Samsung’s Exynos chips have a rocky past. Last year Samsung announced that they will shut down their custom core development team AKA the people who made Mangoos cores and instead will use directly off the shelf stock ARM cores just like Qualcomm. And the results were better than expected.
The Exynos 2100 performs better than the Snapdragon 888 in the CPU department. But now it seems Samsung might start developing custom CPU cores once again. You heard that right.
A new report out of South Korea claims that Samsung is recruiting Engineers to make custom cores for Exynos processors. Don’t worry, the mangoos cores aren’t coming back, this new custom core team has nothing to do with the old one. In fact, the Engineer that Samsung is hiring is from Apple, and he’s a senior CPU designer who worked on multiple chipsets from Apple.
Everyone and even their dogs know at this point Apple is the best when it comes to mobile chipsets. Apple’s success isn’t magic. It is a result of excellent engineering, a good lead time over its competitors, and of course custom chipsets. Unlike Samsung and Qualcomm who use off-the-shelf stock ARM cores, Apple creates their own custom cores which gives them the freedom to make bigger chipsets with big cache sizes.
Samsung did have their own custom core division but the problem was they didn’t have the right Engineering team. That’s the reason Samsung is now hiring former CPU engineers from Apple and as well as from AMD. It’s being reported that the Engineer from Apple who was a major player in the development of Apple’s custom chipsets is demanding to be fully in control of their own team and to choose which employees to bring onto the said team.
Now you might ask, why in the world Samsung is going back to create custom cores especially after what happened in the past. Well, there’s a good reason for that. You see Qualcomm has acquired Nuvia for $1.4 billion which is a start-up company consisting of industry veterans who were behind the creation of Apple’s high-performance CPU cores, and who were aiming to disrupt the server market with a new high-performance core called “Phoenix”.
So it’s a matter of time before Qualcomm will ditch stock ARM cores in favor of their own custom cores and when that happens, Samsung will be at a big disadvantage because custom cores will always be better than stock cores unless that custom core is called mangoos. So it makes total sense why Samsung wants to go back to custom cores.
In any case, Samsung and Qualcomm hiring the best people from Apple mean Android chips will get significantly better and Apple might lose the competitive advantage at least in the silicon department. Apple fans might say that Apple will use the M1 chip on iPhones to counter this. Well, that’s not going to happen because the M1 chip is too big in size to fit in a phone.
And besides, the A-series chip is already based on the same ARM architecture as the M1 chip so even if in the future Apple manages to reduce the size of the M1 to that of the A series bionic, the performance will be nearly identical.
So yes, Apple does have a lot to worry about Samsung and Qualcomm hiring their best engineers but we’ll have to wait and see when this thing is going to materialize as we still have no time frame when Samsung and Qualcomm are shifting to custom cores.