from the further-development-would-cost-an-ARM-*and*-a-leg dept.
The fate of Samsung's custom CPU development efforts has been making the rounds of the rumour mill for almost a month, and now we finally have confirmation from Samsung that the company has stopped further development work on its custom Arm architecture CPU cores. This public confirmation comes via Samsung's HR department, which last week filled an obligatory notice letter with the Texas Workforce Commission, warning about upcoming layoffs of Samsung's Austin R&D Center CPU team and the impending termination of their custom CPU work.
The CPU project, said currently to be around 290 team members large, started off sometime in 2012 and has produced the custom ARMv8 CPU microarchitectures from the Exynos M1 in the Exynos 8890 up to the latest Exynos M5 in the upcoming Exynos 990.
Over the years, Samsung's custom CPU microarchitectures had a tough time in differentiating themselves from Arm's own Cortex designs, never being fully competitive in any one metric. The Exynos-M3 Meerkat cores employed in the Exynos 9810 (Galaxy S9), for example, ended up being more of a handicap to the SoC due to its poor energy efficiency. Even the CPU project itself had a rocky start, as originally the custom microarchitecture was meant to power Samsung's custom Arm server SoCs before the design efforts were redirected towards mobile use.
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Now, the Exynos 2200 is finally official. The headline feature is a new "Samsung Xclipse 920 GPU" that was co-developed by AMD. Samsung says the GPU uses AMD's RDNA 2 architecture, the same as AMD's Radeon desktop GPUs, and will bring "hardware-accelerated ray tracing" to mobile devices.
David Wang, the SVP of AMD's Radeon division, said, "Samsung's Xclipse GPU is the first result of multiple planned generations of AMD RDNA graphics in Exynos SoCs." Previous reports have indicated that Samsung isn't just eyeing smartphones but eventually wants to put together an Apple M1-fighting ARM laptop chip.
The CPU is about what you would expect from a 2022 ARM chip. The 4 nm SoC has one Cortex X2 CPU for single-threaded performance, three Cortex A710 cores, and four low-power Cortex A510 cores, just like Qualcomm's 2022 chip, the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1. These are all new ARM v9 cores, with the X2 and little cores both being 64-bit only.
Despite finally announcing the Exynos 2200, Samsung's announcement does not put to bed any questions about a troubled development of the Exynos 2200. The press release and product site are both lacking many of the details that are typically disclosed at this point. For instance, Samsung has not made any performance claims about the Exynos 2200 CPU or GPU. If you read through the Exynos 2100 press release from this time last year, you'll see claims like 30 percent better CPU multi-core performance and 40 percent faster graphics.
Leaks have pointed to thermal issues with the Exynos 2200 which could potentially lead to lower performance than its main competitors: Qualcomm's Snapdragon 8 Gen 1, MediaTek's Dimensity 9000, and Apple's A15.