Samsung Foundry has been under fire for a few years now due to an inferior semiconductor chip fabrication process compared to TSMC. Over the past couple of years, Samsung lost two big chip clients—Nvidia and Qualcomm—to TSMC. However, things might get better again, especially since Samsung Foundry's 3nm and 2nm processes are attracting clients. Qualcomm has also indicated that it will continue to work with Samsung Foundry despite its current flagship processor being made by TSMC.
Qualcomm will use Samsung Foundry and TSMC for Snapdragon chips
Qualcomm Senior Vice President Alex Katuzian, speaking to South Korean media at the Snapdragon Summit 2023 event, said that Qualcomm can identify in advance which foundry (semiconductor chip fabrication firm) has the best process technology for the latest processor. He also said Qualcomm is using both Samsung Foundry and TSMC to make its lineup of Snapdragon chips and that there are opportunities for all foundry companies.
Katuzian explained that the most important thing while choosing a foundry is Qualcomm's roadmap. Qualcomm CEO Cristiano Amon also iterated that the company has no choice but to use both foundries looking at Qualcomm's demand. He also said that Qualcomm is paying attention to foundries that are ahead of others in the market.
Alex Katuzian emphasized that Samsung Electronics is a key partner for Qualcomm, and the cooperation between the two companies is solid despite competition from Samsung's in-house Exynos chips. The two firms have been working together for more than 30 years, and its partnership with Samsung MX (smartphone division) is particularly strong. Samsung Foundry is also included in the partnership.
While Qualcomm officials refused to reveal the name of the foundry that will get to manufacture the Snapdragon 8 Gen 4, it is being reported that Qualcomm is considering Samsung Foundry's 3nm process for at least some of the chips. Samsung Foundry CTO mentioned a few days ago that the company is in talks with multiple big chip firms for its 1.4nm and 2nm process nodes.
Author's Note: Samsung Foundry and TSMC are the only foundries in the world that can make chips using 5nm or better process technologies. While TSMC is superior up to 4nm process, industry experts say that Samsung Foundry might have an edge when it comes to 3nm or newer process technologies due to its GAA (Gate All Around) transistor design that offers higher power efficiency compared to FinFET design that TSMC is using for its 3nm process. Samsung Foundry is close to finishing its second-generation 3nm process and has already started working on third-generation 3nm process technology.
With so many chips to be made, TSMC alone can't make all the chips for all the big chip firms like AMD, Apple, MediaTek, Nvidia, and Qualcomm. It is possible that Qualcomm could choose Samsung Foundry to make at least some Snapdragon 8 Gen 4 chips in the second half of next year.