Samsung Electronics on Thursday announced the Exynos 9610, its latest mobile system-on-chip meant to bring features such as artificial intelligence computing and slow-motion video recording to the mid-range segment of the smartphone market. Despite its name, the Exynos 9610 is technically part of the Exynos 7 series of application processors and is built on the 10nm FinFET process, thus being the world’s first non-flagship silicon utilizing such an advanced node. Samsung’s 2017 mid-range chips used the company’s 14nm process, whereas MediaTek’s Helio P60 has until now been considered the industry’s most advanced mid-range chip, having been built with the 12nm FinFET technology. In practice, the move to a newer process should deliver an unprecedented level of performance and energy efficiency in the non-premium smartphone segment, in addition to enabling a broad range of new features that were so far exclusively reserved for (Android) flagships. The Seoul-based firm is technically advertising the new offering as being intended for “high-end” smartphones, meaning it will most likely implement it in its products aimed at competing in the upper mid-range price bracket, i.e. select Galaxy A and Galaxy C-series handsets.
The Exynos 9610 is capable of shooting 1080p slow-motion videos at 480 frames per second and supports image processing powered by deep learning technologies which become better the more they’re used. Computer vision solutions should also become achievable thanks to the capabilities of the new chip which is generally expected to perform better than Samsung’s 2016 flagship silicon — the Exynos 8990 — found inside the Galaxy S7 series and boast similar raw power to the Exynos 8895 which fueled the international variants of last year’s Galaxy S8 and Galaxy Note 8 lineups. The chip is of the octa-core variety, sporting a quad-core Cortex-A53 configuration clocked at 1.6GHz meant for energy-efficient performance and another quad-core Cortex-A73 cluster running at up to 2.3GHz and designed for heavy workloads such as rendering mobile games and editing videos. The Exynos 9610 is equipped with the ARM Mali-G72 GPU, the same graphics chip found inside the flagship Exynos 9810 powering the newly released Galaxy S9 and Galaxy S9 Plus.
Facial recognition support and depth sensing processing necessary for bokeh-enhanced portrait photography are also part of the newly announced package, as is compatibility with dual-camera setups and 4K 120fps recording modes. Samsung claims its new chip can allow for always-on sensing apps including context awareness and gesture controls, e.g. waking up a smartphone by waving over it. The 4G LTE modem embedded onto the silicon is of the Category 12 variety and supports three-carrier aggregation, allowing for maximum download speeds of 600Mbps and uploads of up to 150Mbps. Bluetooth 5.0, FM radio, 2×2 MIMO Wi-Fi, GPS, GLONASS, Galileo, and BeiDou support are all included as well. The South Korean tech giant is set to start mass-producing the Exynos 9610 in the second half of the year and will likely first implement the chip into its 2018 Galaxy A-series smartphones, though third-party commercialization is unlikely. Given the capabilities of the new silicon, the upcoming mid-rangers from Samsung are likely to see on-device AI and improved mobile photography be advertised as one of their main selling points.