Find out how Samsung and Huawei shook up the mobile chip market

Find out how Samsung and Huawei shook up the mobile chip market
A report published by IHS Markit (via IT Home) suggests that a major shift is taking place in the marketplace for integrated circuits. With phone manufacturers like Samsung and Huawei increasing the use of their own in-house chips, Qualcomm's share of the mobile chip market is being negatively impacted. The pair raised shipments of their own chips by 30% during the third quarter of 2019. That three month period covers July through September.

The report adds that 80.4% of Samsung's mid-range handsets were powered by the company's own Exynos SoC during the quarter. In the 2018 third quarter, 64.2% of Sammy's mid-rangers contained an Exynos chipset. Huawei saw the number of its phones running on its own HiSilicon unit's Kirin chipsets rise from 68.7% during Q3 2018 to 74.6% for Q3 2019. Huawei used to save its Kirin SoCs for use on flagship models, but the Chinese manufacturer has apparently widened the usage of these chips (more on that later). Since it has its own foundry business, Samsung produces its Exynos chipsets. Huawei does not own any fabrication facilities (making it fabless using the industry's lingo) so its chips are produced by TSMC.

The U.S. supply chain ban has forced Huawei to expand usage of its Kirin chips


As Huawei and Samsung increased the usage of its own chips, Qualcomm was the company negatively impacted the most. For example, during the third quarter of 2019, the percentage of Qualcomm chips used on Huawei phones declined dramatically from the year-earlier 24% to 8.6%. Huawei did increase its usage of MediaTek's integrated circuits during the same time period from 7.3% to 16.7%.


Huawei might have used its own Kirin SoCs and MediaTek's chips on more of its phones during the 2019 third quarter because it is banned from accessing its U.S. supply chain. The company was placed on the U.S. Commerce Department's entity list in the middle of May due to security reasons. As a result, the manufacturer has not been able to purchase chips from Qualcomm, which is headquartered in San Diego, California. Huawei did say that it had built up a large inventory of certain components anticipating a U.S. ban. The company that provides Huawei with memory chips, Micron Technology, says that it has received a license for 2020 allowing it to ship its DRAM chips to Huawei, which is Micron's largest customer.

Samsung is making a different kind of shift with its first flagship of 2020, the Galaxy S20 series. Traditionally, Samsung used its most powerful Exynos chip on the Galaxy S series in most markets except for the U.S., Japan, China, and Latin America. The units shipped in those countries were typically powered by the latest Qualcomm Snapdragon SoC. But this year, all Galaxy S20 models will be equipped with the Snapdragon 865 Mobile Platform except for units shipped in Europe; the latter phones will employ the Exynos 990 SoC.

Qualcomm remains the leader in delivering chipsets globally to the mobile wireless market with a 31% market share. MediaTek is next with a 21% slice of the global pie. Samsung's Exynos and Huawei's Kirin own 16% and 14% of the global mobile chip market respectively.

Speaking of Qualcomm, it had originally planned on having Samsung manufacture its new flagship SoC, the Snapdragon 865 Mobile Platform, using its 7nm EUV process. Instead, it appears that TSMC will produce the chipset using its improved 7nm "N7P" process; this is the very same node used by TSMC to manufacture Apple's highly regarded A13 Bionic chipset. Halway through this year, TSMC will start shipping 5nm chips which will contain more densely packed transistors making these ICs more powerful and energy efficient than currently available chips. Two of the first major SoCs to be produced by TSMC using the 5nm process are expected to be Apple's A14 Bionic and Huawei's Kirin 1020. We should see these components inside the 2020 iPhone models and the Huawei Mate 40 series respectively.

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4 Comments

1. hjl2345

Posts: 109; Member since: Aug 11, 2018

Sucks that Samsung gave up on the whole custom CPU thing recently. Their Exynos was a godsend for the S6 and the Snapdragon 810 fiasco. But I digress. It's Samsung and they probably have some back up plans when things go south like the Snapdragon 810 days.

3. vincelongman

Posts: 5817; Member since: Feb 10, 2013

The Exynos 7420 had stock Arm A57 CPU cores too Samsung are still making their own custom SoCs So they still have a backup incase if there's a repeat of the 810 The 810 was mainly due to TSMC's 20nm and Qualcomm's poor management of the 810's development, not Arm's A57 design TSMC overpromised and totally underdelivered with their 20nm process It forced AMD/Nvidia to completely cancel their 20nm APUs/GPUs series And lead to Apple adding a third core to get their desired performance on their A8X Qualcomm shouldn't have used clockrates as high as they did (2GHz for phones) Qualcomm should have used lower clocks to prevent the heat issues like Nvidia's Tegra X1 (1.9GHz for tablets, for phones would have been much lower) The main concern for Samsung S.LSI now is that Samsung Foundry has fallen behind TSMC Which will make 2021 a huge uphill battle for Exynos vs Snapdragon/Huawei/MediaTek

5. ph00ny

Posts: 2079; Member since: May 26, 2011

Didn't Samsung just stamp out a 3nm demo sample recently? If it's true, it looks like they're on par with TSMC Yup they didhttps://www.tomshardware.com/news/samsung-prototypes-first-ever-3nm-gaafet-semiconductor

6. vincelongman

Posts: 5817; Member since: Feb 10, 2013

Demos mean nothing Various companies/universities have demoed 5nm, 3nm, 2nm, 1nm and even 0.5nm transistors But only TSMC, Intel and Samsung are mass producing at the leading edge Samsung's 3GAE isn't going to be in mass production until at least late 2021 Possibly in time for the 2022 Exynos if we are very lucky, but 3GAE could be delayed/cancelled like 7LPE. So the 2022 Exynos could be 4LPP So we might not see 3GAE until the 2023 Exynos Samsung's 5LPE/4LPE for the 2021 Exynos isn't looking promising, still behind TSMC's N5 coming in Q1 2020 (ready for Huawei/Apple in Q3)

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