AMD Confirms RDNA 2-Infused Samsung Mobile Chip Coming This Year With Ray Tracing

Samsung Exynos
AMD and Samsung first announced a partnership involving future mobile SoCs back in 2019, and early this morning at Computex 2021, AMD confirmed that this arrangement would bear fruit later this year.

We knew that this moment was coming, but the timeline for release was previously unclear. When the custom Exynos 2100 SoC was announced earlier this year, Samsung's Dr. Inyup Kang only stated that its "next flagship product" would feature AMD's "next-generation mobile GPU."

By adopting RDNA 2, SoC will have one of the most powerful GPUs available for smartphones, tablets, and even Windows PCs if Samsung chooses to go that route. GPU performance hasn't always been a strong suit with Samsung's [previous] custom GPU cores, so an upgrade to RDNA 2 will result in a considerable uplift in performance.

The performance boost will also allow Samsung to take advantage of critical AMD features present in its current-generation Radeon RX 6000 Series desktop and mobile GPUs. AMD says that the licensed RDNA 2 intellectual property (IP) "brings ray tracing and variable rate shading capabilities to flagship mobile devices."

Qualcomm's flagship Snapdragon 888 SoC features an Adreno 660 GPU, which was the first to enable variable-rate shading. However, ray tracing hasn't yet been attempted in the mobile [handheld] sector. Ray tracing is very resource-intensive, even on desktop platforms, so it will be interesting to see how the technology will be implemented on devices like smartphones and tablets.

That also brings up the question of fragmentation and game development. Samsung would be the only chip provider on the market with ray tracing hardware, and developers would need to modify their game engines to support the feature. Even though Samsung captures the lion's share of the Android smartphone market, that's likely asking a lot for developers to support a new feature that will be limited to a small subset of devices.

Samsung may stand alone with ray tracing support for quite some time in the mobile arena. If you recall, Arm announced its next-generation flagship GPU architecture last month -- the Mali G710 -- and there was no mention of ray tracing support. We have no clue what Apple is up to with its next-generation Apple Silicon, but it may also be working on ray tracing, which would quickly make its way to all its iPhones, iPads, and Macs.

The Exynos 2200, which would feature AMD's RDNA 2 IP, will be announced later this year and could first launch in a new Windows 10-based Galaxy laptop. It's also possible that a more efficient version of the Exynos 2200 will land in next year's [assumed] flagship Galaxy S22 family of smartphones.