Samsung’s foundry scored a major win this year for its 10nm node, teaming up with Qualcomm to fabricate the Snapdragon 835. However, it looks like Qualcomm may go with TSMC for its eventual node switch to 7nm, following Samsung’s delays in kicking off trial runs of the 7nm process.
The situation is one that’s all too familiar to Samsung — Apple also moved away from its fab to TSMC for the 16nm A10 Fusion chip, and with Qualcomm now set to do so, the foundry is in line to lose two of its biggest customers. For now, Samsung won’t see a discernable decrease in production as it continues to churn out 10nm chipsets over the course of the year, but the effects of Qualcomm’s shift to TSMC will be keenly felt next year.
Based on findings from industry sources talking to ETNews, Samsung’s foundry business saw sales of $4.4 billion last year, of which $1.78 billion was from Qualcomm — or 40% of its overall sales. THe main reason for Qualcomm’s switch is because of development delays for the 7nm node.
Qualcomm is hard at work on its next-gen flagship SoC, which is likely to be called the Snapdragon 845. Like this year — where we saw a shift from 14nm to 10nm — Qualcomm is looking to move to a 7nm node for the Snapdragon 845. While Samsung made a lot of ground when it comes to the 10nm node, it is TSMC that has the lead on the 7nm process — the fab ditched the 10nm node entirely to focus on its 7nm development. In fact, TSMC finished its trial runs sometime during the latter half of last year, whereas Samsung just finished its beta run.
Samsung is now turning its attention to the 8nm node, which is said to be an upgraded variant of the current 10nm node. The manufacturer’s next-gen Exynos chipset will be fabricated on this node, with production set to kick off sometime early next year.