Samsung Exynos teaser dates the Galaxy S21's big chip gamble

Samsung will reveal its latest Exynos chipset on January 12, 2021, the company has confirmed today, teasing what's likely to become the heart of at least some of the company's new Galaxy S21 series. Though Samsung hasn't yet confirmed the unveil of the Galaxy S21 family of flagship phones – which have already been the subject of numerous leaks – that's expected to take place in mid-January.

This new Exynos timing, then, would seem to be fairly precipitous for the chipset's inclusion in the new phone, or at least some versions of it. Samsung has, typically, mixed things up when it comes to its SoC use, relying on Qualcomm's latest Snapdragon flagship for North American devices, while much of the rest of the world gets an Exynos-powered variant.

That's proved to be controversial in recent years, as Exynos performance has failed to satisfy some of Samsung's most loyal enthusiasts. This year's Exynos 990 as found in the Galaxy S20 failed to reach the performance that the Snapdragon 865 in the Qualcomm-powered versions of the phones achieved. Unfortunately for the performance-hungry, Samsung doesn't officially offer Snapdragon-based devices in Exynos-served areas.

This upcoming launch, then, is Samsung's opportunity to upend the script. The Galaxy S21 family is expected to use Qualcomm's Snapdragon 888 – a chipset which, if the new benchmarks are anything to go by, is already shaping up to be a powerhouse. That gives the new Exynos a beefy target to compete with.

Samsung, for its part, isn't stinting on hyperbole. "Exynos is back," the company's new teaser declares. "A whole new Exynos is coming."

The chipset is expected to be the Samsung Exynos 2100, and if recent leaks are anything to go by, it may be fairly similar to the general architecture that Qualcomm has adopted this time around. The Snapdragon 888 uses a single, Arm Cortex-X1 prime core for maximum performance, and three high-performance cores alongside it. Four further efficiency cores deal with low-power tasks while taking a more minimal hit on battery life.

Samsung's approach is believed to be similar, with the Exynos 2100 packing a single Cortex-X1 prime core of its own. How that's clocked may make a difference, of course – Qualcomm opted to set its X1 to 2.84 GHz, but Samsung's engineers could choose to nudge that a little higher – as well as how well the SoC switches between its cores depending on app demands. Even so, the company faces an uphill struggle against those who would prefer its Galaxy flagships to just switch over wholeheartedly to Qualcomm silicon. We'll presumably find out all the details come January 2021.