The thing about the ARM architecture is that it is very energy-efficient, so efficient that chips based on it use a fraction of the energy needed by x86. Samsung has now shown how much farther the concept of efficiency can be pushed.
Since Samsung is its own developer and manufacturer of chips, it has full control over what technologies it includes in its products.
The main series of processors and SoCs (system-on-chip devices) that Samsung uses in its tablets and smartphones is the Exynos line.
Samsung has just released the latest Exynos chip, or rather system-on-chip, called Exynos Octa 5.
As the name implies, it is an eight-core platform, though this is an overly simplified way of putting things into words.
True, the chip does have eight chips, but they are not identical. Instead, there are four Cortex-A15 cores and four Cortex-A7 ones.
They are arranged in an ARM big. LITTLE architecture in order to optimize both performance and energy use, the power consumption/performance ratio as it were.
A reference board using Exynos 5 Octa has been brought to Barcelona, Spain, at the Mobile World Congress (MWC 2013).
The existence of the Cortex-A7 quad-core module makes it fairly clear what Samsung wanted to accomplish here.
It is actually the same concept as the one behind NVIDIA's 4-PLUS-1 architecture, used in Tegra, where a fifth, very low-power core runs everything when no demanding tasks are in use.
The video embedded below is a short presentation of how the core swapping works in the small tablet powered by Octa. The graphics prowess of the platform seems to be above average as well.
The changes are actually very dynamic. The test application on the slate seemed to switch between the Cortex-A7's and A15's every second. Video playback even seems to run fine on the low-power cores.