Bugs in Qualcomm's 64-bit Snapdragon 810 may force Samsung to use its own Exynos chips in Galaxy S6

Posted:
in iPhone edited April 2015
A new report claims that Samsung has decided against using Qualcomm's 64-bit Snapdragon 810 Application Processor in its next flagship smartphone due to overheating issues, and will instead be forced use its own internally developed (and significantly slower) Exynos chip instead.

Qualcomm Snapdragon


Following up on rumors in December that described "hard to solve" issues that Qualcomm was experiencing as it works to deliver its first mainstream 64-bit mobile chip, Bloomberg has now reported that Samsung "will use its own microprocessors in the next version of the Galaxy S smartphone."

Citing "people with direct knowledge of the matter," the new report said Samsung tested Qualcomm's Snapdragon 810 but "decided not to use it." Both companies have declined to address the issue publicly.

Two weeks ago, a research note by JP Morgan described the same overheating issue, explaining, "For the Snapdragon 810, a flagship chip for use in high-end models, we believe the issues are related to the implementation of new 64-bit ARM cores (A57), which is causing overheating when accelerating above 1.2-1.4 GHz frequencies, which is a major limitation for a flagship phone."

Samsung and Qualcomm chasing Apple's 64-bit lead

Android phone makers have been chomping at the bit for an opportunity to deliver 64-bit processing to their customers ever since Apple released its A7-powered iPhone 5s in Q3 2013.

Samsung initially promised investors that its next flagship phone would be 64-bit back in September 2013, but wasn't able to deliver when it released its Galaxy S5 last spring. It also failed to deliver a 64-bit version of its Note 4 last fall when that device was rushed to market to compete against Apple's own large screen iPhone 6 Plus, powered by Apple's second generation 64-bit A8 chip.

Samsung's upcoming Galaxy S6 had been expected to finally achieve 64-bit processing via Qualcomm's Snapdragon 810, along with other Android flagship phones this spring including LG's G4 and HTC's One M9.

Like Qualcomm, Samsung is also believed to be close to finishing its own 64-bit Application Processor; however, both companies are depending upon the same generic core designs developed by ARM, which specify multiple Cortex A53 and Cortex A57 cores paired in a "big.LITTLE" configuration to scale between performance and efficiency.

Apple's custom A7, A8 and A8X 64-bit chips use a completely different architecture. If Qualcomm's overheating issues are indeed related to ARM's A57 core running at a high clock speed, Samsung may also be struggling to solve the problem, given that it is relying upon the same design in its initial 64-bit Exynos chips.

Can Samsung ditch Qualcomm's baseband?

Samsung already builds some editions of its Galaxy S and Note products using its own Exynos Application Processors rather than a processor from Qualcomm; typically these devices only sell in specific markets such as South Korea, where the Baseband Processor (which handles cellular networking; its also referred to a modem) in Samsung's own chip can be certified to work on LTE-Advanced without any help from Qualcomm. Samsung's own Exynos chips are significantly slower than Qualcomm's Snapdragon in both CPU and GPU operations

Building a phone that can work on all existing CDMA and LTE networks globally has historically all but required a Baseband Processor from Qualcomm, which has broad ownership of key patents required to build functional devices.

For example, Apple's iPhone models since the release of the 2011 Verizon iPhone 4 use Apple's own A4 to A8 Application Processors, but also incorporate a separate "MDM" Baseband Processor from Qualcomm.

Rather than using its own Exynos chips paired with a Qualcomm MDM like Apple, Samsung has opted to use Qualcomm's integrated Snapdragon, which incorporates both the Application Processor that runs the phone and the chip maker's Baseband Processor that handles cellular networking.

In markets where Qualcomm's baseband chips aren't required (or in its WiFi-only tablets), Samsung typically uses its own Exynos chips, although benchmarks indicate Samsung's own Exynos chips are significantly slower than Qualcomm's Snapdragon in both CPU and GPU operations (below).

