Qualcomm reportedly wants TSMC, not Samsung, to make the Snapdragon 855
It’s no big secret that Samsung has begun making (way) more money off memory chips and OLED screens supplied to a large number of rival companies than sales of its very own smartphones, with SoC manufacturing also rising over the past few years as a key and steady revenue stream for Korea’s top chaebol.
Samsung has been in charge of production for Qualcomm’s high-end Snapdragon 835, 821 and 820 processors, which went on to power not just Galaxy flagships, but hero devices from OEMs like HTC, LG, Motorola, Sony and Xiaomi as well.
Contrary to speculation, it looks like the SD845 will also hail from Samsung’s factories, obviously based on a Qualcomm design, although TSMC is now strongly rumored to “snatch orders from Samsung in 2018.”
The Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company’s previous Qualcomm collaboration yielded the Snapdragon 808 and 810 chips back in 2014, which weren’t exactly well-received by Android power users on 2015 phones like the LG G4, HTC One M9 or Sony Xperia Z3+.
Still, TSMC successfully provided Apple with A11 Bionic, A10 Fusion and part of the A9 silicon in recent years, with Samsung ironically rumored to return to the A-series manufacturing fold in 2018.
TSMC could get to build both Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 855 “core processor” and an unnamed modem chip by the end of next year, which not only means Samsung will lose an extremely lucrative contract, but might also signal a termination of certain exclusivity agreements.
Earlier this year, the Galaxy S8 and S8+ were launched months before all other Snapdragon 835 phones, and the S9 and S9+ are expected to similarly hog the 845’s initial production. That’s unlikely to be the case for 2019’s Galaxy S10, and it’s all because Samsung can’t currently match TSMC’s 7-nanometer progress. Remember, the 835 and 845 are both based on a 10nm node, suggesting the 855 could be significantly faster and more energy-efficient.