This year, only Apple is said to unveil the world's first 3nm chip, while Qualcomm is said to stick with TSMC's N4P process for the upcoming Snapdragon 8 Gen 3. However, a report from an analyst says the San Diego company may have to to revive its partnership with Samsung as it explores the possibility of dual-sourcing for development of its own 3nm chip.
Qualcomm reportedly does not have enough resources to pursue 3nm chip development on Intel's 20A node
In his Medium blog post, TF International Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo believes that due to the significant expenses required for chip design, there are certain challenges facing Qualcomm. The chipset maker recently laid off 415 employees due to falling smartphone demand, underscoring its woes. The increased costs associated with developing 3nm chips will also be a reason why the Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 will stick to TSMC's 4nm process this year, while Apple takes up 90 percent of the cutting-edge wafer shipments.
Even if Qualcomm switches to TSMC's N3E process, which is the second iteration of the 3nm process, and is said to have reduced manufacturing costs, sticking with one foundry means Qualcomm will have to pay the Taiwanese manufacturer a premium, which is likely is why Kuo has mentioned that Samsung's 3nm technology will also have a part to play in future chip development. Qualcomm has been reported to be exploring a dual-source option involving TSMC and Samsung in the past for its future chipsets to save costs.
Samsung could become an option again due to the progress in 3nm GAA technology, with Qualcomm previously said to be undergoing trials to see if it is worth the effort to shift to this node. With the Snapdragon 8 Plus Gen 1 and Snapdragon 8 Gen 2, Qualcomm switched to TSMC's 4nm process due to the improvements in yield, efficiency and performance, and the results speak for themselves.
It's understandable for Qualcomm to feel nervous about partnering with Samsung, but with fewer resources at its disposal to add to Intel's 20A, it may not have a choice in the matter. As demand for smartphones increases, these decisions may change.
Samsung said it has begun mass producing chips with advanced 3-nanometre technology, the first to do so globally, as it seeks new clients to catch far bigger…