Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Qualcomm reportedly ditches Samsung, moves ahead with TSMC for 7nm processors

Qualcomm chose Samsung to manufacture its 10nm Snapdragon 835 chipset late last year, thanks to the latter’s superior fabrication technology. It was a win-win situation for both the firms. The South Korean electronics firm reaped profits by manufacturing Snapdragon 835. On the other hand, Qualcomm had access to Samsung’s 10nm technology, and its chips were also used in millions of Galaxy S8 and S8+ units.

It is now being reported by Fudzilla that Qualcomm has ditched Samsung and contracted the manufacturing of its next-generation high-end chipset to Samsung’s rival TSMC. If this report is true, we can say that it has been a bad year for Samsung. It recently lost the Apple contract to manufacture processors for iPhones. Apparently, Qualcomm had been developing 7nm processor using chip development tools provided by TSMC since the second half of last year.

Qualcomm wants to mass produce its next-generation chipset (that could be named Snapdragon 845 or Snapdragon 855) sometime between the end of this year and early next year. Samsung recently separated its chip designing and chip manufacturing business. The company’s foundry business saw sales of $4.44 billion last year, and around 40% sales ($1.78 billion) came from manufacturing Snapdragon chipsets.

While Samsung wanted to focus on 10nm process, its 7nm technology was delayed. TSMC, on the other hand, focussed on 7nm technology, skipping the 10nm process. Samsung recently announced that its 7nm process will be based on EUV and that it has also added 8nm process in between 7nm and 10nm. The next Exynos chipset is reportedly based on 8nm process, which is a minor upgrade to 10nm FinFET process.

Mass production of chipsets based on Samsung’s 7nm technology is expected to commence in the second half of next year. Meanwhile, TSMC supplied its 7nm chip development tools to its clients last year, so it’s ahead of Samsung as of now.