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Samsung's 14nm wearable SoC debuts on Gear 3 watch

Oct 12, 2016 — by Eric Brown 5,119 views

Samsung unveiled a 14nm, dual Cortex-A53 “Exynos 7 Dual 7270” SoC with built-in LTE, which runs Tizen Linux on its new Gear S3 watch.

Samsung may be suffering through one of the worst months in its history, culminating with this week’s recall of the exploding Galaxy Note 7, but the company is so diverse it can also produce some feel-good news at the same time. This week, Samsung Electronics announced the beginning of mass production of a new wearables system-on-chip called the Exynos 7 Dual 7270. Billed as the first wearables-oriented SoC fabricated with a 14-nanometer (nm) FinFET process, the Exynos 7 Dual 7270 will first appear later this year in its Gear 3 smartwatches (see farther below).

Exynos 7 Dual 7270 (left) and Gear S3 Classic

The Exynos 7270 is equipped with dual 1GHz Cortex-A53 cores, a Mali-T720 GPU, and a Category 4, non-CA LTE modem. The SoC also integrates WiFi, Bluetooth 4.0, FM radio, and GNNS with GPS, GLONASS, and BeiDou support.

The Exynos 7270 supports LPDDR3 RAM, SD, and eMMC 5.0 memory, as well as 5-megapixel cameras. It supports 960 x 540-pixel displays with 720p@30fps video via HEVC and VP8 compression.


The combination SiP (system-in-package) and ePoP (embedded package-on-package) design enables the Exynos 7270 to feature “outstanding performance and energy-efficiency within a compact solution.” Specifically, it supports wearables designs with profiles that are as much as 30 percent slimmer, says Samsung.

The SoC integrates a PMIC, as well as an unstated capacity of RAM and flash, suggesting there may be different versions available. The Gear S3 has 768MB RAM and 4GB flash.

A reference platform is said to be available that includes a display, NFC, audio codec, diverse sensors, and a sensor hub. No more details were provided, however.

Exynos 7270 vs. Snapdragon Wear 2100

Thanks to the 14nm FinFET process, the Exynos 7270 SoC delivers a 20 percent improvement in power efficiency when compared to its predecessor built on 28nm, says Samsung. It’s unclear which Exynos model Samsung is referring to here. The company used Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 400, which has been the mainstay of first-generation Android Wear watches, for its Tizen-ready Gear S2 smartwatch.

Earlier this year, Qualcomm announced a quad-core, Cortex-A7 Snapdragon Wear 2100 SoC for Android Wear watches and other wearables. The SoC, which promises 25 percent longer battery life than the Snapdragon 400, has an Adreno 304 GPU, as well as an Exynos 7270-like 10 x 10mm ePoP footprint.

The lower-end “tethered” version of the Snapdragon Wear 2100 offers 802.11n WiFi and Bluetooth 4.1/BLE, while the “connected” version adds either a 3G or an X5 LTE 4G modem. Displays top out at 640 x 480, below the capabilities of the Exynos 7270, but much better than most smartwatches.

The Exynos 7 Dual 7270 announcement follows the Aug. 31 announcement of a Exynos 7 Quad 7570 SoC for low-end mobile and IoT, which similarly uses a 14nm FinFET process. The 7570 has four Cortex-A53 cores and a Cat.4 LTE 2CA modem, as well as all the same radios provided on the 7270.

Samsung Gear S3

The follow-on to the Samsung Gear S2 smartwatch is similarly round-faced, offers a rotating bezel interface, and runs Tizen Linux, in this case Tizen for Wearables 2.3.2. As noted, it offers a much faster and smaller processor, with the Exynos 7 Dual 7270 replacing the Snapdragon 400.

Samsung Gear S3 Classic (left) and Frontier
(click images to enlarge)

Available in stylish Classic and rugged Frontier versions, the 46 x 49 x 12.9mm watch supplies 768MB RAM, 4GB flash, and the same 1.3-inch, 360 x 360 pixel, circular Super AMOLED display. The watch continues to be IP68 water and dust resistant.

Both models offer optional LTE with embedded SIM. The Gear S3 is further equipped with standard 802.11b/g/b/n and Bluetooth 4.2, as well as NFC, GPS/GLONASS, and “MST” (Magnetic Secure Transmission). The 380mAh batteries can be charged wirelessly, and offer 3-4 day battery life.

Sensors include accelerometer, gyro, barometer, ambient light, and heart rate monitor. A mic and speaker are also available. Aside from styling, the main difference between the Frontier and Classic appears to be that the Classic weighs 57 grams, compared to 62 grams.

Further information

The Samsung Exynos 7 Dual 7270 is now in mass production. More information may be found on Samsung’s Exynos 7 Dual 7270 product page.

Samsung’s Gear 3 watches will go on sale later this year. There’s no official pricing as of yet.’s Gear S3 shopping page had it for 349 Pounds, currently $426, but that figure has been removed, so clicking to buy is only intended to “show interest.” More information may be found on the Samsung Gear S3 announcement and product pages.

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2 responses to “Samsung's 14nm wearable SoC debuts on Gear 3 watch”

  1. Brainiac says:

    It might still need more horsepower to attract developers. A73 A53 octa core and 4 GB of RAM is something that would help them gain traction and a microsd slot would allow supporting up to 1 TB of storage. Luckily the smart watch manufacturers are focusing on the speed with each new model.

  2. Purple Library Guy says:

    What’s the big deal here? I have lots of socks, and they’re all wearable except a couple that have holes.

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