Qualcomm's successor to the Snapdragon 845 is close to being mass-produced as all relevant R&D work on the chip has now been concluded, Taiwan's Central News Agency reports, citing sources close to TSMC. The Taiwanese semiconductor giant is behind the 7nm process node on which the next Snapdragon 800-series silicon will be manufactured and is scheduled to start flow production of the thereof in the final quarter of the year, as per the same insiders. The said timeframe is in line with Qualcomm's recent status update on its upcoming system-on-chip, with the company confirming it's already in the sampling phase earlier this month, having provided a number of original equipment manufacturers with prototypes that they're currently testing.
TSMC expects 7nm chip orders will account for 20-percent of its 2019 revenue, in accordance with its previously disclosed goal. The company's first 7nm solution uses optical lithography instead of extreme ultraviolet technologies that Samsung's foundry already managed to complete and will hence likely deliver smaller performance and efficiency gains in comparison. TSMC's first 7nm EUV process node is only expected to be commercialized in the second quarter of 2019. Besides Qualcomm, AMD and Apple already placed orders on TSMC's 7nm chips. The San Diego, California-based semiconductor giant is likely to account for some eight-percent of TSMC's 2019 turnover, up one percentage point year-on-year, according to the same sources.
The Snapdragon 845 successor may not be advertised as the Snapdragon 855, with one recent report indicating Qualcomm may opt for the Snapdragon 8150 moniker so as to minimize the chances of its premium notebook and smartphone lines of chips being confused for each other. The new silicon may also debut a neural processing unit, a specialized chip dedicated to on-device machine learning and other local artificial intelligence applications, insiders claimed earlier this year. Qualcomm itself already confirmed the new silicon will be 5G-ready, though its 5G-enabled Snapdragon X50 modem will be an optional part of the package. The Snapdragon 865 or however the company's next mobile chip ends up being called is likely to become its first module with native 5G support.