Apple's iPhone 6 A8 GPU destroys Galaxy S5, HTC One M8, Moto X & Nexus 5 /w fewer, slower cores & much less RAM $AAPL pic.twitter.com/SMgPqoYYrC

-- Daniel Eran Dilger (@DanielEran)


At the end of December, Samsung introduced a new version of its Galaxy Note 4 phablet powered by the company's own Exynos 5433 paired with a Samsung SS333 modem, supporting high speed LTE-Advanced cellular (albeit limited to data networks in the company's domestic Korean market). That chip also adopts the modern ARMv8 instruction set but remains a 32-bit processor.

According to JP Morgan, only about 30 percent of Samsung's Galaxy S5 shipments used the company's own Exynos chips. However, Qualcomm's Snapdragon delays were said to be pushing Samsung to supply the majority of its next flagship's processors in-house.

"We believe SEC [Samsung] is highly likely to adopt its in-house AP (Exynos) and modem for >90% of its Galaxy S6 model (launching in February), a big departure from previous years, when it used Snapdragon for >70% of the volume," noted the firm's analysts Gokul Hariharan, JJ Park and Rahul Chadha in the first week of January.In 2013, Samsung's few Galaxy S4 models that did ship with the company's own Exynos chips were plagued by serious design defects

Samsung has been known to be working to deliver its own baseband technology to entirely remove its dependence upon Qualcomm in markets such as the US, Japan and China.

However, if Bloomberg and earlier reports are correct, and Samsung actually replaces Qualcomm's chips with its own in its upcoming Galaxy S6 flagship worldwide, it will be a devastating blow to Qualcomm, which reportedly makes half of its revenues from the sales of Apple and Samsung devices.

It could also be big problem for Samsung itself. In 2013, Samsung's few Galaxy S4 models that did ship with the company's own Exynos chips were plagued by serious design defects, highlighting why the company has counterintuitively continued to rely upon a direct competitor for the majority of its flagship phone processors.

Apple initially aimed at CPU & GPU performance, rather than baseband

Apple is also understood to be developing its own baseband technology that could enable it to deliver new iPhone and cellular iPad models without requiring a separate Qualcomm MDM chip.

So far, however, Apple has focused its chip design on developing the fastest 64-bit CPU cores and the most advanced mobile GPUs, enabling its latest A8 and A8X to beat mobile CPUs from Qualcomm, Samsung and Intel and to beat the best mobile GPUs including Nvidia's Tegra K1, Qualcomm's Adreno, and the ARM Mali graphics used by vendors including Samsung.

Apple's 64-bit A7, A8 and A8X with advanced PowerVR 6 graphics from Imagination Technologies are not only beating out competing processors from Qualcomm and Samsung, but doing so at lower clock rates, less RAM and usually with fewer cores, leveraging custom-designed core optimizations that result in better performance with lower power consumption.

Both Samsung and Qualcomm have been in the mobile processor business far longer than Apple, but after just five years of intense investment in building a silicon design team, Apple now has a vertically integrated supply of the world's most advanced mobile Application Processors. Apple's unique ability to sell large volumes of high end, premium devices has pushed rivals downmarket, which has subsequently eliminated alternative supplies for competitive, high end processors.

After four generations of Tegra chip flops, Nvidia has exited the smartphone chip business; Texas Instruments similarly gave up on consumer versions of its OMAP line of ARM processors. If Samsung pulls the majority of its higher end chip business from Qualcomm, the company's Snapdragon line may be the next powerful ARM processor to go extinct, leaving Android with limited options outside of Intel's troubled Atom and a variety of lower end ARM chip designers such as MediaTek and Allwinner.

That is likely to cause problems for lower volume, barely-profitable smartphone makers such as LG and HTC. Without Samsung, they don't collectively ship enough phones to finance the development of advanced, competitive Application Processors by Qualcomm.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 94
    analogjackanalogjack Posts: 1,068member

    How brutally unfair that Samsung has to use it's own inferior product in it's device. 

