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Samsung wants an AMD or Nvidia GPU in its Exynos SoCs

by Mark Tyson on 12 September 2016, 10:01

Tags: Samsung (005935.KS), NVIDIA (NASDAQ:NVDA), AMD (NYSE:AMD)

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Samsung is negotiating with both AMD and Nvidia over leveraging the respective companies GPUs in future Exynos mobile processors. Just ahead of the weekend SamMobile exclusively reported that it had been tipped by an industry insider that talks are ongoing between Samsung and the red and green teams, the major rivals behind the PC's superlative 3D graphics.

Though Samsung's relationship with AMD looks outwardly cosier (it has even been rumoured to be interested in buying up AMD, but it has been in recent legal tussles with Nvidia), SamMobile says it is currently favouring the "superior Pascal architecture". Of course Samsung and Apple are fierce rivals in business, and in legal wrangling, but still manage to do business with each other for mutual gains. Looking back in Samsung's Exynos development history it was rumoured that the South Korean tech giant was designing its own GPU for launch in the Note5. However that didn't happen, as it continued to make use of ARM's Mali GPUs in its Exynos SoCs.

Perhaps designing its own competitive GPU from scratch has been too much for Samsung's R&D department to handle. If it is in any way unsatisfied with the ARM Mali GPU and wants some PC graphics 'halo' effect to rub off on its mobiles then buying in tech from AMD or Nvidia could well be attractive. Nvidia arguably has more experience in mobile device graphics, with its Tegra SoCs, so is a favourite at this time, as mentioned above.



HEXUS Forums :: 12 Comments

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If they're looking for current mobile graphics technology then nvidia is the place to look - AMD sold off ATi's mobile SoC oriented graphics IP years ago.

OTOH, nvidia's tegra chipsets were never that well supported in terms of driver updates, particularly on Android (I remember my O2X being stuck without OS updates for a couple of years because no updated drivers were forthcoming from nv).

So, bit of a tricky decision IMNSHO…
I think if they want it for the long term they'll go with AMD as they'll have more control over the chip and likely a lower price. If it's just for the short term then Nvidia it is as they have the experience already and AMD isn't really in the situation where it can divert resources towards short term gains.
HW90
… AMD isn't really in the situation where it can divert resources towards short term gains.

OTOH the semi-custom business is one of their big priorities, so if they can get Samsung as a big mobile semi-custom customer it might be worth it to them long-term to make the investment: proving their GPU tech can scale down to smartphone power envelopes would give them a big sell into mobile gaming and high-end phones, even if they're only licensing IP rather than creating designs.
It's ancient history now, but I wonder if there could have been some sort of non-compete agreement when AMD sold Imageon (now Adreno, anagram of Radeon) to Qualcomm. Even if AMD want to either licence or sell something to Samsung perhaps they can't?
Bagnaj97
… I wonder if there could have been some sort of non-compete agreement when AMD sold Imageon (now Adreno, anagram of Radeon) to Qualcomm. …

I really can't see AMD letting that happen in 2009, when the lines between handheld/smartphone and PC were already beginning to blur. It'd be a monumentally stupid thing to do to allow yourself to be tied into a non-compete clause as the outcome of you selling a processor technology. The more likely direction would be a non-compete clause binding Qualcomm from entering the desktop graphics market…