Birches NEWS No. 36. Clash of the Titans

An article about love for the flagship chipsets of 2018 (with slides), smoothly escalating into a bloody battle between competitors.

Birches NEWS No. 36.  Clash of the Titans

The production of smartphones these days can take place in a simplified manner. The so-called manufacturer (nameplate owner) may not touch the development as such at all. It is enough to choose a ready-made platform, materials for the body and place an order with a Chinese factory. At the level below, the developers of the running platforms enter into contracts with ARM, receive the documentation and send the drawings to the foundry. This is the case with all low-cost smartphones that use stock Cortex cores and Mali graphics.

Birches NEWS No. 36.  Clash of the Titans

The creation of a flagship performance monster requires significant costs and engineering hours, this is not a commodity for us

However, the motivation of large companies and the conditions of their existence in the market are very different from those of their little brothers. They need the banner of the leader and the status of the engine of progress. Why do they need it is another question, largely a political one. We will not get into politics, but rather we will push the heavy tanks of the market leaders, their flagship processors of 2018, head on.

Table of contents

  1. Samsung Exynos, Huawei HiSilicon Kirin, Qualcomm
  2. Forehead to forehead comparison in all parameters
  3. conclusions

Unfortunately, the company MediaTek did not release the flagship chipset this year, so Helio X30 will take part in the final battle, which is obviously a pity.

Exynos 9 Series (9810)

The chipset is installed in the Samsung Galaxy S9 / S9 +. The retail cost of these devices ranges from 52,000 to 75,000 rubles. Let's see if there is a nuclear reactor inside, which would be appropriate for that kind of money.

Birches NEWS No. 36.  Clash of the Titans

Before us is a reliable and proven off-road scheme ARM big.LITTLE 4×4.

The junior energy efficient cluster consists of 4 Cortex A-55 cores operating at frequencies up to 1.9 GHz. From official ARM sources, you can glean that the A-55 is at least 18% more productive than the A-53 cores discussed in the past 'Birches'. It is also argued that a great deal of work has been done to reduce memory access time and reduce electrical appetite.

Birches NEWS No. 36.  Clash of the Titans

Flagship Exynos before and after upgrades

When developing the senior cluster, Samsung followed in the footsteps of Qualcomm and heavily modernized the stock ARM cores. In the company's internal documentation, the kernels are referred to as M3, but in press releases they are referred to as Custom. From fragmentary information and occasional reservations one gets the impression that the main direction of modernization is the expansion of the processor's computational pipeline. Those. an increase in the number of parallel executed instructions per unit of time. The result should show itself most clearly in the performance test for one core. Let's compare the cores of the 9810 and last year's flagship Exynos – 8895, which contains the last generation Custom cores and the Cortex A-53 unit:

Birches NEWS No. 36.  Clash of the Titans

An amazing result, the performance of one core has almost doubled. What about the graphics? The Exynos 9810 has an ARM Mali G72M P18 video processor, and the older 8895 has a Mali G72MP20. Let's see how the deprivation of two graphics clusters affected real performance:

Birches NEWS No. 36.  Clash of the Titans

The diagram makes it clear that, as in the case of the BB (big brother, PC), the capabilities of the video card directly depend on the central processor. A higher clock speed of the processor (2.9 vs. 2.3 GHz) and increased performance per core allowed the 'stripped-down' graphics card to take victory from the 'full-fledged' one. The improvements are evident, Samsung can only be congratulated.

The chipset is equipped with a gorgeous LTE modem that allows you to download files at speeds up to 1.2 Gb / s and send yourself to friends at speeds up to 200 Mb / s.

HiSilicon Kirin 970

We see the flagship processor of early 2018 Kirin 970 in Huawei Mate 10 Pro, Nova 3, Honor Play and other popular smartphones Huawei. A large number of positive reviews on the Market. Yandex suggests that these smartphones have something infinitely beautiful inside.

Birches NEWS No. 36.  Clash of the Titans

HiSilicon did not philosophize, but followed the path of the B-brand, using the ready-made ARM developments. And for us, this is a great opportunity to understand the difference between stock Cortex cores and improved ones within global corporations.

