03
May
exynos

If you've been following the Galaxy S III news today, you know it has a banging new Exynos 4 quad-core processor that absolutely obliterates benchmarks. The problem is that the Exynos 4 platform is quite old at this point (for a mobile chipset), and was never designed to support LTE. That's why devices like the Galaxy S II Skyrocket don't use an Exynos chip. Devices with Exynos 4 chips that do, like the Galaxy Tab 7.7 LTE, use an external one - adding thickness and increasing power consumption.

While Samsung has hinted at times that the Exynos 4412 chip could, in theory, support LTE with an external (read: adding thickness, weight, decreasing battery life) modem, nothing concrete has come of those rumblings. It also seems fairly unlikely that Samsung would design an entirely different version of the 4412 chip just for US phones.

Given that the global versions of the Galaxy S III will not support LTE, and that the global version will have Exynos 4 Quad, it's pretty easy to pick apart why Samsung is trying so hard to obfuscate exactly what chip will be powering handsets in individual regions. In fact, Samsung says in their press release that regional versions of the Galaxy S III "could" be using alternatives to the quad-core chipset, and when a company admits something like that "could happen," we all know it really means "will happen."

This has one of two outcomes. Either Samsung is planning on introducing its Exynos 5 dual-core platform in the US, which is based on ARM15 architecture - this is the more unlikely option, since it's not scheduled for production until Q2 2012, aka right now (usually there's a delay from production to introduction in hardware) - or we'll see Snapdragon S4-powered Galaxy S IIIs here in the states. The Snapdragon S4 is more likely for two reasons: first, it's already in production and been proven in practice to work with LTE in HTC's One XL (aka the AT&T One X), and second, the LTE chip is integrated on the main board, meaning no compromises on thickness or weight, and much less so on battery life.

One exclusion to this "rule" may be T-Mobile, who have yet to set out a timeline for their LTE network rollout. It seems exceptionally unlikely they'll have one rolled out in time to make launching the Galaxy S III with LTE a remotely feasible (or intelligent) option, and so they may instead opt for the 21mbps HSPA+ Exynos Quad version of the device, making them the sole carrier of the "true" Galaxy S III in the US.

It's all speculation at this point, but it's grounded in pretty solid evidence, and for the aforementioned reasons, we're pretty confident Exynos Quad won't be showing up on at least three of the "Big Four."

David Ruddock
David's phone is an HTC One. He is an avid writer, and enjoys playing devil's advocate in editorials, imparting a legal perspective on tech news, and reviewing the latest phones and gadgets. He also doesn't usually write such boring sentences.

  • Tommy Thompson

    Verizon Tab 7.7 LTE does use The Exynos. It's big enough they were able to cram in a seperate LTE chip.

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ David Ruddock

      You're right. Fixed.

  • http://ARMdevices.net/ Charbax

    Samsung's 32nm Quad-core ARM Cortex-A9 design is pretty much the worlds most cutting edge design for a mobile chipset. I don't know why you write is as "ARM9 platform is quite old at this point (for a mobile chipset)" that's simply not true. Also, I haven't seen any official Samsung confirmation that they haven't got their Exynos 4412 with integrated LTE just as they have it with integrated HSPA+. Where does Samsung say they aren't able to integrate the LTE modem on the chip?

    • Will

      Think you are misunderstanding the technical details and therefore missing the point. The ARM9 is one of the cores in the SoC that the baseband runs on which provides the mobile connectivity.

      It's nothing to do with the Cortex-A9 applications processors.

    • marcusmaximus04

      I think they said that because the Krait architecture in the Qualcomm S4 chipset is equivalent/based on ARM Cortex-A15, which is much newer(and faster, hence the S4 beating out both this exynos and the tegra 3 in certain benchmarks by a large margin)

      • http://ARMdevices.net/ Charbax

        That is a claim by Qualcomm, it doesn't have to be true. Qualcomm has an ARM Architecture licence that allows them to deviate from the main ARM designs, and Qualcomm always claims that their designs are better than alternatives on the market. But that is Qualcomm's marketing. The Qualcomm S4 is not an ARM Cortex-A15 processor.

