What are the usual upgrades we came to expect from the Note line compared to the S-line entrants preceding it? The S-Pen stylus, of course, but also a tad larger display, more RAM and bigger battery.
This year, however, besides the largest ever display on a Note with its rumored 6.7 inches, the Note 10 may also use a faster chipset, both in the Exynos reincarnation for sale outside the US, and in the Snapdragon version for American carriers, as Qualcomm just announced 855+ for flagships that will appear in the second half of the year.
Exynos 9825 may be Samsung’s first 7nm chipset
A prominent tipster whose best track record is actually in upcoming mobile chipsets and their features, claimed in Chinese social media way back in January that Samsung will release an upgraded Exynos 9825 version in the second half of the year, and then a Korean publication chimed in that it is destined for the Note 10 and 10+ handsets. That would be a highly unusual move and one that might stem from the peculiar state of production nodes this year.
The Galaxy S10 shipped with the latest 7nm Snapdragon 855 in the US, but Samsung’s Exynos 9820 in other markets. The thing is, however, that Exynos 9820 is not a 7nm chipset, but actually utilizes an 8nm die shrink, and 855 is not made with Samsung’s 7nm ultraviolet lithography that is perceived to be superior to the TSMC foundry’s aging production method that is reaching the end of its abilities.
Apple managed to pull off a 7nm chipset in mass quantities with the A12 in the 2018 iPhones but had to use TSMC for it, as Samsung’s EUV machines were still not ready to churn out chips in such quantities. Well, now Samsung is ready, and today the Note 10 model with Samsung’s first 7nm EUV Exynos 9825 processor got benchmarked.
Samsung’s 7nm method is better than the TSMC one in Apple’s A12 or in Snapdragon 855
Samsung’s chief of the semiconductor LSI division called the technology “challenging,” yet mentioned that Samsung expects to become a leader there. Why? Well, it will be the the main producer of second-gen 7nm chipsets, made with the so-called extreme ultraviolet (EUV) lithography equipment that helps laying down the minuscule transistors close to each other without too much drama. We will spare you all the juicy argon fluoride against ultraviolet details and will go straight to the benefits for the end user.
Chips made with the second-gen 7nm EUV lithography can be produced easier now, with better yields, and with a reduced number of masks needed for production that will make them cheaper to make on average. At the same time, compared with the 10nm chips in the Note 9 or iPhone X, the 7nm LPP EUV silicon can be made with a 40% smaller footprint, and either 20% faster, or with the whopping 50% reduction in power draw. Compared to first-gen 7nm chips, they are about 15% faster at the same power draw envelope. Bazinga!
Note 10 may come with faster processors than the S10… or any Android
The Galaxy S10 5G uses either 855 or 9820 with the Exynos 5100 modem tacked on as an afterthought, instead of integrated into a full system-on-a-chip. Let’s not forget that Qualcomm is also doing something similar, producing two distinct versions of the Snapdragon 855 – one with and without a 5G modem.
The Exynos 9825 may be coming as Samsung’s first 7nm chipset with integrated 5G connectivity, and the Galaxy Note 10 may be a prime candidate for it in what is shaping up to be a very cool summer. Now, the only thing left to wonder is if that means the Snapdragon 855+ version will also make a cameo in the Note 10 models for the US.