At CES 2013, we've had some very big SoC announcements. NVIDIA has unveiled its next-gen Tegra 4 chipset, Qualcomm has announced new Snapdragon SoCs (200, 400, 600 and 800), along with new CPU architectures (Krait 300 and 400). Among this tight competition, we have Samsung announcing the next iteration of the Exynos series of SoCs, the Exynos 5 Octa. Yes, when we hear "Octa", we think it's a contender to Intel Core-i7 processors, but performance-wise, it's just as good as a quad-core ARM processor. That is because the Exynos Octa is the first chipset to use ARM's big.LITTLE technology, which is why four of those eight cores are Cortex-A15 cores, running at up to 1.8GHz (slightly less than the 1.9GHz that the Tegra 4's four Cortex-A15 cores run at), which are for use in more demanding situations, while the other four cores are actually low power/performance Cortex-A7 cores, for use when the workload is light, and when Cortex-A15 performance is not necessary. This means that, in situations when the device is, for example, idle, the Cortex-A15 cores can be power gated, and the low power Cortex-A7 cores can do all the processing, thus dramatically extending battery life. The concept is very similar to the 4-PLUS-1 architecture created by NVIDIA in Tegras 3 & 4.
The Exynos 5 Octa will also be upgrading to a better process, since it will be built on 28nm HKMG process, as opposed to the 32nm HKMG process that older Exynos chipsets used. This should help to further improve the thermals and power consumption of the SoC, and will bring it up to scratch with NVIDIA's and Qualcomm's 28nm weaponry. There should also be a bump in GPU performance to keep the Exynos series competitive, but there's still no info on that.
The Exynos 5 Octa doesn't bring anything really revolutionary to the SoC world, but it does refresh the series to match or maybe even outperform the competition. It is expected that the new SoC will make its debut in either the Galaxy S IV or maybe a new Galaxy Note iteration.