Galaxy Alpha is powered by Exynos 5430, Samsung’s first 20nm processor

by: Bogdan PetrovanAugust 14, 2014

exynos galaxy alpha

The Galaxy Alpha launched yesterday, and one of its key specifications raised a few eyebrows. The Alpha’s battery is just 1,860 mAh, a relatively low capacity in the era of 3,000+ mAh devices. There’s some good news though: the Alpha is powered by a power-thrifty Exynos 5430 processor, Samsung’s first processor built on the 20nm process.

Update: only certain versions of the Galaxy Alpha will feature the Exynos 5430. Others will be powered by Snapdragon 801.

The Exynos 5430 features an octo-core CPU, combining four powerful Cortex A15 cores clocked at up to 1.8GHz with four power-saving Cortex A7 cores clocked at up to 1.3GHz. This is a big.LITTLE configuration with heterogeneous multi-processing, which means that each of the eight CPU cores can be fired up independently depending on the workload. For instance, when more processing power is desirable, all eight cores can run at the same time, while just one or two low-power cores could kick in for minor tasks.

The big difference between Exynos 5430 and its predecessor, the 5420, is the process they are built on. Exynos 5430 is the first Samsung processor to be built on the 20nm process, as compared to 28nm for the Exynos 5420 and most other CPUs out there. 20nm is a measure of the average distance between features on the CPU die; put simply, the smaller the process, the more efficient and faster is the processor.

samsung exynos 5430

According to Samsung, the move from 28nm to 20nm should mean an up to 25 percent reduction in power consumption. Note however that this estimation only takes the process into account, meaning that other factors, like different clock speeds, could ultimately affect consumption.

AnandTech calls the use of the 20nm process a “significant leap forward” compared to the previous generation – read on for tech details on the 5430 and its 20nm CPU.

In terms of GPU, the story is less exciting: we get the same Mali T628 hexa-core GPU, now clocked at 600MHz. The Exynos 5430 also features a H.265 hardware decoder, just like the Snapdragon 805, a Cortex A5 dedicated to audio and voice recognition tasks, and the same ISP and memory subsystem like its predecessor.

So, will the Galaxy Alpha deliver decent battery life thanks to the Exynos 5430? Only actual hands-on testing will tell. For now, folks over at claim the Galaxy Alpha is comparable in battery life with the Galaxy S5 Mini, which features a larger 2,100 mAh battery and a slightly smaller display.

  • Anonymousfella

    So Exynos has finally caught up with Snapdragons…

    • Cao Meo

      Snapdragon 801 is 28nm design

      • Anonymousfella

        All the more impressive that they have managed to out a processor with a reduced die around this time. Even the 805 is 28nm

    • banglaz bless

      You should research first before make such buffoonish comment.

      • Anonymousfella

        I knew that. The mere fact that they have released a competing AP in the same time frame with a 20nm die and comparable performance does mean that they have caught up. Lagging behind is no excuse in such a competitive industry.

    • dodz

      well exynos was king until early 2012, remember the galaxy s2? it was the king of benchmarks in its time, and its power stayed for more than a year until the tegra 3 came.

      • Anonymousfella

        Yeah s2 was a beast. Exynos used to be the best then. They started lagging behind when in the SD 600/800 generation i would say…

  • rahuman

    Lets see if this SOC is up to the task

    • Woe of [S]unjΔy

      It does great in benchmarks,

  • Mozaik

    They should have gone with Tegra K1 that thing is a killer in specs , its just behind to surface pro 3 in power.

    • das

      yes but then battery wont last 2 hours and itll cost a LOT more because samsung would have to pay nvidia loyalties ,why would samsung buy another branded SOC whenthey have their own thats better for this device ?

      • Mozaik

        Have you used nvidia shield tablet its got good review for battery the only competition is ahead only is ipad.

        • filaos

          Wake up. The Shield Tablet has a battery THREE times bigger than a phone can boast.
          Tegra is not for phones anymore.

          • Mozaik

            but it has three times bigger screen and full hd resolution but galaxy alpha has 1280*720 resolution.

          • das

            youre an idiot and dont know anything about battery and power consumption

          • Mozaik

            Dont be an ass dude , lets face it i have provided you proof and you have not idiot.

          • Lolo

            Nvidia said themselves that the k1 tegra is meant only for tablets and the tegra 4 is over a year old. So currently Nvidia has no new chips for smartphones.

          • Marc Perrusquia

            Currently, I remember them saying they were working on scaling the K1 down, but by the time they do the 810 will probably be out.

          • das

            u proved nothing idiot

  • Mahmood Qadri

    If it last longer than iPhone then that’s enough.After all it’s targeted towards iPhone users.