        • marcusmaximus04

          While true, the benchmarks generally tend to back that theory up.

          Source: http://www.engadget.com/2012/05/03/gsiii-benchmarks/ 

          Obvs. the One X for ATT and the One S are S4. The S3 and the global One X are using quad core cortex A9's. The One X's tegra 3 is running at a higher clockrate than the S4, and, while unconfirmed, the exynos 4 quad likely is as well.

          • http://ARMdevices.net/ Charbax

            The S4 is great, but it's not an ARM Cortex-A15 processor.. And the benchmarks aren't very reliable to prove actual performance for real usage. For example sometimes just installing an alternative firmware boosts benchmark results.

      • DrewNusser

        Not equivalent - similar to.  And in pretty much all the benchmarks run on the same device (HTC One X) with the different processors, the Tegra 3 craps on the S4.  Not saying the S4 is slow by any means, in fact it's probably #2 until the SIII comes out, but the 2 extra cores actually DO help quite a bit.

  • James

    This would be a gigantic fail on Samsung's part if it's true. It better not be. Samsung, if you happen to see this, DON'T YOU DARE.

  • LinuxFrenzy

    Imagine that.I guess being late to the LTE party does have an upside.I really do hope T-Mobile picks up the Quad-Core Exynos.

    • fixxmyhead

      yea me too but i doubt it. why lower the speeds on the s3 when the s2 can do double. i bet there going with a crapdragon again

      • Namelessfiend

        I think the real reason ppl like myself want quad-core is it SAVES battery life. LTE kills battery life. Dont get me wrong LTE is awsome like having a Wi-Fi hotspot right next to you. But LTE isnt very practical for daily use. Unless you have a supersized battery. I mean why wouldnt you want the best hardware for your phone.

    • sgtguthrie

      Not sure how you figure, I'd rather have 4G than 4 cores...if I had to choose between the two of course :-)

  • http://twitter.com/mariodnyc Mario

    Shut the front door!

  • Freak4Dell

    Eh, doesn't really matter. It's not needed.

  • Qorse

    This would be a deal-breaker, Sammy. Get busy with those A15s. 

  • http://www.oatan.com/ 尚品唛网

    Samsung's equipment is becoming more and more advanced...

  • JJ

    SAMSUNG mobile architecture is different from QCT. Exynos 4 Quad is a AP not BB processor which needs another BB processor, such as QCT or Intel. Exynos 4 Quad has I/F to use any BB processor to support wither WCDMA, CDMA or LTE. S4 solution is aplatform which includes AP and BB. I don't know why you write is "The problem is that the Exynos 4 platform is quite old at this point (for a mobile chipset), and was never designed to support LTE. "

  • InvaderDJ

    I agree. The Snapdragon S4 seems to be a great chip both in performance and (more importantly IMO) battery life.

    • http://twitter.com/inMikeWeTrust_ justbelikemike

      Which is great, but the Exynos 4 Quad has already beaten S4 in just about every benchmark, so either way if this does happen, it will be a watered down version of the phone and then Samsung won't have any edge over the HTC One series in the states.

  • mightymax

    Will Samsung also upgrade the processor in Galaxy Note to quad core, since this is pin to pin compatible with the dual core ? giving better performance when the Note comes out with ice cream sandwich

  • Darkseider

    Well I am still holding onto my G2X and will continue to do so until T-Mobile brings a quad core to the party. I see no compelling reason to upgrade. I have a nice, fast and stable ICS build with Hellfire Sandwich and a kick ass Harsh kernel.

  • ron hudson

    TMO better capitalize on this, it would be perfect for them to market the True SGS3 stateside vs everybody elses iphone. Id love to see this.

  • http://twitter.com/Jarodmellor Jarod Mellor

    Bet you kind of feel a bit stupid now that its confirmed :/