Octa-core Processors: They are Different!

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Along with the rapid development of mobile industry, great progress has been made in the development of mobile processors over the years. Now, it’s common for us to see smartphones powered by quad-core, octa-core and even ten-core processors in the current market. Statistical data in Antutu Report entitled TOP 10 Global Popular Smartphones and User Preferences, Q3 2016 suggested that in the third quarter of 2016 octa-core CPU has become mainstream configuration in the smartphone market, accounting for over 50% of the whole market share. How do the processor cores are set up in an octa-core processor? How do different octa-processors compare with one another in terms of CPU performance?

Octa-core Processors: They are Different!

Today tutu will introduce some popular octa-core processors in the current market to help you get a better understanding of different octa-core processors.

Qualcomm Snapdragon 625

This year in the high-end market, Qualcomm has the cutting-edge quad-core processors such as Snapdragon 821 and Snapdragon 820 while in the mid-end market Qualcomm has the Snapdragon 600 series octa-core processors such as Qualcomm Snapdragon 625. Qualcomm Snapdragon 625 uses the leading-edge 14nm technology and has eight ARM Cortex-A53 CPU cores in a parallel octa-core structure with CPU clock speed of up to 2.0GHz.

Octa-core Processors: They are Different!

Note: scores of the above histogram were taken from Samsung Galaxy C7 (Snapdragon 625)

The typical Qualcomm Snapdragon 625-powered smartphones are Redmi 4 high-end version and Samsung Galaxy C7.

Qualcomm Snapdragon 652

Qualcomm Snapdragon 652 also belongs to the Snapdragon 600 series processors. It adopts the 28nm manufacturing process, based on the big.LITTLE octa-core CPU configuration, with four high-performance ARM Cortex-A72 cores and four energy-efficient Cortex-A53 cores with CPU clock speed of up to 1.8GHz, paired with Adreno 510 GPU.

Octa-core Processors: They are Different!

Note: scores of the above histogram were taken from Samsung Galaxy A9 (Snapdragon 652)

In terms of Antutu score, the octa-core processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 652 has an advantage in CPU single-core performance and CPU multi-core performance compared with Snapdragon 625 due to the four powerful ARM Cortex-A72 cores. The typical Qualcomm Snapdragon 652-powered smartphones are Samsung Galaxy A9 and Xiaomi Max high-end version.

Samsung Exynos 8890

Samsung Exynos 8890 is Samsung’s premium application processor, which is built on 14nm FinFET LPP process technology. It has eight CPU cores based on ARM big.LITTLE architecture including four big Samsung custom cores clocked at 2.3GHz alongside four LITTLE energy-efficient Cortex- A53 cores clocked at 1.6GHz, which can dynamically allocate tasks to the right processor according to their instantaneous performance requirement. The LITTLE energy-efficient cores handle simple tasks. When advanced tasks are needed, such as 3D gaming, however, the high-performance custom cores will kick in.

Octa-core Processors: They are Different!

Note: scores of the above histogram were taken from Samsung Galaxy S7 (Exynos 8890)

Meanwhile, Samsung Exynos 8890 adopts Mali-T880 MP12 GPU which enables its strong performance in 2D and 3D graphics processing. It delivers outstanding performance in CPU singe-core test and CPU multi-core test with Antutu scores of over 10,000. After its one year launch time till today, Samsung Exynos 8890 is still popular with many experienced tech fans. The typical Samsung Exynos 8890-powered smartphone is the Korea version Samsung Galaxy S7.

HiSilicon Kirin 960

HiSilicon Kirin 960 which received wide public attention recently is also an octa-core processor aimed at high-end market. It is built on 16nm manufacturing process, with four Cortex-A73 cores clocked at 2.4GHz and four Cortex- A53 cores clocked at 1.8GHz which also used the big.LITTLE architecture. Kirin 960 can employ each CPU core according to different use cases and work coordinately in daily use.

Octa-core Processors: They are Different!

Note: scores of the above histogram were taken from Huawei Mate 9 (Kirin 960)

Kirin 960 has excellent performance in its CPU single-core test and CPU multi-core test due to its four Cortex-A73 cores. In particular, it scored over 130,000 in CPU multi-core test, only second to Samsung Exynos 8890. The typical Kirin 960-powered smartphone is Huawei Mate 9.

MediaTek helio P10

MediaTek helio P10 is a mid-range octa-core processor, built on TSMC’s 28nm HPC+ process, comprised of 8 Cortex-A53 cores with CPU clock speed of up to 2.0GHz, paired with a dual-core Mali-T860 GPU. In general, MidiaTek helio P10 has a well-balanced configuration.

Octa-core Processors: They are Different!

Note: scores of the above histogram were taken from OPPO R9 (helio P10)

The CPU single-core performance and multi-core performance of MediaTek helio P10 is not as high as Qualcomm Snapdragon 625 and Snapdragon 652 in terms of Antutu score, but can satisfy daily needs of customers. MediaTek helio P10-powered smartphones include OPPO R9, Meizu Note 3 and some other handsets.


Now we can see that there do exist many differences among different octa-core processors in terms of manufacturing process, CPU architecture and CPU clock speed, etc. For the moment, octa-core design is still a good approach to smartphone chip design. A combination of different cores can generate chips of different levels which can meet different market demands. In particular, Qualcomm Snapdragon 625 uses the most advanced manufacturing process (14nm) of octa-core processors at the moment, which supports a winning combination of high-end features and low demand on battery life. HiSilicon Kirin 960 shows us the development strength of Chinese chip makers which are catching up with American, Korean chip makers. The octa-core processors of Samsung and MediaTek are also popular with their target customers and has certain market potential.