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Confirmed: Samsung shutters custom CPU team

The recently announced Exynos 990 features Samsung custom Mongoose 5 ARM-based cores. (Source: Samsung)
The recently announced Exynos 990 features Samsung custom Mongoose 5 ARM-based cores. (Source: Samsung)
It’s official – the Samsung Austin Research Center (SARC) has been shuttered as rumored around a month ago. As a result, Samsung’s latest Exynos 990 could be the last, or one of the last, chips from the company to feature its custom Mongoose ARM-based cores.

One area where Apple continues to lead the innovation charge is in its custom A-series silicon and there is little doubt this was a factor in the establishment of the Samsung Austin Research Center (SARC). When it was set up in 2010, Samsung was on the ascendancy and eventually SARC started to focus on developing custom ARM-based cores dubbed “Mongoose”. Based on the fastest ARM cores in each generation, these were further optimized for efficiency and performance.

However, following rumors of SARC’s demise that firmed up about a month ago, Samsung has now made the closure official via a Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) letter provided to authorities in the event of major job losses. In this instance, we are talking about 290 employees being laid off. This includes members of the team that just saw their most recent custom Mongoose 5 core fitted to the just-announced Exynos 990.

With Samsung’s mobile division under significant pressure from cheaper Chinese competition (essentially doing to Samsung what it did to Sony and other Japanese makers), it comes as no surprise that Samsung has come to the conclusion that the time, effort and money sunk into the developing custom cores is no longer justified. This doesn’t mean the end of its Exynos chipsets, but it does mean that it will simply utilize unmodified ARM chips designs for all its future mobile CPU cores.

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Sanjiv Sathiah, 2019-11- 4 (Update: 2019-11- 4)