Samsung’s Mystery 5nm M6 and M7 Custom Exynos CPU With Powerful Specifications Discussed By Ex-Engineers

Samsung’s research and development arm had been developing two custom Central Processing Units (CPUs) for the Exynos SoC (System on a Chip). The company has, for the moment, stalled the development of both the mystery processors. However, it is likely that Samsung might reinitiate R&D on the unannounced M6 and M7 CPUs.

Samsung was reportedly developing two more Exynos custom cores before the company shut down its custom CPU development arm. The mystery M6 and M7 Cores were being developed at Samsung’s Austin Research & Development Center (SARC). These were supposed to be powerful ‘all-rounder’ CPUs with exceptional IPC capabilities. Samsung has currently shelved the development process and there’s no indication about resuming the same. However, given Samsung’s capabilities, it is quite possible that the Korean tech giant might just send the M6 Custom Core to commercial production next year.

Ex-Austin Engineers Reveal Unannounced Samsung Exynos M6 Core:

A paper called ‘Evolution of the Samsung Exynos CPU Microarchitecture’ written by numerous ex-Samsung Austin engineers, reveals a few key specifications of the M6 custom core. The team presented the paper at the International Symposium for Computer Architecture (ISCA), which is an IEEE conference. It reveals a lot of details about previous Exynos M series CPUs as well as the architecture of the canceled Exynos M6.

[Image Credit: SAMMobile]
The M6 appears to be a powerful CPU, but there’s no assurance of the processor heading to commercial production any time soon. Samsung’s M6 custom silicon was to be built on the advanced 5nm process node. The CPU core had a frequency of 2.8 GHz. This is the same as the existing M5 core which is featured inside Samsung Exynos 990. However, the M6 CPU had 128KB L1 cache, 2MB L2 cache shared between 2 cores and 4MB L3 cache.

[Image Credit: SAMMobile]
The paper also mentions that Samsung’s goal was to improve performance across all types of workloads. This design philosophy is evident in the evolution of all the Exynos custom cores. While the average IPC (Instructions Per Cycle) of the M1 custom core (codenamed Mongoose), within Exynos 8890 is 1.06, the M6 has an average IPC of 2.71. Needless to add, the Exynos M6 Core would have been Exynos 990’s 2021 SoC successor.

Samsung Ditches Custom Exynos CPU Cores For ARM Cortex Cores:

Samsung’s Austin Research & Development Center (SARC) came to an end in October 2019. The company intended to develop CPU cores for its Exynos SoC (System on a Chip). However, over the years it became amply clear that Samsung’s custom cores were simply weren’t competitive enough. Reports indicate the Exynos M5 core has a 100% power efficiency deficit against ARM’s Cortex-A77. It is no wonder that Samsung has reportedly given up on the idea of embedding its own custom CPU Cores within Exynos, and will instead insert ARM CPU Cores.

Samsung’s customized cores remained part of Exynos SoCs till the Exynos 990. This SoC came with the Exynos M5 cores, which featured within the Exynos-powered Samsung Galaxy S20 variants. Interestingly, the upcoming Exynos 992, more likely to function within the Galaxy Note 20, is predicted to include ARM’s Cortex-A78 and not the Exynos M5.

Samsung has made the dissolution of the SARC official. Hence, there’s no indication about the custom M6 Core’s further development. Nonetheless, reports indicate Samsung was heavily and deeply invested in the development of the custom processor. Hence, it is quite likely that the company might release the M6 core next year to salvage its investment.

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Alap Naik Desai


A B.Tech Plastics (UDCT) and a Windows enthusiast. Optimizing the OS, exploring software, searching and deploying solutions to strange and weird issues is Alap's main interest.
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