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Poll of the week: Do you care about the Snapdragon vs Exynos debate?


One of the strangest news this past week was Samsung’s no-show for its own Exynos event. The Korean company was expected to announce its new Exynos flagship SoC, debuting AMD’s GPU in the mobile space. Despite some strong opinions over the internet is it something that bothers the NextPit Community? Let’s find out!

At the end of 2021, Samsung LSI — the Korean Chaebol subsidiary responsible for designing processors — teased an announcement for January 11th with the hashtag #playtimeisover with a post over Twitter, a hotsite, and a video hosted on YouTube.

January 11th came and went with no signs of an announcement. In fact, on Monday (10th) we already noticed all three posts were deleted without warning, but thankfully you can find archived versions of the tweet, hotsite, and video on these links.

playtime is over01
The motto seems a bit off for a gaming-oriented component / © Samsung/YouTube

Powered by Radeon

One of the highlights of the new chip would be the new AMD RDNA2 GPU core on a mobile chip. The realization of an announcement made almost three years ago, the same GPU architecture is also used in the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series consoles, of course with a higher core count than can be expected on a mobile SoC.

Rumors around leaked benchmarks suggested that the performance wasn’t up to the expectations of such a hyped product. Especially after Samsung partially blamed the usage of ARM’s Mali GPU on previous Exynos generations.

”The new GPU is expected to resolve the problems of the Exynos 2100. We intend to sharpen our competitiveness by loading GPUs for games into mobile devices.” said a Samsung representative to GSM Arena.

Adopting AMD’s GPU was expected to make the Exynos SoC leap ahead of the Snapdragon rival, with an unnamed model of the Adreno family — which traces its origins back to the Imageon mobile processors, bought by Qualcomm from ATI, before the GPU company was bought by AMD, one possible explanation for the fact that Adreno is an anagram for Radeon.

NextPit Radeon Adreno
I already shared this on NextPit BR (#rip) but couldn’t avoid posting the anagram again / © AMD (edited by NextPit)

Snapdragon vs. Exynos: Hot chips

Even though the Exynos line lagged behind in the graphics performance for the past generations, it may seem a bit premature to blame it on the Mali GPUs. After all, Huawei’s Kirin 9000 SoC usually beats the Exynos 2100 chip, despite using the same Mali-G78 graphics, but with 24 cores instead of 14, and is reasonably competitive with the Snapdragon 888.

Still, with one of the most advanced GPUs on the market, the new Exynos is still expected to debut technologies that are exclusive to the PC and console markets, such as ray tracing. But their effectiveness is still unknown since we don’t know how they could work on an SoC limited by die size area, power usage, and heat dissipation.

In fact, power and heat are one of the problems plaguing the current generation of mobile processors, with throttling under heavy tasks like games to either prevent overheating or to keep battery usage under control.

And the Exynos line was often accused of having worse energy and thermal efficiency, something which NextPit showed when comparing the Samsung S20 FE models equipped with the Snapdragon 865 and Exynos 990 chips. Even though the gap was reduced with their successors in 2021 — both made with Samsung Foundry’s 5LPE process — sites like Anandtech found that the Snapdragon 888 is still slightly ahead of the Exynos 2100.

Apart from the graphics performance, there is the hurdle of making game developers adapt their games to use the new chip’s features. Since most companies try to reach the biggest number of players — and devices — in the market, it is not common to tailor games to flagship devices. Samsung could always fund developers to optimize games for the Exynos chips like Nvidia did with some exclusive Android ports for its Shield devices years ago, but with the Galaxy line also using Snapdragon chips, is it really a wise investment?

Samsung Galaxy S21 FE
The Galaxy S21 FE sold in Europe (SM-G990B) and the US (SM-G990U) are equipped with the Snapdragon 888. Markets in Latin America and some Asian countries are receiving the Exynos 2100 model (SM-G990E) / © Samsung

Is the Exynos really coming to the Galaxy S22?

The final question echoes a feeling that some of our European readers already shared in the comments. Samsung traditionally sells in Europe (and Latin America and most parts of Asia) its flagship line with a processor that is usually inferior to the one available in North American and Chinese models.

In the end, it is not feasible to opt for one version or another, which may have hurt Samsung’s mindshare between techies in the Old Continent. The recent launch of the Galaxy S21 FE with the Snapdragon 888 in developed countries may sign a change of the times (or simply better allocation of Qualcomm’s chips), but it is too early to tell.

Even so, January and February still keep the annual suspense of not knowing which market will receive which SoC. And even if the new Exynos will actually be used in the Galaxy S22 line after all. Despite some sites publishing that the Exynos 2200 will be announced with the flagship phones, Samsung’s reply to NextPit leaves the door open for the processor to be launched with any other model:

“Regarding [the] Exynos 2200 announcement, we’re timing the release in line with the launch of a new smartphone.
As soon as the announcement is published following rescheduling, I’ll share it with you.”

BTW, the answer given to other sites omitted the chip’s name with a generic “application processor.” Like it or not, all signs indicate a new Exynos chip with AMD RDNA2 graphics is coming, but we will have to wait for shipping products to check if the hype was worth the attention.

After all this rambling, I leave you one last question for this week.

Thanks for staying with us up to this point, and sorry for rethreading things that we already covered on NextPit. But there is more to this page, so I invite you to add your views in the comments below. And I also invite you all to come back on Monday, when we will analyze the community votes.


We will be happy to hear your thoughts

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