Samsung has announced its new Exynos 990 flagship chipset, which will almost certainly power the Samsung Galaxy S11 range when it launches in 2020.
The chip can be paired with the also newly-announced 5G-capable Exynos Modem 5123, suggesting that we will see a 5G variant of the Galaxy S11 - and perhaps the whole range may be 5G connected.
Samsung announced four handsets under the Galaxy S10 banner in early 2019, but just one offered 5G connectivity (the Galaxy S10 5G) - so increasing support across the range for the Galaxy S11 would make sense as coverage for the fifth generation of network connectivity continues to expand in countries around the world.
The company took the wraps off its next gen chips during its Tech Day 2019 showcase in San Jose, California. Both the processor and the modem are expected to go into mass production by the end of this year.
The big features of the Exynos 990 processor include support for a 4K UHD display, 108MP camera, 8K video recording and a 20% increase in CPU and graphical performance over the previous generation of chip (which features in the S10 series).
Future foldable phones from Samsung should also benefit, with the 990 offering "a 120Hz refresh-rate display driver which makes games come alive by reducing screen tearing and makes animations smoother even on devices with multiple displays, such as foldable phones."
We'll certainly be keeping an eye out for the Samsung Galaxy Fold 2 next year.
Samsung Exynos 990 mobile processor
The Exynos 990 is a 7nm EUV octa-core chipset in a tri-cluster format consisting of two new custom Exynos M5 cores, which are supposed to be 20% faster than the M4 cores on the Exynos 9820, followed by two high-performance Cortex-A77 cores, along with four Cortex-A55 cores for efficiency. The overall improvement is said to be around 13%.
Graphical duties will be handled by the new Arm Mali-G77 MP11 GPU, which implements a modern Valhall architecture, promising performance improvements of up to 20% or a 20% increase in efficiency. The Exynos 990 is amongst the first chipsets to employ the new Arm GPU.
One of the more significant improvements comes with the move to LPDDR5 memory from the aging LPDDR4X standard, taking the memory controller frequency to 2,750MHz and memory data rates to 5,500 Mbps. Power efficiency gains are also expected.
On-device Artificial Intelligence will take a huge leap forward with a dual-core NPU and the new DSP, which can perform over ten-trillion operations per second (10 TOPs), up from the Exynos 9820’s 1.86TOPs of computational throughput.
The spec sheet also mentions that the Exynos 990 can support displays with a refresh rate of 120Hz or a max resolution of 4k UHD (4,096 x 2,160) with HDR. As expected, UFS 3.0 and UFS 2.1 storage will be supported. In terms of imaging, it can handle cameras with a 108MP resolution or dual 24.8MP sensors. Video recording capabilities will include 8K video capture at 30fps or 4K at 120fps along with encoding and decoding with 10-bit HEVC(H.265), H.264, VP9 formats.
Samsung Exynos Modem 5123
The new 5G modem offers a complete multi-band solution which covers everything from 2G to 5G, in both mmWave and Sub-6 flavors. Theoretical data transmission speeds for 4G LTE go up to 3Gbps downlink and 422Mbps uplink. Download speeds in mmWave will go up to 7.35Gbps and 5.1Gbps in the sub-6GHz setting with 8x carrier aggregation. The Exynos Modem 5123 also supports E-UTRA-NR Dual Connectivity (EN-DC), which combines LTE and 5G connectivity to maximize downlink speeds. The 7nm EUV fabrication process should help in improving battery efficiency.
The Modem 5123 is likely to come paired with the Exynos 990 chipsets, which could imply 5G capabilities on all Exynos flagship devices for 2020. The Samsung Galaxy S11 is expected to be the platform where these new chipsets will debut, along with the next generation Galaxy Fold.