Apple beats Qualcomm, gets to 7nm chip production much earlier

Apple beats Qualcomm, gets to 7nm chip production much earlier
Two of the biggest chip makers, Qualcomm and MediaTek, will have to delay their newest chips due to "prohibitively high" development costs for the new generation, 7nm manufacturing process that promises to deliver 20% to 30% faster performance.

Qualcomm, in particular, will have to delay its newest chip, likely named the Snapdragon 855, to early 2019, which is great news for competitors like Apple.

The company based in Cupertino will unveil its latest iPhones in just a week's time on September 12th and all three expected new iPhones will run on a 7nm chip. All of that powerful new silicon on the new iPhones is made by the foundry TSMC.

Right now, Huawei is the only other company that seems ready with a 7nm chip of its own: the recently announced Kirin 980. Huawei has said that it has spent some $300 million on research and development for this new manufacturing process and that it has been the biggest challenge it has ever faced. Huawei is expected to be the second company after Apple to offer a phone with a 7nm chip in it. The name of the phone is the Huawei Mate 20 Pro and it will be announced on October 16th in London.

As for all the rest, it seems that foundries have instead focused on improving production of the current and older generation 12nm/14nm chips that are used in upper mid-range phones. This segment of handsets is actually the one that is expected to undergo the fastest growth in the coming months and many companies consider that those chips provide "enough" power for a smartphone.

And some companies like Globalfoundries have even put plans for 7nm FinFET chips on hold indefinitely. "Globalfoundries is reshaping its technology portfolio to intensify its focus on delivering differentiated offerings for clients in high-growth markets," the company said referring to 12nm/14nm chips.

So with all this in mind, it seems that we will now have quite a big gap in performance between different high-end phones. Apple, in particular, is the first one to bring 7nm to the market in huge quantities, and it might just have a big lead over all the others.

source: DigiTimes



1. perry1234

Posts: 643; Member since: Aug 14, 2012

I remember I purchased the Apple iPhone 6S Plus not because I liked Apple or iOS, but because there was a huge gap (enough to translate into a real world performace difference) between the 6S Plus and the best implementation of SD810 i.e. Nexus 6P. S6 has the Exynos which was definitely better than SD 810 but nowhere near A9 at the time in CPU single core or GPU performance. I hoped that I would not have to make this tough decision yet again but...

22. Atechguy0

Posts: 918; Member since: Aug 03, 2018

This is the normal timeline for Qualcomm anyway. Their next flagship SoC always comes in the beginning of the year. So it's business as usual. Why do you guys make it look like Qualcomm is always behind, when they are not behind. Besides Qualcomm SoCs these days can run things like sustainable VR, which taxes any system. I would love to see any iPhone do that, but Apple themselves don't support that, because the iPhones would overheat and throttle down. As far as GPU Apple is still way behind. Especially when you see benchmark comparison tests from Geekbench and 3DMark, which they will compare Apples Metal to Androids OpenGL. However Metal is closer in comparison to Vulkan, and therefore should be compared to Vulkan graphics instead of the slower and older OpenGL. It's not like Vulkan isn't supported these days, especially since it's been around since Android 7, or 2016. But they continue to compare benchmark tests using Apples Metal and Android using OpenGL instead of Vulkan. It's simpletons that will believe anything and everything that is put in front of them.

39. perry1234

Posts: 643; Member since: Aug 14, 2012

Yeah I guess that was one bad year for Qualcomm. I will anyway be waiting till the beginning of next year then. No more Apple for me . I think though , benchmarks have been updated now to support Vulcan on Android, but I am not 100% sure. GPU , even engineering wise, was Apple’s forte . No idea about VR though , so I will take your word for it and dig up further.

45. Leo_MC

Posts: 7203; Member since: Dec 02, 2011

If this dude is Sgod... whatever the name, he's just doing pathetic Apple trolling. Both QC 8 series and A chips are great, you should choose what device suites you better.

47. perry1234

Posts: 643; Member since: Aug 14, 2012

1. Eh , who is Sgod? 2. Not trolling. Just facts. I already mentioned that I intend to buy Android. But Apple has a good real world GPU and games run well in it ( Not telling Qcomm is inferior). I call a spade a spade. If that’s trolling these days on this site, then I could be a troll.

48. Leo_MC

Posts: 7203; Member since: Dec 02, 2011

1. Nobody important, just someone who has been doing pathetic Apple trolling. 2. I wasn't referring to your messages; get whatever device you think it's good for you and be objective when you're choosing it; it's not trolling when one says "iPhone has gotten beat in real life performance tests", because it has, it's just trolling when one says "the iPhones would overheat and throttle down [in VR]", because there is no test to confirm or infirm this allegation. 3. (this is from me) It's not a problem if the device is not the best on the market as long as it is the best FOR YOU.

2. Dr.Phil

Posts: 2340; Member since: Feb 14, 2011

Er I’m not sure where there is a delay? Qualcomm is already sampling it’s chipsets to manufacturers right now, and they confirmed it is indeed built on the 7nm process. And TSMC is handling the order. Nothing I’ve read makes it sound like anything was “delayed”. It sounds on track, considering QC produces their new high end chipsets in devices at the start of every new year.

4. Rampage_Taco

Posts: 1036; Member since: Jan 17, 2017

I thought Samsung was handling the 7nm production for QC? But either way, like you said, their new chipsets are usually start mass production in the beginning of each year, so it's not like the 2 were racing.

