MWC 2016: MediaTek Announces Helio P20 True Octa-Core SoC

Subject: Processors, Mobile | February 22, 2016 - 11:11 AM |
Tagged: TSMC, SoC, octa-core, MWC 2016, MWC, mediatek, Mali-T880, LPDDR4X, Cortex-A53, big.little, arm

MediaTek might not be well-known in the United States, but the company has been working to expand from China, where it had a 40% market share as of June 2015, into the global market. While 2015 saw the introduction of the 8-core Helio P10 and the 10-core helio X20 SoCs, the company continues to expand their lineup, today announcing the Helio P20 SoC.

Helio_P20.jpg

There are a number of differences between the recent SoCs from MediaTek, beginning with the CPU core configuration. This new Helio P20 is a “True Octa-Core” design, but rather than a big.LITTLE configuration it’s using 8 identically-clocked ARM Cortex-A53 cores at 2.3 GHz. The previous Helio P10 used a similar CPU configuration, though clocks were limited to 2.0 GHz with that SoC. Conversely, the 10-core Helio X20 uses a tri-cluster configuration, with 2x ARM Cortex-A72 cores running at 2.5 GHz, along with a typical big.LITTLE arrangement (4x Cortex-A53 cores at 2.0 Ghz and 4x Cortex-A53 cores at 1.4 GHz).

Another change affecting MediaTek’s new SoC and he industry at large is the move to smaller process nodes. The Helio P10 was built on 28 nm HPM, and this new P20 moves to 16 nm FinFET. Just as with the Helio P10 and Helio X20 (a 20 nm part) this SoC is produced at TSMC using their 16FF+ (FinFET Plus) technology. This should provide up to “40% higher speed and 60% power saving” compared to the company’s previous 20 nm process found in the Helio X20, though of course real-world results will have to wait until handsets are available to test.

The Helio P20 also takes advantage of LPDDR4X, and is “the world’s first SoC to support low power double data rate random access memory” according to MediaTek. The company says this new memory provides “70 percent more bandwidth than the LPDDR3 and 50 percent power savings by lowering supply voltage to 0.6v”. Graphics are powered by ARM’s high-end Mali T880 GPU, clocked at an impressive 900 MHz. And all-important modem connectivity includes CAT6 LTE with 2x carrier aggregation for speeds of up to 300 Mbps down, 50 Mbps up. The Helio P20 also supports up to 4k/30 video decode with H.264/265 support, and the 12-bit dual camera ISP supports up to 24 MP sensors.

Specs from MediaTek:

  • Process: 16nm
  • Apps CPU: 8x Cortex-A53, up to 2.3GHz
  • Memory: Up to 2 x LPDDR4X 1600MHz (up to 6GB) + 1x LPDDR3 933Mhz (up to 4GB) + eMMC 5.1
  • Camera: Up to 24MP at 24FPS w/ZSD, 12bit Dual ISP, 3A HW engine, Bayer & Mono sensor support
  • Video Decode: Up to 4Kx2K 30fps H.264/265
  • Video Encode: Up to 4Kx2K 30fps H.264
  • Graphics: Mali T-880 MP2 900MHz
  • Display: FHD 1920x1080 60fps. 2x DSI for dual display
  • Modem: LTE FDD TDD R.11 Cat.6 with 2x20 CA. C2K SRLTE. L+W DSDS support
  • Connectivity: WiFiac/abgn (with MT6630). GPS/Glonass/Beidou/BT/FM.
  • Audio: 110db SNR & -95db THD

It’s interesting to see SoC makers experiment with less complex CPU designs after a generation of multi-cluster (big.LITTLE) SoCs, as even the current flagship Qualcomm SoC, the Snapdragon 820, has reverted to a straight quad-core design. The P20 is expected to be in shipping devices by the second half of 2016, and we will see how this configuration performs once some devices using this new P20 SoC are in the wild.

