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Qualcomm reluctant to give Samsung access to its premium chipset design

The dynamic between major chipset manufacturers seems to be shifting constantly. In recent news, Samsung’s foundry business performed very well this year, yet it might find itself in a difficult position as Qualcomm has reportedly decided to keep its most premium chipset solution away from Samsung’s hands.

The Snapdragon 865 was initially thought to be manufactured by Samsung using its 7nm EUV process, but more recent reports seemingly confirm that the chipset is being mass-produced by TSMC. The reason, according to Business Korea, is that Qualcomm doesn’t want to share its AP-related intellectual properties with Samsung. This way it can better protect its trade secrets and weaken Samsung’s foundry business all at the same time.

A conflict of interests might be boiling

Samsung and Qualcomm have collaborated in the past and, in fact, the non-premium Snapdragon 765 chipset is still said to be planned to enter production in Samsung’s facilities. However, Qualcomm is apparently reluctant to give Samsung early previews of its top tier chipset solution, particularly because Samsung designs and manufactures its own chipset lineup Exynos.

Samsung is distancing itself from custom CPU cores for its Exynos SoCs, and the company will reportedly focus more on GPU and NPU development instead. Nevertheless, this might not be enough to convince Qualcomm that its technologies won’t be used against itself, and the US-based company will collaborate with TSMC more closely, while Samsung’s foundry business will lose a lot of potential revenue because of it.

Samsung’s foundry business is said to account for 17.8% of the market by the end of 2019. But even though its performance was positive throughout the year, TSMC continues to have the lion’s share with 52.7% of the market. Perhaps other collaborations will help Samsung’s foundry business in the long run, and it was earlier this week when the company announced that it will be making chips for Baidu.

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