5. Dr.Phil

Posts: 2340; Member since: Feb 14, 2011

Samsung didn’t have 7nm ready yet. They are developing the superior ULEV method of doing it, but they won’t be ready for mass production until the first half of 2019 at the earliest. And QC would need the chipsets to enter mass production at the end of this year to be ready for devices like the S10.

7. Rampage_Taco

Posts: 1036; Member since: Jan 17, 2017

I thought they were ready for production in April/June? Maybe I just misread the article. But again the point still stands that Apple didn't quite beat QC when they never planned on rushing their chipset before the new year anyways

12. Back_from_beyond

Posts: 1377; Member since: Sep 04, 2015

Apparently Samsung's EUV 7nm production is ready to go. Qualcomm made the choice in 2017 to go with TSMC because it was expected that Samsung wouldn't have the 7nm EUV ready for 2018 production. Samsung finished ahead of schedule in June however, too late for Qualcomm to go with Samsung again.

15. Dr.Phil

Posts: 2340; Member since: Feb 14, 2011

No they were ready in terms of the technology, but they aren’t ready for mass production yet. If you look at that link, you’ll see the roadmap has risk production starting this year with mass production starting in early 2019. Risk production is still technically not full chipset production. This is done before mass production to ensure the process is doing what it’s supposed to and there aren’t any errors. So mass production won’t take place til early 2019 at earliest, whereas TSMC is already mass producing right now.


Posts: 926; Member since: Feb 23, 2014

So will the 7nm miss the S10 launch date?

24. Dr.Phil

Posts: 2340; Member since: Feb 14, 2011

Might or might not. Obviously the SD855 will be 7nm and in the S10, but also Samsung would have first dibs on its own chipsets so it might make the deadline for an Exynos chipset. But any other company relying on Samsung wouldn’t get theirs in time.

25. Back_from_beyond

Posts: 1377; Member since: Sep 04, 2015

In early August Samsung was said to be ready for high volume manufacturing of 7nm chipsets. The first SoC you'll see made with it will be in the Galaxy S10 models though, Samsung's new Exynos with 2 high performance cores, 2 medium and 4 low power cores.

28. Dr.Phil

Posts: 2340; Member since: Feb 14, 2011

That is simply not true. “At its annual Foundry Forum last month, Samsung said it was on track to start risk production of 7nm later this year. It can take up to one year to transition from risk production to full volume production, and Samsung also said that some of the IP blocks won't be available until the first half of 2019, so it seems unlikely that 7nm will be ready in time to produce application processors for the Samsung Galaxy S10 next spring.”

31. strategic_developer

Posts: 1627; Member since: Jul 17, 2018

But this was back in June. Samsung just might try. Well we will find out either way.

8. toukale

Posts: 624; Member since: Jun 10, 2015

You are right, there is no delay whatsoever from the reports. The SD855 was always going to be available in the spring 2019 like always. This delay is a made up delay by some. I would consider it a delay if it got pushed back to the summer instead of its usual March/April launch time. Wasn't a week ago all the so blogs reported that Huawei marketing news saying Huawei was first to 7nm. The problem I have with blogs in general is that, most if not all of them don't questions things, they care about clicks, so they just report whatever marketing things companies tell them contrary to the reality on the ground. Last week they reported the Huawei marketing info, now its Apple. Which one is it guys?

3. CreeDiddy

Posts: 2146; Member since: Nov 04, 2011

No one cares who's first...

14. Foxgabanna

Posts: 587; Member since: Sep 11, 2016

That's totally not samsungs logic. XD

33. strategic_developer

Posts: 1627; Member since: Jul 17, 2018

Well PA posted an article where Samsung says, that being first wasnt gonna be their main focus anymore.

6. strategic_developer

Posts: 1627; Member since: Jul 17, 2018

But Apple doesn't produce any chips. They alter an original design and have someone fabricate them, just like Qualcomm does. They jumped on all the others one last. So being first matters now?

29. kiko007

Posts: 7493; Member since: Feb 17, 2016

Who’s mans is this? The leaps in logic could win you a gold medal.

9. strategic_developer

Posts: 1627; Member since: Jul 17, 2018

In the top iPhone in the photo, when you look at it a certain way, the planet looks like its curving from out of the display.

10. MarvzIsFallen

Posts: 646; Member since: Aug 11, 2017

Another beast!

13. Back_from_beyond

Posts: 1377; Member since: Sep 04, 2015

In benchmarks only.

20. Foxgabanna

Posts: 587; Member since: Sep 11, 2016

Where it matters.

23. darkkjedii

Posts: 30966; Member since: Feb 05, 2011

Actually real world usage is where it matters. Benchmarks are only troll bragging rights.

26. midan

Posts: 2708; Member since: Oct 09, 2017

In real life too it wasn't even close, Note 9 lags so badly

34. strategic_developer

Posts: 1627; Member since: Jul 17, 2018

Online tests like this just dont matter. I'd your only metric doe how great a device is, ua by sowed, then you dont even understand the purpose. I don't care how fast apps open. I care about about having 100% of my screen available ro me, taken great photos, having more storage, better hardware and the wzperinwc I want. A phones merit should be based on everything. And the X loses to the Not e 9 and 8 in lots of ways.

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