Samsung to Detail Quad-Core Big.Little Chip for Mobile Applications in Early 2013

Samsung to Unveil Ultimate Chip for Smartphones and Tablets at ISSCC 2013

by Anton Shilov
11/20/2012 | 11:26 PM

At the International Solid-State Circuits Conference in mid-February, 2013, Samsung Electronics plans to details its ultimate chip for mobile applications, such as smartphones, tablets or hybrid notebooks. The chip will employ Big.Little concept from ARM  and will employ ARM Cortex-A15 and Cortex-A7 cores.


Samsung’s new multi-core quad-core heterogeneous chip will be made using 28nm HKMG process technology and will be aimed at high-performance and energy-efficient mobile applications. The official details about the new chip, which will likely carry Exynos brand, will be revealed at ISSCC 2013. What remains to be seen is whether the new system-on-chip will have four cores in total (or two clusters with two Cortex-A15 cores per one cluster and two Cortex-A7 cores per another cluster), or eight cores (or two clusters with four Cortex-A15 cores per one cluster and four Cortex-A7 core per another cluster).

One of today’s technology most significant challenges is how to create a system-on-chip (SoC) that meets the conflicting consumer demand for devices with both higher-performance and extended battery life. ARM’s Big.Little processing approach achieves this by pairing the best of the high-performance ARM Cortex-A15 MPCore and ultra-efficient ARM Cortex-A7 processors. Big.Little processing combines two different, but compatible processors within the same SoC and allows the power management software to seamlessly select the right processor, or multiple processors, for the right task. The efficient and seamless switching of workloads between the two processors is supported by advanced ARM system IP, such as AMBA 4 ACE coherency extensions, which ensures full cache, I/O and processor-to-processor coherency between the Cortex-A15 and Cortex-A7, and across the complete system. Software and applications can therefore continue to run unhindered, and unnoticed by the user, as the tasks are rebalanced to provide the optimum Big.Little user experience.

Samsung’s multi-core chips will compete against such products as Nvidia Tegra 4 “Wayne” as well as Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 with ARM Cortex-A15 cores. Neither of the chips is set to be discussed at the ISSCC 2013.