Wear OS-powered smartwatches have historically remained quite underwhelming in terms of battery life and performance. But there’s been a renewed push to turn the situation around with Google and Samsung teaming up to redesign the Wear OS platform and Qualcomm vowing to develop new chips designed for wearables from the ground up. The upcoming Galaxy Watch 4 series will serve as the perfect opportunity to assess whether these efforts have really paid off. Not only the Galaxy Watch 4 will be the first smartwatch to run the unified Wear OS platform, but it’ll also feature the most cutting-edge wearable chip we have seen on a Wear OS smartwatch. But Samsung isn’t waiting for its Galaxy Unpacked event to tell us all about its new wearable chip. Ahead of the mega launch event on Wednesday, Samsung has detailed the Exynos W920.
The Exynos W920 is Samsung’s newest wearable chip, and it will be powering both models of the Galaxy Watch 4 — or at least that’s what all leaks and evidence are suggesting. The Exynos W920 is built on a 5nm (nanometer) extreme ultra-violate (EUV) process, and that alone is quite impressive and should bring massive efficiency improvements. It employs two ARM Cortex-A55 cores and ARM Mali-G68 GPU. Samsung claims up to 20% improved CPU performance and ten times better graphics performance than its predecessor Exynos W9110, which came out three years ago. For context, Qualcomm’s flagship wearable chip, Snapdragon Wear 4100 Plus, is built on a 12nm process and features four Cortex-A53 cores. Although the Exynos W920 has fewer CPU cores, the faster Cortex-A55 cores and efficient 5nm process mean it should easily blow the Snapdragon Wear 4100+ out of the water as far as performance and battery life are concerned.
In addition, the chipset has a dedicated co-processor in the Cortex-M55 which kicks in when using the Always On Display (AOD) mode, further reducing the power draw. The chipset can power displays with up to qHD (960 x 540) resolution.
The Exynos W920 comes in Fan-Out Panel Level Packaging (FO-PLP), which Samsung says is the smallest package available in the market for wearables. The new packaging technology incorporates the Exynos W920, power management IC (PMIC), RAM module (LPDDR4), and storage chip (eMMC) in the same package using System-in-Package-embedded Package on Package (SiP-ePoP) configuration.
On the connectivity front, the Exynos W920 comes equipped with an integrated 4G LTE Cat.4 modem and Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) L1 support for navigation and tracking. The Exynos W920 supports the new version of Wear OS developed by Google and Samsung.
Samsung says its new wearable chip will debut on “the upcoming Galaxy Watch model” (read Galaxy Watch 4 series). However, it’s unclear whether the Exynos W920 will be made available to other smartwatch makers.