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Samsung could be working on a custom CPU for its phones (Update: Samsung denies)

Samsung could be returning to the custom CPU well, but don't hold your breath for a release any time soon.
By
March 6, 2023
The Samsung Exynos 2200 chipset.
Samsung
TL;DR
  • Samsung has denied it is working on a custom CPU core for its smartphone chips.
  • This rumored in-house CPU was reportedly going to debut in 2027.
  • The Korean brand previously used a custom CPU in its own chips from 2016 to 2020.

Update, March 6, 2023 (11:53 AM ET): In a statement sent to SamMobile, Samsung has flatly denied that it is working on any custom CPU core designs.

A recent media report that Samsung has established an internal team dedicated to CPU core development is not true. Contrary to the news, we have long had multiple internal teams responsible for CPU development and optimization, while constantly recruiting global talents from relevant fields.

Original article, March 6, 2023 (4:45 AM ET): Samsung has decided to skip Exynos processors for its Galaxy S23 phones this year, and it’s believed that the company is working on an in-house processor for launch in 2025.

Now, Korea’s Pulse News reports that Samsung Electronics is going a step further and has organized a team to develop a custom CPU core, citing multiple sources. It’s also believed that the firm has recruited a former AMD employee who was responsible for CPU development to lead this new team.

The outlet also reported that Samsung is accelerating work on its next-generation smartphone processor. It echoes a 2025 launch date and claims that it could be called Galaxy Chip. The Korean publication suggests that Samsung will stick with Arm CPU tech for this new processor, owing to custom CPU development still being in its early stages.

“Samsung Electronics will be able to boost completion level (sic) of its Galaxy Chip if it successfully develops a CPU core,” an industry source told Pulse News. “It will be able to load its own CPU in 2027 if development is carried out as planned.”

A return to custom CPUs

Samsung currently relies on off-the-shelf Arm CPU cores for its Exynos processors, but making its own custom cores would theoretically allow for improved horsepower and better efficiency. In fact, Qualcomm is taking this route with its upcoming Oryon CPU, which is expected to land in PC chips and eventually smartphone processors.

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This wouldn’t be the first time Samsung had a custom CPU core in its smartphone processors, though. The company previously used custom Mongoose CPU cores in Exynos processors from 2016 to 2020. But it killed its custom CPU team in 2019, opting to use Arm CPUs from 2021 onwards.

Our own benchmarking of the Exynos 990 (which was the last Samsung chipset to use custom CPUs) showed single-core CPU performance in the same ballpark as the Snapdragon 865. However, Samsung’s chipset lost out in other areas.

In other words, a custom CPU isn’t exactly a silver bullet for a great processor. Chipmakers also need to focus on areas like graphics, machine learning, image processing, and overall battery life. Nevertheless, this tech could give Samsung some options if Arm’s mobile CPUs aren’t powerful or efficient enough down the line.