It is fair to say that AMD is firing on all cylinders these days, and companies are taking notice. Following the recent launch of its third-generation Ryzen processors based on Zen 2 and an unveiling of Navi, AMD has now partnered with Samsung to license its Radeon graphics IP, which will now find its way into mobile devices.
That includes smartphones, as Samsung looks for "disruptive changes in technology," and "new opportunities." Partnering with AMD to license its Radeon graphics IP fits those agendas, and in a potentially big way.
"Our partnership with AMD will allow us to bring groundbreaking graphics products and solutions to market for tomorrow’s mobile applications," said Inyup Kang, president of Samsung Electronics’ S.LSI Business. "We look forward to working with AMD to accelerate innovations in mobile graphics technologies that will help take future mobile computing to the next level."
As it pertains to smartphones, Samsung has mostly relied on a combination of its own Exynos hardware for international models, and Qualcomm's Snapdragon SoCs, both based on ARM designs. It's difficult to know exactly what will come from this, but one plausible path is that Samsung is forging ahead with in-house graphics hardware development (based on AMD's Radeon graphics IP) for use with its own Exynos SoCs.
What's interesting is that Samsung has been rumored to be building its own GPU designs for several years now. It's not clear if this partnership with AMD means that Samsung is suddenly pivoting away, or if the licensed tech will be integrated into Samsung's existing designs. The press release is not clear on this matter.
All we really know from the announcement is that Samsung will license custom graphics IP based on AMD's RDNA (Radeon DNA) graphics architecture, for use in mobile devices, including smartphones and other products. Samsung will pay AMD both license fees and royalties on the related products it sells.
This is a big move (and opportunity) for AMD, just as much as it is for Samsung.
"Adoption of our Radeon graphics technologies across the PC, game console, cloud and HPC markets has grown significantly and we are thrilled to now partner with industry leader Samsung to accelerate graphics innovation in the mobile market," said Dr. Lisa Su, AMD president and CEO. "This strategic partnership will extend the reach of our high-performance Radeon graphics into the mobile market, significantly expanding the Radeon user base and development ecosystem."
Investors reacted by sending AMD's shares up more than 7 percent in early morning trading. As noted by Barron's, AMD is having a good year, with its stock rising around 60 percent so far in 2019.