The successor to the Samsung Exynos 9810 is here — Exynos 9820. The new flagship Exynos 9 series processor from Samsung boasts of many firsts. It's the first Samsung chip to sport a dedicated Neural Processing Unit (NPU) and an 8nm silicon fabrication process node, among others.
If you have been following the recent news surrounding the performance and efficiency of the Exynos variant of the Galaxy Note 9 or the Galaxy S9/S9+, you must know that they don't measure up to the performance exhibited by its Snapdragon counterpart.
In this post, we will explore the new features of the Samsung Exynos 9820 (9 Series) mobile processor and see how much it has improved in the last year.
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1. Change in CPU Configuration
The new Exynos 9820 has a significant upgrade over its predecessor. The Exynos 9810 had a 4 cores + 4 cores setup — four Cortex A75 cores and four custom cores. With the new processor, Samsung has adopted a tri-cluster arrangement in 2 cores + 2 cores + 4 cores configuration. That translates into a two custom high-power Samsung cores, two ARM Cortex A75 CPU and a total of four ARM Cortex A75 CPU. These eight cores are used in a combination of two performance and four efficiency cores, while the two custom Samsung cores are crafted for high-performance tasks.
Samsung has adopted a tri-cluster arrangement in 2 cores + 2 cores + 4 cores setup
This new arrangement gives the new chipset a 20% performance boost in single-core performance over the Exynos 9810. That means faster app switching and data loading. For power efficiency, this new CPU configuration also marks a 40% increase.
It remains to be seen how efficient the new tri-cluster arrangement will benefit in a real-world scenario. If we go by past experiences, the M3 Microarchitecture in the Exynos 9810, was not successful for efficiency and performance, owing to the large cores at its heart.
2. Dedicated Neural Processing Unit (NPU)
The Exynos 9820 is the first Samsung chipset to feature a dedicated Neural Processing Engine, a highlight of this new chipset. With AI being the buzzword, it was high time Samsung came up with a dedicated processing core for AI-related tasks. If you recollect, the newly-revealed A12 Bionic processor bundles two NPU which can handle five trillion AI tasks per second.
The key advantage of having an NPU on board is that all AI-related activities will be carried at the chip level on the device itself, rather than offloading the said tasks to an external server. That will enable faster data processing as well as better security and privacy of the data.
AI-related activities will be carried on the device itself, rather than offloading the said tasks to an external server.
Quite naturally, this new unit will play a substantial role in camera settings, especially when it comes to scene recognition, Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR). Again, if we take a step back, the Exynos 9810 wasn't that great at scene recognition — a feature which was greatly hyped during the launch of the Galaxy Note 9. Unfortunately, the Galaxy Note 9's Exynos variant wasn't able to do true justice to that feature.
Aside from the above fact, the Exynos 9820 is said to be around seven times faster with AI tasks than the Exynos 9810. Hopefully, the future Samsung flagships will be able to process better AR Emojis.
3. 8-nanometer LPP FinFET process
With 7nm chipsets being the latest trend in the market, it may seem that Samsung is a taking a step backward in the race. Nevertheless, it has upped the game significantly. The new Exynos 9820 is based on Samsung's 8nm LPP FinFET process node, instead of the older 10nm process node.
If you've been following the advancements in the fields of mobile processors, you must know that a smaller process node plays a significant part when it comes to the overall performance and battery efficiency.
Smaller transistors tend to use up less power when it switches on/off. And the performance of a transistor is measured by how much faster it can turn on/off. Add the two, and you've got an efficient and performance-friendly processor. That's one of the vital reasons why manufacturers aim for smaller process nodes.
It must be noted that making smaller process nodes is also expensive. So these chipsets usually debut with the company flagships.
Did you know? The process node is the measurement of the smallest element in a processor — it's measured in nanometers.
4. Camera and Video Enhancements
Another key improvement is in the camera and video department. The new chipset will be able to record 8K resolution video recording at 30 frames per second (FPS). On top of it, it'll support a five-camera setup.
The Exynos 9810-powered Galaxy Note 9's dual camera setup
The 8K video recording is still in its nascent stage, and it will be quite sometime before we see any real-world implementation since it'll require equally capable camera sensors. If we talk numbers, an 8K recording would need a 33MP camera.
As opposed to it, we may be much closer to a five-camera setup. We've seen a similar setup in the recently launched Galaxy A9 (2018) which featured a five-camera gig - four at the back and one at the front.
5. LTE-Advanced Pro Modem
Last but not least, the integrated modem supports LTE Category 20, which is capable of achieving up to 2Gbps download speed with 8x carrier aggregation, and 316Mbps upload speed. Of course, these are theoretical numbers, and the actual performance may vary in the real-world settings.
While this will significantly speed up your connectivity, the Exynos 9820 doesn't have native 5G support, which is a bummer since 5G is the next big thing in the upcoming years.
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What About the Snapdragon 845?
On paper, the Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 is the reigning chipset in the Android world now. Needless to say, it packs a punch. It houses inside most of the major flagships like the OnePlus 6/6T, Google Pixel 3, and the US variants of Galaxy S9/S9+ and Galaxy Note 9.
The bigger process node and the camera and video features may not be a match for the Exynos 9820, on paper at least. However, it's too early to predict a frontrunner. Qualcomm is ready to launch its new flagship processor which is rumored as the Snapdragon 8150. This chipset is also expected to sport a three-cluster design and fabricated using a 7nm process node. If we were to believe the recent reports, it's the first chipset to cross 360,000 points on the AnTuTu benchmarking tool.
In conclusion, we can safely say that Samsung has bundled remarkable improvement on its flagship chipset. However, the real deal is that when it comes to the US market (which is a pretty big market), Samsung can't sell it's Exynos-based smartphones there due to Qualcomm's licensing terms.