Full press release after the break:

Source: MediaTek

Samsung Releases 8-Core and 6-Core 32-Bit Exynos 5 SoCs

Subject: Processors | February 26, 2014 - 11:46 PM |
Tagged: SoC, Samsung, exynos 5, big.little, arm, 28nm

Samsung recently announced two new 32-bit Exynos 5 processors with the eight core Exynos 5 Octa 5422 and six core Exynos 5 Hexa 5260. Both SoCs utilize a combination of ARM Cortex-A7 and Cortex-A15 CPU cores along with ARM's Mali graphics. Unlike the previous Exynos 5 chips, the upcoming processors utilize a big.LITTLE configuration variant called big.LITTLE MP that allows all CPU cores to be used simultaneously. Samsung continues to use a 28nm process node, and the SoCs should be available for use in smartphones and tablets immediately.

The Samsung Exynos 5 Octa 5422 offers up eight CPU cores and an ARM Mali T628 MP6 GPU. The CPU configuration consists of four Cortex-A15 cores clocked at 2.1GHz and four Cortex-A7 cores clocked at 1.5GHz. Devices using this chip will be able to tap up to all eight cores at the same time for demanding workloads, allowing the device to complete the computations and return to a lower-power or sleep state sooner. Devices using previous generation Exynos chips were faced with an either-or scenario when it came to using the A15 or A7 groups of cores, but the big.LITTLE MP configuration opens up new possibilites.

Samsung Exynos 5 Hexa 5260.jpg

While the Octa 5422 occupies the new high end for the lineup, the Exynos 5 Hexa 5260 is a new midrange chip that is the first six core Exynos product. This chip uses an as-yet-unnamed ARM Mali GPU along with six ARM cores. The configuration on this SoC is four low power Cortex-A7 cores clocked at 1.3GHz paired with two Cortex-A15 cores clocked at 1.7GHz. Devices can use all six cores at a time or more selectively. The Hexa 5260 offers up two higher powered cores for single threaded performance along with four power sipping cores for running background tasks and parallel workloads.

The new chips offer up access to more cores for more performance at the cost of higher power draw. While the additional cores may seem like overkill for checking email and surfing the web, the additional power can enable things like onboard voice recognition, machine vision, faster photo filtering and editing, and other parallel-friendly tasks. Notably, the GPU should be able to assist with some of this parallel processing, but GPGPU is still relatively new whereas developers have had much more time to familiarize themselves with and optimize applications for multiple CPU threads. Yes, the increasing number of cores lends itself well to marketing, but that does not preclude them from having real world performance benefits and application possibilities. As such, I'm interested to see what these chips can do and what developers are able to wring out of them.

Source: Ars Technica

MWC 2014: Allwinner launches UltraOcta A80 processor with big.LITTLE and PowerVR

Subject: Mobile | February 24, 2014 - 02:17 PM |
Tagged: ultraocta a80, PowerVR, MWC 14, MWC, big.little, Allwinner

The wheels keep turning from Mobile World Congress 2014 in Barcelona with Allwinner's announcement of the UltraOcta A80 SoC.  Dubbed the "world's first big.LITTLE octa-core (8-core) heterogeneous SoC to included PowerVR Series6 GPU technology", the UltraOcta A80 combines four Cortex-A7 and four Cortex-A15 cores in a single chip design.  

The UltraOcta A80 is aimed at tablets, portable game consoles, set-top boxes, media players and other devices that require "premium performance" level parts.  The first devices will apparently hit "soon" but no other details were offered.  

a80-diagram.jpg

ARM is definitely on-board with Allwinner for this product as it is the poster child example of how the big.LITTLE design philosophy can be implemented to offer both high performance and low power results in one SoC.  This chip is built on 28nm process technology and also includes high performance graphics with the PowerVR G6230 GPU.  This GPU includes two "clusters" for a total of 64 ALUs (called cores in other SoC).  Keep in mind that this Series6 GPU is about half the performance of the G6400 series included in the iPhone 5s and even Intel's new Merrifield and Moorefield processors.

The Allwinner UltraOcta A80 will also support 4K video encode and decode with H.265 thrown in for good measure.  I am very curious to see the load on the SoC during these types of high quality video processes as the amount of acceleration on the chip isn't known yet.

View the full press release after the break!

IFA 2013: Samsung Launches Galaxy Note 3 Smartphone

Subject: General Tech, Mobile | September 9, 2013 - 04:35 AM |
Tagged: Samsung, s-pen, ifa 2013, galaxy note 3, big.little, android 4.3

Samsung launched the Galaxy Note 3 at IFA this month with updated hardware and software. The Galaxy Note 3 measures 151.2mm x 79.2mm x 8.3mm and weighs just under 0.37 pounds (168 grams). The smartphone will be available for purchase on September 25 in three colors: jet black, classic white, or blush pink.

