This year we saw some real benefits to Samsung from their partnership with Qualcomm, when Samsung were able to secure rights to the first batch of the new Snapdragon chips, the SD 835. As such, many other flagships were either delayed so they could include the SD835 in their phone, or used something else.
We now understand this won’t (likely) happen next year, as Qualcomm has announced that their next generation chips will be made by TSMC and not Samsung.
A report from a Korean IT news website etnews says that Qualcomm has enlisted Taiwan’s TSMC instead of Samsung Electronics to build it’s next generation of chips. The next generation are based on a 7nm process while the current generation are based on a 10nm process. The reason for this is that Samsung have been focused on the 10nm process as they believe that will have a longer product cycle. In the meantime they have implemented an 8nm process technology.
This wasn’t good enough for Qualcomm, and the company has chosen to move to TMSC who decided to skip the 10nm process entirely and go straight to the 7nm process. They have had a 7nm process development kit available for nearly a year now and the two companies have been working together on it since then. Qualcomm plans to have their 7nm process chips ready for mass production late this year or early next year, nicely timed for 2018’s early phone launches.
Interestingly, TSMC now manufactures the Apple A10 chips instead of Samsung as well. For these two reasons, Samsung’s bottom line in 2018 will have to be affected.
There are several outcomes from this that relate to us, as consumers. The next generation of Qualcomm chips will be based on the 7nm process technology and will be ready next year. The chips will most likely not be exclusively going to Samsung first but instead on an as required basis.
Further to this point there is word out of Korea that next year’s LG G7 will include the new 7nm-based Snapdragon 845 and that the company has already begun development on it earlier this month. Hopefully this is a boon for LG and their G7, sales as they opted for the SD821 in the G6 due to supply delays and is considered a downside to the phone.
There is also the question raised whether Google will contract Samsung Electronics to manufacture their proposed SoCs. If they do, it means we will not see them until at least the second half of next year given that Samsung have only just released the 7nm process development kit. Samsung need to fill the gap left by the departure of firstly Apple and now Qualcomm so will most likely be pushing hard for Google’s contract.
One thing for sure is that next year’s chip will be faster and more power efficient than last years, as this years was for next years. In the end we all win. Who doesn’t want a fast, more power efficient processor each year?