Samsung Galaxy S6: its performance scrutinized

We enjoyed our last day in Barcelona on site to test the performance of the Galaxy background Samsung S6 in full. We were able to reproduce our usual test protocol for measuring synthetic performance, application and videogames. It cuts short any suspense: the Galaxy S6 is good, even very good.

With each release of new flagship stores, is running the benchmarks to see which will be the most powerful. For some users, these measures have no interest. But for others, it is the sinews of war. In all cases, the benchmarks are very useful and even if they are not completely reliable, they can have a first objective approach with the terminal. We wanted to know what gave the Galaxy S6 any freshly unveiled by Samsung. We were able to play an hour with several terminals to test the CPU, the GPU, but also the new flash memory UFS.

Analysis of the Exynos 7420

With the Galaxy S6, Samsung has surprised a lot of people. Indeed, the Korean manufacturer has just given up on the proposal of Qualcomm and its Snapdragon 810 to devote himself to an internal solution, the Exynos 7 Octa (7420). That was a long time Samsung had not proposed a flagship in only one version. Usually, we are treated to an Asian version incorporating an Exynos and a second dedicated to Europe and the United States with Snapdragon. You actually go back to the first Galaxy S name to find such a situation. A homecoming at the technical level that has paid off, as we shall see later.

Exynos 7420 Snapdragon Exynos 5433 810

4 x CPU Cortex-A57 (2.1 GHz)

4 x Cortex-153 (1.5 GHz) 4 x Cortex-A57 @ 1.9 GHz

4 x Cortex-A53 @ 1.3 GHz Cortex-A57 x 4 @ 1.96 GHz

4 x Cortex-A53 @ 1.5 GHz

GPU Mali-T760 MP8 Mali-T760 MP6 Adreno 430

LPDDR4 RAM (2x 32-bit @ 1555MHz) LPDDR3 (2x 32-bit @ 825 MHz) LPDDR4 (2x 32-bit @ 1555MHz)

Architecture aarch64 armv7l aarch64

Engraving Samsung 14nm FinFET Samsung 20nm TSMC 20nm

UFS eMMC eMMC 2.0 storage

Recently, the head of the mobile division of Samsung announced that the partnership with Qualcomm was still valid. But he added that his company chose the best chips in the consumer’s interest and it would seem that the Snapdragon 810 did not meet the specifications. This maneuver also reduces the dependence with the firm of San Diego.

14nm: the formidable weapon of Samsung

When you look a little more detail on the Exynos 7420, we can easily understand why Samsung chose not to make a version of its Snapdragon 810 high-end terminal. The Korean giant chip differs in one crucial respect: it is engraved in 14nm FinFET against 20nm chip for Qualcomm. Unlike the use of such a process: a more compact chip therefore easier to integrate into a compact smartphone, and especially consumption and further heated mastered. Samsung speaks of a consumption down 30% compared to 20nm for performance up 20%. It would have been very difficult from Samsung to offer two terminals so different from this perspective, whether for integration, but also from a marketing perspective.

This strategic choice could not be achieved by another company Samsung. The Korean giant is one of the few foundries that make up the planet. A foundry is a company able to produce chips not just to design. Samsung for its part designs its chips and manufactures. Best of all, Samsung is one of the few skiers to be part of the closed circle of the etching 14nm FinFET. Aside from the Korean giant, Intel alone is able to bring out chips so en masse. TSMC should also be able to, but in a few months, especially for the Snapdragon 820.

The 2 GHz exceeded

With only an engraving in 14nm, the Exynos 7420 portends good performance. When analyzing a little more detail the SoC (with the details we have for now), we arrive at the same conclusion. Indeed, the chip consists entirely of two groups of four cores: the Cortex-A57 clocked at 2.1GHz on one side and Cortex-A53 clocked at 1.5 GHz on the other. The frequency of 2.1 GHz is very high for this type of hearts and Samsung has surely benefited from the etching 14nm to overcome the 2GHz mark, there or a Snapdragon 810 remains stuck below 2 GHz.

The first true 64-bit chip Korean

A quick word about the management of the instruction set 64 bits. The rumors were confirmed: the Exynos 7420 is the first mobile chip Samsung to support the 64-bit instruction set supported by Lollipop. The Exynos 5433 has the same types of hearts, but the Galaxy Note 4 Lollipop Korean sub gets stuck in 32-bit. The proof of CPU-Z, the architecture of the Galaxy S6 is aarch64 kind against armv7l for the Galaxy Note 4 with Exynos. The reason could come torque firmware / drivers like Anandtech supposed late last year. The support of 64-bit instruction set is expected to slightly improve performance. Nothing too crazy talk because of a few percent at most in specific cases (decompression, for example).

To go along with this octo-processor heart, Samsung has integrated graphics chip ARM: the Mali-T760 MP8. already we know as it was present in the Galaxy Note 4 and its Korean Eynos 7 Octa (5433) engraved in 20nm. Except that it integrates 8 cores against 6 before. Finally, RAM, Samsung now uses the LPDDR4-1554 (2 x 32 bits) instead of LPDDR3-1066 (2 x 32 bits) for the Exynos 5433. The bandwidth is up sharply , which will be felt in performance. Finally, for storage, Samsung has abandoned the eMMC memory to move to the new UFS 2.0 memory that still uses memory NAND chips, but is distinguished by its more efficient architecture.

