Samsung has just made an announcement that might rock the ARM processor world: a Heterogeneous Multi-Processing (HMP) solution that will be applied to its Exynos 5 Octa core processors. This is practically the manufacturer’s response to criticisms and alternative solutions being marketed by its rivals in the System-on-Chip manufacturing business.
Heterogeneous Multi-Processing is a hot topic when it comes to eight, sometimes even quad, core ARM processors. The usual setup involves utilizing ARM big.LITTLE technology, with two groups of cores, one set of low-power, usually Cortex-A7, cores, and one set of more powerful cores, at the moment Cortex-A15. In Samsung’s initial software implementation, only half of the eight cores can be used at a time, depending on the workload required. More intensive processes would activate the A15’s, but would switch to A7’s when on standby. As such, only four cores are ever active at a given time.
This limitation has been pointed out and exploited by MediaTek to advertise their “True Octa Core” processor last July, boasting of the first heterogeneous ARM big.LITTLE multi-processing support. Now it seems that Samsung has heard the call and is no responding with their own solution. Samsung’s HMP software implementation will be able to utilize all eight cores at the same time, allocating computationally intensive threads to the more powerful cores, leaving the low-power cores to deal with threads with lower priority.
Samsung promises to deliver the HPM solution to its Exynos 5 Octa processors by the last quarter of this year, which could land on devices such as the Galaxy Note III and the 2014 Galaxy Note 10.1, both of which sport Samsung’s latest Exynos 5 Octa with an ARM MALI GPU and an ARM Artisan physical IP. While MediaTek has the first word on HMP solutions, considering none of its new chips are being shipped in existing devices yet, Samsung might have the last laugh instead.