Samsung’s First 5nm Chip, the Exynos 1080, Looks to Keep Pace with Apple

Samsung’s First 5nm Chip, the Exynos 1080, Looks to Keep Pace with Apple
Screenshot: Samsung

This week has been especially busy when it comes to new silicon, because almost immediately after MediaTek announced a number of new chips for phones and Chromebooks, Apple followed up with its big M1 chip. Now Samsung has announce its first chip designed using a 5-nanometre process: the Exynos 1080.

Samsung’s new mobile chip is notable for a few different reasons. The first is that, unlike previous 5nm processors like Apple’s A14 Bionic for iPhones and M1 for Macs and Huawei’s Kirin 9000, the Exynos 1080 was fabricated by Samsung’s own chip foundries and not those of TSMC (Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company), who has been responsible for producing all the other 5nm chips up until now.

Samsung producing its first chip featuring a 5nm node could pave the way for other gadget makers to take advantage of Samsung’s EUV FinFet process to create smaller and more power-efficient chips, which should be good for competition.

Second, by using a new eight-core design featuring four high-performance Cortex-A78 cores (with one core featuring a slightly higher clock speed of 2.8GHz), four high-efficiency Cortex A55 cores, and an integrated 5G modem (which supports both sub-6GHz and mmWave 5G), the Exynos 1080 offers a well-rounded package for any future 5G phones. Additionally, the Exynos 1080 features a Mali G78 GPU for better graphics performance along with support for displays with a 90Hz refresh rate. Other features include support for Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5.2, a more powerful neural processing unit, and more.

Here's a spec sheet of the Exynos 1080's major features.  (Screenshot: Samsung) Here's a spec sheet of the Exynos 1080's major features. (Screenshot: Samsung)

The Exynos 1080 was co-developed by Vivo, and according to Engadget China, Vivo already has plans to use the new chip in an upcoming device.

Finally, because the Exynos 1080 is merely a “premium” chip (as suggested by its support for 90Hz but not 120Hz displays), it’s likely that Samsung is working on an even more powerful chip that could find its way into some versions of the next Galaxy S phone, which has been rumoured as being announced as early as late January. Typically, Samsung doesn’t feature its Exynos chips in Galaxy phones sold in the U.S., but as we saw with the Galaxy S6 (which used an Exynos 7420 instead of a Qualcomm chip), it’s not entirely out of the question.

Regardless, with companies including Apple, Samsung, Google, and others trying to develop homegrown chips for use in their devices, the battle for silicon supremacy is just starting to heat up.