Samsung And AMD Lay Groundwork To Infuse Exynos Chips With RDNA 3 Graphics

Samsung Exynos SoC next to an RDNA GPU
Samsung and AMD have jointly announced an extension to a license agreement to continue using the latter's Radeon graphics solutions in the former's home-brewed Exynos system-on-chip (SoC) designs. And while not specifically mentioned in the announcement, this paves the way for Samsung to leverage AMD's RDNA 3 architecture in its future mobile chips.

"Together with AMD, Samsung has been revolutionizing mobile graphics, including our recent collaboration that brought ray tracing capability to mobile processors for the first time in the industry," said Seogjun Lee, Executive Vice President of Application Processor (AP) Development at Samsung Electronics. "Drawing on our technological know-how in designing ultra-low-power solutions, we will continue to drive ongoing innovation in the mobile graphics space."

Exynos 2200 hovering above a mainboard with the caption, "Playtime is over."

This collaboration formally began in 2019 amid much hype and anticipation over the promise of "console-like" features and gameplay in a mobile chip designed for smartphones. So far, this partnership has culminated in the Exynos 2200 infused with an Xclipse 920 GPU based on AMD's RDNA 2 architecture. This is where Lee's reference to ray tracing comes from. It also brought variable rate shading (VRS) to the table.

The initial partnership and now this extension serves as another feather in AMD's cap, which has spread its Radeon graphics to desktop and laptop PCs, several game consoles (including the Xbox Series X|S and PlayStation 5), and to smartphones.

"We are excited Samsung selected multiple generations of our leadership high-performance Radeon graphics to advance the next generation of Samsung Exynos solutions," said David Wang, Senior Vice President of the Radeon Technologies Group at AMD. "The extension of our work with Samsung is a testament to our strong technology partnership and commitment to bring the best experiences possible to mobile users."

It will be interesting to see if this renewed collaboration will bring more interesting solutions than what we've seen so far. While promising on paper, the pairing of Radeon graphics with Samsung's Exynos chips hasn't resulting in gaming domination in smartphones. Qualcomm's Snapdragon solutions have been the better all-around performers, with the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 finding its way into several flagship Android phones. It also brought support for hardware-accelerated ray tracing (though the Xclipse 920 is generally faster without rasterized rendering factored in).

This is partially why Samsung continues to use Qualcomm's hardware in its own phones (including the Galaxy S23), in addition to Exynos silicon depending on the territory. Nevertheless, this partnership is still relatively new. Renewing the license agreement gives Samsung and AMD more opportunities to tap into the potential of this collaboration for future SoCs, and live up to the phrase, 'Teamwork makes the dream work.'