With the launch of the Samsung Exynos 980 5G, Samsung set a new standard for upper mid-range chipsets.

MediaTek, HiSilicon and Qualcomm have all launched their latest upper mid-range chips recently, which promise near-flagship performance but at a more attractive price point.

During IFA we had multiple announcements with new chipsets with integrated 5G modems. Huawei/HiSilicon announced their flagship Kirin 990 while both Samsung and Qualcomm have decided to integrate the modem on the tier below this. This is likely due to Qualcomm and Samsung not launching their flagship SoC until the end of the year/start of next.

With the Qualcomm announcement, they just stated that the Snapdragon 7 Series and 6 Series will be updated to an integrated chipset, so, for now, we know nothing else about it.

CPU

With the currently available chips, each one has a similar design, using 2 Cortex-A76 cores combined with 6 lower powered Cortex-A55 cores.

However, the new Samsung will be the first commercially available chipset to feature the latest Coretex A77 CPU, ousting Huawei as they stuck with A76 for their flagship.

Technically Mediatek announced the first A77 based chipset, but there is no specific details about this, nor any news when it will be released. I think they announced it just so they could say they were first.

For the remaining 6 cores, Samsung keeps the same A55 similar to the other options on the market.

How the A77 will compare to the A76 is another question. Logically it should offer a significant improvement.

Fabrication Process

Power efficiency will be interesting, Samsung still uses the 8nm process, while the Kirin 810 is using 7nm. Samsung recently started using the 7nm EUV for its Exynos 9825 but I would assume this costs more to use.

The Helio G90T which has come out with some fantastic benchmarks is made on the 12nm FinFET fabrication process, which should make it quite power hungry compared to its competitors.

GPU

Comparing the GPU is a little harder, the Exynos 980 uses the Mali G76 with 5 cores, its closest comparison is the Helio G90T which uses the same G76 but with just 4 cores. The Mali G76 is based on the Bifrost 3rd gen architecture and was launched in the last half of last year, and offers 48.96 FP32 GFLOPS (per core)

The Kirin uses a Mali G52 with 6 cores, this is based on the Bifrost 2nd gen architecture and was launched at the start of 2018. Depending on the configuration this offers 27.2 @ 850 MHz per core (2 EU) or 40.8 @ 850 MHz per core (3 EU).

AI

Another area that is hard to compare is the AI functionality. Companies tend to use ambiguous terms to refer to their own AI tech. All we have from Samsung is that a powerful neural processing unit (NPU) and digital signal processor (DSP) are built into the Exynos 980 to deliver new levels of on-device artificial intelligence.

Benchmarks will provide the best comparison, there are obviously none yet for the Exynos 980 but it will be interesting to see how this compared to the Kirin 810 when it launches.

The HiSilicon Kirin 810 has been tested on Ai Benchmark and it comfortably beats the flagship Snapdragon 855 (though a little behind the SD855+).

The Snapdrapdragon 730 and Helio G90T score less than half of the Kirin 810.

Whether or not AI performance is as important as CPU or GPU performance is another question.

Other Features

Samsung will continue to be at the forefront of Wi-Fi for mobile, they were the first to launch Wi-Fi 6 on the Galaxy S10 and the Samsung Exynos 980 will also have this integrated.

Cost

While the Samsung Exynos 980 5G may be aimed at the mid-range market, it is likely to come at a premium cost compared to the none 5G chipsets.

We have no idea how much the phones based on this will cost, obviously, it will be lower than the Samsung Galaxy S10 5G RRP which is north of £1k.

The current Galaxy A80 costs £579 which is already in flagship pricing territory (though it does have an SD855), and I wouldn't be surprised if a 5G phone will cost more than this.

Comparison Table

 Exynos 980
Helio G90TSD730Kirin 810Exynos 9610
Manufacturing Process8nm LPP
12nm FinFET8nm7nm10nm LPP
CPU2x Cortex-A77 @ 2.2GHz
6x Cortex-A55 @ 1.8GHz
2x Cortex A76 @ 2.05GHz
6x Cortex A55 @ 2.0GHz
2x Kryo 470 (CA76)
@ 2.2GHz

6x Kryo 470 (CA55)
@ 1.8GHz
2x Cortex-A76 @ 2.23 GHz
6x Cortex-A55 @ 1.88 GHz
2x Cortex-A73 @ 2.3GHz
+ 4x Cortex-A53 @ 1.7GHz
GPUMali G76 MP5
Mali G76 MP4 @ 800MHzAdreno 618Mali G52MP6 @ 820MHzMali G72 MP3
RAMLPDDR4x 2133MHzLPDDR4x up to 10GB, 2133MHz2x 16-bit @ 1866MHz
LPDDR4X
14.9GB/s

1MB system cache
LPDDR4X @ 2133MHzLPDDR4X @ 2133MHz
ModemShannon Integrated 5G
(LTE Category 16/18)
DL = 1000 Mbps
5x20MHz CA, 256-QAM
UL = 200 Mbps
2x20MHz CA, 256-QAM

(5G NR Sub-6)
DL = 2550 Mbps
UL = 1280 Mbps

Integrated 4G LTE
D/L Speed: 600 Mbps
U/L Speed: 150 Mbps
Snapdragon X15
D/L Speed: 800 Mbps
U/L Speed: 150 Mbps
Integrated 4G LTE
D/L Speed: 1.4 Mbps
U/L Speed: 200 Mbps
Shannon Integrated

(LTE Category 13/13)
DL = 600 Mbps
3x20MHz CA, 256-QAM
UL = 150 Mbps
2x20MHz CA, 64-QAM
AIIntegrated2x APU

+1TOPs total perf
Hexagon 688Dual NPUN/A