Qualcomm to stick with TSMC for 3nm Snapdragon 8 Gen 4

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Qualcomm seemingly doesn’t plan to return to Samsung Foundry for 3nm chip production. The American chipmaker has reportedly decided to stick with TSMC, using its second-gen 3nm process (N3E) for the Snapdragon 8 Gen 4 next year. MediaTek’s Dimensity 9400 will also use the same TSMC process.

Samsung fails to win Qualcomm back despite a 3nm headstart

TSMC and Samsung are the world’s top two semiconductor foundries. The former has a massive lead over its Korean rival, which has struggled with power and efficiency issues for years. Samsung is hoping to make up some ground in the 3nm era where it has a headstart over TSMC. The Korean firm also has a technological advantage thanks to its more advanced GAA transistor architecture. TSMC is using the older FinFET architecture for 3nm chips.


Unfortunately, it appears Samsung has still failed to win Qualcomm back. There have been reports that the American Semiconductor giant, which is a fabless company (doesn’t have a chip manufacturing plant), will use Samsung Foundry for the production of the Snapdragon 8 Gen 4. If not all, it could give a portion of the contract to the Korean firm, with TSMC manufacturing the rest.

However, according to the Taiwanese media, Qualcomm is sticking with TSMC. The entire volume of its 2024 flagship smartphone chipset will be manufactured by the Taiwanese firm. TSMC produced Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 and Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 last year and the Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 this year (all 4nm chips). Before that, Samsung produced the Snapdragon 888 (5nm), Snapdragon 888+ (5nm), and Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 (4nm) in 2021.

The new report adds that TSMC is rapidly improving its 3nm production capacity and yield rate as it welcomes Qualcomm aboard. It is on track to produce 60,000-70,000 wafers per month by the end of this year. The monthly production volume may exceed 100,000 wafers in 2024. TSMC’s 3nm wafers currently cost $20,000. The total usable chips produced from one wafer depends on the yield rate, which is said to be around 60 percent.

Samsung may find it difficult to challenge TSMC anytime soon

If the report of Qualcomm sticking with TSMC for its first 3nm chip is true, Samsung may find itself in a dire situation in the foundry industry next year. The Korean firm has yet to win major 3nm production contracts. It may get orders for Google’s Tensr G4 next year, but it is rumored to be a 4nm chip.

Samsung’s smartphone division is working with the semiconductor design unit on a custom processor for flagship Galaxy models. The “dream chip” could debut next year with Samsung Foundry’s second-gen 3nm (3GAP) process under the hood. However, a contract from its sister firm may not be enough for the Korean behemoth to increase its foundry share. Time will tell whether Samsung can challenge its Taiwanese foundry rival anytime soon.