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Exynos 9820 Has Samsung AI Engine

March 12, 2019

Author: Linley Gwennap

Samsung’s new flagship Galaxy S10 smartphone introduces the company’s next high-end processor, the Exynos 9820. The new chip combines Samsung and third-party cores to form a differentiated design. Among the in-house cores is a new deep-learning accelerator (DLA) that the company disclosed at the recent ISSCC. The DLA employs a dual-core design to achieve a peak rate of two trillion operations per second (TOPS). The ISSCC paper details unique features that can boost throughput by up to 3.5x on sparse neural networks.

At a high level, the DLA comprises two compute cores plus common control logic. After starting with a total of 1,024 multiply-accumulate (MAC) units, the designers split them into two cores to simplify routing and clock synchronization. Each core can independently compute convolution results at the peak rate, since the convolution layers require no intercore routing. Fully connected layers, as the name implies, require additional connections between the cores, but these layers occur less often and so can progress more slowly.

In addition to the new neural engine, the 9820 packs two custom M4 CPUs, two Cortex-A75s, and four Cortex-A55s in a three-level arrangement that combines the M4’s excellent single-thread performance with the smaller die and greater power efficiency of the Cortex designs. The chip includes a 12-core Mali-G76 GPU and a Samsung modem that can hit 2.0Gbps for downloads and 316Mbps for uploads. Samsung manufactures the 9820 in its 8nm FinFET process.

Previous Exynos chips featured a DLA based on a design licensed from DeePhi, a Chinese vendor. Last year, however, Xilinx acquired DeePhi and refocused its efforts on FPGA-based designs. By that time, Samsung was already well along with its in-house effort. The company developed the new DLA in Korea, unlike its custom CPUs, which it develops in Texas.

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