This year’s Galaxy S10 has been in a bit of an odd situation: Although Samsung continued to dual-source its SoCs, using both its own Exynos 9820 SoC as well as Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 855, the phone found itself in the unusual situation of pitting 8nm silicon against 7nm silicon from TSMC. So although the new Exynos 9820 did fairly well in testing and improved a lot over the Exynos 9810, the chip seemingly still had disadvantages against the competition when it came to power efficiency, likely linked to its process technology disadvantages. On top of the power efficiency disadvantages, the chip also had a notable die area disadvantage versus the Snapdragon, coming in at 127mm² versus the smaller 73mm² competition.

Samsung’s 7nm EUV process node was noted as having started production back in October of last year, although we’re not sure exactly which chip this was referring to, and we had hopes that it would be the chip for the S10 but alas it was not to be.

This time around, Samsung is seemingly bridging the gap with the introduction of the new Exynos 9825 – a 7nm LPP refresh of the Exynos 9820.

Samsung Exynos SoCs Specifications

Exynos 9820

Exynos 9825

CPU 2x M4 @ 2.73 GHz
2x 512KB pL2

2x Cortex A75 @ 2.31 GHz
2x 256KB pL2

4x Cortex A55 @ 1.95 GHz
No pL2's

Shared complex sL3 @ 4MB

2x M4 @ 2.73 GHz

2x Cortex A75 @ 2.4 GHz

4x Cortex A55 @ 1.95 GHz
GPU Mali G76MP12 @ 702 MHz Mali G76MP12 @ ? MHz
4x 16-bit CH
LPDDR4X @ 2093MHz
4x 16-bit CH
LPDDR4X @ 2093MHz
ISP Rear: 22MP
Front: 22MP
Dual: 16MP+16MP
Rear: 22MP
Front: 22MP
Dual: 16MP+16MP
Media 8K30 & 4K150 encode & decode
H.265/HEVC, H.264, VP9
8K30 & 4K150 encode & decode
H.265/HEVC, H.264, VP9
Integrated Modem Shannon 5000 Integrated LTE
(Category 20/13)

DL = 2000 Mbps
8x20MHz CA, 256-QAM

UL = 316 Mbps
3x20MHz CA, 256-QAM
Shannon 5000 Integrated LTE
(Category 20/13)

DL = 2000 Mbps
8x20MHz CA, 256-QAM

UL = 316 Mbps
3x20MHz CA, 256-QAM
Mfc. Process Samsung
8nm LPP
7nm LPP (EUV)

The new chip very much looks like a die-shrink/mid-cycle refresh with largely the same IP generation as the 9820, still featuring Samsung’s M4 Cheetah cores as well as a Mali-G76 GPU. Samsung also doesn’t seem to have changed the clock frequencies of the chip very much: The M4 cores are still running at a peak frequency of 2.73GHz and the A55 cores also run at 1.95GHz. We do see a bump in the frequencies of the middle cores that goes up from 2.31GHz to 2.4GHz.

On the GPU side, Samsung has also stuck with the same GPU configuration as with 9820, using a MP12 configuration of the G76. According to the company the 9825's GPU is clocked higher - so it will outperform its predecessor - however the company has yet to disclose specific clockspeeds.

As for the integrated modem, Samsung has retained their Shannon 5000, a Category 20/13 modem. This modem has a peak download rate of 2 Gbps (with 8x carrier aggregration), while uploads top out at 316 Mbps. We had been wondering if Samsung would be able to squeeze in a 5G modem for this SoC, but it looks like it's just a bit too early for that. Instead, 5G can be accomplished by pairing the SoC with Samsung's 5G Exynos Modem 5100.

The new chip is likely to be featured in the new Galaxy Note10 – Samsung will continue to use Snapdragon chips for some markets, and this could be an explanation for the new chip not having that big improvements on the part of the CPU complex as it’s aiming for performance parity with the Snapdragon. We also have to note that Samsung would have to invest the process improvements into improving power efficiency rather than raising performance.

The chip reminds us of the Exynos 5430 from a few years ago which was also a process-shrink to the chip that ended up in the Galaxy S5, representing Samsung’s first 20nm silicon. That chip never ended up in the popular flagship products, but seemingly did serve a purpose as a pipe-cleaner and learning platform for the new process node. The new Exynos 9825 could end up in a similar situation, although being used in the Note10, it won’t nearly have an as long lifespan as we don’t expect it to power the Galaxy S11 next year.

