Does it feel like only yesterday that dual-core processors were more than good enough for manufacturers to ship with their phones? Can you remember when quad-core was something to drool over? Well, you ought to because it really wasn't that long ago and now, we're hearing about octa-core processors that will be hitting the market very soon. Samsung have already formally announced their Exynos 5 "Octa" processor, and there's wild speculation that it'll be available in the Galaxy S IV. That doesn't sound far off enough for such a processor and, if I were a betting man I'd wager we'd see it in the Galaxy Note III much later on this year.
Forget Samsung though, they're certainly not the only manufacturer capable of delivering such a processor and word is that LG have an octa-core surprise up their sleeves as well. The Korean publication DDaily is reporting that LG have their own eight-core packing processor in the works that will be built on a 28nm HKMG process and of course, TSMC will be producing it for them. The whole thing will be based around ARM's big.LITTLE design and will pack support beyond Full HD resolutions (1920 x 1080) but, it won't come with a baseband modem.
If you've not heard of big.LITTLE before, it's exactly the same design that will be in Samsung's Exynos Octa and it combines four powerful Cortex A15 processing cores with four Cortex A7 cores. The Cortex A15 core will run the show when high-performance is needed and for the more mundane tasks, the four Cortex A7 cores will take over to drastically reduce battery drain. This is perhaps a little similar to the "companion core" that Nvidia use in their Tegra chips, which essentially has a fifth core to do the light-work to save on battery. It's a sound solution to reducing battery consumption, after all if the full-power cores aren't needed for everyday tasks – then why waste the battery on them?
Don't get too excited though, if LG are going to be entering the fray when it comes to ARM processors, it'll more than likely be solely for their own purposes. LG have TSMC doing the production and it'll probably end up being s reference design from ARM with LG's name on it. Think of this as more of a marketing investment for LG than anything else. Saying that you make pretty much all of the phone you're selling is something that seems to resonate with consumers. At least, it seems to be working for Samsung pretty well.