Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 855 chip may be manufactured by Samsung’s foundry unit after all, contrary to December reports stating the San Diego-based chipmaker commissioned TSMC for the production of its first 7nm chip as Samsung was late to finalizing its next-generation technology node. While TSMC and Qualcomm may have already reached an agreement on manufacturing the new mobile chip, Qualcomm is still able to return to Samsung and may be inclined to do so given how the South Korean tech giant reportedly completed its 7nm EUV process six months ahead of schedule. While the firm’s new solutions won’t be ready to support flow production until the second half of the year, Qualcomm likely wasn’t planning on mass-manufacturing the Snapdragon 855 prior to late 2018 anyway.
By having the first foundry operation capable of leveraging extreme ultraviolet light for producing contemporary mobile chips, Samsung should be able to deliver silicon that allows for unprecedented energy efficiency and performance on a large scale and do so with better yield rates than TSMC because EUV reduces production cycle times and can lower the frequency of edge placement errors during the process of creating chips. The overall manufacturing still costs aren’t expected to go down in a significant manner once, at least not in regards to the first generation of 7nm EUV solutions, though other benefits are by themselves large enough to have pushed Samsung into pursuing the technology.
TSMC’s 7nm chips will still be made with deep ultraviolet lithography utilized for the last two process node generations which cannot guarantee yield rates comparable to those expected from EUV-based solutions, even though neither technology directly benefits the end product itself. Samsung‘s node designers are now already said to have moved to the 5nm process, whereas the 7nm EUV one is presently being prepared for mass production. Qualcomm was already expected to return to Samsung with the Snapdragon 865 meant to be produced in late 2019 but if the Seoul-based chaebol manages to commercialize the 7nm EUV platform in the second half of the year, the U.S. chipmaker may never leave its foundry partner in the first place.