     

  • Reply 2 of 94
    fallenjtfallenjt Posts: 3,976member
    Samsung, go beg Apple for Ax chip license because the Exynos octa core chip is POS.
  • Reply 3 of 94
    dachardachar Posts: 330member
    Don't have all of your eggs in one basket. It seems that Apple's strategy of flipping between various key part suppliers and spreading manufacturing amongst a number of companies will give it greater long term protection that other phone companies who appear to relie on one supplier for key parts. On top of this, if Apple's plan B is development of key chips in the background, they would seem to have out manovered the competition. My only concern is that if this strategy eliminates competition will Apple loose the impetuous to innovate or take advantage of its monopoly position by reducing production and raising prices?
  • Reply 4 of 94
    sflocalsflocal Posts: 4,651member

    Well, 64 bits is a lot of bits to deal with.  Maybe they should try 63 bits, or possibly even 62 bits.  Regardless, everyone knows 64 bits is just a gimmick anyways.



    Go get em Samsung!! /s

  • Reply 5 of 94
    Please for the love if god can someone inform the author that citing yourself is the height of egotism and doesn't add any credibility to any assertions that are being made. In fact it just leads to the proposition the author is saying "this is right and factual because I said so".
    Apart from that the first part was quite interesting.
  • Reply 6 of 94
    sockrolidsockrolid Posts: 2,788member

    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post



    ... overheating when accelerating above 1.2-1.4 GHz frequencies, which is a major limitation for a flagship phone."

     

    Liquid nitrogen to the rescue.

  • Reply 7 of 94
    fallenjtfallenjt Posts: 3,976member

    Exynos chips still work 2 cores at a time?

  • Reply 8 of 94
    desuserigndesuserign Posts: 1,316member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by singularity View Post



    Please for the love if god can someone inform the author that citing yourself is the height of egotism and doesn't add any credibility to any assertions that are being made. In fact it just leads to the proposition the author is saying "this is right and factual because I said so".

    Apart from that the first part was quite interesting.

     

    What, did you think you were reading a scientific journal or something? This is a tech rumor website.

    He's not "citing himself." He's providing links to his (and others) previous articles that explain events in greater detail.

    He's often an egotistical ass, but I don't think his linked articles exemplify this.

     

    In any case, researchers often cite their own work in scientific papers. Often they are the leading authorities on the subject or they are building on previous work they have done. It's not at all frowned upon (if the work is good.) On the contrary, it's common practice.

     

  • Reply 9 of 94
    richlrichl Posts: 2,213member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post



    That is likely to cause problems for lower volume, barely-profitable smartphone makers such as LG and HTC. Without Samsung, they don't collectively ship enough phones to finance the development of advanced, competitive Application Processors by Qualcomm.

     

    What absolute bullshit. Even without Samsung, there's more than enough Android manufacturers around to keep Qualcomm's APs profitable. Qualcomm gets paid whether the manufacturer makes a profit or not. Around 350 million non-Samsung Android devices were sold last year and that doesn't even include non-Android devices that also use Snapdragon. That's a healthy market for Qualcomm.

  • Reply 10 of 94
    When I heard this news on Seeking Alpha, I immediately thought of Mr. Dilger's recent Intel articles.

    In hindsight, they were particularly prescient.
  • Reply 11 of 94

    this, in my book, would be worthy of a steve balmer monkey dance. except apple just keeps on doing what it does- making more great stuff without their CEO baffooning about trying to get people energized for late entries into the market.

  • Reply 12 of 94
    cnocbuicnocbui Posts: 3,613member

    Just 'devistating'

     

    These articles are getting worse with each iteration.

     

    DED has for some time in his articles been trying to portray Samsung processors as rubbish.  Once again, he references his own previous and outdated article to 'prove' his point.

     

    Claiming that Samsung's own Exynos processor will be significantly lower in performance than Qualcom's 810 is an amazing feat of prescience, since the Samsung S6 looks like it will feature the unreleased and un-benchmarked Exynos 7420.

     

    The already released Samsung Note 4 comes in two variants - one with Samsung's own Exynos 5433 64-Bit processor, running in 32 bit mode - probably because 64-bit lolipop isn't out yet - and Qualcom's Snapdragon 805.  In Benchmarks, the Exynoss 5433 variant seems to outperform the Snapdragon 805

     

     

    Quote:


    Apple is also understood to be developing its own baseband technology


     

    The link provided is to DED's own earlier article.  Referencing your own wild speculation which is predicated on Apple ignoring Qualcomm patents, giving the impression the link is an authoritative source, is disingenuous at best.

