Samsung paid AMD $100 million to pimp Galaxy S12 or Note 12 with Radeon Exynos graphics

Samsung paid AMD $100 million to equip Galaxy S12 or Note 12 with Radeon Exynos graphics
Samsung recently announced a partnership with AMD for boosting the graphics processing in its future phones. Out of the blue, AMD will be providing "ultra low power, high performance mobile graphics IP based on AMD Radeon graphics technologies... across mobile applications, including smartphones."

This was a bit of a bombshell announcement as so far the only big custom graphics names are Qualcomm with its Adreno GPU in Snapdragon chipsets, and Apple with the A-series processors. The rest usually use the stock Mali graphics that leave a lot to be desired in terms of performance, and Samsung seems determined to change that. 

While in its Exynos line of chipsets Samsung has been using off-the-shelf Mali architecture that comes with ARM's processors, or the Adreno one for the Snapdragon-laden Galaxies for the US, it might soon go AMD. How soon?

Well, if the transcript from Samsung's earnings call is to be believed, the first Radeon-ed Exynos will arrive in 2021, just in time for the Galaxy S12, Note 12, or whatever Samsung calls its 2021 flagship at the time.

We'd assume that the tailored graphics subsystem using AMD Radeon IP will be developed for Samsung's Exynos line of processors, as you can't really separate an Adreno from its Snapdragon, but there could be more at play here. With a judge taking issue with Qualcomm's extortionate modem licensing, perhaps Samsung is gearing up for the era when it would be possible to go without Snapdragon chipsets in the US, and with a 5G modem of its own, the only thing left to make a world-class chipset out of Exynos was the GPU part.

According to Dr. Lisa Su, AMD president and CEO:

Well, the "multi-year strategic partnership" with AMD may be the last piece of the mobile processing puzzle for Samsung, and it will be paying royalties and licensing fees to make Exynos great again. 

As you can see from AMD CEO's quote above, the price tag that Samsung paid to use the GPU know-how is a whopping $100 million, not an insignificant sum by any means, so it is bent on going places in the mobile graphics department, and we as mortal users can only be all the better for it.

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