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Samsung closes down CPU research and development

by Mark Tyson on 4 November 2019, 12:21

Tags: Samsung (005935.KS), ARM

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Samsung will lay off 290 employees at its Austin R&D lab who previously worked on developing custom CPU cores for its Exynos processors. Furthermore, an undisclosed number of workers will be laid-off at its San Jose facility. The job cuts will begin on 31st December, and are permanent, it has been noted by the Austin Statesman Journal.

A month ago Extreme Tech published a story concerning rumours of impending layoffs at Samsung Semiconductor R&D Centre in Austin. Now it looks like the chitter-chatter has been validated by this official filing at the Texas Workforce Commission.

Handily for some employees, who will be in the hunt for a regular salary, Arm has an office in a nearby location. Hopefully the end of the R&D at Austin won't have wider impacts at Samsung Austin which currently employs about 3,600 people and reassurances along those lines have been made by a Samsung spokesperson. On the topic of wider impacts, Samsung will also close its Central Processing Unit facility in San Jose, California - but it isn't clear how many layoffs this will result in.

Behind the change in the workforce was a reassessment of Samsung's custom CPU business. Industry analyst Patrick Moorhead of Moor Insights and Strategy said that Samsung's last few Exynos CPUs were powerful but comparatively power thirsty. Implying that Samsung R&D was finding this issue rather a sticky one "What (Samsung) is going to do now is actually license the design, not just the IP from Arm," said Moorhead.

Samsung might start to use Arm cores for its performance cores, rather than its own CPU designs based off Arm IP. However, it could still differentiate its SoCs with home grown GPU, DSP and AI accelerators or via deals with the likes of AMD (Radeon powered Galaxy devices).



HEXUS Forums :: 7 Comments

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Looks like Samsung are regrouping to focus on the product design and outsource the CPU Cores and GPU to QualComm and AMD respectively in the handset/tablet space… probably wise with a host of up & coming Chinese manufacturers chasing them down.

Should also mean we see Qualcom-driven Samsung Flagship phones in the UK at last… previously we've had Exynos-driven versions of the top-end phones that offer differing levels (usually slightly weaker) performance than the U.S. version of the same phone.
Perhaps this means all future Samsung phones will have Exynos SoC's in them…
KultiVator
Looks like Samsung are regrouping to focus on the product design and outsource the CPU Cores and GPU to QualComm and AMD respectively in the handset/tablet space… probably wise with a host of up & coming Chinese manufacturers chasing them down.

Should also mean we see Qualcom-driven Samsung Flagship phones in the UK at last… previously we've had Exynos-driven versions of the top-end phones that offer differing levels (usually slightly weaker) performance than the U.S. version of the same phone.

I thought most of the mobile industry wanted to be shot of Qualcomm?
Tabbykatze
I thought most of the mobile industry wanted to be shot of Qualcomm?

The majority of Android flagship phones have the high-end SnapDragon SoCs… and it's what tech-savvy consumers have come to expect.

Samsung's own Exynos chips differentiate them, but at the same time, generally don't perform quite as well as the equivalent SnapDragon - yet must cost billions in development costs for no real advantage over the competition.

This runs at odds of what Apple has managed to achieve by bringing a lot of the SoC design in-house over recent years.
KultiVator
Should also mean we see Qualcom-driven Samsung Flagship phones in the UK at last… previously we've had Exynos-driven versions of the top-end phones that offer differing levels (usually slightly weaker) performance than the U.S. version of the same phone.

Thank fornicating rats for that.

The ones we've had in the UK haven't just had weaker SoC grunt. Everything is worse. The sound output, the camera ISP, even the display has been worse due to the poorer processing (even though the actual panel is the same). It's infuriating that we get a product with worse almost everything, including battery life and product longevity (poorer baseline performance means that it'll start to become sluggish with more demanding apps faster as relative performance is lower) and we're expected to believe it's the same product (it just isn't!) and value it the same.

I think from a business perspective it made sense to have their own SoC to avoid another QC screw up where their Snapdragon was just a disaster. This hasn't happened for ages though and really is unlikely to ever happen again. There was a chance they could do better but they didn't manage it so it makes sense to now give up on the project.

I think Apple having control of the entire ecosystem and available apps / SDKs / APIs really does make a massive difference to what they can achieve with optimisations and inhouse design.

But I am probably talking tosh.