     

    Quote:


    So far, however, Apple has focused its chip design on developing the fastest 64-bit CPU cores and the most advanced mobile GPUs.


     

    Apple does not develop it's own GPUs, they use Imagination PowerVr products.

     

    Quote:


    If Samsung pulls the majority of its higher end chip business from Qualcomm, the company's Snapdragon line may be the next powerful ARM processor to go extinct, leaving Android with limited options outside of Intel's troubled Atom and a variety of lower end ARM chip designers such as MediaTek and Allwinner.


     

    Completely ignoring the possibility of Using Samsung's Exynos processors of course.

     

    Quote:


    That is likely to cause problems for lower volume, barely-profitable smartphone makers such as LG and HTC. Without Samsung, they don't collectively ship enough phones to finance the development of advanced, competitive Application Processors by Qualcomm.


     

    Can it get much worse? Absolute bullshit:

     

     

     

    If you add Oppo, One Plus, Meizu, Huawei and Xiaomi - the number one smart phone manufacturer in the tiny Chinese market ,and some other  brands, that gives Qualcom at least 54% of the world market for smartphones to develop for, assuming Samsung don't use any of Qualcom's processors for models other than the S6 - which they do in spades.  Gee, I wonder if they will manage to turn a profit or be able to afford to develop new processors with such low sales.

     

    An article not even worth the paper it's printed on - oh, that's right!

  • Reply 13 of 94
    simtubsimtub Posts: 277member
    Samsung is dying anyway... Their market share will be taken over by XiaoMi soon and Qualcomm will find a customer in this Apple copy cat company.
  • Reply 14 of 94
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by RichL View Post

     

     

    What absolute bullshit. Even without Samsung, there's more than enough Android manufacturers around to keep Qualcomm's APs profitable. Qualcomm gets paid whether the manufacturer makes a profit or not. Around 350 million non-Samsung Android devices were sold last year and that doesn't even include non-Android devices that also use Snapdragon. That's a healthy market for Qualcomm.




    Yes there are lots of non-Samsung Android phones, and QCOM does indeed get paid for its components whether or not the manufacturer turns a profit.

     

    However, it doesn't get paid if the Android maker is in China and decides not to pay for Qualcomm IP (which you see the company notes quite prominently in its own, latest earning statements as a serious problem it faces), and when all those thousands of low volume Android licensees / AOSP users crank out low end products using budget chips, Qualcomm doesn't make enough money to warrant investing in state of the art APs that can compete with a company that brings in so much money it can give away $100 billion to its shareholders and still have $150 billion left over. That's what happened to TI and Nvidia, and pretty much what happened to PowerPC. It's called a pattern. 

     

    So really, the only "absolute bullshit" is really just your ignorant comment. 

  • Reply 15 of 94
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by singularity View Post



    Please for the love if god can someone inform the author that citing yourself is the height of egotism and doesn't add any credibility to any assertions that are being made. In fact it just leads to the proposition the author is saying "this is right and factual because I said so".

    Apart from that the first part was quite interesting.



    What fact or assertion is made based on a citation of an earlier opinion? What potentially controversial idea is taken from a "because I said so" opinion? 

  • Reply 16 of 94
    smalmsmalm Posts: 656member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Corrections View Post

     

    So really, the only "absolute bullshit" is really just your ignorant comment. 


    You forgot to mention that he used that stupid AnTuTu benchmark as proof :D

  • Reply 17 of 94
    aplnubaplnub Posts: 2,590member

    Someone give me a few reasons why Apple has not purchased Qualcomm yet?

  • Reply 18 of 94
    tmaytmay Posts: 3,799member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by cnocbui View Post

     

    Just 'devistating'

     

    These articles are getting worse with each iteration.

     

    DED has for some time in his articles been trying to portray Samsung processors as rubbish.  Once again, he references his own previous and outdated article to 'prove' his point.

     

    Claiming that Samsung's own Exynos processor will be significantly lower in performance than Qualcom's 810 is an amazing feat of prescience, since the Samsung S6 looks like it will feature the unreleased and un-benchmarked Exynos 7420.

