One of the key driving factors behind AMD’s new RDNA graphics architecture was scalability. GPUs leveraging the new design are expected to power gaming devices all the way from handheld devices to high-end 4K gaming PCs. While the latter is something AMD has already done in the past, the former will be a foray into a new market segment, one that has been dominated by ARM chips since time immemorial. NVIDIA has had a bit of experience here with its Tegra GPUs, but they form a very small niche. AMD is looking at a much bigger share of the pie which is why the recent “strategic partnership” with Samsung.
Samsung is set to leverage AMD’s Radeon RDNA graphics IP in their Exynos chips while paying AMD the licensing fees and royalties. This is the first time such a partnership has taken place. AMD has already had a very successful run in the console space, and we’re likely to see a similar pattern with the Samsung deal.
NVIDIA has a clear advantage when it comes to power efficiency, however, the company is known to walk out of negotiations on account of insufficient monetary incentives. The same thing happened with both the PS4 as well as the Xbox One. With the next-gen consoles, neither manufacturers went to NVIDIA as AMD’s revenue-sharing deal was agreeable for both parties. Plus, this time, Team Red had competitive hardware on both the CPU and GPU side.
Industry sources claim that the successor to the Nintendo Switch will ditch NVIDIA’s Tegra graphics and instead leverage a custom Samsung Exynos SoC with Radeon RDNA graphics. The reason? For starters, NVIDIA’s Tegra lineup is vastly outdated. The X1 featured in the Switch is based on the 5-year-old Maxwell architecture and we’re yet to see a successor.
The same can be said for NVIDIA’s CPU designs. The Denver architecture was the last design to see appreciable adoption. Both Denver 2 and Carmel were largely ignored by OEMs. Samsung already has ample experience with ARM chips, and RDNA might just provide the competitive edge needed to replace NVIDIA’s Tegra SoCs.