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October 4, 2017

Trademark filings reveal LG may be working on its own in-house processor

by John_A

Why it matters to you

LG’s own mobile processors could mean faster LG phones, with more custom features in the future.

LG has filed for two new brand name trademarks with the European Intellectual Property Office, but neither is related to smartphones, televisions, or white goods. At least, not directly. Instead, the trademarked names are processors, the Kromax and the Epik. The descriptions are very vague, referring to them only as “Chips” and “Multiprocessor Chips,” and there’s no indication what devices these processors may end up powering.

LG produces a wide range of products, making it possible the Kromax and Epik chips could end up powering a refrigerator; but it’s entirely possible these chips are destined for use inside a smartphone. LG has dabbled with making its own processor in the past, called the Nuclun, which wasn’t a success. It powered a single model, the LG G3 Screen — yes, it was that long ago — and wasn’t designed to take on the fastest chips from Qualcomm at the time. While rumors then spread of a more powerful Nuclun 2 processor, the chip itself was never released.

This may be because LG’s plans changed. In August 2016, LG and Intel announced a collaboration where it would, “produce a world-class mobile platform based on Intel Custom Foundry’s 10nm design platform.” At the same time, Intel and ARM announced they would would together on the development of an ARM system-on-a-chip based on Intel’s 10nm process. Could the Kromax and the Epik be the result of LG, Intel, and ARM all coming together?

Not only is it possible, it also makes sense. When LG released the LG G6 earlier this year it included the Qualcomm Snapdragon 821 processor inside, and not the newest Qualcomm Snapdragon 835, due to a lengthy wait time on the chip, because Samsung had a hold on the earliest shipments for use in the Galaxy S8. LG eventually used the Snapdragon 835 in the LG V30. Samsung has its own processor line, the Exynos, which is used in some internationally launched Galaxy phones and tablets. It also licenses them out to other brands, such as Meizu.

If the Kromax and Epik are future LG smartphone processors, the company could avoid having to settle for an older processor again in the future, should similar industry deals get in its way. An Intel/LG chip built using the 10nm process would be comparable to the Snapdragon 835 and the Samsung Exynos 9 8895, and provide LG with more ways to differentiate and customize its devices.

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