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January 13, 2021
🌅 Good morning! I’ve focused on the Samsung processor news given we’ll get the Galaxy S21 announced tomorrow, but CES 2021 Day 2 had plenty of highlights you'll see in the Roundup, as always!
Samsung Exynos 2100 is here
Samsung Exynos 2100 official image
Supplied by Samsung

Samsung Semiconductor has just announced its new 5nm Exynos 2100, the latest and greatest SoC to do battle with Qualcomm, and the processor that will power the company’s upcoming Galaxy S21 series in many regions.

  • Samsung will continue offering the latest Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 flagship processor in the US, mostly because of Qualcomm’s CDMA modem patents.
  • The only time Samsung hasn’t done recently so was in the Galaxy S6, when it packed its own Exynos chipset with all models of the device.
  • The problem recently has been that Qualcomm’s flagship Snapdragon processors have been roundly beating the Exynos options, both in performance and efficiency, leading to a gap between US-model Galaxy devices, and Exynos models offered around the globe.
  • That all came to a head where Samsung decided to abandon its custom “Mongoose” CPU development, and join the likes of Qualcomm and Apple and pay Arm for its CPU blueprints.
  • The Exynos 2100 is the first chipset without Samsung’s maligned custom CPUs, and now being made on a 5nm process with the same CPUs found in the Qualcomm Snapdragon 888, the performance and efficiencies should be closer.
  • But of course, it’s not that simple, so let’s take a look at what Samsung Semiconductor announced.

“Let me explain…”:

  • First, you should know that I’m taking most of this from Gary Sims and Hadlee Simons, who published an Exynos 2100 article and video explaining what you need to know, and a comparison between the Exynos 2100, and how it stacks specs-wise against the Snapdragon 888, Huawei Kirin 9000 and Apple A14. As always, Gary makes it easy to follow at a rapid pace!
  • More details: The chipset sports a 1-3-4 configuration of Arm CPUs inthe same setup as the Snapdragon 888: one big Arm Cortex-X1 core clocked at 2.9GHz, three Cortex-A78 CPU cores at 2.8GHz, and four Cortex-A55 cores running at 2.2GHz. The idea with this configuration is to employ the right CPU or CPUs for the right task, only involving the X1 core (which consumes more power) for serious performance demands, for example. Also: Samsung has clocked its CPU cores more aggressively, but there’s more to performance than clock speeds.
  • “Samsung says the new CPU setup enables a 30% boost to multi-core performance over the Exynos 990. The Korean brand also points to the 5nm process as being crucial, saying it enables 20% lower power consumption or 10% better overall performance.”
  • On the graphics side, the Exynos 2100 adopts the new Mali-G78 MP14 GPU. Samsung is claiming up to 40% better graphical performance as a result. This GPU is also found inside the recently announced mid-range Exynos 1080 chipset, albeit with fewer cores (Mali-G78 MP10).
  • There’s also the integrated 5G modem and the AI cores: the integrated modem offers sub-6GHz and mmWave capabilities, top out at 5.1Gbps downlink, while mmWave speeds top out at 7.35Gbps.
  • Samsung says its machine learning silicon is now a tri-core NPU that boasts 26 TOPS of power, over the 15TOPS in the previous generation chipset.
  • There’s also new camera hardware support: offering 200MP camera support, 8K/30fps recording, 8K/60fps playback, AV1 codec support, 4K/120fps recording, and up to six cameras, with concurrent data from up to four sensors.

In the hand, though:

  • That’s a lot of detail, and for more, the comparison piece digs into the specs, differences, and similarities between the chipsets on the market today.
  • But most of that is on paper discovery. What will matter most is how each expected Galaxy S21 performs: previously, Snapdragon Galaxy vs Exynos Galaxy comparisons used to be a no brainer win for the Snapdragon device, something that did matter day-to-day for battery life and long-term performance if you bought the Galaxy S20 in Australia or Germany and so on. People want to pay top dollar and get the best.
  • I don’t expect Samsung to touch on it at all tomorrow during its S21 launch — it’s something it would probably rather leave to enthusiasts to worry about than introduce to a general audience.
  • But the hope is the differences will be small enough not to matter.
  • Also: Samsung’s next flagship Exynos processor will have an AMD GPU, so expect 2022 to be just as interesting again for chipset silicon; which is not something we can say all the time.
  • And it could well mean that Samsung may eventually get into desktop-grade processing, perhaps for Windows Arm-based computer with its CPUs and AMD GPUs?

