TSMC manufactured the last two iterations of the Snapdragon 800-series chips. The Taiwanese foundry fabricated the Snapdragon 845 and the Snapdragon 855 chipsets using the 10-nanometer and the 7-nanometer process node technology respectively. This news marks Qualcomm's return to Samsung, after the South Korean tech giant fabricated the Snapdragon 820 and the Snapdragon 835 chips a few years ago.
According to a report released by the Taiwanese tech publication DigiTimes, Samsung will manufacture the Snapdragon 865 using the 7-nanometer EUV process node technology. With the use of Extreme Ultraviolet Lithography technology, manufacturers can improve the yields of chipsets produced at smaller nodes, resulting in lower costs on the part of the foundry and the fabless semiconductor company. Qualcomm noted that the EUV process of Samsung is more advanced compared to similar fabrication technologies offered by TSMC, which not only results in improved production cost but also in improvements in performance and power efficiency of its chipsets.
Qualcomm adds to the growing list of companies that chose the foundry division of the South Korean tech giant over its Taiwanese competitor. Among the companies that will work with Samsung include NVIDIA and IBM. The tech giant will reportedly make the GPU chips for NVIDIA using the company's 7-nanometer process node. Previous NVIDIA GPUs were fabricated using TSMC's 12-nanometer process technology. Meanwhile, IBM also tapped Samsung's foundries to create the next iteration of the company's POWER processors.
Despite recent developments, Samsung and TSMC continue to develop more advanced process node technologies, and the two companies aim to make these fabrication processes available to clients like fabless semiconductor firms as quickly as possible.
Starting next year, Samsung will make its 5-nanometer process node technology available to its clients, and this fabrication process offers 20-percent improvement in power consumption and a 10-percent boost in performance compared to the 7-nanometer technology.
On the other hand, TSMC also recently announced its 6-nanometer process technology, which offers a higher transistor density compared to the Taiwanese firm's existing 7-nanometer process node technology. Like Samsung's process node, TSMC's most advanced offering will become available starting early next year.
With the release of more advanced node technologies, TSMC and Samsung aim to gain a larger share of orders of 5G modems from companies like HiSilicon, MediaTek, and Qualcomm, with TSMC already winning orders from HiSilicon and MediaTek.
It will take a few more months before Qualcomm will unveil the Snapdragon 865 chipset, although several rumors already provided details about the specifications and features of the upcoming flagship SoC offering from the American semiconductor company.
Reports claim that there will be two variants of the Snapdragon 865. One of which will be considered the standard model, which only features 4G connectivity, while another variant will feature support for 5G networks.
Furthermore, recent reports claim that the Snapdragon 865 will support LPDDR5 RAM, in contrast to the older Snapdragon 855 chip which only featured support for LPDDR4X. More information about the product will become available through leaks and rumors as the announcement of the chipset draws near.