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Samsung details the high-level changes to the Exynos M5 core found in the Exynos 990. Samsung M5 Core Details Show Up

Earlier this year Samsung announced the Exynos 990. The chip features a much faster NPU, the latest G77 MP11 GPU, and LPDDR5. On the compute side, the chip features 8 cores – quad-core A55, dual-core A76, and the company’s latest custom CPU core design – the M5. In a late afternoon patch yesterday, Samsung committed the patch with some details of the new core in a new compiler scheduler model.

M5

The M5 is Samsung’s fifth-generation custom core developed by the Samsung Austin R&D Center (SARC). It’s also looking the last custom core developed there given the recent wave of layoffs and internal reorganization.

Samsung Mongoose Microarchitectures
uArch Process Improvements
Exynos M1 14 nm (14LPP) Large, Initial Design
Exynos M2 10 nm (10LPE) Minor, Few larger buffers
Exynos M3 10 nm (10LPP) Large, Wider Pipeline
Exynos M4 8 nm (8LPP) Medium, Reorganized BE, Mem Subsys
Exynos M5 7 nm (7LPP) Medium, Improved BE

Samsung says that the M5 core delivers “up to 20% enhanced performance” so we might expect the average to be lower. Although the LLVM scheduler model is too high level to tell what all the smaller modifications that took place, we can see some of the bigger changes. From the LLVM patch, it’s hard to see much of the M5 performance coming from IPC improvements unless it’s coming from significantly improved prefetchers, branch predictors, or other similarly hidden components.

On the instruction set side, the M5 features the same ISA level as the M4 – Armv8.2-A. At a high level, the M5 is also quite similar to the M4 – the pipeline remains a 6-wide decode and back-end retains the same 228-entry deep reorder buffer. Samsung did increase the instruction queue slightly from 48 entries to 60. The bigger change is in the misprediction penalty which has been improved by one cycle, down to 15 cycles.

Samsung M4 vs. M5 comparison
  M4 M5
Load-to-Use 4 cycles 4 cycles
ROB 228 228
Instruction Queue 48 60
Mispredict 16 cycles 15 cycles

Back end

On the back end, Samsung added two new simple 32-bit integer ALU pipes. This brings the total number of integer pipes (branch included) to seven. The addition of two 32-bit ALU pipes is interesting since it won’t improve the throughput of typical simple ALU workloads.

On the floating-point cluster side, Samsung rebalanced the execution pipes once again. The most notable change is the addition of the neon dot product execution unit on each of the three FP pipes. The addition of dedicated neon dot product units on each of the three floating-point pipes could help explain the 32b integer ALUs as well.

Shown above, Nxxx refers to NEON (advanced SIMD) units, where HAD = horizontal vector arithmetic, MSC = miscellanea, SHT = shift, SHF = shuffle, and CRY = cryptography.


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