What you should know about Samsung’s chipset return

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra GeekBench 5 benchmark

Robert Triggs / Android Authority

After a long history in the custom mobile processor game, Samsung somewhat unexpectedly dropped its Exynos chipset from the Galaxy S23 series, opting to use Qualcomm’s Snapdragon chip exclusively — a “Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 for Galaxy” to be precise. While unconfirmed, troubled development and dubious performance were the likely culprits behind Samsung’s decision.

With a semiconductor restructure well underway, rumors are circulating that Samsung is preparing to return to chipset action earlier than anticipated with an upcoming Exynos 2400 mobile processor. While still unofficial, we’ve collected publicly available information to piece together what we might expect from Samsung’s next flagship chip.

Will there be an Exynos 2400 processor, and when will it arrive?

Samsung has historically launched new processors with the arrival of its next-gen flagship smartphones. Samsung’s last mobile processor was the Exynos 2200 inside the Galaxy S22 series. Presumably, the Exynos 2300 was destined for the S23 range but was skipped over, leaving us at the Exynos 2400 for early 2024’s Samsung Galaxy S24 series. At least according to an increasing number of internet rumors.

An Exynos-powered Galaxy S24 is rumored but far from certain.

It was initially anticipated that Samsung might skip a couple of generations amid its semiconductor restructuring. We may not see the Exynos 2400 at all; it could all be a rumor or information leaking about an internal product not destined for consumers. If the Exynos 2400 does appear, we still expect Samsung to offer Snapdragon-powered handsets in most of the world, as there’s an ongoing partnership between the two brands.

With that in mind, we may see a very geographically limited Exynos release, such as South Korea only, it may be limited to the base Galaxy S24 model, or the chip may appear in a different product entirely while Samsung puts its semiconductor ambitions back on track. Either way, the Exynos versus Snapdragon geographic rivalry could be about to start up again.

What features will the Exynos 2400 have?

We’re still a long way from the potential release of Samsung’s next smartphone, but that hasn’t stopped the rumor mill from churning out a bunch of early specifications. Here’s what we expect so far.

The latest Arm Cortex CPUs

Arm Cortex X4 A720 A520 CPU logos

Rumors already abound with potential specifications, some of which match what we could anticipate ourselves by following industry news. The Exynos 2400 would almost certainly use the latest Arm CPU cores, ensuring that the processor is competitive with the competition. The CPU is rumored to be configured in a rather exotic 1+2+3+4 setup for 10 cores in total.

The Exynos 2400 CPU is said to consist of a single high-performance Arm Cortex-X4 clocked at 3.1GHz, two Cortex-A720 cores at 2.9GHz, another two A720s at 2.6GHz, and four power-efficient Cortex-A520 cores clocked up to 1.8GHz. Interestingly, this differs from the Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 3’s rumored eight-core, 1+2+3+2 arrangement. We’ll likely also see cache differences between the two Cortex-A720 clusters, though it’s doubtful Samsung will ever detail this low-level information.

Moving to the latest ArmV9.2 cores means the Exynos 2400 will be 64-bit only. The Android ecosystem has almost entirely shifted to 64-bit anyway, with the Play Store serving 64-bit apps since late 2021 and China’s stores recently moving over too. This change likely won’t have much bearing on the user experience, other than a few legacy applications that may cease to function.

Next-generation AMD graphics

Gaming Phones test playing Call of Duty Mobile in game

Robert Triggs / Android Authority

One of the Exynos 2200’s differentiating factors was its Xclipse 920 GPU, built on AMD’s RDNA 2 graphics architecture. Complete with ray-tracing capabilities that bested the competition in benchmarks, this first-generation attempt showed promise, and it was a shame not to see how this evolved in 2023.

The Exynos 2400 is rumored to feature a much more powerful RDNA 2 implementation, named the Xclipse 940, and sporting twice the graphics compute units. That likely won’t quite scale up to 2x the performance, although there are clock-speed changes to consider too. Still, this all suggests a significant performance improvement for gamers that could close the gap and perhaps even overtake the competition. Depending on its rival’s next-gen gains, of course.

