AH Samsung Exynos Logo 1.2

The World’s First 20nm Mobile SoC is Now the Samsung Exynos 5430

August 14, 2014 - Written By Nick Sutrich

Every manufacturer is always on the hunt for the next best way to make their product.  Whether it involves better materials, more efficiency or a streamlined approach to the manufacturing process, the task is seemingly endless.  Samsung has now been the first to reach the goal of making it’s processors at the 20nm manufacturing process, and it brings more than just a number change for end-users.  Samsung’s recently announced Galaxy Alpha is the culmination of a number of new manufacturing ideas from Samsung, including not only a metal build of the phone, but also this new manufacturing process for the processor found inside.  Samsung’s Exynos System on a Chip (SoC) has been around for quite a while now, and is their own in-house central and graphics processor line that’s often found in non-LTE versions of their phones.

Now it looks like even that is going to change, as the Exynos 5430 is the first SoC from Samsung to feature their own in-house LTE modem, dubbed the Exynos Modem 303.  This isn’t just a regular LTE modem either, it’s a full category 6 LTE modem, meaning that it could get a theoretical 300mbps; 3 times that of regular LTE speeds in markets who’s infrastructure supports it.  Making the switch to using their own in-house modems points to Samsung using only their SoC’s in the future, meaning Qualcomm could be about to lose its biggest partner in the market.  While the some of the specs for the Galaxy Alpha are a big questionable, there’s no denying this new SoC is the bee’s knees when it comes to power consumption and performance.

Using the 20nm manufacturing process, as well as a different order for building the transistors on the chip itself, Samsung is promising 25% reduced power consumption over even the chips used in the Galaxy S5.  The new manufacturing process is also promising better performance out of the processor, as the old 28nm manufacturing process that’s still being used on Qualcomm’s side of things makes the transistor gate first, exposing it to significant high and low temperatures during manufacturing.  Samsung’s new manufacturing process builds the gate last, ensuring that it never gets exposed to these temperature differences and potentially creating a better end product.

Also on board is a new audio co-processing unit called Seiren.  This is an advanced sound co-processor that not only decodes and encodes audio files like MP3’s and Dolby or DTS streams, but also provides enhanced voice recognition including the ability to not have to wake the rest of the system to listen for voice.  This is a clear move to making sure that always-on listening is a big feature in future Samsung phones when using the Exynos processor line.

Last but not least is the CMOS image sensor on board the new SoC.  We first saw the ISOCELL image sensor make its debut on the Galaxy S5, and now Samsung is bringing this to the Exynos 5430 as well.  This time though Samsung has packed hardware optical image stabilization on board for the Galaxy Alpha, a change that may result in the best photos ever taken on a Samsung device.  Overall this seems like a significant step forward for Samsung, especially since the Exynos 5430 now includes a number of in-house products where previous Exynos SoC’s used ones from other vendors.