Samsung has offered high-end Exynos mobile processors for years now, largely being available in its own flagship smartphones. 2021 is no different though, as the Korean manufacturer launched the Exynos 2100.
Exynos 2100 specs
The Exynos 2100 is a landmark release for the firm, not just because of the fact that it’s a 5nm design. It’s the company’s first flagship SoC without custom CPU cores since 2015’s Exynos 7420. Instead of Samsung’s in-house Mongoose cores, the new SoC exclusively uses Arm’s Cortex cores.
The chipset sports one 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. This is the same CPU core arrangement seen on the rival Snapdragon 888 SoC. Samsung said 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.
|Samsung Exynos 2100||Samsung Exynos 990|
Samsung Exynos 2100:1x Cortex-X1 @ 2.9GHz
3x Cortex-A78 @ 2.8GHz
4x Cortex-A55 @ 2.2GHz
Samsung Exynos 990:2x Mongoose M5 @ 2.73GHz
2x Cortex-A76 @ 2.5GHz
4x Cortex-A55 @ 2GHz
Samsung Exynos 2100:Arm Mali-G78 MP14
Samsung Exynos 990:Arm Mali-G77 MP11
Samsung Exynos 2100:LPDDR5
Samsung Exynos 990:LPDDR5
|AI / DSP|
Samsung Exynos 2100:Tri-core NPU
Samsung Exynos 990:Dual-core NPU
Samsung Exynos 2100:200MP single
Samsung Exynos 990:108MP single
Samsung Exynos 2100:4G LTE
5G sub-6GHz & mmWave
Samsung Exynos 990:4G LTE
5G sub-6GHz & mmWave
Samsung Exynos 2100:5nm
Samsung Exynos 990:7nm
When it comes to graphical performance, 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).
Speaking of the Exynos 1080, the Exynos 2100 borrows the upper mid-range chip’s Amigo tech. This tech suite essentially governs and optimizes power usage across the CPU, GPU, and other elements of the chipset.
We’ve also seen high refresh rate screens become ubiquitous in the last few years, and the new processor offers support for refresh rates up to 144Hz at QHD+. It also delivers 120Hz support at 4K display resolutions.
Exynos 2100: 5G and AI
A modern smartphone processor doesn’t just consist of the CPU and GPU, as cellular connectivity is one of the most important elements. The Exynos 2100 sports an integrated 5G modem with sub-6GHz and mmWave capabilities. Sub-6GHz downlink speeds theoretically top out at 5.1Gbps, while mmWave speeds top out at 7.35Gbps.
The actual speeds aren’t an upgrade over the Exynos 990, but the move to an integrated modem means you can expect better power efficiency compared to 2020’s flagship processor.
Moving to machine learning, the Exynos 2100 delivers a tri-core NPU that boasts 26 TOPS of power. By contrast, the Exynos 990 features 15 TOPS of power. Of course, there’s more to machine learning than a simple measurement, and the new NPU touts twice the power efficiency of the older silicon. So expect tasks like computer vision, scene recognition, and more to sip less juice.
The Exynos 2100 is a camera powerhouse, offering 200MP camera support as well as support for up to six cameras and concurrent data processing from four sensors. In fact, the chipset features a so-called multi-camera and frame processor (MCFP) within the ISP, which is able to combine data from multiple sensors to deliver improved zoom, better wide-angle shots, and more.
On the video front, you’ve got 8K/30fps recording, 8K/60fps playback, 4K/120fps recording, and AV1 codec support for decoding. In other words, Samsung’s processor is among the top dogs when it comes to photo and video capabilities. Qualcomm’s equivalent chipset (Snapdragon 888) doesn’t support AV1 decoding or encoding, making this a notable feather in Samsung’s cap as more streaming services support the bandwidth-friendly standard.
Exynos SoCs usually find their way into Samsung’s flagship offerings, and the Exynos 2100 continues this trend. The Galaxy S21 series offers this processor in most markets aside from the US. In other words, you’ll be getting an Exynos-powered S21 if you’re in Europe, India, the Middle East, Africa, and several Asian locales.
Flagship Exynos chipsets have traditionally appeared inside the Galaxy Note range as well, but we aren’t getting a Note this year. Meanwhile, both the Galaxy Z Flip and Galaxy Z Fold lineups have generally used Qualcomm silicon for all variants.
How does it fare against the Snapdragon 888?
The Exynos 2100 seems much closer to the Snapdragon 888 on paper, as the two SoCs share a near-identical CPU setup. In fact, Geekbench 5 testing and our own Speed Test G (seen above) show only a small difference in CPU power. Furthermore, Geekbench 5 multi-core scores show Samsung’s silicon outpacing Qualcomm’s processor by a small margin.
Graphical performance is still Samsung’s Achilles Heel compared to Qualcomm though, and the Exynos 2100’s GPU is still a way behind the Snapdragon 888. In fact, it even falls a little short of some phones running last year’s Snapdragon 865 series processors. The gap is much smaller than the Exynos 990 versus the Snapdragon 865 though. Check out our full Exynos 2100 vs Snapdragon 888 rundown at the link.
What to know about a successor?
Samsung confirmed to Android Authority earlier this year that the next Exynos flagship processor (i.e. Exynos 2100 successor) would indeed offer AMD graphics. Furthermore, AMD revealed back in June that this mobile GPU would have features like ray tracing and variable refresh rate support. The graphics company added that Samsung would reveal more details “later this year.”
This suggests that the Galaxy S22 will offer AMD graphics, which could theoretically make for a big upgrade over Arm’s Mali GPU tech. But we’ll need to wait for more details and benchmarks first. Otherwise, we’re expecting the next Exynos chipset to potentially make use of the new Armv9 architecture, as well as Arm’s latest CPU cores. These cores include the Cortex-X2, Cortex-A710, and the Cortex-A510.