For 2013, Samsung is announcing a new 8-core processor, but it's not quite what you'd think. It's better. The new silicon is called the Exynos 5 Octa, and it uses ARM's new big.LITTLE processor technology. The processor design switches between two clusters of four cores each: ARM Cortex-A15 for performance, and Cortex-A7 to handle common workloads while providing better battery life.

This basic principle isn't a new idea; current mobile processors can change frequency and voltage on the fly, running slower when their full speed isn't important. This isn't even the first chip to use separate cores for heavy and light workloads. But Samsung says that it can cut power consumption by up to 70 percent compared to the Exynos 5 Dual by being able to tackle common jobs with the lower-voltage A7 cores, which means — far more than the Exynos 5 Dual — we could see it fit inside smartphones.

And since it has four Cortex-A15 cores, the Exynos 5 Octa stands to outclass that existing Exynos 5 Dual, the dual-core-A15 processor found in the Nexus 10 — already an extremely fast chip — and Samsung says it provides twice the 3D performance of any previous mobile processor, including the company's Exynos 4 Quad. We're definitely looking forward to seeing if Samsung can deliver better battery life and better performance (if not simultaneously) in the next generation.