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Samsung Signs Long-Term Agreement To License All Future Mali GPUs

Samsung and ARM announced today that they signed a long-term agreement that gives Samsung a license for all future Mali GPUs, including Mali-T820, Mali-T830, Mali-T860 and Mali-T880.

Samsung has been using ARM's Mali GPU architecture in its Galaxy S and Galaxy Note series from the very first generations. It has been rumored before that the company was working on creating its own GPUs, but it now looks that it's going to use Mali GPUs well into the future.

With the recent license, Samsung has secured not just all the recently announced Mali GPUs from the low-end Mali-T820 to the high-end Mali-T880, but also future yet undisclosed ARM GPUs. This could mean Samsung already has access to ARM's GPU plans and likes what it sees.

"The visual quality is a critical part of high-end mobile devices. The highly scalable and energy-efficient ARM Mali family gives us the flexibility we need to address a broad range of devices," said Jae Cheol Son, senior vice president, processor development team, Samsung Electronics.

By signing a long-term license such as this, it's likely Samsung obtained a lower license and royalty cost as well for future GPUs. Samsung must also believe it will continue to do well in the smartphone market for years to come for a long-term license to make sense.

It's also interesting that Samsung isn't going to consider Imagination's PowerVR GPUs over the next few years anymore. On occasion, Samsung has used PowerVR GPUs, either because some next-generation Mali GPU wasn't ready on time, or because it wanted to use more than a single GPU supplier.

At the same time, dealing with two sets of GPU architectures and drivers as well as trying to make them work in a coherent way with the CPU can be costly. ARM has lately made its GPUs better integrated with its CPUs, so Samsung could gain an advantage in terms of performance and power consumption as well as by using the two together.

Both Samsung and ARM are part of the Heterogeneous Systems Architecture (HSA) Foundation, which aims to make GPUs and other types of processors aid the CPU with compute power.

AMD, the initial backer of the HSA Foundation, has already announced chips that support HSA, and the ARM-based chips that support HSA should come out soon as well (probably next year). Investing in CPUs and GPUs that will work even better together in the future seems like a good idea for Samsung.

"Hundreds of millions of consumers have benefited from the longstanding collaboration between Samsung and ARM," said Mark Dickinson, general manager, media processing group, ARM. "ARM's leadership in graphics, coupled with this long-term agreement, will enable Samsung to deliver rich and exciting user experiences to consumers on any device."

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  • 3ogdy
    So Samsung's got no plans to build their own GPUs for the mobile division. Worth keeping in mind.
    Reply
  • somebodyspecial
    ROFL - I'm thinking they would have been smarter to license NV's gpus for ages. Mali isn't in the same league and you're being sued over MALI (and powervr+adreno)...LOL.

    Nvidia might have even accepted a better deal for past transgressions if they knew they'd be getting IP licensed for the next 4-5 gens. I guess samsung intends to go all the way to ITC bans before they quit...ROFL. 6 out of 7 patents went NV's way in the markman hearing, they should deal now before willful infringement just keeps getting worse and 12 Americans get to decide the bill on a foreign company making 35-50x yearly profits of the American company they are stealing from (that won't go well for them, NV chose a jury trial for a reason). This will be FAR larger than the Intel bill of 1.5B who didn't willfully do it, just broke an agreement, hit court and then paid the fine. Intel is a USA company too.

    Smart people would start buying NV stock. :) It's a takeover target anyway, on top of all the other things they have going for them even if that doesn't happen.

    Think about the fact that MSFT gets ~$4-10 per device sold with android for bits of infringing code (making ~7.5B a year on devices they don't even make) and then think about what the bill would be here yearly. NV makes $600mil now (up from ~530m last year), so even adding $1 per device is another 1.5-2B in profit with ~1.6B units being sold yearly on mobile (and growing yearly). 1.25B smartphones alone were sold in 2014 (up ~300mil from year before, about 350mil tablets too). Considering Qcom gets a percentage of the ENTIRE unit, not just paid for their device in the unit, NV has a leg to stand on asking for far more than a $1 IMHO.

    In 2013 samsung alone paid MS a billion and with mobile's skyrocketing sales that was probably far worse this last year and likely worse this year. But Microsoft's case seems to be built on a house of cards so their jig might be up shortly (unlike NV's case, so far MS just has activesync of meetings...ROFL).
    Reply
  • jasonelmore
    ROFL - I'm thinking they would have been smarter to license NV's gpus for ages. Mali isn't in the same league and you're being sued over MALI (and powervr+adreno)...LOL.

    Nvidia might have even accepted a better deal for past transgressions if they knew they'd be getting IP licensed for the next 4-5 gens. I guess samsung intends to go all the way to ITC bans before they quit...ROFL. 6 out of 7 patents went NV's way in the markman hearing, they should deal now before willful infringement just keeps getting worse and 12 Americans get to decide the bill on a foreign company making 35-50x yearly profits of the American company they are stealing from (that won't go well for them, NV chose a jury trial for a reason). This will be FAR larger than the Intel bill of 1.5B who didn't willfully do it, just broke an agreement, hit court and then paid the fine. Intel is a USA company too.

