Samsung is reportedly looking to shut down its custom CPU division based in Austin, Texas. The company will also lay off 290 employees as part of the exercise. The confirmation comes through a Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act (WARN) letter filed with the Texas Workforce Commission, The Statesman reports. The layoffs will be effective December 31 and are permanent. The affected employees do not have bumping rights, the report adds.
According to the WARN letter, the layoffs would affect Samsung's Advanced Computer Lab in San Jose, California, as well. It is not clear as to how many of the 290 layoffs would be from each of the two facilities.
Samsung has had operations in Austin since 1997. The South Korean company has reportedly invested over $17 billion in its Austin campus through the years. It runs a semiconductor manufacturing facility that employs around 3,000 people in the campus. The layoffs will not impact this manufacturing facility.
A WARN letter is a mandatory notice that employers need to provide to state governments in the event of major layoffs.
Samsung moving away from custom CPU cores
Samsung has been using its in-house Mongoose CPU cores in its Exynos chips since 2016, starting with the Exynos 8890 in the Galaxy S7. However, its Exynos chips have always lagged behind Qualcomm's Snapdragon chips in most of the key areas. The Galaxy Note 10's Exynos 9825 SoC features the fourth-generation Mongoose M4 core, which is on the same 7nm node as the Snapdragon 855's Kryo 485 core. The latter still outperforms the Exynos chip in multi-core usage scenarios.
Evidently, Samsung hasn't been able to bridge the gap even after four generations. And in a bid to stay competitive, the company has decided to move on and focus the efforts and resources elsewhere. Going forward, Samsung is likely to simply license standard cores from ARM or use semi-custom versions of these CPUs, just like Qualcomm does. This will ensure comparable performance on the same phone regardless of where it is sold.
"Based upon a thorough assessment of our System LSI (large scale integration) business and the need to stay competitive in the global market, Samsung has decided to transition part of our U.S.-based R&D teams in Austin and San Jose," the company said in a statement issued to Android Authority. Samsung also added that it remains committed to its US workforce.
There's no indication in any of the reports that Samsung will stop making Exynos chips altogether. The Galaxy S11 should still be available in both Exynos and Snapdragon configurations depending on the market. The international variant is expected to be powered by the Exynos 9830 SoC with four Cortex-A77 cores from ARM.
Samsung also recently collaborated with AMD for GPU designs.