The share prices of rival U.K. processor intellectual property licensors Imagination Technologies Group plc and ARM Holdings plc have been bouncing up and down on the London Stock Exchange over the last couple of days. And this would appear to be all because of uncertainty over who has provided the graphics processing unit for the Exynos 5 Octa application processor from Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd.
Stephen Woo, systems LSI president of Samsung, disclosed the availability of the eight-cored, "big-little" processor during a keynote presentation at the Consumer Electronics Show being held in Las Vegas last week, but he and a press release put out by Samsung provided very little detail.
As such it was left to reporters – myself included – to point out that Samsung was working closely with ARM, being the first company to announce a big-little processor based on Cortex-A series cores from ARM, and that previous versions of Exynos processors had used Mali graphics processors, also from ARM. If this continued, reporters, said it was reasonable to expect a Mali T604 would perform graphics duties inside the Exynos 5 Octa application processor.
I did ask Samsung for more information on the Exynos 5 Octa processor when the story broke. Something like a datasheet would have been perfect, but they have been unable to provide anything so far, or put up anyone to answer a few technical questions.
However, such lack of open-ness does have consequences. These consequences are not so much for Korean giant Samsung as for its suppliers ARM and Imagination.
It turns out stockbrokers were by and large expecting Imagination to have beaten ARM's Mali to the Exynos 5 Octa design slot and so on Monday Jan. 14, after the anecdotal discussion of Mali, Imagination's share price started to tumble on the London Stock Exchange. It fell from a high of nearly 480 pence on the Friday (Jan. 11) to a low of 420 pence on Monday (Jan. 14) just before the close. Meanwhile ARM stock enjoyed a buoyant Monday at close to record highs and closed at 873 pence.
Overnight a report has emerged in which the author states he is "fairly confident" that the GPU inside the Exynos 5 Octa processor is the PowerVR SGX 544MP3 running at a clock frequency of up to 533-MHz licensed from Imagination. That seems to have been enough for the stockbrokers this Tuesday morning (Jan. 15) who immediately knocked 4 percent of ARM's share price and had the stock trading at just below 840 pence. At the same Imagination shares climbed back up to recover most of the ground lost on Monday.
The irony is that both ARM and Imagination know very well what the situation is, but must sit and watch while their share prices bungee up and down. For it is the customers' prerogative to choose when and how to disclose details of their products.
Meanwhile we wait for information from Samsung.
Related links and articles:
Samsung reveals eight-core mobile processor
ST-Ericsson shows FDSOI smartphone processor
Renesas big-little LTE processor wins praise
Samsung shows $250 Exynos 5 Dual development board