Rumors about Samsung developing its own mobile GPU first surfaced a few years ago. However, Samsung signed a technology agreement with ARM in 2015 to use its GPUs in Exynos processors. This is believed to have led to a delay in the development of Samsung’s in-house graphics technology. A report last year claimed that Samsung had finally developed its first in-house GPU for mobile devices.
Updated LinkedIn job descriptions of some Samsung employees spotted last month also suggest that the company is working on a GPU in-house. The employees mention their work on GPU teams. A new report claims that Samsung’s first GPU will offer exceptional performance.
Samsung’s mobile GPU
Samsung’s new GPU design is reportedly being led by Dr. Chien-Ping Lu, a veteran of the graphics chip design industry. He designed an integrated graphics chip for PCs at NVIDIA before moving to MediaTek to work on its mobile GPU. Lu eventually ended up at Intel where he worked for less than a year before he left for NovuMind, an artificial intelligence startup. Samsung hired Lu about a year ago to take its in-house GPU project across the finish line.
The report mentions that Samsung’s in-house GPU has a novel architecture which will enable it to be used in different form factors ranging from smartphones to supercomputers. It’s said to be the first new GPU design in over a decade. Samsung’s main rival Apple is believed to be working on its own in-house GPU for iPhones. Analyst Jon Peddie says that Samsung’s GPU could “put it on par with Apple.”
“This design is so good they could deploy it in every platform — it’s a function of their ambition. If I owned it, it would be in everything including cockpits and supercomputers,” Peddie said.
The GPU reportedly achieves a new level of performance/watt by bundling multiple instructions into a group which can then be executed in a single cycle. It doesn’t use conventional VLIW techniques which generate additional processing overheads.
Samsung’s first in-house GPU is expected to make its debut with a Samsung Exynos process at some point next year. It’s unclear if Samsung will be willing to license the GPU technology to other companies or if it’s going to keep it in-house for a competitive advantage.