    Smart people would start buying NV stock. :) It's a takeover target anyway, on top of all the other things they have going for them even if that doesn't happen.

    Think about the fact that MSFT gets ~$4-10 per device sold with android for bits of infringing code (making ~7.5B a year on devices they don't even make) and then think about what the bill would be here yearly. NV makes $600mil now (up from ~530m last year), so even adding $1 per device is another 1.5-2B in profit with ~1.6B units being sold yearly on mobile (and growing yearly). 1.25B smartphones alone were sold in 2014 (up ~300mil from year before, about 350mil tablets too). Considering Qcom gets a percentage of the ENTIRE unit, not just paid for their device in the unit, NV has a leg to stand on asking for far more than a $1 IMHO.

    In 2013 samsung alone paid MS a billion and with mobile's skyrocketing sales that was probably far worse this last year and likely worse this year. But Microsoft's case seems to be built on a house of cards so their jig might be up shortly (unlike NV's case, so far MS just has activesync of meetings...ROFL).

    Nvidia does not make a mobile GPU for phone TDP targets. Sure they will license the IP, but it's unproven in mobile. This means if Samsung got Nvidia's IP through licensing, they'd have to develop a GPU for phones from scratch, since cookie cutter designs from Nvidia with only 1 SMX use 5 watt or more (smallest possible configuration).. To hot for a phone. It's gonna take 2-3 years for nvidia's mobile architecture to be suitable for phones, and thats with good lithography progression.

    Where as in the Mali deal, it's proven and on the market already doing well.
    Reply
  • Dromoxen
    Just testing
    Reply
  • somebodyspecial
    15999243 said:
    ROFL - I'm thinking they would have been smarter to license NV's gpus for ages. Mali isn't in the same league and you're being sued over MALI (and powervr+adreno)...LOL.

    Nvidia might have even accepted a better deal for past transgressions if they knew they'd be getting IP licensed for the next 4-5 gens. I guess samsung intends to go all the way to ITC bans before they quit...ROFL. 6 out of 7 patents went NV's way in the markman hearing, they should deal now before willful infringement just keeps getting worse and 12 Americans get to decide the bill on a foreign company making 35-50x yearly profits of the American company they are stealing from (that won't go well for them, NV chose a jury trial for a reason). This will be FAR larger than the Intel bill of 1.5B who didn't willfully do it, just broke an agreement, hit court and then paid the fine. Intel is a USA company too.

    Smart people would start buying NV stock. :) It's a takeover target anyway, on top of all the other things they have going for them even if that doesn't happen.

    Think about the fact that MSFT gets ~$4-10 per device sold with android for bits of infringing code (making ~7.5B a year on devices they don't even make) and then think about what the bill would be here yearly. NV makes $600mil now (up from ~530m last year), so even adding $1 per device is another 1.5-2B in profit with ~1.6B units being sold yearly on mobile (and growing yearly). 1.25B smartphones alone were sold in 2014 (up ~300mil from year before, about 350mil tablets too). Considering Qcom gets a percentage of the ENTIRE unit, not just paid for their device in the unit, NV has a leg to stand on asking for far more than a $1 IMHO.

    In 2013 samsung alone paid MS a billion and with mobile's skyrocketing sales that was probably far worse this last year and likely worse this year. But Microsoft's case seems to be built on a house of cards so their jig might be up shortly (unlike NV's case, so far MS just has activesync of meetings...ROFL).

    Nvidia does not make a mobile GPU for phone TDP targets. Sure they will license the IP, but it's unproven in mobile. This means if Samsung got Nvidia's IP through licensing, they'd have to develop a GPU for phones from scratch, since cookie cutter designs from Nvidia with only 1 SMX use 5 watt or more (smallest possible configuration).. To hot for a phone. It's gonna take 2-3 years for nvidia's mobile architecture to be suitable for phones, and thats with good lithography progression.

    Where as in the Mali deal, it's proven and on the market already doing well.

    ""The visual quality is a critical part of high-end mobile devices."
    You do realize you can set clock speeds at whatever is needed to hit a target right? These are HIGH end devices Samsung is talking about.

    http://www.phonearena.com/news/ZTE-Geek-the-worlds-first-Tegra-4-phone-is-now-officially-official_id47762
    Tegra 4 phone.

    http://www.futuremark.com/hardware/mobile/Xiaomi+MI-3+%28Tegra+4%29/review
    Xiaomi mi3. Pretty clear it can be done. You don't have to run X1 at 100%, and 14nm version coming Nov. I think they're just waiting to see how much damage their suit causes before pitching at more phones. NO point in pitching them when you can just effectively get the same thing from the lawsuit over stealing NV tech (which may produce a ban, huge fines, etc). Markman hearing shows NV will win.

    It's comic what I said got 8 downvotes from the haters...LOL. Some people just hate the truth (and nvidia clearly). Fanboys never cease to amaze. Hating on NV and how the law works are two totally different things.
    Reply