What's the catch with Samsung Galaxy S4 Exynos 5 Octa?

What’s the catch with Samsung Galaxy S4 Exynos 5 Octa?

Since the announcement of Samsung’s Galaxy S4, there’s been much buzz about the Exynos 5 Octa chip that came with it. Folks tend to think of the Exynos 5 Octa having an octa-core CPU which, by number alone, will sound better than a quad-core counterpart. Truth is — the Exynos 5 Octa will only run at a maximum of 4 cores at a time, not 8.

We noticed that the misconception with a lot of consumers is that the Galaxy S4 (Exynos 5 Octa) can actually run all of the 8 CPU cores at one at maximum power.

In reality, only one of the 4-cores will run depending on the requirements. For most of the regular processes (SMS, calls, browsing, Twitter, FB, Instagram, Camera, etc), only the slower ARM Cortex A7 cores (200MHz to 1.2GHz per core). For more intensive number-crunching requirements, the faster ARM Cortex A15 cores will kick in (200MHz to 1.6GHz per core). This is what is referred to as the big.LITTLE architecture that we discussed here before.


The switching is done flawlessly on the hardware level so the OS or the system will never see this and will only recognize 4-cores at any time.

In hindsight, the Exynos 5 Octa is not really an octa-core chip but more of a 4+4 core chip in the same way that the Nvidia Tegra 3 is not a penta-core (5-core) chip but a 4+1 core chip.

So, the next important question now becomes — is the Exynos 5 Octa any better when it actually behaves like any other quad-core chip around, like the Snapdragon 600 which is also used in the Galaxy S4?

The answer — it depends. We know that the BIG core is powered by a 1.6GHz quad-core ARM Cortex-A15 so that will count for something. We have yet to see any benchmark results ourselves but we’re hoping it will perform better than the scores we got from the Galaxy S4 running a Snapdragon 600.

Abe is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of YugaTech. You Can follow him on Twitter @abeolandres.

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62 Responses

  1. YugaFan says:

    OT: Bakit kaya hindi namansin si sir yuga kanina sa foodcourt ng Robinsons Magnolia? =P

  2. James Yap says:

    Cheap plastic phone. Sarap sunugin.

    • It sure is plastic, but it’s never cheap!

    • allineedis says:

      It feels cheap but it’s expensive :(

    • Kris says:

      Ang sabihin mo wala kang pambili ng S4 kasi ang cheap cheap mo.

    • Ronald says:

      I dare you to buy one and burn it in front of us. Baka ikaw ang magmukhang plastic.

    • GalanT says:

      Naku naku naku.
      Bot ka rin ba?
      Coz bago ka naman magcomment ng ganyan eh magbasa-basa muna.
      Paki Google muna ang Polycarbonate at baka mamangha ka.
      Hindi siya Cheap but the good thing about it is its availability.
      Samsung’s aim is to produce it without delay since they are aiming at Global releases.
      Please check as well the difference with the price of iPhone5, coz if aluminum+glass yan, baka halos magkasing presyo na yan.
      So please, wag kang plastic coz mas innovative pa yan kesa sa aluminum na iPhone.

    • allineedis says:

      I said it FEELS cheap unlike my iphone 5 that feels premium. I’m not saying it’s cheap but it does feel cheap and you’re too ignorant to accept it. DEAL WITH IT FANDROIDS!

    • banong says:

      It feels cheap? nahawakan mo na ? Yang premium iphone5 mo ano cover? Leather, silicon o plastic?

    • banong says:

      It feels cheap? nahawakan mo na? Yang premium iphone5 mo ano cover? Leather, silicon o plastic?

    • Cris says:

      HUWAWKA! Susunugin agad wala pa nga sa pilipinas. Bili muna brad.

      Baka wala to pambili kaya so much hater. LOL

    • mang kano says:

      define premium..

  3. Iyan Sommerset says:

    Great CPU design. I hope desktop and especially laptop/netbook CPUs will soon follow suit. As a low-power, green PC enthusiast I’d love this technology on all my devices.

    • someone says:

      for me, the 4+4 cpu design on laptops / desktop is a waste of resources. physically you have 8 cores yet you’re only limited to using 4 cores at a time. If the purpose of having 4+4 cpu design is to be power efficient, then they should optimize the faster cpu to be more power efficient. This was solved by intel by providing CULV (consumer ultra low voltage) cpus.

