Samsung has announced its next in-house processor, the Exynos 980, at IFA 2019. It looks to be taking a big step forward by offering a 5G modem integrated directly into the CPU, instead of requiring a separate modem just to be able to support the next-generation network.
It’s a small change, but an important one: much like Qualcomm, which is promising to add a 5G modem to its next Snapdragon flagship, Samsung is making 5G support the default option for future phones and tablets that use Exynos chips. It also means that Samsung can save internal space by not needing the extra modem chip, which should also help make 5G use more power-efficient.
The new Exynos 980 chip is built on an 8nm process, and offers support for 5G to 2G networks. Samsung promises it’ll be capable of gigabit speeds for LTE and up to 2.55Gbps sub-6GHz 5G speeds. Notably missing from the announcement? Support for mmWave networks, which operate at a higher wavelength on the electromagnetic spectrum and serve as the base for Verizon’s current 5G network.
The new eight-core chip also is said to have better performance overall, with a particular focus on the onboard neural processing unit (NPU) for AI tasks, which Samsung says is 2.7 times faster than before. The chip also supports cameras up to 108 megapixels, and up to five individual sensors.
If past history is anything to go by, though, don’t expect to see an Exynos 980 in any US phones soon — Samsung tends to reserve its in-house chips for international variants of its devices, sticking with Qualcomm’s Snapdragon processors and modems for the US versions. But with production of the Exynos 980 set to start before the end of this year, it’s possible that it could show up in phones like the Galaxy S11.
Given that the S10 lineup this year had a separate, pricey 5G variant, between Qualcomm and Samsung’s commitment to integrated 5G, it’s possible that next year’s Samsung flagships could have support by default. And that’s a far more interesting prospect than whatever speed boost Samsung is making here.