Source: Samsung

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  • levizx - Tuesday, August 6, 2019 - link

    "7nm EUV process node was noted as having started mass production back in October" according to whom?
    Samsung never said anything about mass production, they said production. And the first stage is always risk production.

    And according to Samsung

    "In October 2018, Samsung announced the readiness and its initial production of 7nm process"
    "has started mass production of 7nm process early this year."
    That means Q1 2019.
  • lefty2 - Wednesday, August 7, 2019 - link

    Good catch. Also, it's not first by a very large margin. HiSilicon Kirin 985 which is on TSMC 7nm EUV may launch tommorrow and iPhone 11 (on 7nm Pro) launches in one months time.
  • levizx - Wednesday, August 7, 2019 - link

    7nm wasn't all that dissimilar to 16/14nm except this time it's Samsung who skipped a node and also they had a nodelet as stop-gap.
  • name99 - Wednesday, August 7, 2019 - link

    Everything indicates that Kirin 985 will be 7+, so some EUV levels.
    BUT A13 (next iPhone) is much more iffy, using "7nmPro" which may be simply an optimized version of 7, not using EUV.

    Why the difference? Primarily volume. At the time A13 was finalized, it was probably uncertain whether TSMC could hit Apple volumes on the amount of EUV equipment it had on hand...

    (We've seen similar constraints before on what Apple can do. Even with all that money, there've been times they had to offer a product that lagged slightly behind leading edge because leading edge couldn't supply the volumes Apple needs for every new launch.

    We may even see this in a different form this year with DRAM. It would make sense, technically, for Apple to use LPDDR5 for the new iPhones, but it's unclear whether the various manufacturers can ship enough to make that feasible. It would be natural to design the A13 memory controller to support both LPDDR4 and 5, just to be safe, and it's possible we could see something strange like this year's iPhones use LPDDR4, but the A13X based iPads a few months later use LPDDR5.
    Or even that this year's Apple Watches, in contrast to the phones, use LPDDR5 [for lower power]!)
  • levizx - Thursday, August 8, 2019 - link

    So Apple is using the N7P node instead of N7+. That make sense, N7+ will never have the volume before it's replaced by N6 and N5.
  • name99 - Thursday, August 8, 2019 - link

    Enough with these claims about one node "replacing" another. Talking this way just reveals that you understand fsckall about the Foundry business model.

    TSMC provides a HUGE range of "nodes" for customers. At any one time, one of these is the sexiest (for whatever reason) but that doesn't mean the old ones don't exist. They keep on working, making chips that don't need to be updated every year, or that don't need the newest (and most expensive...) logic.

    TSMC still does a lot of business on 28nm, hell they still DO business on .25µ!
  • levizx - Tuesday, August 13, 2019 - link

    No, you are the one don't understand how it works. N7+ is NOT 28HPx, N7/N7P/N6 are long term nodes, but N7+ will be replaced by N6 and N5, and there will be no more N7+ tapeouts next year. Most of TSMC's 7nm customers won't even migrate to N7+ in the first place, and that includes Apple.
  • eastcoast_pete - Tuesday, August 6, 2019 - link

    Thanks Andrei! In addition to a dress rehearsal of Samsung's EUV process for their own SoCs, I guess this is also a demonstration for other potential fabless customers that Samsung's EUV fab is up-and-running. It'll be interesting to see who bites first.
    @Andrei: I wonder if you heard anything from Samsung about any possible impact, if any, the recent spat between Japan and South Korea has or might have on their ability to churn out wafers by their EUV fab. Apparently, Japan is withholding export permits of several key chemicals needed for the manufacturing of various semiconductors.
  • eldakka - Wednesday, August 7, 2019 - link

    "the chip also had a notable die area disadvantage versus the Snapdragon, coming in at 127mm² versus the smaller 73mm² competition."

    Since the 9825 seems to be pretty much a straight die-shrink, a die area comparison would probably be the most informative. Do we have that data?
  • Anymoore - Wednesday, August 7, 2019 - link

    Interesting, Samsung's release stopped short of any density improvements.

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