The results of performance tests

Now that we have analyzed the hardware architecture of the Galaxy S6 Samsung’s tackle the practical part.

For the CPU part, we relied on synthetic and application benchmarks: AnTuTu and PCMark. For the GPU, we appealed to 3DMark Ice Storm Unlimited, GFXBench, BaseMark X and GameBench to measure performance on part of 15 minutes of Real Racing 3 adjusted Xtra High mode (1080p). Finally, the UFS 2.0 memory was measured with AndroBench.

To see a little more clearly from the competition and the Exynos 5433, we compared the results with the development of Qualcomm Snapdragon tablet and 810 as well as the Galaxy Note 4 in Korean version.

Galaxy S6 810 MDP Tablet Galaxy Note 4 (Asian)

Exynos 7420 SoC Snapdragon 810 Exynos 5430

QHD definition (1440p) UHD (4K) qHD (1440p)

AnTuTu 5.1.5 61 150 54 386 48 000

PCMark 5 000 4 166 * 4 131

3DMark Ice Storm Unlimited Total 22 265 24 549 20 316

3DMark Ice Storm Unlimited Graphics 23 630 33 545 15 341

3DMark Ice Storm Unlimited Physics 18 521 12 663 22 390

GFXBench T-Rex (onscreen / offscreen) 19.1 / 47.1 FPS 39/57 FPS 21.9 / 37.6 FPS

GFXBench Manhattan (onscreen / offscreen) 7.6 / 23.3 FPS 16/26 FPS 10.7 / 17.3 FPS

Real Racing March 41 FPS – 33 FPS

Sequential read / write 318/143 MB / s – 212/117 MB / s

Random read / write 20,023 / 5,146 IOPS – 5755/2608 IOPS **

* Measurements made on a HTC One M9

** Measurements on a Galaxy Note Edge

A high performance CPU

As shown in the summary table, the Samsung Galaxy S6 is very strong. The Exynos 7420 SoC is a very good, very powerful. The high frequency of the processor enables it to position itself in front of the Snapdragon 810 (SoC which equips the HTC One M9) on heavily dependent on the CPU tests. This is the case of AnTuTu, PCMark or physical test 3DMark.


Galaxy S6


MDP 810 Tablet


Exynos Galaxy Note 4


GPU almost on top

At the GPU on the other hand, the Galaxy S6 is positioned slightly behind the Snapdragon 810. The difference is between 20 and 50% depending on the case, on GFXBench and 3DMark graphics tests. The Adreno 430 seems to be before the Mali-T760 MP8 used by Samsung.


Galaxy S6


MDP 810 Tablet


Exynos Galaxy Note 4


However, Real Racing 3, the Galaxy S6 are admirably doing well. Certainly it can not reach a constant framerate of 60 FPS, but this is the first Samsung device to manage as well. One might think that this good performance is permitted by the 14nm engraving avoiding to heat the chip and therefore to lower the frequency of the GPU. But in fact, the Mali-T760 allows MP8 is peaking at 544 MHz before collapsing to 266 MHz throughout the duration of the test (15 minutes) after one minute of charging. At first glance, the Adreno 430 is before the Mali-T760 MP8 but we will check it in Real Racing 3 since with the Galaxy Note 4, is remembered as the Korean version was more efficient in the running game but less effective in the benchmarks.

A high memory bandwidth

In fact, good graphics performance are all found on the side of the RAM that the number of GPU cores. With the choice of LPDDR4-1554, Samsung almost doubled bandwidth compared to LPDDR3-825 the Exynos 5433 (24.8 against 13.2 GB / s). The GPU being very greedy in memory bandwidth, the more it is increased, the graphics chip’s performance will be good. If the GPU could also maintain its maximum frequency (as did the Snapdragon 810 in the development of tablet, unlike the G Flex 2 LG), we might have achieved superior performance for chip from Qualcomm. Samsung is therefore still the choice to curb the GPU.

Speaking of memory, we can quickly address chip flash memory organized around a UFS 2.0 architecture. As we can see, the gain from the eMMC chip Galaxy Note Edge is obvious. The sequential reading increases of almost 100 MB / s against a 22% increase for writing. In addition, the number of operations per second (IOPS) is considerably higher, which should allow in practice to benefit from time savings during multiple small operations (installation of an application, for example).

A high performance smartphone

In conclusion, the Galaxy S6 is a very powerful smartphone. We could not carry out measurements on the Galaxy S6 edge, but the results should be similar. Thereafter, it will obviously carry out further testing including at autonomy that should be pretty good with an engraving in 14nm and an AMOLED screen which incorporates the improvements made by the Galaxy S5 LTE-A. Finally, it will compare the Exynos 7420 in the Snapdragon 810 HTC One M9 to measure the Qualcomm SoC behavior in a device other than the G Flex 2 development or tablet.