Samsung’s chip-making arm may be about to score a big client if a report published today turns out to be true. Citing sources familiar with Qualcomm’s roadmap and Samsung’s foundry operations Re/code reports that Qualcomm is going to go with Samsung’s foundries for the mass production of its next high-end chip, the Snapdragon 820. Apparently Qualcomm has made this decision due to the fact that Samsung is already making chips using the 14-nm process, the chip inside the Galaxy S6 is built on this very process.
On the other hand Qualcomm’s traditional contract chip maker Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. and other foundry partners are still on the 20-nm process. From purely a business standpoint it makes sense for Qualcomm to go with Samsung since 14-nm chips are relatively cheaper to produce and offer more power efficiency as opposed to 20-nm chips. This was one of the reasons why Samsung decided to go with its own 14-nm Exynos 7420 processor for the Galaxy S6 instead of the Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 which companies like HTC and LG have used in their 2015 flagships. The report also claims that Qualcomm hopes this switch will win back business for Samsung’s next Galaxy S flagship smartphone.
Perhaps Samsung might go with the Snapdragon 820 for its next Galaxy S flagship given that the chip will have a custom-designed Qualcomm processor, graphics core and a built-in LTE modem. It will cost Samsung less than it did when the company decided to go with a separate modem chip to use with its own processor for the Galaxy S6. Nothing can be said for sure at this stage though as it’s pure speculation. Qualcomm will provide the Snapdragon 820 to OEMs for sampling later this year, the first devices running on this chip aren’t expected before 2016.