🍎 Apple is revealing …something this morning, with Tim Cook appearing on CBS morning TV with Gayle King to talk about something “bigger and better” than a product announcement, and related to a new initiative. Speculation is it’s something COVID-19 or vaccination-related, rather than anything new with iOS or services. One thought doing the rounds: Apple stores become vaccination sites? Apple Wallet storing proof of vaccination information in a useful way? Who knows. Anyway, you’ll see it on CBS This Morning …this morning (Twitter).

🍏 Also, Apple held talks with EV startup Canoo in 2020, as the “secretive” push into EVs gets a little less secretive. The detail is that Apple was interested in the scalable EV platform (The Verge).

📲 Leaked Oppo Find X3 Pro images show the phone’s ‘microscope’ camera (Android Authority).

🆕 Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060 announced, offers Ampere power for $329, and the RTX 30 series is coming to laptops as well (Android Authority).

💻 CES 2021 Day 2: Acer launches five new laptops, including refreshed Predators and more (Android Authority).

🍟 A wrap of what’s new from Intel and AMD at CES 2021 (Android Authority).

📦 Nvidia and AMD address the great GPU shortage, and there’s not a lot of great news (The Verge).

😷 N95 masks, gamer style: Razer’s crazy face-mask prototype revealed (Ars Technica).

📺 I missed this yesterday: new LG 2021 TVs will integrate Stadia and GeForce Now, as the step towards gaming natively within smart TVs (and eventually, no console hardware?) continues, arriving mid-2021 (TechCrunch).

🎧 Anker takes aim at Apple’s AirPods Pro with the Soundcore Liberty Air 2 Pro (Android Authority).

🦊 Mozilla brings its VPN to Mac and Linux, for $5/month (Engadget).

👕 Facebook has asked employees for caution by not wearing company-branded clothing or logos in public due to the risk of incidents or attacks due to the political crisis (The Information).

💳 VISA is calling off the $5.3B Plaid acquisition after the DOJ pushed back, as Plaid stays private and enormously important for fintech. Future: IPO? SPAC target? (TechCrunch).

⛓ The old story of people losing access to their stash of Bitcoins is back and freshly told in this Times piece, and you really have to feel sorry for some people. I lost some Bitcoin too when formatting a laptop! (NY Times).

🌆 Just in case you thought Elon Musk was the only person investing in a wild future and possibly not quite investing enough in the issues we face right now like greenhouse warming: Saudi Crown Prince asks and answers: What if a city, but it’s a 105-mile line? Called THE LINE, it is truly unusual and perfect for Weirdness Wednesday but I’ve popped it here (Gizmodo).

♨ “My quest to survive quarantine—in heated clothes”: “When I take the dog for a walk, the heated clothes are unusual enough to elicit questions from strangers, but I dream of a world where heated gear is a household staple rather than a novelty. It rules.” (Wired).

Weirdness Wednesday

WandaVision is coming to Disney Plus this Friday, and WandaVision is going to be weird. 

WandaVision, featuring an unlikely coupling between “a chaos magician and a density-changing synthezoid” is Marvel’s first new content in 2021, ahead of a raft of superhero titles including Hawkeye, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, She-Hulk, and Ms Marvel.

But WandaVision is being presented as Marvel Studios first classic 90s sitcom TV, complete with half-hour episodes, and the first show will be in black and white, with a studio audience and 4:3 screen ratio. One show will be like the Brady Bunch. Another like Malcolm In The Middle. I have no idea if those are good things, but it sounds like there’s enough backing to make it work. 

  • Clearly, it’s an oddity for Marvel, and there’s an excellent deep dive into what it’s all about from The Guardian, which spoke with Marvel Studio president Kevin Feige, Elizabeth Olsen (Scarlet Witch since 2014), Paul Bettany (who continues his role as Vision), and WandaVision’s director Matt Shakman.

Some quotes:

  • WandaVision’s director Matt Shakman puts the period faithfulness down to a “sitcom bootcamp” he put the cast and crew through. A longtime director of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia … he was determined the series should avoid the pitfalls of parody.
  • “The shows had to be authentic,” Shakman says. “That meant doing the homework of just watching a lot of old television. But then, even more fun, we got to talk to people who worked on these shows. We tracked them down.” … The lighting was authentic. The lenses were authentic. And Marvel didn’t even blink when Shakman suggested a live audience, even though it required countless phone confiscations and NDAs.
  • The big question: will it work? 
  • “…Marvel seems to be rewarded for taking big risks,” [says] Bettany. “Reinventing what Thor was with Taika Waititi directing was a huge swing. And they’ve done it again with this. They didn’t want to just do the same old thing. What I will say is, as it progresses, our series has more special effects shots than Endgame, which is an unbelievable number of special effects.”

Anyway, there’s plenty of MCU related stuff in the read, so if you’re into that, it’s a rich vein.


Tristan Rayner, Senior Editor

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