Qualcomm Brings Big SoC Upgrade to Samsung Galaxy S23 Series

February 07, 2023 by Jake Hertz

Samsung's new flagship smartphone is leaving behind in-house Exynos processors in favor of Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 mobile processor.

The high-end smartphone market has been mostly dominated by two players: Apple with its iPhone line and Samsung with the Galaxy S series as a formidable competitor.

Now, Samsung is continuing the growth and improvement of its Galaxy S series with its upcoming Galaxy S23 series. Last week, Samsung made headlines with the announcement that all variants of the new phone will be powered by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 mobile processor.


Samsung Galaxy S23 series

Samsung Galaxy S23 series. Image (modified) courtesy of Samsung


In this article, we’ll look at Samsung’s decision to adopt Qualcomm’s processor and what features the processor will bring to the S23.


Samsung Turns to Outsourcing SoCs

Samsung is choosing to fully outsource the SoCs for its flagship product. Historically, Samsung has launched its Galaxy S line with two different SoCs, which vary based on the region. In places like Europe and India, Samsung Galaxy S phones have traditionally been powered by Samsung’s in-house Exynos processor family, while locations including the U.S., China, and Japan have dominantly been powered by a Snapdragon processor.


Samsung's Exynos 1280 SoC

Samsung's Exynos 1280 SoC. Image courtesy of Samsung


While Samsung has claimed that both variants are functionally equivalent, benchmarking has shown that Snapdragon variants consistently outperform Exynos variants. Hence, to appease consumers, Samsung has chosen to go exclusively with Qualcomm’s Snapdragon SoCs for the Galaxy S23 line.

As major competitors such as Apple and Google are moving toward in-house SoCs for their products, it seems that Samsung is trending in the opposite direction—at least for Galaxy S23.


The Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 Focuses on AI

To power the new Galaxy S23 family, Samsung has chosen the Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 mobile processor, which is designed with high-performance AI in mind.

At the heart of the SoC is Qualcomm’s AI Engine, which starts off with a 3.36 GHz Kyro CPU and an Adreno GPU. According to Qualcomm, a new microarchitecture in Kyro has enabled a 40% increase in power efficiency, while the Adreno GPU achieves up to 25% improved performance and 45% better power efficiency over previous generations.


The Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 block diagram

The Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 block diagram. Image courtesy of Qualcomm


Alongside the CPU and GPU in the AI Engine is Qualcomm’s Hexagon processor. This subsystem features a number of important features for boosting AI performance, such as a tensor accelerator, a scalar accelerator, a fused AI accelerator, a dedicated power delivery system, and an industry-first implementation of micro-tile inferencing. The AI Engine also includes the Qualcomm Sensing Hub, which features always-on and ultra-low power for audio and sensors.

Qualcomm claims that the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 achieves 4.35x faster AI performance than the previous generation.


Other Features of Snapdragon 8 Gen 2

Beyond AI support, the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 SoC includes other important features.

The processor is part of Qualcomm’s first-ever mobile platform with a cognitive image signal processor (ISP). The ISP featured on this SoC is a Qualcomm Spectra, which is an 18-bit triple ISP that includes a hardware accelerator for computer vision, an image signal processor, and a cognitive ISP. With this, the Samsung Galaxy S23 will be able to support a 200 MP camera as well as 8K 30fps video capture.


Micro-tile inferencing

Micro-tile inferencing on the Hexagon and Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 processors. Screenshot courtesy of Qualcomm


Additionally, for connectivity, the SoC features the Snapdragon X70 5G Modem-RF System, which achieves 5G with download and upload speeds up to 10 Gbps and 3.5 Gbps, respectively. The device includes Qualcomm FastConnect 7800 for Wi-Fi 7 connectivity up to 5.8 Gbps.