Samsung Electronics’ production of a graphics processing unit (GPU) will be delayed at least five years.
According to industry sources on June 16, Samsung Electronics has signed a long-term license agreement with ARM to use their latest GPU and their next-generation GPU. The company has secured the rights to use the Mali-T820, Mali-T830, T860, and T880, which were designed by ARM. Considering the fact that it is a long-term contract of around five years and the company invested a large amount of money in the agreement, it has now become unclear whether Samsung will release its own GPU, which was thought to be coming out soon.
Samsung Electronics' System LSI division has been actively assembling a research and development workforce for GPUs since 2011. The company has directly attracted GPU circuit designers and engineers from overseas semiconductor companies, and has continuously hired employees with a doctorate and work experience in the relevant sector, focusing on the self-development of the GPU. Industry sources have expected that Samsung's efforts would see results this year with the release of its own GPU.
However, releasing a GPU is unlikely to be possible for a while, as Samsung Electronics has signed a license agreement with ARM again.
From the perspective of Samsung Electronics, the company chose stability over adventure, as the GPUs of its competitors like Qualcomm’s Adreno and Imagination Technology’s Power VR equipped in the Apple A series are improving in performance and power efficiency every year.
Son Jae-cheol, vice president of the SoC Processor Development Team at Samsung Electronics, said, “Image quality is a very important factor in premium mobile devices. Being provided with ARM’s Mali series, which has high expandability and energy efficiency, we will release devices that fit various product groups.”
Meanwhile, a contract for new GPU foundries with NVIDIA, which was expected to strengthen the GPU capabilities of Samsung Electronics, is also likely to decrease in terms of volume. Previously, major foreign press said that NVIDIA will decrease its next-generation GPU foundry supply to Samsung Electronics and return to TSMC, contrary to earlier expectations.
According to an insider of Samsung, NVIDIA has laid out a certain level of yield rate related to 14 nm GPU foundry production as a condition of a provisional contract to Samsung Electronics, and the negotiation is proceeding with difficulty.