    • tonto says:

      I’m really not all that familiar with cpu architectures, pero bakit hindi na lang mag switch to 1 core, in a lower speed, when all 4 cores are not needed? why the need for another 4-core (albeit ‘slower’) processor for simpler tasks? multi-tasking? siguro there’re other things going on here na hindi ko lang alam :) pero parang mas power efficient pa yung snapdragon version, mas masarap lang pakinggan yung 4+4 cores… :P

    • r41 says:

      Waste of effort and silicon to do that on the PC space. Technologies already exist like the Intel Speedstep(CPU) or the AMD ZeroCore(GPU) that lowers the idle power consumption by a mile. No need to waste valuable space on the already tight chips.

    • Ice says:

      You cannot compare the cpu of a mobile with that of a pc. they have very differenct architecture and instruction set. Intel’s CULV has low clock rate by the way, thus resulting in low power consumption. As for optimization, the ones available in the market today are optimized. The problem is we are limited by the technology being used to produce those SOC.

  4. Newbie noob noob says:

    before I make any statement/comment here I just want to say that I’m noob when it comes to tech world. So please don’t judge me or anything ’cause I’ve seen how other people react on “bobo or stupid” comments. It’s traumatic I must say.

    so I just want to ask, why still make a 4+4 core? I mean why not just make it a quadcore that runs in ARM Cortex A15. Why the hassle of switching the cores? Is it practically the same? Because as they say, when you only use sms, gsm or calls the slower core is the one running, while using games etc. the faster core runs. Also why not make it run in all 8 cores? I guess it will be faster, right? hehe sorry I’m really newbie. hoping for a positive response from you guys! =D

    • JC Caro says:

      It’s simply for power the sake of power consumption. Having 4 power hungry cores on all the time would eat away the battery faster than Usain Bolt, so having 4 lower power cores means that it can have the same responsiveness as when using the A15 cores with less demanding tasks and also save some battery similar to a Chrysler HEMI which shuts off some cylinders when cruising to save gas and fires up all 8 when needing all the power (in this case the higher powered A15 cores).
      A15= Heavy tasks
      A7= Light tasks
      Hope this has helped you

    • ocommon says:

      To save power my friend.. gagana ang 8cores para lang sa sms at calls, eh di ubos agad battery mo. Parang kotse na may turbo yan, gagana pag todo apak sa accelerator..

    • poche says:

      so for short behind pa din tau sa battery technology. dapat kc fuel cell na kaso hundred thousand dollars un isang cell lang lol

    • Newbie noob noob says:

      ooohhh… so that is its purpose. Nice and thank you for all your positive replies! =D

    • bimby says:

      @ocommon – nice one dude.

  5. Vastac says:


    Quad A15 runs up to 1.2 Ghz only

  6. energizer says:

    processors doesn’t matter much with the common consumer. better battery power that may last at least 24 hours (wifi/data on) in just one charge in a slim/small package of course does matter

  7. pulubi says:

    it’s all gimmick. samsung can’t think of another idea to catch people’s attention. no, im not an apple fanboy. if you ask me the same question, yes, apple is also running out of bullets. can’t trust these manufacturers these days. yes, i don’t have money to buy these luxury phones. i only have nokia 1280, and i am proud of it. it’s a phone that lets you single-handedly text without looking at the screen. cool huh?

    • mas pulubi says:

      Its not gimmick, that’s why its called the flagship phone from samsung. They need to put the latest CPU on the phone to be called the best of the best. And they don’t invent the CPU, they licensed it from ARM if I’m not mistaken. The advantage of having the latest CPU is to futureproof the unit. Just my 2 cents..

    • Pulubil says:

      It still doesnt make any sense why they called it octacore. 2 quad core would be more appropriate. And doesnt this pose threat to the battery life? 2 cpus working simultaneously?

  8. Pat says:

    I love Samsung and I have an s3, but this article just proved to me that having an octa-core or 4+4 cores is just a marketing strategy for d company. Ill just stick first wd my s3 and not upgrade yet.

  9. Kelot says:

    So pag SMS at other light workloads 4 A7 cores ang mag run lets say 200 mhz minimum x 4 edi 800 mhz? Thats not power efficient since 4 cores parin ang tatakbo, mukhang mas efficient pa kung 1 core lang ang mag run instead of 4. .Since A15 can also run 200 mhz, why not just run a single core of this or kung 800mhz lang ang kailangan, A15 nalang mag run kaya naman nun ah. .in a way having 4+4 will only make manufacturing cost more, eh sino magshoshoulder nun, consumers syempre. .

