launch in late February at Mobile World Congress, the time is right for production to start ramping up on the silicon heart of the S9 family.