Smartphones today have gotten so powerful that they’re theoretically capable of running desktop-grade software. For years, however, phone makers and developers have been boasting about “console-level graphics”, particularly in games but, truth be told, they are nowhere near that level at all. We might still be decades from phones reaching that status but Samsung may have just taken one small step forward by partnering with AMD to imbue its Exynos chips with some Radeon graphics powers.
Graphics hardware on smartphones is naturally constrained even more than laptops or some tablets. Everything has to fit in a single system-on-chip (SoC), which severely limits what it can do. Chip makers have made great strides in that department but Samsung’s Exynos is generally considered to be behind Qualcomm’s Snapdragons when it comes to graphics performance.
Samsung has been working on its own thing for years now but it seems it has finally conceded that it might not be enough. Or at least that seems to be the immediate message from the intentionally vague announcement of a multi-year strategic partnership with AMD over “low-power, high-performance graphics IP based on AMD Radeon graphics technologies.”
What form that will take is still in question. The statement only talks about licensing AMD’s RDNA in a custom graphics IP form, suggesting Samsung may be integrating some of that into its Exynos chips. Of course, it’s also entirely possible that all this noise is really just about Samsung protecting itself from a patent lawsuit.
The partnership is also beneficial to AMD in more than just monetary terms. The chip maker just recently announced that new RDNA graphics architecture at Computex last month and this is pretty much a confirmation of its scalability. This is especially strategic considering AMD’s rival on the CPU and GPU fronts, Intel and NVIDIA, respectively, have little to no presence in mobile anymore.