    • lola says:

      ang problem jan bro ung heat na nilalabas ng CPU. come to think bro, hindi maganda ang airflow ng mga smartphones.. wala silang fan coolers like laptops ang desktop PCs. so anything beyond 200Mhz ay iinit ung unit at mas maaksaya sya sa battery… kaya ginawa nilang ganyan ang design ng phone.

      sa ginawa nilang 4+4 design ng exynos octa, mas makaka save ka ng battery life.
      eto ang explanation: sa mga light workloads like call, sms, browsing, ang aandar is ung A7 1.2 na CPU. so, ang battery consumption is ung pang 1.2 na processor lang, pag may mga heavy workloads ka like heavy graphis games, ung aandar na CPU lang ay ung A15 1.6 so ang consumption ng battery is ung pang 1.6 lang.

      ung sa snapdragon 600, my lakas syang 1.9 Ghz. kahit mga light workloads lang ang ginagawa ng phone mo, ang battery consumption nya ay pang 1.9 ghz parin.

      so, see the difference.. :D

    • bimby says:

      @lola – nice explanation dude :)

    • aze says:

      @lola, at para na rin sa iba…

      hindi po diretso 1.9ghz ang snapdragon or iba pang processors kahit txt/call lang ang gamit. may minimum frequency po yan kunyari 400mhz pag patay ang screen, pag nag on ka papalo yan sa 1.2ghz tapos pag naglaro ka kunyari temple run tsaka yan papalo ng 1.9ghz kumbaga eh may stages yan. nalaman ko po yan sa pag fflash ko ng kernel sa android ko, doon pipili ka ng frequency depende sa stage ng phone… gets mo na po @lola?

    • Jexy says:

      then ? what is the better processor ?
      Snapdragon or Exynos ?

    • Jexy says:

      then ? what is the better processor ?
      Snapdragon or Exynos ?
      Please . vote for it and why .. TNX . :D

  10. Kelot says:

    I think better pa ang Snapdragon, it has support for LTE and below for data not to mention better graphics, yun 4+4 i think walang LTE support, so better go for the snapdragon series, mas bebenta yun imho

  11. bimby says:

    i checked the specs of s4 on gmsarena bat walang radio, with this kind of hardware bat nila tinanggal ang simple radio…

  12. sam says:

    ansabe!? Yung mga desktop nga Okay na sa Dual-Core tapos eight-Core pang Celphone! lol! Ginagawang tanga mga Consumer ng Samsung..

  13. silverhunk says:

    So A7 switches to A15 when running heavy apps, does it mean A7 stops running when it switches to A15? If so, in this case, A15 will be the one to process all workloads

  14. Tja! Vilken prima blogg! Jag kommer att hälsa på dig återigen!

  15. asas says:

    madami kasi nauuto ang samsung kaya ganun… hahaha!

    magagaling lang ang samsung at ibang android phone makers sa pagpalaki ng screen size, higher resolution, more cores at more ram! haha!

    karamihan pa sa features ng phone nila gimik lang at yung iba naman kopya lang sa nokia. hahaha!

    ang android tuloy parang beta copy lang ng iOS+symbian, haha!

    laggy kasi kaya dinadaan na lang sa dami ng cores at RAM. hahaha!

    android community, ioptimize nio naman ang OS nio! kahit quadcore laggy pa din kayo! hahaha!

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  18. zarne says:

    There are so many Phone companies that are using the Android platform. e.g. Samsung, LG,Sony, HTC, just to name a few. How can these companies optimize the phone hardware to the android operating system? I read somewhere that this OS is “core hungry”, due to the customization allowed in the OS. I do not think that hardware optimization with the Android OS can be done. That is why Android phone makers just add more “Cores” and “Rams” to compensate for the lack of optimization. There is a “Spec Sheet” war going on against the android phone makers. You do not see this ridiculous number of “cores” race from the other platforms like Apple, Windows, and Blackberry simply because their hardware were optimized to run smoothly in their respective OS. Just an example, the 2 cores, 2 GB Ram- Blackberry Z10 can run as fast as the 4 cores, 4 GB Ram of Nexus 4 and Samsung S3. To sum it up, more cores does not always equate to faster performance.

  19. Kevyn Montana says:

    I think they chose this architecture because its gonna be easier for the programmer’s side. If they chose to turn off cores, it will be more work for the coders to workaround. As for not being a pure 8 core, few applications take advantage of dual core tech let alone quads. Also, if they lower the number of cores then it would be a step down wouldn’t it? Since buyer’s intuition would be that the higher the number of cores, the better the phone. Well, that’s my opinion.

  20. myphone says:

    haha myphone pdn ako support local brand even if the phones come from china with quality that so down:( haha atleast kaya mo bumili nang 3ng phones katumbas nang isang s4 or iphone haha just my singko butas suggestion :)

    happy tuesday everyone :)

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