Samsung is looking to beat rival Qualcomm in an unconventional way: by giving up chip designing and relying on its new-found partners, ARM and AMD while handling just the fabrication part of it. In recent years, the Korean smartphone maker’s SoCs have been repeatedly beaten by Qualcomm’s products, prompting this radical shift.
The last SoC Samsung designed was the Exynos 990 for its Galaxy Note 20 in the first half of 2020. Initially, it was expected that the chipmaker would feature the Exynos 992 in the Note 20, but ended up using the 990 instead.
Samsung Electronics loaded the Exynos 990 AP on its flagship smartphone Galaxy Note 20 released for consumers in Europe and other regions. The Exynos 990 was also used for the Galaxy S20, which was released in the first half of 2020.
The lack of progress in its chip department forced Samsung to power the North American and East Asian variant of its Note 20 with Qualcomm’s SD 865+ while the Galaxy S20 used the slightly slower SD 865.
In the coming round, Samsung has resorted to collaborations with partners ARM and AMD. The former will help develop a custom core based on the Cortex-X, with an expected performance gain of around ~30% over the SD 865.
The GPU department which has been faring especially poorly will undergo a complete revamp. Instead of the Mali GPU, the next Exynos SoC will feature a GPU based on AMD’s RDNA architecture. As per initial benchmarks, this part has already been taped out and offers significant gains compared to the Qualcomm Adreno GPUs.
This new SoC will be fabbed on Samsung’s 5nm EUV process with a launch in early 2021. The next-Galaxy S21 (or whatever it’s called) will feature this brand new SoC.