Difference Between Apple A6 and Samsung Exynos 5 Octa

Apple A6 vs Samsung Exynos 5 Octa

This article compares and contrasts the differences between Apple A6 and Exynos 5 Octa, two modern System-on-Chips (SoC) designed and manufactured by Apple and Samsung targeting handheld devices. A SoC is a computer on a single IC (Integrated Circuit, aka chip). Technically, a SoC is an IC that integrates typical components on a computer (such as microprocessor, memory, input/output) and other systems that cater electronic and radio functionalities. While Apple released A6 in September 2012, Samsung announced Exynos 5 Octa in January 2013 (expected to be released in April 2013). 

Typically, the major components of a SoC are its CPU (Central Processing Unit) and GPU (Graphics Processing Unit). The CPUs in both Apple A6 and Samsung Exynos 5 Octa are based on ARM’s (Advanced RICS – Reduced Instruction Set Computer – Machine, developed by ARM Holdings) v7 ISA (Instruction Set Architecture, the one that is used as the starting place of designing a processor).

Apple A6

Apple, the trademark that is known for breaking traditions, broke its own tradition of releasing a major processor with its latest iPads when it decided to release Apple A6 processor with an iPhone (iPhone 5) in September 2012. As opposed to the popular believe that Apple will bring its quad-core CPU in A6, A6 was equipped with a dual-core processor similar to its A5 processor. However, A6 has a modified version of the ISA that was used in A5 and in-house processor architecture, known as Apple Swift (that is much better with the latest vector processing, to say the least). Although A6 is equipped with a dual-core CPU similar to A5, (1) Apple claims that it is twice as fast as A5 and (2) some benchmark tests performed by third-party reviewers revealed that A6 performs much better than A5, due to its revamped instruction set and hardware architecture. The A6 processor is believed to be clocked at 1.3GHz, much faster than A5. The GPU used (that is responsible for the graphics performance) in A6 is a triple-core PowerVR SGX543MP3, as opposed to a dual-core GPU in A5. Therefore, the graphics performance of A6 is much better than that of the Apple A5 processor. A6 is expected to be shipped with a 32KB L1 private cache memory per core (for data and instruction separately) and a 1MB shared L2 cache, similar cache configurations of its predecessors. The A6 MPSoCs are also loaded with faster 1GB DDR2 (low power) SDRAMs.

Samsung Exynos 5 Octa

As you would have guessed by its name, the Exynos 5 Octa is supposed to carry 8 (yes eight!) cores in its die. Although, it is expected to work like a Quad-Core processor depending on the mode it is to operate on. On the high performance mode, the ARM Cortex A15 cluster of processors (four cores) will be active, and on the high efficiency mode (maximize energy efficiency) the ARM Cortex A7 cluster of processors (again another four cores) will be active. That is A7 is for low power, low performance and the A15 is for high power, high performance applications. All 8 cores, 4 x A15 and 4 x A7 will be situated on the same die accustom to a system-on-chip. It is claimed that Samsung, as opposed to its tradition, will not use ARM’s GPU rather will use Imagination’s PowerVR SGX544MP3 (three cores) for its graphics processing.

The instruction set used by both the processor clusters will be ARMv7, and they will use 28nm HKMG process technology for chip manufacturing. While the Cortex A15 cluster is expected to be clocked at 1.8GHz max, the Cortex A7 cluster is expected to clock at 1.2GHz max. In addition, the former cluster is shipped with a 2MB L2 cache, and the latter cluster will have only half an MB L2 cache.

Exynos 5 Octa is expected to be released with Samsung Galaxy S4 later this month (April, 2013). Galaxy S4 will be the successor to the famous Galaxy SIII. 

A Comparison Between Apple A6 and Samsung Exynos 5 Octa


Apple A6

Samsung Exynos 5 Octa

  Release Date

September 2012

Q2 2013 (expected)




  First Device


Samsung Galaxy S4

  Other Devices




ARM v7s (32bit)

ARM v7 (32bit)


ARM Cortex A9 (Dual)

ARM Cortex A15 (Quad) + ARM Cortex A7 (Quad)

  CPU’s Clock Speed


1.8GHz + 1.2GHz


PowerVR SGX543MP3

PowerVR SGX544MP3

  GPU’s Clock Speed



  CPU/GPU Technology


28nm HKMG

  L1 Cache

32 KM Instruction/Data per Core

32KB Instruction/Data per Core

  L2 Cache

1MB shared

2MB shared + 512KB shared


Apple A6 vs Samsung Exynos 5 Octa

Samsung Exynos 5 Octa, apart from being the first ever eight-core MPSoC in the market, carries a number of other neat features such as power saving and the use of a better process technology. For its usage and benchmark performances, we need to wait for little longer. In addition, Samsung Exynos 5 Octa provides a variety compared to Apple’s A6.