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Samsung's Exynos SoC Could Be Built Entirely In-House, In Time For Galaxy Note 5

According to sources from South Korea (Chinese), Samsung may be planning to build not just its own CPU core based on the ARMv8 architecture, but also its own GPU technology. We could see the new GPU, and possibly the new CPU as well, inside next year's Galaxy Note 5 device.

We've heard before that Samsung intends to overhaul its mobile devices business by rethinking the Galaxy S6 from the ground up and also by cutting the number of models it will introduce next year by 30 percent. It seems Samsung may be looking to overhaul its chip business as well, and at the same time reduce its reliance on third-party chips from Qualcomm or other companies.

Samsung is a large company that builds many of the components inside smartphones, such as RAM, flash memory and displays, but it still depends mostly on companies such as Qualcomm or ARM for the brains in its devices. Meanwhile, Samsung's biggest competitor, Apple, designs its own CPUs, which can be seen as a significant competitive advantage in some scenarios.

Samsung also makes a large volume of devices that it pushes to the market, which means that it could save significant amounts of money by using its own chips across its whole lineup of mobile devices. Having its own CPU and GPU technology could give its devices certain differentiating features as well, that other competing chips may not have.

Samsung has been manufacturing chips from other companies for a long time, but it doesn't have too much experience designing its own CPU or GPU, so it remains to be seen whether what the company releases in 2015 is going to be competitive with the latest technology from ARM, Qualcomm, Nvidia or Apple.

The company may need to acquire other chip design firms, and if it's serious enough about it, Samsung could even look at acquiring AMD, a struggling chip company that has both the necessary CPU and GPU expertise. AMD is also in need of a large cash infusion and access to a cutting edge process technology (such as Samsung's) in order to become more competitive with Intel. At the same time, Samsung could provide AMD a much-needed entry into the mobile market.

These are ideas Samsung may or may not consider at this point in time. First, the company will probably want to see how it can do on its own against incumbent CPU and GPU makers such as Qualcomm and Imagination, before such a major acquisition is even considered.

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  • g00fysmiley
    I thought AMD's x86 licence was nontransferable. I know it cannot be sold but I wonder even if (and it is a big if) samsung decided to buy AMD and AMD let them (they probably would) would that leave only VIA and Intel as the sole x86 producers meaning only on real choice?
    Reply
  • fuzzion
    Samsung shareholders would never permit them to purchase AMD. Though the idea is interesting.

    Reply
  • gggplaya
    Samsung shareholders would never permit them to purchase AMD. Though the idea is interesting.

    Yes they could, my company purchased part of another company in a similar manner. They basically formed an entity dedicated to our market, a market in which they weren't in before. We pay them for projects, and they siphon employees to work on said projects until they are complete, then move those employees back.

    AMD could split off an AMD mobile division and do something similar. Samsung would only own that portion of the company, which depending on the profit, could represent a small or large portion of the company.
    Reply
  • InvalidError
    14724112 said:
    AMD could split off an AMD mobile division and do something similar. Samsung would only own that portion of the company, which depending on the profit, could represent a small or large portion of the company.
    But the non-transferable x86 license would prevent the spin-off from doing x86-based chips. If AMD decided to have a joint-venture mobile division, it would have to be ARM-based.
    Reply
  • sykozis
    While it's my understanding that AMD's x86 license is non-transferrable, there's really very little stopping Samsung from acquiring AMD and continuing to produce x86 processors. Since the license is necessary to compete in the desktop PC market, Intel has no choice but to license out the "tech" to anyone that wants it. Intel can not legally prevent any company from entering the x86 chip market. Doing so would open up Intel to legal issues they don't want. Since VIA doesn't compete with Intel in the consumer market, they're of no help to Intel. There's really no reason to even mention VIA when speaking of x86, being that their only real presence is in the embedded market.
    Reply
  • Duckhunt
    AMD needs to get better with power efficiency and think out of the box. Go AMD we need you to survive and prosper else intel will become too bloated and become an even bigger pig.
    Reply
  • InvalidError
    14728867 said:
    Intel can not legally prevent any company from entering the x86 chip market.
    With the high complexity and vast array of licenses such a would-be competitor would need to secure before entering the market to avoid burial in legal expenses, entry has been effectively locked down for over a decade with most companies that used to make x86-compatible chips having effectively if not completely bailed out of the x86 business since.

    Trying to enter the x86 market is too expensive and too risky. I doubt any sane company would bother when even the second largest x86 chip designer is only barely managing to stay alive despite Intel "holding back" to give AMD some time to catch up.

    Most companies who own legacy x86 licenses stick to microcontrollers because seeking licenses for new instruction sets and putting more effort than that into x86 is not worth their trouble.
    Reply