Licensing Of Radeon GPU IP To Samsung By Advanced Micro Devices Inc. [Amd]

Introduction of Both Companies

Advanced Micro Devices, Inc. (AMD), incorporated on May 1,1969, is located in United States at San Francisco Bay area. AMD is a global semiconductor company. The Company’s segments include the Computing and Graphics segment. The Computing and Graphics segment primarily includes desktop and notebook processors and chipsets, discrete GPUs and professional graphics.[1]

Samsung, is a South Korean company that is one of the world’s largest producers of electronic devices. Samsung specializes in the production of a wide variety of consumer and industry electronics, including appliances, digital media devices, semiconductors, memory chips, and integrated systems. [2]

The News

Recently Samsung and AMD announced a new multi-year strategic partnership between the two companies, where AMD will license graphics IP to Samsung for use in mobile GPUs.

What is GPU

A graphics processing unit (GPU) is a computer chip that performs rapid mathematical calculations, primarily for the purpose of rendering images.In a smartphone, the GPU (graphics processing unit) is a central part of the system hardware. It differs from the CPU by handling the visual rendering elements of a phone’s display, whereas the CPU is the brain of the device, handling all the heavy computation and logic behind the screen.Combined, both have a dramatic effect on the performance capabilities of a given device. [3]

What is Strategic Partnership

Licensing AMD’s graphic IP to Samsung is a strategic partnership between both the companies by which both the companies would profit.

So, A strategic partnership is a relationship between two commercial enterprises. Typically, two companies form a strategic partnership when each possesses one or more business assets or have expertise that will help the other by enhancing their businesses.

How Both the Companies Would Benefit From This Strategic Partnership

By AMD and Samsung strategic partnership, both would benefit from each other’s expertise, that is Samsung would commercialize radeon GPU IP of AMD and this in turn develop Samsung product, thus would leave to enhancement of each other’s business. AMD announced that Samsung will leverage its RDNA graphics architecture for “ultra low power, high performance mobile graphics,” and the partnership is particularly significant because it marks AMD’s re entry into the mobile space.It’s a major win for Samsung as it allows the manufacturer to differentiate its products from rivals.

From president of Samsung S.LSI Inyup Kang:

‘As we prepare for disruptive changes in technology and discover new opportunities, our partnership with AMD will allow us to bring groundbreaking graphics products and solutions to market for tomorrow’s mobile applications. We look forward to working with AMD to accelerate innovations in mobile graphics technologies that will help take future mobile computing to the next level.”[4]

It’s also a significant win for AMD as it gets to license its IP to the world’s largest phone manufacturer, resulting in a lucrative new source of revenue.

The two companies said the partnership would emphasize mobile devices, primarily smartphones. AMD’s CEO Dr. Lisa Su said: “this strategic partnership will extend the reach of our high-performance Radeon graphics into the mobile market, significantly expanding the Radeon user base and development ecosystem.”[5] Basically AMD’s deal with Samsung is an IP licensing agreement, that is AMD is selling Samsung access to its graphical architecture.  The Samsung partnership is just another in a string of similar partnerships for AMD. Sony and Microsoft have been working with AMD for almost a decade.[6]

SSo, we see that both AMD and Samsung would benefit from this strategic partnership. Samsung would benefit from AMG radeon graphics by using them in their products which in turn mark the entry of AMD into the mobile market. This would lead to commercialization of AMD graphics, since such a big mobile manufacturer that is Samsung is partnering with them. It’s a profit situation for both the companies.

Meaning of Licensing in Context of Patent

Now let’s see what licensing means in context of a patent. For that first let’s understand what is a patent.

WIPO defines patent as an exclusive right granted for an invention, which is a product or a process that provides, in general, a new way of doing something, or offers a new technical solution to a problem.[7]A patent is a right granted to the owner to stop others from using his invention without his consent for making, using, selling or offering for sale his patent. Therefore, only on mutually agreed terms can other parties use the creator’s patented invention and this gives rise to the concept of licensing.

Licensing is a legal tool through which the patent rights can be transferred to any person who wishes to work the invention at any time before the expiry of patent. Through this, the patent owner authorizes the person (licensee) to utilize the patent rights upon agreed conditions.By granting a license to a person, the patent owner authorizes the person (licensee) to exercise the patent rights under certain circumstances. Patent licensing plays a vital role in technology commercialization.[8]

Samsung IP licensing agreement with AMD’s for Radeon graphics IP is a good example of technology commercialization. The deal involves Samsung paying AMD a technology license fee and royalties. So, we might see significant graphics improvements in upcoming Exynos chipsets.

Conclusion

We can conclude that Samsung has inked a multi-year deal that will see the manufacturer license AMD’s Radeon graphics IP for use in its mobile chipsets. The announcement is a major disruptive move for the mobile graphics landscape as it signifies that Samsung is going forward with the productization of their own in-house GPU architecture in future Exynos chipsets. Productization basically means The act of modifying something, such as a concept or a tool internal to an organization, to make it suitable as a commercial product.So, Samsung by using AMD’s graphics IP in their smartphones, modifies the graphics of their product which in turn would lead to good consumer experience. This strategic partnership between both the companies would benefit them as using radeon graphics by Samsung in their smartphone,  could differentiate its product from competitors, basically gives an edge to Samsung in using graphics technology in smartphones. Further there would be commercialization of AMD’s products which would be profitable for AMD.

Not only both the companies would benefit from this deal but also consumers could get access to good graphics in their smartphones. Well we must say it will  be interesting to see how AMD customizes the RDNA architecture for smartphones, and how Samsung integrates it into its Exynos designs. If it is successful then this will lead to graphics innovation in the mobile market, particularly innovation in mobile graphics.

Author: Purnashri Das, Intern at Khurana & Khurana, Advocates and IP Attorneys. In case of any queries please contact/write back to us at rishabh@khuranaandkhurana.com

References:

[1] Reuters, https://www.reuters.com/finance/stocks/company-profile/AMD.PH, accessed on 11th June 2019

[2] Peter Bondarenko, Encyclopedia Britannica, https://www.britannica.com/topic/Samsung-Electronics, accessed on 11th June 2019

[3]The most used smartphone GPU – 2019, Device Atlas, https://deviceatlas.com/blog/most-used-smartphone-gpu, accessed on 11th June 2019

[4] An Indian perspective on licensing or sale of patents,INVNTREE, May 15 2013, www.invntree.com/blogs/indian-perspective-licensing-or-sale-patents, accessed on 12 June 2019

[5] An Indian perspective on licensing or sale of patents,INVNTREE, May 15 2013, www.invntree.com/blogs/indian-perspective-licensing-or-sale-patents, accessed on 12 June 2019

[6]Matthew Connatser ,June 3, 2019 at 7:08 AM, Samsung to License AMD’s RDNA Graphics IP for Smartphones, https://www.tomshardware.com/news/amd-samsung-rdna-graphics-ip,39563.html, accessed on 12th June 2019

[7]https://www.wipo.int/patents/en/

[8] An Indian perspective on licensing or sale of patents, INVNTREE, May 15 2013, www.invntree.com/blogs/indian-perspective-licensing-or-sale-patents, accessed on 12 June 2019

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