Samsung is one of very few vendors to its their own chips. Other companies that do this include Apple and Huawei, with LG and ZTE also working on that.
Up until recently, the Exynos series didn’t integrate modems, prompting the Korean giant to buy gear from Qualcomm for its high-end models. Things are changing now (latest Exynos chips come with LTE connectivity support), and soon enough we predict that a Snapdragon-powered Samsung phone or tablet will be a rarity. Koreans may do so only to keep up with the demand for their gear, but otherwise they don’t like paying the American chip designer for something they can produce.
Like that’s not enough, Sammy is now exploring a way to make its own graphic chips. Right now they are licensing ARM’s Mali architecture, but if they manage to come up with their own solution, they’ll be able to keep their margins up in the sky. At the same time, they will be able to compete in lower ends of the market, underpricing a number of vendors along the way; yes, this includes Chinese handset makers, as well.
You see, labor in China is getting more expensive with the day. Samsung noticed this long time ago, and has turned to Vietnam for production of some of its devices. There, the labor costs are lower, leaving more room for profits.
Back to the GPU story. The rumor has it that Samsung has managed to hire engineers from Nvidia, AMD, Intel and few other companies to work on the mentioned graphic chip. If they manage to out-Qualcomm the Qualcomm, we may see easily Samsung turning into the world’s largest chip maker. Just imagine the day when every single Samsung smartphone and tablet would rock an Exynos chip.
Alas, as of today there are only few companies making GPU designs, so this isn’t an easy task. That being said, we’re likely a few years away from seeing the first Exynos SoC that ingrates all of the components designed in Korea. Still, this sounds like good news for Samsung shareholders, I would say.