Samsung will outline its plans for an eight-core big.LITTLE chip at next February’s International Solid-State Circuits Conference. While the topics themselves sound riveting — they read like an electrical engineer’s fourth-year textbook — one takeaway from the agenda is that Samsung’s Exynos chip development is not slowing down.
big.LITTLE is ARM’s new basis for next-generation mobile computing: provide a certain number of cores for the hard work, in this case four Cortex-A15 cores running at 1.8Ghz, and a certain number of cores for more menial tasks, in this case four Cortex-A7 cores running at 1.2Ghz. This dramatically increases energy efficiency, as the high-power A15 cores are used only when needed. Due to the inherently larger die size of such a chip, it’s not known whether Samsung will debut this new eight-core chip in tablets, or even ARM-based laptops, before it eventually comes to smartphones.
Nvidia and Qualcomm are also expected to move into big.LITTLE production in a big way in 2013, coming up against Intel’s 22nm Haswell architecture which is said to be the company’s first truly competitive and energy-efficient mobile chip for smartphones and tablets.