     

    The already released Samsung Note 4 comes in two variants - one with Samsung's own Exynos 5433 64-Bit processor, running in 32 bit mode - probably because 64-bit lolipop isn't out yet - and Qualcom's Snapdragon 805.  In Benchmarks, the Exynoss 5433 variant seems to outperform the Snapdragon 805

     

     

     

    The link provided is to DED's own earlier article.  Referencing your own wild speculation which is predicated on Apple ignoring Qualcomm patents, giving the impression the link is an authoritative source, is disingenuous at best.

     

     

    Apple does not develop it's own GPUs, they use Imagination PowerVr products.

     

     

    Completely ignoring the possibility of Using Samsung's Exynos processors of course.

     

     

    Can it get much worse? Absolute bullshit:

     

     

     

    If you add Oppo, One Plus, Meizu, Huawei and Xiaomi - the number one smart phone manufacturer in the tiny Chinese market ,and some other  brands, that gives Qualcom at least 54% of the world market for smartphones to develop for, assuming Samsung don't use any of Qualcom's processors for models other than the S6 - which they do in spades.  Gee, I wonder if they will manage to turn a profit or be able to afford to develop new processors with such low sales.

     

    An article not even worth the paper it's printed on - oh, that's right!




    You point out an article from 2 months ago regarding an Exynos 7420, when much more recent articles point out an Exynos 5433 as being the likely processor. Then you rely on a single metric of a single benchmark to rank the various processors and demonstrate how well the Exynos 5433 performs. I would note that this benchmark show no A8 performance, and certainly no A8X, i.e., it is not an up to date benchmark at all.

     

    My takeaway from this is that Samsung will still be behind the power curve on comparative performance to Apple with whatever they deliver, and with 8 months until the A9, Samsung may find itself fully outclassed come September; not a great scenario.

     

    Qualcomm's in a better position, as even delays won't have any long term impact on its nearly captive market.

     

    While I don't know for a fact that Apple is working on GPGPU's and baseband modems for the iPhone, I don't think that I as a competitor would want to assume otherwise.

  • Reply 19 of 94
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by cnocbui View Post

     

    Just 'devistating'

     

    If you find a minor typo, you can report it to get it corrected. Rushing to the comments to post it is against AI's commenting policy because it doesn't add anything to the conversation and just makes you look like a bitter, petty person with nothing of value to contribute. Speaking of which, lets look at what you wrote, because it is terrible....

     

    These articles are getting worse with each iteration.

     

    DED has for some time in his articles been trying to portray Samsung processors as rubbish.  Once again, he references his own previous and outdated article to 'prove' his point.

     

    No, the article cites third party benchmarks from credible sources. Every generation of Exynos has been far behind Qualcomm's Snapdragon. And if you stop to think about it, that's part of the reason why Samsung uses its direct competitor's chips instead of its own. Which is embarrassing both to Samsung and to the point you are trying to make here.

     

    Claiming that Samsung's own Exynos processor will be significantly lower in performance than Qualcom's 810 is an amazing feat of prescience, since the Samsung S6 looks like it will feature the unreleased and un-benchmarked Exynos 7420.

     

    Or really its just common knowledge. There's a citation linking to Anandtech where they point out that Samsung shipped egregiously dysfunctional Eyxnos parts and then pretended like nothing happened and did nothing to address it, just like Google's approach to Android. You don't need to be "prescient" to understand that Samsung is not leading AP design. It doesn't even have a design license for ARM. It's just printing work developed elsewhere, to use on its "carrier friendly, good enough" products and to sell to Chinese manufacturers making budget phones. 

     

    The already released Samsung Note 4 comes in two variants - one with Samsung's own Exynos 5433 64-Bit processor, running in 32 bit mode - probably because 64-bit lolipop isn't out yet - and Qualcom's Snapdragon 805.  In Benchmarks, the Exynoss 5433 variant seems to outperform the Snapdragon 805

     

    Wrong, Samsung doesn't have a 64-bit processor yet. It has a chip using an ARMv8 instruction set, but it runs as a 32-bit chip and that's why it's marketed as a 32-bit chip. It has nothing to do with "Lolipop," and when it gets lollipop it will still be a 32-bit device running 32-bit Android. You then cite benchmarks without a source, and without any context. How convenient! What are you demonstrating? Two numbers grabbed you out of the ether, from unknown testers using a platform that Samsung has an established track record for exploiting. 