Importantly, the RDNA 2 architecture contains ray tracing accelerators within each compute unit. Exynos already appears to have a healthy lead here, and the next-gen chip could push Samsung well out in front of the competition in this regard.

Next-gen modem and AI

Artificial Intelligence is 2023’s big buzzword and Samsung will undoubtedly make improvements here. AI operations per second, a rather meaningless statistic on its own, are rumored to clock in at 44 TOPS. Reports suggest that this figure won’t quite match the Snapdragon 8 Gen 3’s 60 TOPS, but it all depends on what can be done with these operations, what bit-depths are supported, and how efficient the NPU is compared to running tasks on the CPU.

On the networking side, Samsung announced its Exynos 5300 modem in early 2023, with headline features including 10Gbps download and 3.87 upload speeds. This part is rumored to be heading to the Google Tensor G3 but seems somewhat similar to the capabilities already touted by the unnamed modem in the Exynos-powered Galaxy S22. However, it does feature additional two-way satellite communication tech, which we imagine will make its way to the S24. We also expect a future Exynos modem to go a step further, possibly boasting advanced carrier aggregation technologies, improved power efficiency, and other features in the newer 3GPP 5G Release 18.

Finally, the Exynos 2400 is reported to support blazing-fast UFS 4.0 memory, LPDDR5X RAM at up to 8.5Gbps, as well as 320MP imaging and 8K60 video support via the image signal processor. Whether or not all these features end up supported in the Galaxy S24 remains to be seen. Samsung has a history of cutting some capabilities to ensure feature parity when dabbling in multiple chipsets.

What we want to see from the Exynos 2400

Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra vs Galaxy S23 size difference

Dhruv Bhutani / Android Authority

As the potential lynchpin of Samsung’s next flagship smartphone, at least in some regions, there are a couple of things we really want Samsung to put right with the Exynos 2400.

No throttling, maximum performance

High on the list of every Exynos-enthusiasts wishlist will be for the coming generation’s performance potential to be realized in the real world. Despite plenty of on-paper promise, previous Exynos models have struggled to keep up with the competition when it came to retail devices.

In the case of the Exynos 2200, this wasn’t helped by the subpar performance of Samsung Foundries’s 4nm manufacturing node. High temperatures led Samsung to throttle the performance of its chip, reducing game frame rates after just a very short time. A similar issue affected the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1, also built on Samsung 4nm, but Qualcomm moved over to rival foundry TSMC to sidestep the issue in subsequent chips.

Overheating was the cause of previous Exynos issues and we really don’t want to return to it.

Samsung Foundries has moved on to its improved fourth-generation 4nm node and is gearing up its second-generation 3nm process for mass production, which Samsung claims is up to 22% faster and 34% more power efficient than the previous 4nm generation. The Exynos 2400 will almost certainly be produced on one of its latest nodes, although some reports hint at the latest 4nm rather than 3nm node. Hopefully, that will consign previous performance issues to history, but we won’t know until we have silicon in our hands.

No more Exynos verus Snapdragon compromises

One of the nice things about Samsung moving entirely to Snapdragon is that no one is short-changed on performance or features based on where they live. Every Galaxy S23 performs the same, and we certainly don’t want to return to the old imbalanced days with the S24 series.

While chipset differences will inevitably result in some performance differentials, the most important thing is that the majority of user experiences are identical. That means equivalent sustainable gaming performance, picture quality, AI capabilities, and networking stability. If that’s not going to be the case with the Exynos 2400 versus Snapdragon 8 Gen 3, then a more limited release would be preferable until the series is more comparable.

There’s still a way to go until Samsung unveils the Galaxy S24 series, and the Exynos 2400 could be right up there as one of the more exciting parts of the announcement. That is, of course, if Samsung is indeed working on the chip for commercial release. A lot remains up in the air.

What do you most want from the Exynos 2400 processor?

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