Samsung announced its latest mobile processor, the Exynos 980, at IFA 2019 in Berlin. The chip is notable for having a 5G modem built into it, rather than requiring a separate 5G modem as many current 5G phones do.
With 5G capabilities added to the processor itself it sets a precedent for Samsung devices coming in 2020 – all the high-end models will be 5G compatible. This could include the Galaxy S11 series and maybe even the long-awaited update to the delayed Galaxy Fold.
The Galaxy S10 5G and Note 10 5G are sold as separate models to the rest of the 4G line up.
Samsung has dropped the number of, well, numbers from thenaming of its latest chip. The 980 succeeds the Exynos 9825 found in the Note 10 and the 9820 of the S10 series.
“With the 5G-integrated Exynos 980, Samsung is pushing to make 5G more accessible to a wider range of users and continues to lead innovation in the mobile 5G market,” said Ben Hur, vice president of System LSI marketing at Samsung Electronics.
The 980 is based on an 8nm process and can support 2G up to 5G, so Samsung isn’t leaving the legacy voice networks behind quite yet. In sub 6GHz 5G, the company claims the chip can support up to 2.55 gigabits per second download speeds. Combine that with the next-gen Wi-Fi 6 support and you’ve got a seriously capable processor.
Samsung continues to make its own chips even though it still uses Qualcomm Snapdragon processors in its US phones in order to maintain a working relationship with Qualcomm. The latter is also working on its next high-end chip, likely the Snapdragon 865, which will also include an integrated 5G modem.
The Exynos 980 also has an NPU (neural processing unit) similar to those found on Huawei’s Kirin processors. This slice of AI allows for on-device processing to compute without a data connection. We’re in the early stages of being able to actually see the use for NPUs, but with the growth of mixed reality and camera processing on phones it’s necessary now at the high end.