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Samsung is about to copy Apple yet again

Updated Jan 19th, 2021 7:00AM EST
Samsung Exynos Chip
Image: Apple Inc.

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  • Samsung is reportedly developing an Exynos chip that will power Windows 10 computers, just like Apple’s M1 ARM chip that runs on the newest MacBook Air, Pro, and Mac mini.
  • Samsung has announced the Exynos 2100 system-on-chip (SoC) for the Galaxy S21 and other mobile devices.
  • It’s unclear what sort of specs and performance the unnamed Exynos platform for PC will offer, but Samsung seems to be copying Apple’s moves yet again.

It’s 2021, and Samsung is still copying Apple’s moves with its various products, especially on the mobile side of things. It’s not like the Korean giant can’t or won’t go first whenever it feels it’s ready to usher in new technology not available from Apple. Still, Samsung keeps waiting for Apple to take big risks before replicating those Apple’s moves. The newly launched Galaxy S21 series is the best example of Samsung following Apple. The phone comes without the usual free charger and earphones just a few months after Apple did the same thing with the iPhone — back then, Samsung mocked Apple in usual fashion. The Samsung SmartTags were launched at the same event, Tile-like devices for locating products, and the kind of gadget you wouldn’t have necessarily expected from Samsung or Apple. Many will say Samsung launched the SmartTags before Apple announced the AirTags. But the AirTags have been widely featured in Apple rumors, giving Samsung plenty of time to catch up. Samsung isn’t done replicating Apple’s moves, and the next product it targets is the Apple M1 chip.

Apple unveiled the M-series custom silicon for Macs in November, and the Apple M1-powered MacBook Air, Pro, and Mac mini have received praising reviews. The M1 is so good that it runs Windows better than Microsoft’s Surface Pro X, also an ARM-based PC. Apple wasn’t the first chipmaker to turn a smartphone chip into a PC desktop, with Qualcomm leading the way all the way back when the Snapdragon 835 was the best chip for Android phones. Qualcomm then launched custom ARM platforms for Windows devices, but the M1 just beats everything Qualcomm has done.

Samsung has been making Exynos chips for Galaxy phones for several years, receiving plenty of criticism recently for the 2019 generation of mobile platforms. This year, Samsung acknowledged all the backlash and came out with the Exynos 2100 platform for the Galaxy S21 and other Samsung flagships. Built on the latest chips licensed from Arm like the Snapdragon 888, the Exynos 2100 teases formidable performance and brand new features. In real-life use, it won’t touch the A14 Bionic that powers the iPhone 12 series.

A new report says Samsung is working on Exynos chips for Windows PCs, echoing similar rumors from the past. The question is, can Samsung do better than Qualcomm?

In theory, Samsung would have a lot more experience creating an ARM chip for a laptop, where internal space, power consumption, and efficiency needs aren’t as stringent as on handsets. But Samsung has the same problem on PC. Like on Android, Samsung only controls the hardware, whereas Apple’s A-series and M-series chips run on software that Apple makes. Whatever Exynos PC chip Samsung makes, it’ll still have to run Windows 10 (or Chrome OS) out of the gate. And Samsung is yet to prove that its custom 5nm processors are worthy on mobile, let alone PC.

Maybe that’s really the entire port of having Exynos run Windows 10. Samsung might want to show the world it can compete against Qualcomm. Maybe copying Apple’s M1 strategy has nothing to do with the M1. Maybe Samsung is just targeting more Android device makers with its Exynos business. Let’s not forget that Samsung is also rumored to be working on a custom Google chip that might power next-gen Pixel phones.

Then again, Qualcomm is working on its own next-gen Windows 10 platform to take on the M1, the rumored SC8280 chip that should follow the Snapdragon 8cx Gen 2.

It’s unclear when the first Exynos-powered Windows PCs will launch, but the fact that Samsung waited for Apple to release the M1 indicates the company is not ready to make big moves on its own.

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.