Samsung Electronics and TSMC are competing to get clients for their 2nm chip fabrication processes. While Samsung didn't get clients other than its own System LSI business for its 3nm process, it is hoping to compete with TSMC in a better way with its 2nm process, and it may have received a potential client in the form of Qualcomm.
Samsung may get a chance to make a 2nm Snapdragon 8 Gen series processor
It is being reported by ETNews that Qualcomm has commissioned Samsung to develop a 2nm prototype chip for the next-generation Snapdragon 8 Gen series. This is an important accomplishment for Samsung. While there are many steps between prototype commission and the actual mass production of chips, it shows that Qualcomm is interested in Samsung Foundry's 2nm fabrication process. This could lead to the final order if the prototype chip fabricated by Samsung passes the company's performance and yield targets.
This process is called Multi-Wafer Project (MWP), and it refers to creating multiple semiconductor chip prototypes on a single wafer. Based on the performance of this prototype, companies decide whether or not to move forward to the next step. Since the 2nm process has been created for the first time in the industry, and Samsung and TSMC are both working on their own versions, Qualcomm has ordered both firms to create prototypes. It will take some time before it is clear who gets the order to make Qualcomm's next-generation flagship smartphone chip.
According to Samsung's own estimates, it can start the mass production of 2nm chips using its Gate All Around (GAA) process in the second half of 2022. It made System LSI's (Samsung's semiconductor chip design firm that designs Exynos and other chips) Exynos 2400 processor that is made using its third-generation 4nm process (4LPP+). The chip is used in the Galaxy S24 and the Galaxy S24+ in most countries worldwide.
Samsung Foundry is eager to make a comeback with the 2nm process
Qualcomm assigned contracts to Samsung Foundry to make the Snapdragon 888 and Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 chips but later moved to TSMC for the Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1, Snapdragon 8 Gen 2, and Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 due to power efficiency issues with Samsung's processes. This tarnished Samsung Foundry's image, and the company is working hard to make a comeback in Qualcomm's lineup. Despite starting to make 3nm chips earlier than TSMC, Samsung didn't get any 3nm chip orders from Qualcomm.