SAMSUNG HAS UPDATED its Exynos processor line-up at Mobile World Congress (MWC), adding two new Octa and Hexa processors for improved display support and longer battery life for high-end and mid-range smartphones and tablets.
As part of its announcement, the firm also unveiled a lower power NFC chip and two CMOS image sensors for better image quality in mobile device cameras.
Samsung's new Exynos 5422 is a 28nm octa-core processor built to support "the ever-increasing needs of high-resolution displays" as well as longer battery life.
Launched under Samsung's Exynos 5 Octa range of chips, the Exynos 5422 has four ARM Cortex A15 "big cores" running at up to 2.1GHz for heavy workloads, and four ARM Cortex A7 "small cores" running at up to 1.5GHz for lighter jobs. This configuration is an instance of ARM's "Big.little" microprocessor architecture.
Samsung said that this arrangement delivers 34 percent better performance than its previous Exynos Octa processors.
"Due to Samsung's further optimised big.little Heterogeneous Multi Processing (HMP) technology, any combination of up to eight cores is engineered to provide optimum performance for any given task," the firm said.
The Exynos 5422 will support higher resolution displays requiring higher rates of calculation and bandwidth, such as WQHD and WQXGA screens with pixel resolutions of 2560x1440 and 2560x1600, respectively. 4K UHD resolutions will also be supported through a built-in Multi Format Codec (MFC).
To ensure better battery life in mobile products, Samsung's new chips have been built using an "adaptive hibernation algorithm", which detects non-moving parts of dynamic images and freezes the data transfer to save on power consumption by up to 10 percent.
Samples of the processor are available now, Samsung said, and they are scheduled to enter mass production in the first quarter.
Along with the Exynos 5422, Samsung also unveiled the Exynos 5260, which is designed to bring better performance and power efficiency to the mid- to high-end mobile market.
Added to Samsung's Exynos 5 Hexa processor line-up, the chip is powered by six CPU cores, two 1.7GHz ARM Cortex A15 cores and four 1.3GHz ARM Cortex A7 cores. This chip also adopts the big.little HMP technology to boost performance by what Samsung claims will be 42 percent, thanks to the core arrangement, where different cores are used to process tasks appropriate to them.
The Exynos 5260 will be equipped with an embedded Display Port (eDP) interface and memory bandwidth of up to 12.8GBps, supporting WQXGA 2560x1600 display resolution.
Samsung said that the Exynos 5260 processor is in mass production now but didn't give a date for the arrival of devices that use it.
Alongside the two Exynos chips, Samsung also introduced its third generation near-field communications (NFC) chip. The Korean firm said that this is the industry's first NFC chip fabbed on a 45nm embedded flash process, which makes it easier and more secure to update the firmware while using less power.
"This new NFC solution offers handset designers more flexibility by adopting the industry's smallest antenna with enhanced radio frequency performance," the firm said. "This was made possible by Samsung's proprietary Smart Antenna technology, which optimises impedances of both receiving and emitting parts respectively to improve sensitivity and power efficiency."
The NFC chip is being sampled to customers now and is scheduled for mass production in the second quarter.
Samsung's processor and NFC chip announcements were joined by 16MP and 13MP complementary metal oxide semiconductor (CMOS) image sensors, which are designed to deliver higher quality camera sensors in smartphones and tablets.
The new CMOS image sensor technology, called Isocell, increases light sensitivity while controlling the collection of electrons, resulting in higher colour fidelity in poor lighting conditions.
"By incorporating Isocell, the image sensor will have 30 percent decrease in crosstalk, 30 percent increase in full well capacity, and 20 percent wider chief ray angle," Samsung said.
The 16MP sensor promises a wider, clearer viewing experience on mobile devices through a 16:9 aspect ratio, which is capable of capturing full field of view Full HD 16:9 video at 60fps. Samsung claims that for the first time in the industry this sensor enables continuous capture of all 16MP at 30fps.
Samples of the 16MP Isocell image sensor are available now and scheduled for mass production in the first quarter, while the lower quality 13MP sensor is scheduled for mass production in the second quarter.
We are likely to see Samsung's updated chip line cropping up in mobile devices towards the end of 2014 and the beginning of 2015, depending on when device makers decide to implement them.
However, Samsung Exynos-powered devices don't tend to make their way to the UK. The Exynos Octa processor-powered Galaxy S5 will be available in Asian markets, and though the Exynos 5422 will probably arrive in the Samsung Galaxy S6, the device likely will never appear in the UK with that chip. µ