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.
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 Hi-tech.mail.ru 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.