Samsung announced their latest Exynos mobile processor (SoC) and I gotta say, this one has me a bit excited. The Exynos 2200, as it’s called, is the first mobile chip with hardware accelerated ray tracing and as an avid mobile gamer, I couldn’t be more excited. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
First things first, the headline feature of this chip – the Xclipse 920 GPU. It was developed in collaboration with AMD, yes, the PC guys. The Xclipse 920 GPU is based on AMD’s RDNA 2 architecture. The same architecture the PlayStation 5 and XBox Series X and S based their GPUs on.
The rest of the specs are somewhat standard for a 2022 mobile chip:
- Built on a 4nm process
- Uses Arm v9 CPU cores
- Support for 200MP camera sensors
- Able to record 8K video in 30fps
The first smartphone to rock this processor will be the upcoming Galaxy S22. That almost didn’t happen because of the ongoing chip shortage and supply chain challenges in the global economy. For a moment it appeared all Galaxy S22’s would be rocking the Snapdragon 8 Gen1 processor as in the OnePlus 10 Pro.
Exynos vs Snapdragon
See, Samsung uses two different processors for its flagship smartphones. North America gets the Snapdragon and the rest of the world gets the Exynos. That’s the way it’s been since the beginning because of Qualcomm’s stronghold on the American market thanks to its many CDMA patents. And the business deal that leads to Samsung fabricating Qualcomm chips in exchange for not shipping Exynos powered phones in the states.
The problem with using different processors in what should be the same phone is that there is no way in hell the two processors could ever deliver identical performance. This means someone will always get the short end of the stick. The rest of the world is often the one getting the raw end of the exchange. Save for one year, probably, when the Exynos was a little better than the overheating Snapdragon 810.
It is not that the Exynos processors have been terrible. Far from it really, it’s just that when you know someone somewhere paid the same price for the same phone you have and yet gets a little better performance you can’t really be content. That’s why I made sure all the Samsung phones I have owned over the years had the Snapdragon.
Exynos 2200 vs Snapdragon 8 Gen 1
On to the latest fighters in this series. On paper there isn’t much to separate these two chips. The features we listed above for the Exynos 2200 apply to the Snapdragon as well. They differ on a few other specs of low importance, to me at least. The wildcard for me is the hardware accelerated ray tracing capability of the Exynos.
I can tell you right now that for the average user, either one would be adequate. It’s actually overkill for the social media and calls gang. Except for the efficiency gains which will lead to better battery life. You can never get too much battery life.
Still, that’s no definitive reason to pick one over the other. That’s because, so what if one processor will help deliver 15 minutes of extra screen on time. That’s less impressive these days where most flagships are all day phones.
So, seeing as both processors will handle basic tasks just fine, power users like myself are the only ones with decisions to make.
It all comes down to ray tracing
The tech itself is a beauty to behold. Ray tracing, as NVIDIA eloquently puts it, is a method of graphics rendering that simulates the physical behavior of light. Sounds simple but makes a world of difference.
My PC is a bit long in the tooth now and so I don’t enjoy ray tracing on my personal rig. I have seen just how big of a difference ray tracing makes to the gaming experience though. The digital world becomes just a little more lifelike and engrossing. It’s hard to describe so see for yourself
Imagine PUBG on ULTRA settings and with ray tracing turned on. I’m drooling over myself at the thought.
Only problem is that there has to be content that takes advantage of the GPU’s ray tracing. That’s where the fun is dampened a bit. I don’t know how many mobile games out there support ray tracing. It’s probably near zero seeing as there were no phones capable of tracing rays till just now.
So, the ray tracing becomes a future proofing feature. But I’m all for it cause I’m holding on to my phones a little longer than I did when these device manufacturers were still finding their feet. These days, year on year improvements are just too iterative to care about a phone’s immediate successor.
So, if one were to get the Exynos 2200 rocking S22 and hold on to it for three or so years, they could be getting their money’s worth in ray tracing supporting games. However, the tech could just go the way of 3D video and never kick off, who knows.
My two cents say both processors will be capable in games without ray tracing. So, there really is no going wrong in choosing the Exynos this year. You get a little bonus that you may or may not enjoy later on. All for the same price as the ray tracing lacking Snapdragon.
Do you even game?
Maybe I’m alone here. Do you guys game on your phones? I do.
The phone is just more accessible. If you find yourself with 15 minutes to kill, the phone that’s in your pocket is always on and ready to roll. Are you really going to switch the PlayStation on just so you can muck about for 15 minutes? Or set up your PC gaming station knowing that it would take you minutes before you even got to take one shot in Far Cry?
The blocky form factor of the controller (the phone itself) makes long sessions hard and so the mobile gaming experience has restraint features built in.
The games on mobile have also been improving massively in the last few years. It seems the touchscreen control puzzle was solved. So, even as I race away in a manual in CarX Rally, I hardly miss the physical controller.
So yeah, ray tracing on mobile would be duper for me.