Samsung flexes component muscle, debuts Exynos 5 'Octa'

South Korean giant highlights its ability to continually impact the mobile industry when it unveiled its latest generation of mobile processors based on ARM's big.LITTLE architecture and Youm flexible screens.
Written by Kevin Kwang, Contributor

LAS VEGAS--Samsung highlighted its strength in manufacturing lies beyond consumer electronics such as smartphones, tablets, and televisions, but also in the "world where magic happens"--in other words, components such as processors, memory and display.

In his keynote speech here Wednesday at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2013, Stephen Woo, president of device solutions business at Samsung Electronics, said the company is keen on "mobilizing possibilities" for today's digitally-inclined consumers. To meet their needs, the company is going beyond delivering innovative mobile devices and into enhancing its component-level manufacturing, he said.

This was particularly true for the processors the South Korean giant is manufacturing. Woo highlighted its dual-core Exynos 5 processor, or 5250, was included in its Galaxy Note 10.1 tablet as well as Google's Chromebooks in 2012, and helped make functions such as full high-definition (HD) playback more vivid. The dual-core Exynos 5 chip uses ARM's Cortex-A15 architecture with an onboard ARM Mali T604 quad-core graphics processing unit (GPU).

To illustrate Samsung's continuing innovation in this space, the president today announced its Exynos 5 "Octa" processor, which relies on ARM's big.LITTLE architecture. This means there are four cores of ARM Cortex-A15 processors to cope with graphic-heavy processing, and another four cores of Cortex-A7 processors to handle the basic computing activities, he explained.

For consumers, this would mean if they are looking for a place to go for dinner for example, they would be able to search for a place, download the app and make a reservation. At the same time, they would be able to pull up the location of the restaurant while streaming a high-definition video in the background, he said.

The Exynos 5 Octa is targeted at high-end smartphones and tablets, and the architecture also promises energy savings and longer battery life to go with the better multitasking and heavy-duty processing, the executive added.

"We have leaped from 90-nanometer (nm) to 28nm manufacturing in five generations, and we are looking to go even lower to 20nm, 14nm and even 10nm in the future," Woo promised.

Flexible displays offer new opportunities
The president also pointed to  breakthroughs in display technology to produce flexible screen prototypes, which were showcased during the keynote.

Brian Berkeley, senior vice president of Samsung Display in San Jose, who presented in the same keynote, said the company's Youm brand of flexible OLED (organic light-emitting diode) screen display will open up new opportunities to phonemakers and app developers as consumers change the way they interact with their phones.

Credit: James Martin/CNET

One example of this is a prototype phone with a rounded screen that offers display real estate along the side of the phone. Phone manufacturers can make use of this additional space to run e-mail or SMS alerts, so users need not open up their phone covers to check on incoming messages, he explained.

Similarly, developers can also work on integrating the additional space into their software to increase interaction and engagement with users, Berkeley added.

As for memory innovations, Woo said the company's proprietary flash memory technology will position it to capitalize on datacenter operators' needs to maximize their compute resources while reducing the need for more power and real estate.

Kevin Kwang of ZDNet Asia reported from the Consumer Electronics Show 2013 in Las Vegas, United States.


Editorial standards