It is the world’s first commercially available processor built on a 10-nanometre FinFET process – simply put it packs more into a smaller die than the previous 14-nm Exynos 8 and other SoC makers. Samsung claims 27% performance increase and 40% less power use than the Exynos 8.
Having everything on the same SoC means almost imperceptible delays in the CPU talking to the GPU, RAM, or other components (called Heterogeneous System Architecture). This enables real-time AI and deep learning. It also means less space is needed compared to multiple chips used in the past.
The other 10-nm chip that has been announced is the Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 that is also being made in Samsung foundries. Although the Exynos and Qualcomm technology are kept quite separate, both chips do similar things. In fact, in the Galaxy S7, some models used the Qualcomm 820 and some the Exynos 8.
The Exynos 9, 8895 includes:
CPU (Central Processor Unit): four 2.5GHz and four 1.7Ghz Big/Little cores – to do the heavy lifting and to switch in and out as processing demands.
GPU (Graphics Processor Unit): Mali-G71 graphics processor runs at 550Mhz giving about 375 GFLOPS (the Exynos 8 was 265) – a 60% increase. Also, supports natively Vulcan, VR, DayDream, MSAA, Mipmap and Tessellator.
RAM/Storage/SD: LPDDR4x RAM, apparently baked into the SoC for on bus, no lag performance. Supports eMMC 5.1, UFS 2.1 and SD 3.0.
Screen: Supports up to 4096 x 2160 clearing the way for 18:9 format screens as well as ticker sub screens. Supports 100% sRGB colour.
LTE: Gigabit LTE, CAT 16, 600/150Mbps, 5CA (channel aggregation). Such speeds require telco support and should be realised in Australia by the 4GX and new “4.5G” LTE networks in major cities.
DACS (Digital Analogue Converter): New audio DACS support Hi-Res and Dolby sound, and HEVC H.264/5/VP9 recording.
ISP (Image signal processor): dual camera (up to 28MP rear and 16MP front), WDR and PDAF, HDR+, DSLR processing speeds, can support 4K @120fps.
Security: A separate sub-security system supporting iris recognition, fingerprint recognition, voice biometrics and encryption that keep critical security functions off the main processor.
Other features: VPU (vision processing unit) that supports machine vision technology – the ability to recognise objects, corners, motion detection, image tracking, people and gender. With the right app one can have a context-aware device that supports AI like Bixby.
While Samsung is the main user of the Exynos SoC other smartphone makers including China’s Meizu have been using it in flagship devices for some time.