ARM Kirin big.LITTLE consists of 4 Cortex A-73 and 4 A-53 cores. The heroic cluster knocks bits at 2.4 GHz, and the youngest one at 1.9 GHz – these are typical indicators for chipsets of the 10 nm era, where they jumped from the more modest frequencies of 1.5 / 1.8 GHz at 28/16 nm. Let's compare the progress with the previous flagship Kirin 960:

Birches NEWS No. 36.  Clash of the Titans

The difference is small. And where does it come from, if the processor cluster has not fundamentally changed, and the penny performance increase is caused by the transition to 10 nm from 16 nm and raising the clock frequencies by a hundred or two MHz. But the graphics have changed more, it was ARM Mali-G71 MP8, it became Mali-G72 MP12:

Birches NEWS No. 36.  Clash of the Titans

Gaming performance has grown significantly, you can take it. But the almost complete absence of improvements in the processor part (except for increased energy efficiency) is somewhat annoying.

Communication in the Kirin 970 is excellent, the LTE modem supports download / upload speeds of 1.2 Gb / s and 150 Mb / s.

Qualcomm SDM845

The recently announced SDM850 has yet to go on sale. Yes, and whether he will appear inside smartphones at all, my grandmother said in two and wrote with a pitchfork on the water. Especially if you remember the presentation, which emphasized the improved performance of the chipset when working in Windows 10. And therefore, Snapdragon 845 will take part in the final battle. The chipset is in almost all flagships of 2018, ranging from the cheap Xiaomi Mi 8 for 30,000 rubles and ending with the expensive Sony Xperia XZ2 Premium for 80,000 rubles.

Birches NEWS No. 36.  Clash of the Titans

The processor part of the SDM845 consists of two Qualcomm® Kryo ™ 385 clusters, made according to the 10 nm process technology. A high-performance 4-core cluster is represented by heavily modified Cortex A-75 cores (2.8 GHz), and the auxiliary part consists of 4 Cortex A-55 cores (1.8 GHz), which have also undergone deep modernization. Let's look at the pace of Qualcomm's intraspecies evolution:

Birches NEWS No. 36.  Clash of the Titans

It seems like Qualcomm knows what they are doing. Does this statement apply to multiple generations of GPUs?

Birches NEWS No. 36.  Clash of the Titans

No abnormal jerks are visible, only progressive development with excellent results and without marking time, as happened in the case of the Kirin 960/970.

Responsible for communication is the Qualcomm® Snapdragon ™ X20 LTE modem, which shows good (but not the best) results of downloading and sending data, 1.2 Gb / s and 150 Mb / s, respectively.

Forehead to forehead comparison in all parameters

Birches NEWS No. 36.  Clash of the Titans

Controversial visualization of competition Qualcomm Snapdragon and Samsung Exynos

The moment has come when the electronic gladiators of 2018 will face off in a decisive battle for top performance. Performance monsters will compete in triathlon:

  1. Fast and smooth operation of standard interface functions and OS applications Android. This parameter primarily depends on the performance of one core.
  2. Gaming performance. The parameter is directly affected by the performance of the video chip and indirectly by the performance of all processor cores (background processes do not lower the FPS in the game).
  3. Communication. Everything is clear here, high data transfer rates reduce the time for receiving content and are the most important component of the electronic life of people without a PC and home Internet.

Performance per core:

Birches NEWS No. 36.  Clash of the Titans

As you can see from the diagram, the performance of Samsung Exynos 9810 per core comes out on top by a wide margin. This means that Samsung can hang the interface Android in their flagships with impunity for performance with all sorts of beauties, dynamic wallpapers and other ruffles. This is a guarantor of a quick launch (namely launch) of the camera, quick unlocking of the smartphone with all parts of the body and other things that fit into the concept of 'usability'. Congratulations to Samsung on a well-deserved victory!

Gaming performance:

Performance of all cores:

Birches NEWS No. 36.  Clash of the Titans

The situation is expected to repeat itself. The Exynos 9810, which came out later than all, confidently bypasses Qualcomm. It's a shame there is no way to run a heavy test in the background of the Galaxy S9 while playing PUBG Mobile. But let's look at the pure performance when calculating 3D graphics:

Birches NEWS No. 36.  Clash of the Titans

The heirs of ATI (Imageon), represented by the Qualcomm Adreno division, still hold the palm, and at the same time, the lag in performance of the processor unit from the Exynos 9810 chipset is quite insignificant. I think no one will object to the thesis that SDM845 is the best gaming solution to date?


All 2018 flagship chipsets have a theoretical download speed of 1.2 GB / s. But the speed of sending information of 200 Mb / s again shows the superiority of Samsung over its competitors. And it is this chipset that should be awarded the honorary title of 'the dream of a flooder'.


Birches NEWS No. 36.  Clash of the Titans

From the point of view of the buyer (who has the money), Samsung offers the most advanced Exynos 9810 chipset, which is perfect for everything. Please express your opinion (except for the 'author sold to Samsung'), do you agree with this statement?

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