Processor chipmaker Qualcomm has had its share of criticism since 2015 began, with rumors that its Snapdragon 810 processor has an overheating issue. LG announced its G Flex 2 earlier this year, stating that its second-generation flexible phone would be ready for primetime a little later on this year. Yet and still, there has been no shortage of tech reviewers all affirming that the Snapdragon 810 does have overheating issues. The Snapdragon 810 problem has not prevented LG and HTC from putting on a brave face and affirming the positive despite the cold, hard truth. HTC's most recent OTA update for the One M9 includes thermal improvements.
Today’s words from a Bernstein Research analyst may shed some light on this problem while bringing more good news for top Android OEM Samsung. Mark Li said in a note this morning that Samsung may very well become Qualcomm’s processor chip supplier and that TSMC, for whom Qualcomm has been a top client, may depart and take its business to the Korean manufacturer:
QCOM’s 20nm Snapdragon 810 reportedly has overheating issues and is losing some ground to Samsung’s 14nm Exynos 7420 in performance. This has prompted QCOM to migrate to 14/16nm at a faster pace. As QCOM accounts for 40-50% of TSMC’s 2015 20nm demand, such shift will make 20nm’s revenue trajectory much weaker than for prior nodes for TSMC
With the acceleration in 14/16nm, QCOM is also shifting to Samsung as the primary supplier in this node late this year or early 2016. Samsung, and to a lesser degree GlobalFoundries, is a viable alternative to TSMC in this node and QCOM can get better pricing and capacity support.
There are a few things to learn from Li’s statement. First, the Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 does have overheating issues, despite claims from OEMs that say otherwise. Next, the Snapdragon 810 “is losing some ground to Samsung’s 14nm Exynos 7420.” Current benchmarks agree. Last but not least, Li says that Samsung will be the “primary supplier” at the end of 2015 and will lead production for Qualcomm throughout all of 2016, stealing away a great deal of profit from TSMC. Samsung’s downfall and proclaimed doom by some analysts are not guaranteed, in light of these facts.
Samsung’s win with Qualcomm orders will soothe the blow of losing the majority of future Apple orders to TSMC. Still, with Qualcomm becoming a new client, it’s likely the case that Samsung won’t mind. Even with this good news for Samsung’s bottom line, it leaves the 2015 Android device lineup (with the Snapdragon 810) with its own series of questions.