Why the Exynos 992 is unlikely to get ARM's new Cortex-A78 or Cortex-X1 cores
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Samsung has been copping a fair bit of flak for its semi-custom Exynos 990 which is probably why some sites seem to think that it will jump straight to the recently announced ARM Cortex-A78 and Cortex-X1 cores for the forthcoming Exynos 992. However, when ARM announces its next-generation cores each May, as it typically does, the chips featuring the latest ARM designs don’t usually arrive in shipping devices until the following year. After all, the Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 was only announced in February this year and features Qualcomm's mildly tweaked Kyro architecture closely based on ARM’s Cortex-A77 cores announced this time last year.
While the new ARM Cortex-A78 and even higher-performance Cortex-X1 are likely candidates for Samsung’s all-new Exynos 1000, August is normally not the launch window for an SoC with all-new ARM-based architecture from either Qualcomm or Samsung. Although Samsung did announce the Exynos 990 in October last year, it didn’t ship until March alongside the Galaxy S20 devices also fitted with Snapdragon 865 SoC in some markets (leading to the controversy over performance differentials that Samsung wishes we would stop writing about).
Instead, the Exynos 992 that reported as heading to the Galaxy Note 20 is likely nothing more than a die-shrink, probably to Samsung’s new 5nm process node. This alone should be sufficient to close off the performance and efficiency differential between its homegrown Exynos SoC and Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 865 – assuming Qualcomm does not have a Snapdragon 865+ up its sleeve. The last time Samsung released two flagship SoCs in a calendar year, we saw the Exynos 9820 get a minor revision to become the Exynos 9825 which went from an 8nm node to a 7nm node – although just a die-shrink, and without a clock boosts, it made gains in performance and efficiency inherent to the new node.