Why LTE Galaxy S III’s will use Qualcomm Krait S4 rather than Exynos Quad and why you shouldn’t mind

Posted on May 31 2012 - 6:11pm by Brian

Samsung’s Exynos SoC was a huge hit last year due to its success in the HSPA+ variants of the Galaxy S II and Galaxy Note. The chipsets Mali-400 GPU bested every other competitor and set the standard for graphical performance, which is why it was disappointing (especially in the enthusiast community), to see the usage of Qualcomm’s Snapdragon SoC in the T-Mobile Galaxy S II, as well as the AT&T Galaxy Note and Skyrocket. The reasoning behind this was due to Qualcomm’s support of higher data speed radios (read: LTE), versus Samsung’s proprietary Exynos connectivity options.

After seeing the launch of the HTC One X on two platforms, it’s looking like Samsung may opt to do the same with the Galaxy S III, favoring a Qualcomm dual-core SoC over their latest quad-core offering, the Exynos 4412, for LTE enabled models in the U.S.

Or will we?

Well don’t get your jimmies quite rustled yet. Last years Exynos 4210 vs. Snapdragon APQ8060 was a slam dunk for the Exynos, easily dominating both CPU performance due to its superior Cortex-A9 (vs. A8) core and GPU performance with the Mali 400 over the Adreno 220. However this year the competition is not so lopsided.

Although you may be hearing that quad-core is all the rage, Qualcomm’s latest SoC, it’s Krait S4 lineup, is actually a dual core setup. The difference here being that the Tegra 3 and Exynos Quad are Cortex A9 built on 40nm and 32nm semiconductor technologies whereas the Krait S4 is a Cortex-A15 equivalent, 28nm chip. Essentially all things held equal, core for core, a chip built with a smaller nm architecture will be more efficient, running faster and cooler for less battery life.

“At 3.3 [DMIPS/MHz], Krait should be around 30% faster than a Cortex A9 running at the same frequency.” -AnandTech

In their piece about Krait’s architecture, AnandTech goes on to conjecture that “It’s not unreasonable to expect a 30 – 50% gain in performance over existing smartphone designs.” So what do the actual results say? Well there are three comparable phones on the market as we speak, the HTC One X AT&T, One X International and the Galaxy S III International. Each runs a different SoC; Krait S4, Tegra 3 and Exynos Quad, respectively.

As you can see from the results above, the Krait S4 easily keeps up with its quad-core brethren. The weakest link for the Qulacomm SoC is in its GPU performance. So if you see the Galaxy S III powered by something other than Exynos, you shouldn’t be too concerned–if you aren’t an avid gamer, it could be argued that the potential battery savings of a dual core could outweigh the “overkill” of a quad-core setup. We’ll have to get some definitive tests in once the Galaxy S III hits stateside, but till then, let us know if you have any comments or questions regarding the guts of your next super phone!

1 Comment so far. Feel free to join this conversation.

  1. Michael Ma June 11, 2012 at 1:38 pm -

    Qualcomm is always a generation behind because it operates like a big corporation run by a committee. Samsung on the other hand, as big as they are operates like a small bleeding edge company. Unfortunately for the customers, Qualcomm has all the LTE control locked up, and Qualcomm will be handicapping smartphones with their Crapdragon processors for the next decade. What you see here is while the Krait S4 is better than Exynos of yesterday, it still is terrible against the real competitor, Exynos 4412 which is 2-3x faster.

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