     

    The link provided is to DED's own earlier article.  Referencing your own wild speculation which is predicated on Apple ignoring Qualcomm patents, giving the impression the link is an authoritative source, is disingenuous at best.

     

    Apple does not develop it's own GPUs, they use Imagination PowerVr products.

     

    That's less true than saying Samsung doesn't develop its own Exynos. Because Samsung's Exynos is generic ARM cores, while, for example, Anandtech recently wrote that Apple's A8X uses a customized variant of IMG's GPU cores with a configuration that doesn't even exist as a product from IMG. Apple has a design license for ARM and IMG. Samsung has a manufacturing license for ARM and ARM Mali. So you are wrong here too.

     

    Completely ignoring the possibility of Using Samsung's Exynos processors of course.

     

     

    Can it get much worse? Absolute bullshit:

     

     

     

    If you add Oppo, One Plus, Meizu, Huawei and Xiaomi - the number one smart phone manufacturer in the tiny Chinese market ,and some other  brands, that gives Qualcom at least 54% of the world market for smartphones to develop for, assuming Samsung don't use any of Qualcom's processors for models other than the S6 - which they do in spades.  Gee, I wonder if they will manage to turn a profit or be able to afford to develop new processors with such low sales.

     

    Oppo's U3 uses a generic MediaTek AP, not QCOM. Others use 805. 

    One Plus uses an outdated/budget 801.

    Meizu uses Samsung Exynos chips, or MediaTek to save money.

    Huawei uses some higher end QCOM chips (mostly lower end) but its not even in the top 5 in volume

    Xiaomi uses cheap versions of QCOM chips.

     

    Samsung + Apple = >50% of QCOM's revenues. All the examples you gave undermine your opinion/hope. 

     

    An article not even worth the paper it's printed on - oh, that's right!

     

    I can't remember the last time you left a comment that contributed anything interesting to the conversation. Virtually everything you just posted is absolutely, demonstrably wrong. And posted with such over the top arrogance. You don't know what you are talking about.


  • Reply 20 of 94
    richlrichl Posts: 2,213member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Corrections View Post

     

    However, it doesn't get paid if the Android maker is in China and decides not to pay for Qualcomm IP (which you see the company notes quite prominently in its own, latest earning statements as a serious problem it faces), and when all those thousands of low volume Android licensees / AOSP users crank out low end products using budget chips, Qualcomm doesn't make enough money to warrant investing in state of the art APs that can compete with a company that brings in so much money it can give away $100 billion to its shareholders and still have $150 billion left over. That's what happened to TI and Nvidia, and pretty much what happened to PowerPC. It's called a pattern.


     

    Comparing Qualcomm to TI is more bullshit. The writing was on the wall for TI for a long time. Their support to manufacturers was abysmal and their chips often caused product delays. They were never one of the big players and couldn't get up with the competition. Even staunch allies like Nokia were trying to move away from TI's OMAP chips when the iPhone landed in 2007.

     

    Qualcomm is a profitable (and increasingly profitable) company. They could afford to develop Snapdragon in 2007 when the smartphone market was just taking off. They can certainly afford to develop new Snapdragon chips in the current smartphone market.

     

    It doesn't matter how much money Apple puts into chip development as Apple aren't selling their chips to anyone else. Qualcomm is competing against everyone else selling mobile ARM chips on the open market and Qualcomm is king right now. Also, please remember that mobile ARM chips aren't just used in Android smartphones. Even if Android collapsed tomorrow, Qualcomm would have enough business to stay afloat for some time.

     

    Ultimately, you're interpreting the pattern wrong - high-end mobile ARM sales aren't collapsing, it's just that no-one on the open market can compete with Qualcomm. Qualcomm has created itself a virtual monopoly.

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