    • DDT

      Of course it’s for iPhone users… Android users aren’t so dumb to buy such phone aren’t they ?

  • MasterMuffin

    I’m starting to like this Alpha more and more. Not that I would ever buy it, but it definitely is something that someone thinking about buying iPhone should consider. Isn’t Intel bringing 14nm next year BTW?

    • Roberto Tomás

      I believe Intel’s 14nm Braswell has already been benched at ~36k… they are basically a no-show in the lines below the Broadwell devices (which are too power-heavy for mobile still) Though, I guess if you like tablets…

      • MasterMuffin

        Only ~36K? I guess it was a prototype or something

      • Andrew T Roach

        36K on Antutu, which no doubt isn’t optimized for an Intel chip. Even then, what devices have trouble running Android at a score of 36K? Couple with that a drop in die size to 14nm and full 64bit instructions, and your talking about a power draw of less than half of the Snapdragon line with the same performance.

        1/2 the power draw and likely NO HEAT. With perfect fluidity? Sign me up.

        • Roberto Tomás

          actually Antutu is the benchmark that drew criticism a couple years ago for too heavily favoring Intel. They changed their benchmark, releasing two variations in short order to address different criticisms.

          • Andrew T Roach

            That was a coding error. Originally Intel processors didn’t even run.

          • Roberto Tomás

            no that’s not true. there were two problems – and one of them was allowing intel versions to use an intel-specific compiler with unique compile-time options for intel chips.

          • Andrew T Roach

            On the quad core silvermont. Keep plooking back farther with your Google.

          • Roberto Tomás

            No. It’s you who is missing the point … I didn’t claim that the current 36k on antutu was a problem with antutu being overly optimized for intel, I said that it is not the benchmark being unfavorable to intel.

  • Roberto Tomás

    I don’t believe it .. something is definitely wrong with those stats. Less than 2Ghz with A15s was where the market was over a year ago, with 28nm. At 20nm the speed should be much higher — more like 2.5-3.0Ghz at least. There was speculation over at fudzilla that A15s could hit 4Ghz at 20nm.
    Either it is a custom design, not A15 at all, or it is being deeply underclocked to give it something like 96 hours of continuous use on a charge .. or, well, something.

    • DDT

      1,8 Ghz+20nm was absolutely necessary to keep up with an iPhone sized battery, just like that dim, 720p pen-tile display. What you expected ? An desktop class processor and GPU from such small battery ? It’s not an iPhone.

      • Roberto Tomás

        the only reason to bring up the iFail (I mean iPhone) is the ugly metal frame, which they are obviously copying from Apple. The specs on this phone are really very far off the mark, so far… even if everything about it is still better than apple’s latest.

        • MasterMuffin

          What he ment with iPhone sozed battery is that it had a really small battery, so low clock speed is necessary for better battery life (though one can always argue that high max speed allows the device to do stuff faster and idle more but I don’t believe that works as well)

          • ahoxha

            He also is trying to say that iphone has a desktop class CPU and GPU. The whole reason of his comment was to say this.
            Edit: Sorry. With “He” I was referring to DDT.

    • MeCampbell30

      Clock speed isn’t the only determinant of performance. This exynos, I think, has HMP and and a larger memory bus. Plus any optimization for more streamlined processing. Clock speed is really only useful when all other things are equal.

      • Roberto Tomás

        Well sure, of course there are other factors.. and clock speed is definitely one of them. What I meant was that an a15 process should run much faster, unless they are purposefully downclocking it.
        • HMP is a software, not a hardware, change.
        • a larger memory bus would mean that this isn’t really an A15. I’d like to read about that because that really backs my first comment. It is apparently custom just as QC, Apple, or Nvidia.

        • MeCampbell30

          No company makes thier chip based only on the reference design. The Snapdragon 801/800 is a modification of the A15 design and so is the Exynos (and even the Apple A6). In fact, to make use of HMP you would need to change the bus width from the reference.

    • Andrew T Roach

      Did you stop to think that Android doesn’t need more performance?

      Any laggy flagships out there who’s issues aren’t software related?

      What Android needs is release quality Native Runtime (Android L, which will take care of lag issues across all devices), Reduction in die size FOR BETTER BATTERY LIFE (Same performance, less power draw, less heat).

      Not more performance. What can a Galaxy S5 do that a Galaxy S3 can’t do? Play the most demanding games available at higher frame rates? Load a website .15 seconds faster?

      Die shrink should be used for battery life.

  • Flex360

    Too bad it has touchwiz
    What a waste

  • Sadly, this phone is not waterproof. I already to used to wash my Z1 Compact at least once a day.