Report: Samsung to expand third-party Exynos SoC sales

American buyers looking for a high-end phone have an excellent chance of ending up with a SoC from one of two families: an Apple A-series chip in one of the various iPhone models, or a chip from Qualcomm's Snapdragon 800-series portfolio used by almost all Android vendors. Huawei uses its in-house HiSilicon Kirin 970 in a couple of handsets, but those are a drop in the bucket compared to the flagship market taken as a whole.

Phone vendors might soon be getting an additional high-end SoC option from Samsung, as the Korean silicon manufacturer is reportedly expanding third-party sales of its Exynos chips beyond current exclusive customer Meizu to anyone who wants them, including troubled Chinese phone maker ZTE.

Samsung doesn't use its own Exynos SoCs in US-bound phones, possibly owing to the integrated modems' lack of CDMA support. American wireless network operators Verizon and Sprint both employ this wireless channel access method in their networks, but CDMA is far less common in the rest of the world. Anandtech's testing suggests that the latest chips from Samsung have not yet caught up with Qualcomm's most powerful mobile chips in performance or power efficiency, but the Exynos chips nevertheless have enough scoot to satisfy most users' needs.

Inyup Kang, the leader of Samsung's logic chip development efforts, said he expects his employer to announce a new round of Exynos chips in the first half of 2019, suggesting that the unnamed third-party may already be developing a phone built around an Exynos SoC.

ZTE may desperately need chips from Samsung in order to maintain its presence in the smartphone market. The company has been banned from purchasing parts from US-based vendors like Qualcomm for seven years as punishment for selling products with parts manufactured in the US to Iran and North Korea. Reuters says ZTE has been scrambling to diversify its parts sourcing even as US President Donald Trump promised to help the company “get back in business fast.” For its part, Samsung told Reuters that no agreement with ZTE had yet been reached and that it “treats all vendors equally.”

Samsung would also reportedly like to increase its footprint in the burgeoning market for high-end silicon for automotive applications. Reuters says the company also has a deal to provide Exynos SoCs to German automaker Audi. The application of those chips wasn't specified, but the company apparently would like to sell the processors needed for autonomous driving, too.

According to Reuters, Samsung's chipmaking business generated a profit of 35.2 trillion won last year (about $33 billion), good for almost two-thirds of the entire company's profit of 53.65 billion won (about $50 billion). The outlet says about 96% of silicon-sourced profits came from memory chip manufacturing, a figure that surely wouldn't surprise anyone that has tried to build a PC lately. Growing its customer base to include third-party phone manufacturers and automakers could help Samsung's silicon division cushion the blow when or if memory demand and pricing returns to normal levels.

Comments closed
    • ronch
    • 1 year ago

    Be careful when you type those billions and trillions. Just two letters wrong can mean boatloads of money.

    And speaking of boatloads of money, Samsung seems to be taking full advantage of the current state of the DRAM market, isn’t it??

    • tipoo
    • 1 year ago

    This is good news competition wise, albeit the last Exynos seemed to have trouble getting its single core advantage over the Snapdragon (nearing the A10) on the ground. Seemed either a governor issue or else the big cores took too much power so they had to be conservative in turning them on.

    Wonder if that’ll look different after a few more months of patches.

      • willmore
      • 1 year ago

      Might look different in a tablet on on a SBC, too because of looser thermal constraints.

    • albundy
    • 1 year ago

    what makes it high end? they’ve been stripping features like crazy to the point where i’d consider an iPhone, since there wouldn’t be much difference.

      • DancinJack
      • 1 year ago

      I think you’re conflating SoCs with phones.

        • flip-mode
        • 1 year ago

        They removed the headphone jack from my SoC, dag nabbit.

    • uni-mitation
    • 1 year ago

    [quote<] According to Reuters, Samsung's chipmaking business generated a profit of 35.2 trillion won last year (about $33 billion), good for almost two-thirds of the entire company's profit of 53.65 billion won (about $50 billion).[/quote<] From the linked article: [quote<] Samsung’s semiconductor business, reporting a 2017 operating profit of 35.2 trillion won ($33 billion), contributed more than 65 percent of the whole firm’s record annual profit of 53.65 trillion won last year. [/quote<] But then let's not take the article word's for it. Let's find the real source. Please look at page 94 of [url=http://images.samsung.com/is/content/samsung/p5/global/ir/docs/2017_con_quarter04_all.pdf<] Samsung's 2017 audited financial statement.[/url<] So in actuality, Samsung's consolidated semiconductor segments brought 35,204,143k in profits out of a total company pie of 53,645,038k which is roughly 65.62 % rounded to the nearest hundredth. There were some other much triggering grammar mistakes: I am a Grammar Nazi. But I think being factual is much more important in this line of work. uni-mitation Edit- Got the page number wrong, it is 94 instead of 95 Edit2- The reported figures are in millions of Korean Won which is roughly thousands of dollars. I hope you don't mind this as I wrote it for an American audience since at today's market 1 USD >> 1078 won (rounded up).

      • NTMBK
      • 1 year ago

      65.2% is almost two thirds, so… there was nothing wrong with the article? :/

        • faramir
        • 1 year ago

        I guess he meant to say someone flunked elementary school maths:

        “a profit of 35.2 trillion won last year (about $33 billion), good for almost two-thirds of the entire company’s profit of 53.65 billion won (about $50 billion)”

        If 35.2 trillion won is approximately $33 billion (wow!) then 53.65 billion cannot possibly come out to about $50 billion.

    • RdVi
    • 1 year ago

    Good. Hopefully they can bring some proper competition to Qualcomm.

    • willmore
    • 1 year ago

    I wonder if this means we’ll see another Samsung based ODROID board.

      • faramir
      • 1 year ago

      Hopefully running something faster than the 5xxx series SoC … fingers crossed! 🙂

        • willmore
        • 1 year ago

        On the up side, the long dwelling on that chip (and its family) had lead to it having very good mainline kernel support as well as other drivers (GPU, etc.)

      • tipoo
      • 1 year ago

      Ooh, now that would be interesting.

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