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Samsung Galaxy S8 could be 30% faster than S7 – here’s why

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Samsung Galaxy 13

Samsung is now testing the chip that could power next year’s Galaxy S8 smartphone, according to a new report.

A well-known China-based mobile leaker has claimed that Samsung has begun trials of its next-generation Exynos chip. Weibo user IceUniverse says the system-on-a-chip – dubbed the Exynos 8895 – has been built on a 10nm manufacturing process, which would be a first for Samsung chipsets.

By contrast, the Exynos 8890 that features in the Galaxy S7 and the Galaxy Note 7 is built using a 14nm process. By moving to 10nm, Samsung can fit more transistors on a single chip, which means we can expect to see improved performance and better power efficiency.

Samsung Galaxy 15

Excitingly, Samsung has reportedly achieved peak clock-rates of 4GHz with the Exynos 8895. It’s likely that the chip will be throttled at launch however, as is generally the case with processors. Still, it’s a 30% increase in clock-rate over the peak trial speeds for the Exynos 8890, which capped out at 3GHz (and launched with a throttled 2.6GHz cap).

Some websites are reporting that this means we’ll see a 30% performance increase, but that’s not necessarily what a 30% faster clock-rate necessarily means. Here’s a brief (and very simplified) explainer:

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Clock-rates explained

The clock-rate is the frequency – or speed, basically – that the processor is running at, and is measured in clock cycles per second, i.e. Hertz. So if a processor runs at 4Hz, it’s running 4,000 clock cycles per second. So the higher the clock-rate, the more processing cycles a CPU achieves in a given time.

But a higher clock-rate doesn’t mean you’re getting a better deal. That’s because another important aspect of a processor’s performance is instructions per cycle. That’s how many instructions (read: tasks) that a processor can resolve per clock cycle.

For instance, the first general-purpose computer was the ENIAC, which had a 100kHz clock rate. But each instruction took around 20 cycles to complete, leaving it with an instruction rate of just 5kHz.

So manufacturers tend to create processors that feature either (1) a low clock rate and a high number of instructions per cycle, or (2) a high clock rate and a low number of instructions per cycle. The jury is still out on which one is better, but the consensus leans towards the former. That’s one of the reasons why Intel, for example, has seen recent success compared to rival AMD, because of the high instructions per cycle that Intel chips achieve.

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Today’s leak isn’t the first time we’ve heard about the Exynos 8895. Just last month, a chip by that same name turned up on Zauba, an Indian import/export web tracker. It’s widely expected that Samsung will roll out this chip within the next year – possibly inside the Samsung Galaxy S8.

Samsung is likely to launch the Galaxy S8 at next year’s Mobile World Congress, in the first quarter of 2017.

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What improvements would you like Samsung to make for the Galaxy S8? Let us know in the comments.

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