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Samsung Inks Long-Term Mali GPU Agreement With ARM

June 4, 2015 - Written By Lucius Bossio

Samsung and ARM recently announced a long-term graphics technology agreement that will extend the Korean giant’s access to ARM’s Mali line of GPUs. In the past Samsung has utilized Mali GPUs for their in-house Exynos line of chipsets, including the lauded Exynos 7420 inside of the Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 Edge, which makes use of the Mali T760 MP8. The deal gives Samsung access to the newest set of Mali GPUs, which includes the Mali T820/830/860 and high-end Mali T880 that was just announced.

Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the licensing agreement is that it encompasses not only the most recent crop of Mali GPUs, but all Mali GPUs in the future. This somewhat quashes recent rumors that Samsung would be developing its own GPU for its Exynos line, similar to Qualcomm with its Adreno GPUs in their Snapdragon SOCs. That being said, Samsung may develop their own GPU based off of the Mali architecture, though that seems unlikely given the scope of their licensing agreement with ARM.

A long-term deal that heavily vests Samsung in the Mali line of GPUs also indicates the company plans to continue using their own processing packages in future devices, leaving Qualcomm’s Snapdragon line out in the cold. This does not bode well for Qualcomm, as Samsung was their biggest customer prior to the Korean company’s annexation of Snapdragon in the Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 Edge. For consumers, on the other hand, this is definitely a good thing. Samsung’s Exynos 7420 has proven to be the fastest and most efficient mobile processor in the world, beating rivals from Qualcomm, MediaTek, and Huawei by a significant margin; though, admittedly, Qualcomm’s Adreno 430 GPU does outperform the Mali T760 MP8 on balance. Samsung’s rise to the top of the mobile processor market will only increase pressure on Qualcomm, who enjoyed the cushy premier position for far too long, to outperform its new rival.

The new agreement also sheds some light on what GPU will be found in the upcoming Galaxy Note 5. Presumably Samsung has been preparing a new and improved SOC for their upcoming flagship phablet. Hopefully this new deal comes early enough in its development to incorporate the highest end GPU available from ARM, the Mali T880, or at least ARM’s slightly older Mali T860 GPU, which should still outclass the Mali T760 MP8. Regardless what happens with the Galaxy Note 5 the new technology agreement will have the two companies working closely for a very long time; between Samsung and ARM they should be able to come up with a chipset that has the highest graphical performance we have ever seen.