The Galaxy Note 3 features a large 5.7” Super AMOLED display with a resolution of 1920 x 1080. The smartphone features thin bezels on the left and right of the display, and a single button below the display. A Samsung logo, speaker, and 2MP webcam sit above the touchscreen. The back of the Note 3 has “delicate stitching” that has a soft textured leather-like finish. A Samsung logo and 13MP camera with Backside illuminated sensor, auto focus, smart stabilization technology, and LED flash sit on the top half of the back cover. Of course, the Galaxy Note 3 comes equipped with Samsung's S-Pen digitizer.

Samsung Galaxy Note 3.png

Samsung is powering the Note 3 with either a 2.3GHz quad core or Octa core SoC depending on the market. The 8-core chip uses ARM's big.LITTLE architecture and pairs a 1.9GHz quad core and a 1.3GHz quad core. Samsung did not specify the exact chips, but they are likely the Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 and Exynos 5 Octa. The smartphone will come with LTE or 3G cellular radios, depending on market (and this is where the CPUs differ, with the LTE version getting the 2.3GHz quad core SoC).

Other specifications include 3GB of RAM, and 32GB or 64GB of internal storage. Beyond the cellular radio, the Galaxy Note 3 supports 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0, NFC, and GPS/GLONASS radios. Samsung has packed the smartphone with sensors, including gesture, accelerometer, geo-magnetic, gyroscope, RGB, proximity, barometer, temperature, humidity, and Hall effect.

The standard battery is a 3,200 mAh Lithium Ion battery pack.

Samsung is using Android 4.3 Jelly Bean for the Galaxy Note 3's base operating system. On top of the Android base, Samsung has added a slew of its own software including various applications and interface tweaks that work with the S-Pen. Users can use handwriting to search for content, annotate screenshots, write notes, and issue commands to the smartphone. There is a hover and action menu tied to the use of the S-Pen, as well.

The Galaxy Note 3 smartphone in three colors and colorful windowed flip covers will be available on September 25th. Pricing has not yet been announced. More information can be found on this Samsung web page.

Source: Samsung

CES 2013: Samsung Teases Eight Core Exynos Octa SoC

Subject: Mobile | January 10, 2013 - 06:29 AM |
Tagged: SoC, Samsung, exynos octa, exynos, ces 2013, CES, big.little, arm

Samsung talked up a new ARM SoC during CES that will become the new high-end part of its Exynos 5 lineup. The Samsung Exynos 5 Octa is, as the name suggests, an eight core processor. It is built on a 28nm manufacturing process and employs ARM's big.LITTLE architecture.

Samsung Exynos Octa.jpg

While Samsung is not ready to share all the detailed under-the-hood details, the Exynos 5 Octa has four Cortex A15 cores clocked at 1.8GHz paired with four Cortex A7 cores clocked at 1.2GHz. With big.LITTLE, the SoC has both high performance, high powr cores and lower power cores. The configuration is invisible to the end user, and the chip will use the Cortex A15 cores when in 3D applications or other CPU load intensive applications. Then, while the phone is idle or simply running background applications (notifications, checking email, updating twitter and facebook feeds, ect), the SoC will power down the Cortex A15 cores and use the lower power-drawing A7 cores. Ideally, this will give users a "best of both worlds" situation and a balance of performance and battery life.

Samsung claims that the Exynos 5 Octa offers up to twice the 3D performance of other existing current-generation SoCs. However, we do not yet have details on the GPU improvements (if any) over Samsung's other Exynos 5 chips much less benchmark-able products running this chip yet so it is difficult to say whether that statement is true or not. Also, Samsung claims as much as a 70% improvement in power savings over its dual core Exynos 5 processor, which is certainly a bold claim.

According to Engadget, Samsung plans to reveal all the nitty-gritty details on the eight-core Exynos 5 Octa SoC at the International Solid State Circuits Conference on February 19, 2013. It should give NVIDIA's "4+1" core Tegra 4 a run for its money, at lest on the CPU front (and maybe 3D graphics as well, but it's hard to say at this point).

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