The 2010 CTIA wireless show also saw the introduction of Samsung's latest Android phone, the Galaxy S. As many people have already noticed, it bears an uncanny resemblance to the iPhone in terms of the user interface (despite running Android). However, its specs happen to be actually much more impressive, both on the inside and the outside. With a 4" AMOLED screen and a 1 GHz processor, it is indeed better than the iPhone 3GS hardware wise. As already noted in the opening remarks, this phone uses an app processor that is likely very similar to Apple's A4. Engadget covered the launch at CTIA and shot this video showing the similarity that the phone shares with the iPhone 3GS.

 
Looking into the specs of the S5PC110 a little more, one realizes how much it shares in common with the purported specs of the Apple A4. They were both fabricated in the Samsung foundry, and the Cortex-A8 core in both these chips are capable of running at 1 GHz. In fact, it is believed that Samsung and Apple both utilized the services of Intrinsity to harden the Cortex-A8 core to enable it to run at 1 GHz in Samsung's 45nm process. The process of hardening a core involves optimization of the layout and placement of the components of the processor in order to improve the speed of operation as well as reduce the power consumption.
 
Semiconductor companies which integrate ARM's designs into their products usually take it as a hard macro from the foundry. This saves them the licensing costs, and can act as an incentive for the fabless company to choose a particular manufacturer over another. However, some companies may decide to devote time and effort to optimize the original design in layout and not rely on the foundry to do it for them. This is usually done by big companies which can spare the manpower and the associate costs. Usually they also have an architectural license, which gives them the freedom to even modify the pipeline behavior, and not just the layout. Examples of such companies are Marvell and Qualcomm. Sometimes, the hardening of the macro may be outsourced to another firm. These dedicated firms do a better job than the foundy themselves (since the latter may be able to devote only a small amount of resources for the purpose of hardening). Intrinsity is one such dedicated firm which has been employed by both Samsung and Apple (through the Samsung foundry) to harden ARM's version of Cortex-A8. Their version is used in both the Apple A4 and the S5PC110.
 
The GPU core in the S5PC110 as well as the Apple A4 is Imagination Technology's PowerVR SGX540. This product line has already proved its worth in the previous iPhones, and the SGX540 in the S5PC110 promises more than 90 million triangles per second of graphics performance. This is more than four times the performance of the graphics engine in the Snapdragon chip present in HTC EVO 4G. Even users who do not play games will find that this performance translates to a responsive and pleasing user interface.
 
The major difference between the Apple A4 and the S5PC110 is the fact that the latter can decode 720p HD videos as evidenced in the video above. It is possible that Apple decided to go with the decode acceleration provided by the NEON engine in Cortex-A8 (which would explains the complete lack of HD support in the iPad), while Samsung decided to go with their custom HD decode accelerator (Some suspect that it is a member of the PowerVR VXD family which enables the HD decode in S5PC110). We will get to know further about this platform when it starts shipping.
 
Why does the S5PC110 deserve a place in this roundup? The sole reason is that the next iPhone is probably based on a variant of this app processor. In effect, we are being provided with a sneak peek at the hardware capabilities of the next iPhone hardware platform.
Sprint HTC EVO 4G Final Words
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  • ksherman - Wednesday, March 31, 2010 - link

    That HTC EVO 4G phone is looking AWESOME. I live near Chicago, one of the home bases for Clear/Sprint's WiMAX areas. First phone I've seen yet that will make me drop my iPhone 3G to get. Really excited about it's ability to become a local WiFi access point for my laptop which will be extremely valuable to me as a photojournalist. I won't have to have two separate plans. Reply
  • JonnyBlaze - Wednesday, March 31, 2010 - link

    You can make almost any current Android phone act as a wireless access point right now. Reply
  • ksherman - Wednesday, March 31, 2010 - link

    Sure, but none have WiMax. I used to tether my iPhone 3G's 3G signal to upload pictures and it was virtually useless. Reply
  • sinchesterjenkins - Thursday, April 1, 2010 - link

    Not a 4G wireless hotspot for up to 8 devices. This phone is a game changer. Reply
  • jordanclock - Wednesday, March 31, 2010 - link

    Why are their so many mentions of whether these platforms support HD encoding/decoding? The encoding makes a little sense, but who is really going to take HD video clips with their phone? And I'm really not concerned that I won't be able to watch HD videos on my 480x800 screen. There isn't even a video output (unless you count USB?) to hook it up to an external monitor.

    I'm GLAD when they don't waste silicon on being able to handle HD from my phone. I want that silicon used to make the user interface quick and be able to render web pages faster.
    Reply
  • ganeshts - Wednesday, March 31, 2010 - link

    While HD encode (recording HD video) remains a checklist feature for app processors, HD decode (playback) has become much more than that. The reason is the abundance of media that people want to store on the go / playback. The rise of media streamers as a market is a case in point.

    Now, cell phone manufacturers have realized that people really do not need a separate media streamer at home. All they need is a dock to which the cell phone can be connected, and this may connect to the TV through HDMI for video playback.

    That said, the Sprint HTC EVO 4G does have a mini HDMI port at the bottom which may enable HD video output to a TV. Also, the Samsung Galaxy S has an optional cradle dock which enables it to be tabled and used for a multitude of purposes other than just wireless communication. Samsung also announced in its press release for this phone that they are planning to team up with content providers to enable downloading of full length movies and other media onto the device. Also, it sports an 'AllShare' feature utilizing the DLNA standard to communicate with other devices (including TVs). So, we might be able to playback HD video on a separate big screen, after all! How well this would work remains to be seen.
    Reply
  • jah1subs - Wednesday, March 31, 2010 - link

    Sprint is showing off their 4G network by emphasizing 720p video for this device. I am using the Sprint 3G/4G modem for work. We're saving a little bit of money right now by using only 3G speeds (I can see a 4G enabled tower by looking out the window) because I am using this primarily for email and browsing, not multimedia. Reply
  • RaistlinZ - Wednesday, March 31, 2010 - link

    Andand/Mods,

    Can you guys please be on the lookout for that xoloot poster and others like him that try to advertise their businesses here? Thanks.
    Reply
  • Adul - Thursday, April 1, 2010 - link

    block their damn ip address this is getting annoying Reply
  • Anand Lal Shimpi - Thursday, April 1, 2010 - link

    They usually come back regardless of what IP we block. We have implemented some fixes though :-P

    Take care,
    Anand
    Reply

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