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Samsung To Keep Using AMD's RDNA GPUs For Exynos SoCs

AMD
(Image credit: AMD)

Although Samsung's Xclipse 920 integrated graphics processing unit based on AMD's RDNA 2 architecture has not lived up to expectations, the consumer electronics giant will continue to use AMD's RDNA architectures for its future built-in GPUs, the company disclosed on Thursday (opens in new tab)

"We plan to continue to implement other features in the RDNA series by working closely with AMD going forward," said (opens in new tab) Sungboem Park, a vice president of Samsung who oversees GPU development. "In general, mobile tends to lag around five years or so behind consoles when it comes to graphics technology, however, we were able to incorporate the latest console technologies in the Exynos 2200 mobile processor quickly through our collaboration with AMD. 

AMD's Radeon RX 6000 family of GPUs based on the RDNA 2 architecture is without any doubts the company's most competitive GPU lineup in many years, even though ray tracing is not its strongest side. 

But the Xclipse 920 graphics processor based on the same architecture did not really shine in Samsung's Exynos 2200 system-on-chip for smartphones either in compute or graphics workloads. Which is why Samsung inked a deal with Qualcomm to use its Snapdragon SoCs with Adreno graphics for its upcoming Galaxy S-series handsets globally, as the head of Qualcomm recently revealed (ComputerBase first noticed this). Ironically, Qualcomm's Adreno (which is an ambigram of Radeon) development has been led by Eric Demers, who previously worked as GPU architect at AMD, ATI, and ArtX. 

"We are very pleased to report that Qualcomm and Samsung have entered a new multiyear agreement starting in 2023, expanding the use of Snapdragon platforms for future premiums Samsung Galaxy products globally," said Cristiano Amon, chief executive of Qualcomm during the company's Q3 earnings call.

At present, Samsung uses Qualcomm's premium Snapdragon SoCs for its Galaxy S smartphones sold in Asia and the U.S., its own Exynos SoCs are used in models sold Europe. The new deal allows Samsung to use Exynos for European Galaxy S smartphones, but it does not necessarily oblige the company to do so. Therefore, if Samsung has an Exynos SoC with a competitive CPU and GPU implementation, it might use it instead of Exynos. 

But Samsung is certainly playing it safe with its choice of SoCs and GPUs as it also intends to use Snapdragons for other mobile products as well, according to Qualcomm.

"In addition to Galaxy smartphones, the agreement includes PCs, tablets, extended reality and more," said Amon. 

While AMD's RDNA architectures are feature rich and scalable in terms of performance, power, and die size, actual implementation matters a lot. A GPU realization depends on multiple factors, including experience of its engineering team in general and with a particular GPU architecture in particular, design decisions, cost, and process technology. Therefore, Samsung might build a competitive RDNA-based integrated GPU sometimes in the future, but its engineers need to gain general GPU development experience first, and the only way to get it is to keep designing graphics processors.

Anton Shilov
Freelance News Writer

Anton Shilov is a Freelance News Writer at Tom’s Hardware US. Over the past couple of decades, he has covered everything from CPUs and GPUs to supercomputers and from modern process technologies and latest fab tools to high-tech industry trends.

  • alithegreat
    Adreno (which is an ambigram of Radeon)
    You meant "anagram" I guess.
    Reply
  • Alvar "Miles" Udell
    This makes me even less likely to continue to use Samsung...After getting royally boned with the Galaxy S22+ the last thing I want to see is them continuing to use sub par graphics, especially if they continue their push to use Exynos globally.
    Reply
  • Smyth6
    Anton Shilov,
    I enjoy the reading your articles. But i have to say you could take a profile picture that makes you look less pissed...
    Just saying. Good content though not trying to give you a hard time. As for the QUALCOMM Chips i remember when I lived in san Diego well Coronado island and went to QUALCOMM field and for years of them making chips for phones no one had any idea national what or who they were really until android. I skipped s22 line up new chips not right. If your device is thermal throttling and not giving you the spec it promises. Their is something wrong...I mean I build pc's and have heat's my enemy right the at least for any K series intel chip your trying to squeeze the most out of.
    They dropped the ball and its still bouncing....
    Reply
  • Josh Mahurin
    "At present, Samsung uses Qualcomm's premium Snapdragon SoCs for its Galaxy S smartphones sold in Asia and the U.S., its own Exynos SoCs are used in models sold Europe. The new deal allows Samsung to use Exynos Adreno for European Galaxy S smartphones, but it does not necessarily oblige the company to do so. Therefore, if Samsung has an Exynos SoC with a competitive CPU and GPU implementation, it might use it instead of Exynos Adreno. "

    You're getting your Exynos and Adreno's mixed up
    Reply
  • LikeClockwork64
    why all the negativity? ATI's early showing was mediocre when the GPU wars started and they ended up competing for best image quality and fastest GPU line up in just a few years. The fact that they are this serious right out of the gate means lots of good things in the future once drivers and compatibility are up especially in the tablet space
    Reply
  • RedBear87
    The article might need some editing, there's a missing "in" in "its own Exynos SoCs are used in models sold Europe" and in "Therefore, if Samsung has an Exynos SoC with a competitive CPU and GPU implementation, it might use it instead of Exynos " you probably meant to say "instead of Snapdragon/Qualcomm".

    On Samsung and its Xclipsing Exynos line, honestly after the Dimensity 9000 5G I would have preferred to see a Mediatek alternative in some markets, rather than having Samsung strengthening Qualcomm's monopoly.
    Reply
  • renz496
    LikeClockwork64 said:
    why all the negativity? ATI's early showing was mediocre when the GPU wars started and they ended up competing for best image quality and fastest GPU line up in just a few years. The fact that they are this serious right out of the gate means lots of good things in the future once drivers and compatibility are up especially in the tablet space

    because samsung is not ATI. the issues with exynos team has been going on for a few years now. just strapping some AMD GPU into the exynos does not make it have the best graphic in the SoC world.
    Reply
  • watzupken
    I think we need to establish what is the reason(s) for the "mediocre" performance. It almost sounds like the blame is completely on AMD's RDNA2, which strangely have been proven on PCs that they are very fast. In fact a cut down iGPU on the Van Gogh APU runs games very well on a Steam deck. In my opinion, the possible reasons for poor performance will be,
    1. Samsung's fab - This is well known that their existing node isn't great as compared to the likes of TSMC. So far, AMD chips are produced only on TSMC, and this is the only time RDNA2 ended on a Samsung fab,

    2. Software is not ready - AMD/ATI have been absent from the mobile SOC space ever since they sold their mobile GPU to Qualcomm. It may take time for them to get their driver and also game engine optimization up to date
    Reply