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Teardown: Inside Samsung Galaxy S4

Posted: 02 May 2013     Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:smartphone  Android  Galaxy S4 

Integrating four ARM Cortex-A7 cores with four ARM Cortex-A15 cores developed on a 28-nm low-power high-k metal-gate process from Samsung's own foundry, the Exynos 5410 Octa processor claims to use the first set of quad-core processors to maximise performance, with the second set used to maximise energy efficiency.

Considered a "big-little" architecture, the "little" portion, the ARM Cortex-A7 cores supposedly do the yeomen's work. At some point, this architecture powers down the A7 cores and switches the workload over to the ARM Cortex-A15 cores. It's unknown at this time if there is any circumstance where both these sets of cores run in parallel with each other. The main processor die has an area of about 122 square millimeters. In comparison to the Exynos Quad, which featured a die area of 78.26 square millimeters, the Exynos 5410 Octa is 36 per cent larger in die area than its predecessor.

Quad-core Cortex-A15s occupies approximately five times the area of the quad-core Cortex-A7arrangement

As seen in this diffusion image of the Samsung Exynos Octa 5410, the quad-core Cortex-A15s (in black) occupies approximately five times the area of the quad-core Cortex-A7 (in pink) arrangement.

Improvement over S3
With over 10 crore units sold from the Galaxy S family of handsets, the Korean manufacturer Samsung knows they have a definite competitor to the iPhone. Will the Galaxy S4 be able to capitalise on the momentum that came with the Galaxy S3 (4 crore units sold and counting) or will consumers, in general, weary of upgrading every year? From a technical standpoint, the Galaxy S4 is an improvement over its predecessor, but time will tell if those improvements are enough to persuade customers to hand over their money.

Front of the Galaxy S4 communications board

Front of the Galaxy S4 communications board.

Back of the Galaxy S4 communications board.

Back of the Galaxy S4 communications board.

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